Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Beaded Number Rods

Yesterday, I went to the dollar store and spent $2 on a pack of beads and some stems.  (I'm giving away my age, but we used to call these pipe cleaners when I was in school. This set is shorter than the ones I remember from long ago.) 

This morning, I had time to just play with these. Here are some of the ideas I came up with:

Simply creating number sticks was fun.  What a great way for kids to learn to compare numbers. After building a staircase with number rods, I'd also have them build a staircase with unifix and talk about how the two sets are similar. 

Once kids have had time to explore the materials, it's time to add in symbols.  I made this set of number toppers and taped them onto the beaded rods.   

I'm thinking of having kids sequence these. They would also work well for a number of games.  Here are some that came to my mind right away:

1) Remove the beads.  Have kids put the beads back onto the number rods. (When you want the beads to stay on easily, just fold the bottom of the stem over.) 

2) Partners work together to put the number rods in order.  One partner closes his/her eyes while the other removes a number rod.  The partner has to see how quickly he/she can figure out which rod is missing. (A slight variation - Instead of taking a rod away, the first child switches the order of two rods. The second child has to quickly put them back in order.)

3) Take one rod at a time. Flip it, so there is just a blank white card as the child sees the back of the number topper. He/she says, as quickly as possible, how many beads are on the rod. Flip the card back over for a self-checking activity. 

I love any material that helps kids really visualize and understand addition and subtraction.  So - I got out some flashcards and started playing with these beaded number rods.  

For addition, I answered the problem mentally and then took the number stick that matched my answer.  I really liked "proving it" using the number stick - and I'm thinking kids will too. 

These worked really well for subtraction.  I just took the stick showing the total and subtracted by sliding the beads down the rod.  I found this quick, easy and visually appealing.

I find that many kids really struggle with the concept of numbers in the teens.  So - I started playing with these to see how they'd work with numbers through 20. 

First, I just added another stem and created rods for numbers in the teens.  It didn't seem like that would help kids visual these numbers.  

Then, I tried folding between the group of ten and the additional ones.  I started to feel like this would be a way kids could visual numbers in the teens.

Just for fun, I made some larger toppers.  This struck me as a visual that would really help kids understand numbers in the teens! 

Some ideas for working with these would be:

1) Have kids sequence numbers 10 - 19. 
2) Teach kids to verbalize, "I see 18.  18 is one ten and eight more ones. 

Rekenreks are all the rage!  I messed around a bit with making a rekenrek that kids could build for themselves.  Here's what I came up with:
Just attaching two number rods to q-tips was a quick and simple way to create a rekenrek.  I really like that the beads stay in place when I pick them up. (With many of the commercial rekenreks, the beads slide as soon as the rekenrek is tilted.) The q-tips worked well because the stems did not easily slide over the ends and they are something I usually have on hand. But, I didn't really like the look. So, I went digging through my kids' old toys. 

I found a bin of building toys - and there were plenty of stems that gave these a nice sturdy feel. 

If you'd like to print out the number toppers I used, you can download them by clicking here

I have the flashcards pictured here available for free at my Teachers pay Teachers shop.  Click here for addition cards and here for subtraction cards. 

It's been fun playing with beads and stems today. I hope that someone else will find some inspiration in these ideas. If so, I'd love to hear about it!

Thanks for stopping by,  :) Anne

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Real News ~ Really Interesting and Straight from the Smithsonian!

Last summer, I got to go on a fabulous trip to Washington, D.C. with my husband and two sons. Spending time in the Smithsonian was one of the highlights of our vacation.  It made me very aware of what a national treasure the Smithsonian really is!

I recently found out about TTribune, a free service that the Smithsonian is offering to all K - 12 teachers and students.    

This site provides a wealth of informational text.  Each day, TTribune searches a variety of reliable news sources for grade-appropriate stories. Lexile levels are offered for many of the articles.  

The picture below shows a sketch of an underground playground that a group has proposed to build in Manhattan. The essential question of this article is: Would you want to play in an underground park?  What a great discussion starter this article would be!

My kids would just love this one . . . Passengers were recently asked to help push an airplane because the tires were frozen to the ground.  Fascinating!

Who wouldn't want to ride on a cushion of air?  I can't wait to share this breaking story about advances in hoverboarding!

There is truly something for everyone here.  

Click here or on any of the pictures to check out this free service.  It's well worth exploring!

Thanks for stopping by!  :) Anne Gardner (NBCT, Literacy) 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Adding a little "extra magic" to Christmas read alouds

What an exciting time of year!  One of my favorite parts about the season is sharing favorite holiday books with kids.  

Here's a simple idea that makes it even more fun . . . 

Collect your favorite holiday books and wrap them up.  I like to use recycled wrapping paper or place them in reusable gift bags. 

When it's time for a read aloud, let a child pick a "present" to open.

To add a little more fun, have the books magically appear and act surprised when you and the kids find them.  

If I especially want to read a certain book, I will have it "appear" on the easel - fully wrapped and ready to open and read. 

I hope your kids enjoy this simple idea if you decide to give it a try.  Happy Holidays!

:) Anne


Saturday, November 29, 2014

Comparing Numbers in Kindergarten

Thanks for stopping by!  I'd like to welcome my very first guest blogger, Susan, from Teaching Doodles.

Marhaba ~ Welcome from the United Arab Emirates!  I’m Susan from Teaching Doodles.

I am super excited to share with you an interactive math activity I used recently with my kindergarten students.  Although we do not use the Common Core over here, this activity still connects to Counting and Cardinality for kindergarten – comparing numbers K.CC.C.6.  I found this idea on Pinterest and modified it for a whole class lesson.  See the original pin here.
Provide each of your kiddos with a sorting mat.  The ones we used were simply  a 3 x 2 table.  Feel free to use a larger or smaller table based on your class needs.   You can see a sample of the mats we used in  the pictures below.  
Next, each student gets 8 counters (4 of one color and 4 of another).  We used 4 blue and 4 yellow but use whatever color you like.  I put the same number and color of counters into a small drawstring bag.
If you're lucky enough to have an interactive whiteboard, create the same table on your board.  
Now we’re ready to play!
1.Draw a counter from the bag.  Students place the same color on their mat.
2.Draw another counter.  Students will place on their mat.  Repeat drawing counters until the mat is full.
3. Students rearrange their counters so one color is on top and one is on the bottom.  (I found this difficult for my class  to do.  The second time we sorted the colors as we played).
4. Hold a class discussion to find out greater than, less than, and equal to by counting or matching the counters.  

I hope your class enjoys this quick and easy activity!  
Stop by my blog, Teaching Doodles,  and let me know if you try it.   
I'd love to hear your feedback!


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving! Free Complete the Equation Task Cards

Happy Thanksgiving!  I am thinking of all the things I have to be grateful for this year and am truly overwhelmed.  

Among the many blessings, my 20 year old son has developed an interest in creating iPad apps for some of the educational materials I create.  It's really special for me to be able to work side by side with him - and then to see materials I create come to life on an iPad. 

As a show of my appreciation for those of you who stop by this little blog, I am making my Complete the Equation Task card set (regularly $4) free from Nov. 26  - Nov. 30, 2014.  

This packet is designed to help students build fluency with addition and subtraction facts while also mastering Common Core Standard 1.OA.D.8: Determine the unknown number in addition or subtraction sentences relating three whole numbers. 

I find that students need scaffolded experiences to develop this skill.  This pack includes 144 equation cards than can be used for partner work and/or Scoot games.  The cards are presented in order of increasing complexity.  The following levels are included in this game: 

Addition within 10
Subtraction within 10
Mixed Addition/Subtraction within 10
Addition within 20
Subtraction within 20
Mixed Addition/Subtraction within 20 

A few screen shots of this item follow.  I like all the support I can get keeping materials organized, so each level and the corresponding answer sheet have a matching black and white (ink saving) background.  Click here or on any of the following set of images to download this item for free at my Teachers pay Teachers shop. 


My son, Keith, has the first level of his Complete the Equation app as a forever free item on the iTunes store. We found this to be an interesting app to design. After considering several options for having kids input numbers, we decided to provide input (answer) boxes along each side of the screen.  

The stars below the equation display the number of correct and incorrect responses on each level.  If you decide to download this app, we'd love to hear your thoughts on these design features. 
Click here or on one of the screen shots below to access the free version on iTunes. (The first level is free. The full version, including 6 levels, is available for $1.99.) 

Thanks so much for stopping by.  I wish you the happiest of holidays!

:) Anne Gardner

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Parent Letters ~ Using You Tube Videos to Help Kids Learn Fry Words

This year, our school has adopted the Fry Words.  Parent conferences start this week, and I have been brainstorming tips to share with parents as they support their child's learning at home. 

I considered sending flashcards and games with my students, but that would be A LOT of flashcards. I have a hard time keeping track of them all, so I figured parents might also struggle to keep the sets organized.   

I recently found a few simple videos of the Fry Words on YouTube, and decided to send a letter pointing parents to these videos and sharing a couple simple ways to use them to support their child's learning. 

I'll be interested to see how this works for families.  If you'd like to take a look at these letters, you can download them by clicking on the pictures below.  The first parent letter focuses on helping kids learn the 1st 100 Fry Words. 

The second parent letter is very similar, but focuses on helping students learn Fry Words 1 - 300. 

If you decide to download these and take a look, I'd appreciate any thoughts/suggestions you have regarding them. 

Thanks for stopping by and taking a look!

:) Anne Gardner (NBCT, Literacy)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Have you seen Oxford Owl ~ They are offering over 250 free eBooks!

I have been searching for sites that offer high quality eBooks that students can read both in the classroom and at home. 

I recently came across Oxford Owl.  Have you seen this site? It currently offers 250 eBooks on a wide variety of topics. These books range from early emergent texts to books at the second grade level. There's a great mix of literary and informational texts.  

Here are a couple samples pages from an emergent text:

Here are some sample pages from a higher level informational book:

This collection of 250 tablet-friendly books is completely free!  All you have to do is go to the site and register.  To get started, click here

Some of these books would be great to project on a SmartBoard and share as read alouds. I'm also thinking this is an amazing collection of texts for independent reading, both at home and at school. 

I hope you enjoy these books as much as I do.  Thanks for stopping by!

:) Anne

Planning for RtI Groups in the Primary Grades

I hope your school year is off to a super start! I've been thinking over how to format my plans for First Grade RtI groups. I am lucky to have a Leveled Literacy Intervention Kit (from Fountas and Pinnell), so I have plenty of great books to work with. 

The Leveled Literacy program provides a really solid lesson structure. Even when I'm not using these materials, I like to keep the lesson structure in mind. 

Here's a quick summary.  Lessons are divided into Odd and Even days. 

During each Odd Lesson:
*Students reread text from previous lessons while the teacher supports fluency, comprehension and accuracy. (5 minutes)
*The teacher states a phonics principle and leads the group in an activity that supports students' understanding of the principle. (5 minutes)
*A new book is introduced. This book is "at the cutting edge" of the child's instructional level. Teacher problem solves any parts that would likely be tricky for students - and then supports students as they independently whisper read the text. The group discusses the text. (10 - 15 minutes)
*If time allows, the teacher reinforces a needed phonics or word work skill. (5 minutes)

During each Even Lesson:
*Students reread text from previous lessons. As they read, the teacher takes a running record of one of the students' reading.  (5 minutes)
*The teacher states a phonics principle and leads the group in an activity that supports students' understanding of the principle. (5 minutes)
*The group writes about the text from the prior lesson. Depending on the goal for the day, this can include dictated writing, interactive writing and/or independent writing. (10 minutes)
*A new book is introduced. This text will generally be one level below the text from the Odd  Lesson.  Students should experience success fluently reading this new text. (5 - 10 minutes)
*If time allows, a phonics skill is reinforced. (5 minutes)

I just created a lesson plan format for the two day sequence of lessons.  I included a space for 3 students' names and left room to jot notes about each students' strengths and needs.  If you would like to download this form as a PDF, click here


I'm thinking this form will make it easier for me to mentally connect the two lessons, which are based on the text from the odd lesson.  Even if I didn't have the LLI kit, I thought this format might provide "food for thought" so I decided to post it here.  (If you have any trouble downloading this, feel free to email me at Annegardner4@gmail.com and I'll be happy to send you a copy.)

Thanks for stopping by and taking a look.  :) Anne 

    Sunday, September 14, 2014

    Fry Word Lists

    This year, our school is systematically working with the Fry Words. We decided to break the words into lists of 25 words each and number the lists sequentially. This gave us 40 lists of 25 words each. They are presented 100 words per page.

    I just finished typing these up and thought other teachers might find them handy too. So - here they are. You can download these free lists clicking here.   This file is also available for free at my Teachers pay Teachers shop.  


    As many of you know, the Fry words are ranked according to how often they appear in print. The words are not necessarily more difficult as the lists progress. 

    According to Fry's research, completed in 1996:
    • The first 25 words make up about 1/3 of all items published.
    • The first 100 words make up about 1/2 of all the words found in publications.
    • The first 300 words make up about 2/3 of all written materials.

    I hope you find these lists useful and that your year is off to a super start!

    :) Anne Gardner (NBCT, Literacy)

    (P.S. - If you have any trouble downloading the file, please let me know.  My email address is Annegardner4@gmail.com.)

    Friday, June 27, 2014

    Parent Letter ~ How to help a child learn to write his/her name

    A child's name is one of the first and most important words he/she will learn to read and write.  Here's a simple parent letter sharing some ideas for helping a child learn to write his/her name.  

    It was created in Word and is fully editable, so you can switch it up as you'd like.  You can download this for free on Google docs by clicking here.  You can also find it at my Teachers pay Teachers shop by clicking on the picture.   

    If you have any trouble downloading the file, email me at annegardner4@gmail.com and I'll be happy to send it directly to you. 

    Thanks for stopping by.  I hope you find this handy!  
    :) Anne Gardner (NBCT, Literacy)

    Tuesday, April 15, 2014

    Free Sight Word Riddles

    Hi,  It's Spring break here in Upstate New York.  The weather was beautiful the first couple days ~ I got to enjoy the sunshine and go hiking with my family!  But, now we have snow again.  (What?)

    On the bright side, it was a great day to create some Sight Word Riddles . . . 

    Quite a few of my 1st grade RTI students need more practice reading the following sight words: 

    In the classrooms, I notice that many students who are able to read these words still need practice writing them. 

    So ~ I just created a set of Sight Word Riddles for these words.  They can be used for Scoot games, for partner work and for individual work.  Here are some images from the file:

    If you'd like to try them out, you can download the file for free at my Teachers pay Teachers shop.  Click here or on any of the pictures.  

    If you have any trouble accessing this file, send me an email at Annegardner4@gmail.com and I will be happy to send it directly to you. 

    Hope your Spring break brings plenty of sunshine!  It looks like the weather will be improving here soon, so we'll be back out on the trails. 

    Thanks so much for stopping by!
    Anne Gardner  (NBCT, Literacy)

    Saturday, April 12, 2014

    Review 3D Shapes and Give Kids a Quick Brain Break ~ All in Less than Two Minutes

    Hi,  Thanks for stopping by!  I wanted to share my favorite way to review 3D shapes and also give kids a quick brain break ~ all in less than 2 minutes. 

    This video features images of dancing people created from 3D blocks. Kids absolutely love to watch and chorally whisper the name of each shape as it appears while the people are being composed. Click here or on the picture to start the video.

    For a quick brain break, they can then mimic the calming dance movements of their favorite character for about 30 seconds. 

    Finally, the blocks are sorted by shape.  We quickly point at each set and name the shape once again.  So simple ~ and relaxing.  I love that combination!  

    Hope your kids enjoy this.   :) Anne

    Sunday, February 2, 2014

    Should we be teaching fact families with 8 facts?

    Hi,  Did you ever have an idea you just had to throw out there and see what people think? 

    I have been noticing that it is really hard for kids to complete equations such as: 

    8 = 12 - ___.

    To complete these equations, they really have to understand the equal sign. 

    Then, I got to thinking ~ what do we usually teach them regarding fact families and/or related facts? 
    Four basic facts, such as:

    2 + 3 = 5
    3 + 2 = 5
    5 - 3 = 2
    5 - 2 + 3

    Is it time to introduce a new fact family? A family with 8 facts? Here's what I'm thinking: 

    I'm thinking of creating a series of activities based on this idea and thought I'd ask what you think of it first.

    I know I'd have to build in lots of support to get kids started. If you have a moment, I'd really love to hear your thoughts . . . . 

    Many thanks for stopping by!  :) Anne Gardner 

    Saturday, January 18, 2014

    True of False Equations

    Hi, Determining whether an equation is true or false (CCSS 1.OA.D.7) has recently become one of my favorite math standards. Kids who are not fluent with basic facts often tire of many types of practice, but are loving sorting equation cards by whether they are true or false. In working with these materials, they are becoming more fluent with basic facts while also developing problem solving skills.

    Today, I'd like to share a freebie with you. It's a set of 48 true or false equation cards for addition within ten. These cards can be used for 2 different levels of Scoot games ~ everything you need is included. If you have't played Scoot with your kids yet, here's a great chance to try it out! (These equation cards are also handy for partner work and sorting activities.) 

    To grab this free item, click here.

    Here are some photos:

            I am also offering a product which includes ten levels of True/False equation cards and activities on my Teachers pay Teachers shop.  The levels are:
    • Addition within 10
    • Subtraction within 10
    • Mixed Addition/Subtraction within 10
    • Addition within 20
    • Subtraction within 20
    • Mixed Addition/Subtraction within 20
    • Addition Problems within 10 such as 5 + 1 = 4 + 3
    • Subtraction  Problems within 10 such as 8 - 1 =  9 - 2
    • Mixed +/- Problems within 10 such as 8 + 1 =  10 - 1
    • Mixed +/- Problems within 20 such as 18 - 9 =  7 + 2
    Here's my very favorite part of all this: My son, Keith, took an interest in this product. He's 19 years old and is studying Computer Science at Binghamton University. He decided to make an app out of it. We've been having a blast working together and the app is now available for iPad on the Apple App Store. Here are a couple screen shots of this app. 

    iPad Screenshot 1

    iPad Screenshot 2

    If you want to take a look at this app, you can check it out here

    If you have comments or feedback, we'd love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to leave a comment below or email me at Annegardner4@gmail.com.

    Many thanks for stopping by!