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)