Monday, April 14, 2014

Making Math Work

We currently use Everyday Math in our district.  We are looking at piloting a new math curriculum next year.  What curriculum do you use?  Positives/Negatives?  Does it meet CCSS?  We need your help!  Your comments below would be much appreciated!

Here is a great little math activity my student teacher came up with.  This is used during center time.  Students read the story problems on the fish (mixed addition and subtraction with answers to 10).  They then sort the fish into the bowls by answer.  The kids love it and don't even realize they are practicing reading and math.  I love how their reading has really blossomed, and they are generally able to read the story problems independently!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Wordless Wednesday {April 9}

I'm linking up with Christina at Sugar and Spice for her new linky Wordless Wednesday.

How do you keep the learning going throughout the day, even at dismissal time?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Fact Fluency

We've been cruising along in math all year, and our last big hurdle is fact fluency.  After our first TBT (Teacher Based Teams) meeting, it seemed that I missed the boat with getting my kiddos to fluency.  We needed something to track and motivate.  Enter the paper gum ball machine and stickers.  My kiddos are taking a "timed test" daily.  I don't call it a timed test, I just tell them to do their best as quick as they can with NO FINGERS.  Many of them find it fun to try to beat their time from the day before.  When we deconstructed the standards last year, we decided that 3 seconds to complete a problem would be fluent.

We are starting with addition.  Students are given 10 problems to complete in 30 seconds or less.  We started with +0.  After passing the +0 two times with no mistakes in 30 seconds or under, students earn a "gum ball" to add to our machine.  I found the gum ball machine template on google images.  They then move on to the +1, +2 and mixed practice.  I chose not to do +3, +4 or +5 because there are very few problems.  These facts are included in "mixed practice" which is 10 problems that include a variety of addition problems.  After they pass the mixed addition, they go on to subtraction.

We started a week and a half ago.  7 students are completely done with addition and 4 more are very close to being finished.  I'm excited about their progress and love that a sticker on the gum ball machine makes their day :).

I also give my kiddos a certificate when they pass all the addition "tests" and again when they pass all the subtraction "tests".  You can download the certificates here.  I just run them on colored paper.  Please consider leaving a comment and/or following if you download the certificates.   I hope these are useful for you!

What do you do to work on fact fluency with your kiddos?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

"Techy" Authors

Our new farm book is published!  My kiddos did a great job researching their farm animals thanks to Bullfrog Books (read more about them here)!  I'm so proud of all their hard work.  They did their research, filled in a graphic organizer, typed their sentences and even found and edited their own photos.  Wow!  Proud to be their kindergarten teacher!

You can download our Farm Animals book from iTunes on iBooks.

Our insect book, which you can read more about here, is also available in the iTunes store.  Both books are free!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Kindergarten Appropriate Nonfiction

As we enter the fourth nine weeks of kindergarten, I feel like my students are in a great place in reading.  I'm so proud of their progress and can't wait to see all they accomplish in this last nine week grading period.

Now that my kiddos are reading, I've been looking for ways to make them more independent in many different areas.  One area I'd like them to be more independent is in their "research" skill as we do projects.  It is very difficult for me to find time to work with each partnership/group to read their books with them.  I've been on a search for great nonfiction books that are appropriate for my early readers.

I checked some farm books out at our local library a couple weeks ago, and I am IN LOVE!  The books are from Jump and are called Bullfrog Books.  They come in Guided Reading Levels C-F.

Here are a couple screenshots from the website:

My kiddos are so proud that they are able to read them generally independently.  These books make my teacher heart smile because they have awesome photographs, and I even learned some new information from these books!  They have good nonfiction text features, but are still appropriate for early readers.

The only downside (for my budget anyway) is that they only come in hardback.  If I could afford them, I'd own all 10 sets! Each set includes 4-12 books depending on the set.  Sets include: Community Helpers, My First Animal Library, Insect World, Colors in Nature, What Happens in Fall?, Watching the Seasons,  Nature Walk, Machines at Work, Life Under the Sea and Animals on the Farm.

I've asked our local library to purchase more of the sets in this series to help cover other topics we focus on in kindergarten.  Check out the books using the links above and let me know what you think.

Where do you find nonfiction for your young readers?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Gone Buggy for Writing

We studied spring (in the midst of cold and snow) with a focus on signs of spring and insects.  I worked with half of the class to create a book about insects using the app Book Creator.  You can download the free version to make 1 book, but if you want to make additional books, you have to purchase the paid version at $4.99.

Students were paired with a partner to choose an insect.  After choosing an insect, students completed a graphic organizer about their insect.  Students used some nonfiction books I found at the library and in my personal collection.

I then worked with each partnership to type their information into the book.  Students used the graphic organizer to guide their writing.  To illustrate the book, students used the iPad to take pictures of items in their books showing their learning.  We also found images on Google Images as necessary. Students used the screenshot feature to capture these images.  My only assistance in this process was suggesting what to search (when needed) and helping to crop the images.

You can download our book here from the iTunes store.  It is a free download.  They were able to take turns and support one another in typing their information into the book.  It was a great experience to watch and be a part of!  Stay tuned for the other half of the class and their book about farm animals.

Sunday, March 16, 2014


As I'm sure you could guess from the title, we have been studying farms.  Last week focused on plants; this week focuses on animals.  We planted beans, and fingers are crossed that we get some good results.  This girl doesn't have much luck in growing department when it comes to growing with the kiddos.  My personal garden hasn't necessarily been a disaster, but planting at school isn't the most successful thing I've ever tackled with my kiddos.  Part of it is that I don't have much natural light in my room so I put our seeds in our literacy coach's room where there is good light.  I {might} forget to water them every now and then (or for a week at a time) which could lead to their demise.  I also failed to take pictures of the planting adventure.

One of my favorite dramatic play props is my wooden barn that I got 90% off at the party store 7 or 8 years ago.  I love watching my kiddos play with it!

 All those plates off to the side (making a mess on the table) are the paper plate cows my kiddos are making.  My student teacher found them, I'm guessing on Pinterest, but I don't have the original link.  Below is a kiddo working on her cow.

Not necessarily related to the farm, but I love watching my kiddos grow as readers.  Everyone in my room is reading something at this point.  Many of my kiddos have taken off and surprise me daily.  I took the picture below when they were reading in centers one day.  It warms my teacher heart to see their excitement in learning to read!