Basic Math Facts

Each year my new third graders come in with many of them not having mastered basic addition and subtraction facts. This year I am planning to give them lots of practice at the beginning of school. My math workstations are going to focus on basic facts. This will give them something familiar to work on as we get the routines established. Along with collecting some great activities from other bloggers I have been skimming through one of my Van De Walle books for good ideas.

I came across this simple idea for practicing plus 1 and plus 2 facts - I love simple! All you need to do is program dice with: +1, +2 (on four sides) and one more, two more on the last two sides. I used some of those foam blocks I picked up at Dollar Tree. Label another die with the numbers 4 - 9. Shake one of each and say the fact aloud, "Eight plus one equals nine."


Some of our kids really need to write those facts, too, so I made a simple recording sheet for them. You can download it here. Enjoy!


New Book Study

I just found out that Donna at Math Coach's Corner has a new book study starting August 13th. You may want to get this book and join in; it sounds like an awesome study.

Please head over to Math Coach's Corner to read about this upcoming study. I hope you will join us!



Monday Made It: July 30th Edition

This week I decided I better get busy getting some of my math work stations prepared. I've snagged so many great freebies this summer to use the first couple weeks. I looked for activities that support my first 3rd grade unit of Place Value, Addition, and Subtraction. Because the first few weeks are all about getting the routines established I chose a lot of 2nd grade activities. I know the kids will benefit from review, and I wanted them to be able to complete most of the work independently as I also start getting small groups up and running during work stations. So for my first made it:
I did a lot of printing! Our school bookkeeper just sent out an email that she is caught up and would like us to drop off laminating so some can get done before the crunch (we go back the week of August 13). I plan to make a quick trip to school on Tuesday and give her enough to keep busy for awhile :)

In June I attended a workshop on our new Social Studies materials. Our trainer showed some pictures from her own classroom and one thing that caught my eye was her exit slip poster. She used poster board and put it up by the door of her classroom. Students would put sticky notes on it. I knew I wanted something like that, so began thinking about how I could use one poster for both my classes. In Florida our 3rd grade is capped at 18 students, so I need to be ready for 36. I decided to combine a Pinterest idea with her exit slip poster. I'm sure you've seen all the ways of using picture frames as dry erase boards (if not, just do a search for lots of examples); I had one in my classroom last year for my student of the week. 

I picked up a 24" x 36" poster frame at Big Lots, only $8 and I had a 25% off coupon. I took it apart and put my background on the cardboard backing, using a dab of glue stick to hold them in place.

I used scrapbook paper that I had on hand and cut 6" x 8" blocks to make my 18 individual spaces. Each will easily accommodate two sticky notes. When school starts I number my kids alphabetically, so to finish I used a dry erase marker and numbered each block.

Very easy, and it will easy to change. Another idea - put a poster size background and draw boxes on the frame to make the individual spaces. This could be done to match any classroom theme. And of course this basic idea could be used for so many things - I originally was going to make a math work station board like this.

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Elapsed Time

Elapsed time seems to be one of the most dreaded topics at my grade level. We know the kids are going to struggle with it, it's one of the last things we teach in our math curriculum, and we know it's on THE TEST!

During this past school year my kids and I started calling these problems the "ETs" -- as in watch our, it's an ET problem! That inspired me to create a game about a little ET who just wants to get home. 

"ET Goes Home" is the newest product in my TpT and TN stores. It's also available under the My Store tab on my blog. It's just my second paid item and it's a good one for practicing those ET problems. My students always prefer to practice math when I give them a game to play (none of us are excited about worksheets!). This game is aligned to the 3rd and 4th grade Common Core standards and could certainly be used as review in 5th grade also. If you are looking for elapsed time activities I hope this will be helpful for you. Enjoy!

AND don't forget to enter my giveaway here:
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Science Saturday 2

For this week's freebie I'm linking up one of my Science Saturday posts -- directions for a great inquiry plus a free booklet to record the experiment. Enjoy!

The Great Banana Experiment!

Each year this is the first science inquiry we do, just as soon as we have learned about the steps of the scientific method. I like to start this the second or third day of school and it lasts for about a week. While we are waiting for our results, we can do other experiments that are completed in one class period. I prepare for this before school starts, because I need a yucky banana to set it up -- one that has gotten mushy and is all brown-spotted.

After asking the students who likes bananas and whether they like them firm or soft, I explain that I love to have a banana as part of my breakfast but I can't stand to eat them when they get soft . . . I want a nice yellow peel and a firm texture. Then I show them the banana that was in my kitchen this morning. This sets up the question: Is there some way I could keep my bananas fresh for a longer period of time?

We brainstorm some ideas. The kids can relate to the question, so they usually have good ideas for ways to keep them fresh. I write down all their ideas, which usually include things like putting them in the refrigerator (I have a mini in the classroom), putting them in a ziploc bag or a paper bag, and using one of those special bags that they see advertised on TV. We develop a hypothesis that says that how we store the bananas will make a difference and prepare to test.

Since I started team teaching I have had each class choose two ways to keep the bananas fresh that they will test. That gives us four different ways to test, and both classes follow all four. I try to have the bananas as uniform as possible, usually purchasing them the night before we start and looking for a bunch with five bananas that look the same. The fifth banana sits out on the shelf, just like my banana at home.

Over the next week we observe these five bananas, recording our observations in the science journals. Students are extremely engaged by this experiment -- part of it is their predictions. They all want to be right, of course! The academic language we use in learning the scientific method is the foundation for the rest of the year. Even in the spring we will still be referring back to this activity.

I made a recording sheet for our journals. Later in the year we will be writing all this kind of information ourselves but at the beginning of the year I know my students will need support with this (I always have to remind myself that I have second graders coming in -- not those independent third graders I said goodbye to in June!). That is here for you to download; it's meant to be copied back-to-back and folded into a book.

I have this on page 7 of my notebook; page 6 is blank for students to write about what they observe during the course of the experiment.

While this experiment is going on, we are working our way through the Investigating Questions unit with lots of content area reading and a variety of one-day investigations. Check back next Saturday for some of what we do.


It's Friday!

I'm off to spend the weekend at a beautiful Orlando resort (OK, it's about 40 minutes from home!) where I am going to try to not do anything school related! My husband is playing in a chess tournament and we could get a room so cheap he decided not to drive back and forth. Before I go, though, I must link up with Fiction Friday! This is one of my favorites, 'cause I love books and reading. Today I want to share some math books that are favorites to use in the classroom. This summer I have been working on creating a few activities to go with some of these books that I use every year. I have a large library of math literature, so in no particular order here are a few I love:

1. The Doorbell Rang by Pat Hutchins (I blogged about it here) - perfect for introducing division

2. Three Pigs, One Wolf, Seven Magic Shapes by Grace Maccarone - my favorite tangram story. I always use it during our geometry study.

3. Grandfather Tang's Story by Ann Tompert - my next favorite tangram story!

4. The Greedy Triangle by Marilyn Burns - in math class you just can't go wrong with Marilyn Burns. Kids love this one!

5. How Big is a Foot? by Rolf Myller (blogged about this one too) - a fantastic way to introduce students to the differences in non-standard and standard measurement.

I hope you will stop by my blog and pick up the free activities that I created to go with a couple of these. The others I just haven't gotten to yet!

Happy Reading!
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Thursday Techday: Glogster

If you are not familiar with Glogster, please check out the educational site here and look at some of the sample blogs. A Glog is a graphic blog and is a creative way for students to make posters.  In past years my students have created wonderful biographical posters as a paperless way to present their research projects. As the teacher, you have total control over your students' content; it is a safe and private platform for their work. Here is a sample that I made to show my students how to make their bio poster. (You need Shockwave Flash, which often doesn't work well in Chrome -- try a different browser if you have a problem)

I've had my account with Glogster for a number of years, first joining back when it was free. Teachers can still register for a free account but it no longer comes with the student management feature. However, if you like the platform there is a "teacher lite" account that gives you up to 50 student accounts at a yearly cost of about $24. I suggest taking the free teacher account for a test drive. A few years ago I received a free Premium account because I am a STAR Educator with Discover Education; that's going to expire at the end of this year but I think I will go ahead a pay for a license so I can keep using this wonderful tool.

Last week I posted about virtual field trips. My trip to Ancient Egypt is accessed through a glog, so I want to share that with you. For this trip I actually created two glogs -- one is just about mummies -- and then put a link on the main glog to the second one.  You can travel back in time here, though a few features may not be accessible to you unless you have an account with Discovery Education.

Are you using Glogster? Please leave a comment about projects you have tried with your class.


My First Giveaway!

I've been waiting to roll out my very first giveaway until my FB fan page reached 50 likes, so . . . 
TA-DA! The giveaway will be open for entries for one week, and the lucky winner will receive a $25 iTunes gift card!

I kept it very simple -  following my blog is mandatory. You can get another entry for liking my fan page. Linking up the giveaway on your own blog will get you 2 extra entries. The giveaway will run for 1 week, and Rafflecopter will choose a winner from the entries. Good luck! My next giveaway will be when I have 150 followers on my blog, so that should come very soon after this one!


Working in the Classroom

So, Jaslyn and I headed to my classroom this morning and were pretty productive. I think I can leave it until our pre-planning week now.

I mentioned in my previous post about our huge teacher desks, so had to get a picture to show. It was piled high, so one thing to get done was putting away all the stuff. This is what it looks like:

When I taught primary I preferred not to have a desk in the classroom, but I have gotten used to this. The part at the front is where I meet with my small groups, though I may change that this year. I can fit 5 kids there comfortably.

I got my 3 bulletin boards done. To make the background I bought 2 black plastic tablecloths at Dollar Tree -- it was much cheaper than black sheets. It's a new idea, so I'll have to see how it holds up!

The third board has tiger print border; apparently I forgot to take a picture.

The tables are put together and moved into place. You can see I still have a lot of decorating to do!

I think I figured out where to store my boxes of math work station materials! This table by my desk is where I put baskets for students to turn in their work.

I had stuff piled on three of my table groups, but now it's all . . .  piled on the counter tops! Still a lot of work to be done.

With the furniture in place now I'll be able to concentrate on the decor -- and finding places for everything. All in all, a pretty productive day. 


I'm Off To School

Taking my fantastic 8-year old helper and heading to school this morning. I teach 3rd, she's going into 3rd so she tries things out for me! We were there last week for a special reading event and did just a little work in the classroom, but today I hope to get some major organization done.

Here's what it looked like:

We are getting new computers, so they had moved all the old ones out. I'm wondering if my new ones will be in when I get there today. We did a little work last week -- I moved all my desks into place, and we completely emptied those book shelves because I wanted to move them. Here's the new arrangement:

I had considered moving the teacher desk but it's huge! It has three large pieces and I would have to have the custodians come in to move it. I ended up deciding to leave it as is and move some easier things. I've been in this room three years and had pretty much left it the way the previous teacher set it up.

I'll be sharing some of the "after" pictures later.


It's Monday July 23rd, and I Made It!

I love linking up with Tara's Monday Made it because it makes me actually complete projects. Just a couple things this week . . . anyone want to guess what these are for?!

I've written before about having quiet dice. This is the other part of that -- containers to drop your dice into so they don't go flying off the table! I saved a few of the plastic containers that frozen meals came in, cleaned them out, and made them a little cuter by gluing some felt to the bottom. I saw the zebra print felt at Walmart and knew it would be useful for something!

I like my Crystal Lite raspberry lemonade and never want to throw away the containers. I'm going to have some friendly competition going on between my table groups this year so I'm making 4 different containers for our Box Tops for Education collections. We'll see which table can bring in the most during a set period of time. Here's my zebra print; my other animal print duck tape is at school, so I have to pick it up this week to finish.

This is something I made last winter. It sits on my desk at home to keep sticky notes at hand. I found some cute animal print notes in the Target dollar spot this week which will be perfect for the classroom. 

All you need is an acrylic picture frame -- any size you want -- a little bit of scrapbook paper and  the sticky notes. If you take off the back of the note pad it will stick to the frame. You can embellish as much as you want. Here is what I'm going to keep at the table where I do my small group instruction during math class:

By the way, these make great gifts, too!


A Few Freebies for Back to School

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

This week I've been working on some of the small things that help with classroom organization and management, so I'm going to share a few different things. Early in the week we had an email from our new principal with the drafts of block and lunch schedules. We are going to have a Week A and Week B block schedule this year. It's been a few years since I've had that kind of schedule but if memory serves it is confusing and hard to remember which week is which! I decided to be proactive and make a sign that I can flip each week as a reminder for us. Here it is:

I'm going to copy them back to back on card stock and laminate. A little bit of ribbon for a hanger and they are ready to go. Hopefully that will keep me on track! It's available for download by clicking the picture.

Next I decided to address the inevitable "missing" problems. Rather than different notes for assignments, school supplies, permission slips, etc., I tried to come up with a notice that will work for anything. In keeping with my "Wild About Learning" classroom I decided an elephant would be the perfect poster child for this! This one can also be downloaded by clicking the picture.

I also did a little makeover of my positive notes to match the theme. These are great to staple into agendas or place in students' buckets (we are "bucket fillers"). Click to download.

I hope some of these will be helpful for you as you get into the back to school mode. I'm still working on several new products for math class, so will be posting those soon. I'm also getting closer to my 50 likes giveaway. I've passed 50 blog followers but am waiting to get to the 50 fan page likes. If you haven't liked the Math is Elementary fan page, please go here. Thanks!

And the giveaway is now up and running!
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Blog Hop!

Grade Three is the Place for Me has a fun new linky going on. If you are a new blogger, just respond to these five things and link up by clicking the button. It's a great way to find some new blogs to follow.

    1.  what state you are in
    2.  your current teaching position
    3.  your teaching experience
    4.  when you started blogging
    5.  share a blogging tip / blogging resource

1. I am in Florida
2. I teach 3rd grade and am going into my second year of teaming with another teacher as the math and science teacher for both classes
3. I've been teaching elementary for the past 10 years. Before that I taught pre-school and was an administrator in an early childhood program
4. I started my blog in May 2012
5. I highly recommend the Teaching Blog Traffic School! You pay a one-time membership fee and have access to a wonderful community of bloggers, lots of video training and ongoing updates of materials.  

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