Math Lit: Amanda Bean

I'm going to revisit "Amanda Bean's Amazing Dream" today. I first blogged about this book here, and at the time I mentioned that I was working on an activity to go with the book. I finally finished it this past weekend, motivated by the fact that my students begin multiplication this week!

I have created several task cards for my students to respond to in writing. We use math notebooks, so they will be using those. Because they will need a copy of the book, I will have them work in pairs. They will discuss the question with their partner and then write their own response in their notebook.

Amanda Bean's Amazing Dream is a great way to introduce students to multiplication! If you's like to try out my activity, please click the picture above to download.

Think Pink!

Precious Pink

During the summer, Troy at Classroom Friendly Supplies contacted me about running a giveaway of the new PINK pencil sharpener! Of course I jumped at the opportunity; these sharpeners are adored by my students -- I have three black ones and a blue one in my room!

I'm guessing that most of you are familiar with these sharpeners, but if not here is a video; prepare to fall in love with these sharpeners!

Trust me, you need one of these in your classroom! And here is your chance to get one for free. Just enter the rafflecopter giveaway and cross your fingers.


Math Lit: Pigs Will Be Pigs

For this week's math lit post I'm going back in the archives to highlight a fun book for practicing money. I originally blogged about this text in August 2012.

This is one of a series of "Pigs" books by Amy Axelrod. In this one, the pigs are hungry and want to go to a restaurant. Unfortunately, they have no money! That begins a mad scramble around the house to locate money (you know-under the seat cushions, etc). As you read the story, students can keep track of the money total. At the restaurant you can figure out what they can purchase with their funds.

My "Math and Money" packet is still available for free to use with this story. You can download it from my stores or by clicking the picture below.


Science and Inferences

We did a fun science lesson recently based on the book "Seven Blind Mice" by Ed Young. This classic children's book is a wonderful text for teaching about inference. While many will use it in reading class, for me it's an awesome science text. The mice go out to the pond to observe a Something and each comes back with a different theory of what the Something is. I use this book as part of our "Investigating Questions" unit in science; scientists make inferences when they work through the scientific process. It's a great text to help students understand why we make multiple observations and use multiple senses.

When I read the book, I skip showing the pages that show what part of the Something each mouse is observing (using their sense of touch). I do show them the page which shows the inference each mouse makes. Red Mouse explores the Something's leg, and infers that it is a pillar. The first six mice all observe a different part of the Something, and report back what it is; eventually this causes an argument to break out over the identity of the Something.

When the last mouse goes to investigate, she observes the entire Something and develops a seventh inference. In class we discuss why we need multiple observations and observations of the whole to make good inferences. As I read the book, I ask students to record two things: which mouse and what the mouse's inference is. We make a quick foldable by folding paper in half like this:

We keep folding it the other way until we have 8 rows. Draw lines on the folds, and use the top section for the labels. The students sat on the rug with clipboards while I read the story. They wrote down each mouse and the inference on the first time through the book.

After I read the book, I started over and showed them the pages I skipped. They added what was being observed on the left side of their foldable (notice that I messed mine up in the first row by putting the word leg on the wrong side!). We added the foldable to our interactive science notebook (we just folded it the other way so it will fit on the page of our spirals).

This picture book is written on a first grade level, but definitely engages third graders! Have you used this one in your reading or science class? I'd love to hear any other ideas for using this text.


Math Lit: All The King's Tens

This is my favorite book to use for the concept of place value. In the story, Sir Cumference and Lady Di plan a surprise party for King Arthur. So many guests come though, that organizing them becomes a nightmare. How many lunches will they need? How will they organize such a big group to greet the king? After some trial and error, they come up with a way to group the guests and count them (turns out there is a total of 9,999 -- before more arrive!).

I made a sorting page for my students to go along with the story. Rather than laminate a copy for each student, I placed them in plastic sheet protectors. Using their dry erase markers, students drew base ten blocks to represent the guests. Of course, you could also use actual blocks with the page.

If you would like the place value activity to use with this book, download it here. Enjoy!


Have you discovered yet? I had not even heard of it until the week before school started. Now I'm wondering what I ever did without it! It has made lesson planning so much easier for me.

I got started with it with much trial and error, realized that there were things I wished it would do that I didn't know how to accomplish, and went back and watched some of the tutorial videos. One of the greatest features in my opinion is the Bump button. If I don't get to a lesson one day, I can "bump" it to the next day and everything else automatically moves forward. So helpful these first three weeks, when everything seems to take twice as long (do you forget how much time it takes to establish routines at the beginning of the year?). There is also a copy and paste feature that I love using. Once I have figured out how I want to structure a plan, I can paste it to another day and revise.

You can color-code the different classes/subjects. You can print the plans with a variety of options. If you submit lesson plans electronically Planbook works great. You can give administrators a code to access your plans, or as I do save them as a pdf and upload them to the server where we submit our plans. You can also give parents or students the code to see your plans. Once I feel a little more comfortable with the format I plan to link to my lesson plan from my classroom home page.

I shared Planbook with three colleagues in neighboring rooms and we have all been trying it out. Feedback from all four of us has been very positive. Because it's all online, I can work on my plans during my planning period and then login again at home to tweak them.

I've saved my most favorite feature for last: you can attach files to your plans! I absolutely love this. I have activities that I have created or gotten from other bloggers. I attach that file in my plans, and it's right there for me to open. I attach the Smart Notebook file that I use when teaching my math lessons, the activities I'll use at work stations, the pages we are going to complete and add to our science notebooks . . . AND, when I'm planning next year all those attachments will be right there in this year's plans. No more searching for that great activity that I did last year! (OK, maybe I'm the only one with that problem)

OH . . . and all the standards are in there. I just choose CCSS, click on the standard, and it's in my plans. How cool is that?!

I definitely recommend checking out Clicking the picture at the beginning of this post will take your right there. Let me know what you thing!

Math Lit: Mission: Addition

If you are not familiar with Loreen Leedy's books, you really need to check them out! Click the picture above to go to her Pinterest page, or here to go to her website, or here to visit her TPT shop!

Mission:Addition contains six short stories that introduce a variety of addition concepts. The first story has the teacher, Miss Prime, posing a mystery for students to solve using addition facts. It includes the vocabulary addends, sum, plus and equal. Each story is illustrated with panels showing the action and including dialogue bubbles.

My favorite story is the last one, "Check, Please." I'm always looking for fun ways to have my third graders practice adding and subtracting money amounts. This story involves adding up menu items and not spending more money than you have. I'm going to give students a plastic bag of money from our math manipulatives and a take-out menu. They can order whatever they want, but have to stay within their budget! In the story, one student goes over by $9.00 because he didn't add up his order. The story also talks about checking your addition. 

I created a page for my students to use with the activity, which you can download by clicking the picture below.


Looking back . . . And forward

With the first two weeks of school under our belts it's time to look back for a moment. I realized as I went into the second week that I had yet to take any pictures!! I scurried around on Friday and tried to get a snapshot of the classroom to share.

This is the view from the door. You can see my ginormous desk! Whoever decided years ago to put these huge desks in the classroom must have not been teaching for awhile :) They are beautiful, but they take up so much space that could be better used, in my opinion. That accordion door is normally pulled closed. We have a common area out there, with two bathrooms for students, shared by four classrooms.


My white boards are magnetic, so I use that wonderful magnet tape to put everything up. First is my Math It Up! board -- boggle for math class! Right now it is set up for practicing math facts. Next is my proficiency scales board (after the picture was taken students put their numbers on the board to show what level they had achieved). The third picture is my math focus board at the front of the room. This has our current essential questions, CCSS, Standards for Mathematical Practice, and learning goals.

 My small group table. I love having a kidney table! Last year I put out an appeal to anyone who wanted to get rid of one; one of our kindergarten teachers didn't like having such a large table taking up space and I was the lucky recipient. I can comfortably work with 6 students (1/3 of my class) at a time. This past week we continued to practice our math rotations so it got a workout.

Four of my seven student computers. In a pinch, I also use the laptop that is attached to the smart board. This is very helpful right now because our computer labs are being monopolized by beginning of the year testing. We successfully completed our science quiz Friday by rotating through the computers in the classroom. I don't like to do this for math tests -- preferring to have everyone in the lab -- but it's wonderful for those 5 question quizzes.

Coming up this week, my two classes hit the labs for their beginning of the year math assessment. We are using Star Reading and Star Math this year for the first time. I'm curious what any of you think about these. I looked at my students reading scores this week, and my retained third grader, who was a level one in reading last year, is in the green. Apparently he is in no need of intervention!! Our math coach told me she is seeing similar results in math. I'm not feeling good about the validity of these tests :( Pretty sure I'll be giving the BOY test that matches our curriculum to hopefully get an accurate picture.

In math we will finish chapter one. I'm excited about some lessons based on math literature that I have coming up. Don't forget to check out my blog on Thursdays; I have a math lit series going.

Some of you are starting school this week. I hope it goes great for you (love the four day week)!


It's Currently September!

1. I truly will not watch any reality shows; they make me cringe. However, about a week ago I discovered Duck Dynasty. I love the Robertsons! A half hour watching an episode just makes me happy, happy, happy!

2. The first two weeks of school are exhausting! I probably put in two extra hours at work every day. I just try to survive until the long weekend, when I know I can rest and regroup. Then I feel ready for the next several weeks.

3. I have only looked at plans once this weekend and I'd really like to have two weeks done when I go back tomorrow. 

4. Waiting for the son and grandson to come, then we are heading out to a favorite restaurant. Our sweet granddaughter decided she wanted to stay home today, so it's just me and the guys!

5. We practiced our math rotations the past two weeks, but now I need to really group those kiddos and work on skills with them. I am starting to get some data, and can see that I of course have a wide variety of foundational math skills. Looking forward to narrowing my focus during small group.

  1. Tuesdays is "sit and sew" for my quilting guild. I'm determined that this year I'll take that time for myself and join the other ladies after work. That means NOT working late!
  2. I did a 3 days per week running program over the summer; I really don't want to just stop, but it's hard to get myself out in the morning. My goal for September is twice a week.
  3. When I get caught up in school it's easy to grab easy instead of healthy! Definitely need to do better in this area.

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