Thursday, 12 March 2015

What we did this week

We have no kids tomorrow as it is Report Card Writing Day. I am already done my reports (yahoo) so I will be spending the day cleaning, organizing stuff and getting ready for my sub next week as I will be in Palm Springs for the week for the annual CUE Conference. (Computer using Educators….tech stuff)

I had a ton of photos on my ipad of things we did this week and I thought I would share some! I love seeing photos of people doing things in their class as it always gives me ideas! I get waaayyy more ideas for activities from people sharing pics, than people sharing a product they made :s (just saying….I know I share products too at times!)

So here are some things we worked on in no particular order:

Working on Ideas in Writing:

We read The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown and worked on using her structure to write interesting sentences that stick to the main idea. We wrote one together, they wrote one with a partner and then they wrote one by themselves.

Here is our Ideas Anchor Chart (ideas for the chart are from 6+1 Writing Traits)


Here is the one we wrote together:


Here are some of the ones they wrote independently. Quite a few of my students struggled with this. They reverted back to the “ I like it, it is good, it is fun” types of sentences. This is a tough activity when 20 out of 23 students of mine are EAL. We worked on whiteboards so as to easily write and re write if needed.


(The important thing about a shark is that it can fight with a dangerous animal. They surf for food like seals and fish. They are fast like a motorcycle and they eat people too. Their teeth are very sharp. They are amazing. But the most important thing about a shark is that it can fight with a dangerous animal.)


Portrait Drawing in Art

I made a makeshift document camera with my ipad and lamps! It worked alright. I used the camera app to document what I was drawing and display it on the smartboard for them to watch step by step. Could I have drawn on the smartboard? Yes. Could I have drawn on the whiteboard? Of course. But I wanted to try it out. Excited to use it to show things in math !


Art Video

I keep all the kids art at school in a big folder until the end of the year and then they take it all home. We decided to make a video to share at conferences to show moms and dads all our art so far because they haven’t seen any of it!
We took pictures of every piece of art in our folder and then used Shadow Puppet to create a video. Students had to add a title to each piece of art and chose music for the background.


Morning Message

I realized that we have some misconceptions about turnaround facts in math. We have been talking a lot about how when you add, you can flip or turnaround the parts and you get the same answer. Well they have been thinking that the same is true for subtraction.

Teaching moment: re- go over that when you subtract the bigger number needs to go first. Fact Family !


Another Art Piece! Collaborative Abstract Art

Students were given criteria and they had to work with a partner to plan and create an piece.
Choose 1 colour paint
Choose 2 shapes (each paints one)
Paint shapes in black
Use the paint to make a tint and a shade
Fill in all sections with no white space



And here, in all its glory is the wonderfulness of the Open Area School. The arrows indicate different things going on in the same area. We have kids working on Art (inside and outside the classroom), kids on computers, teachers having an impromptu hallway meeting, an EA working 1:1 with a student, and kids listening to a story in their classroom. It’s a tad crazy at times!


Tomorrow is Friday and my Birthday!!! Goodbye to my 20’s! Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Simple Effective Math Activities

Hello folks,

I wanted to share some of the simple math activities we have been using in class lately.

I for one, hate printing in ink, hate printing things with tons of extra clipart (sorry!) and do not like activities which are a one time go. (ex. worksheets) While I do use worksheets on occasion, for subs or some summative assessment, I try to stay away from them. Waayyy to much paper being used and the activity can’t be repeated.

Almost all of the math activities my kids engage in use whiteboards and math materials. (dice, ten frame cards, deck of cards, counters, game boards, etc) There are exceptions however and I do make and print simple games for my kids!

I try to plan activities that my kids can go to over and over again and continue to learn new things.

Here are some of the activities that are in our bins right now for Math Daily 5.

Memory 5 

Kids are playing memory and matching up combinations that make 5. I made cards with dot patterns, numbers, and finger patterns on them. You could easily use a deck of cards or ten frame cards and only use the cards that make 5!


Clear the Board

This is counting on game. Be the first person to clear all your counters off the board by rolling 2 dice and adding!


Ways to Make

Kids have a target number and double sided chips. Drop your chips and record all the different ways to make your number by adding red plus white. This is another activity we do again and again on whiteboards. Easily differentiated by changing the number of chips!


Hundreds Chart Puzzles

Print out a hundreds chart and cut it up! Students work to put in back in the correct order. I made about 6 different puzzles, all with varying degrees of difficulty. Students can continue to go back and try the different ones. Lots of number sense and pattern thinking needed!


Roll and Add

Roll 2 dice, add and record! I made my own dice on foam blocks so students could practice certain number combinations. Put inside a page protector to use as a whiteboard.


What kind of simple activities are you using in math? I would love some new easy ideas!

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

What we’ve been up too…Wordless Wednesday

I am linking up with Miss Decarbo for Wordless Wednesday.

Here is what we have been up to in grade one!

Oil Pastel Warm Hearts


List writing for making playdough


Tints and Shades


Hundreds Chart Puzzles in Math by Myself


Scattergories like game for List Writing

This topic was vegetables and fruits.


List Writing: Love it or Loathe it lists


Happy Wednesday!

Monday, 23 February 2015

Equality and Balancing Equations

We have been working hard at really understanding the equal sign. Many students have misconceptions about what the equal sign means. Students often think that the equal sign means the answer comes after. We have been using the balance scale and looking at different types of number sentences to conquer this myth.

Instead of thinking about the symbol as only meaning equal, we have been using the words “the same as.” One side of the equal side is the same as the other side. That is what makes a number sentence equal, balanced, correct, true etc.

We used the balance scale to concretely show what the numbers on either side look like in cubes.

We looked at number sentences where the equal sign was in different places and again, used the scale to concretely show it. Some kids did not believe that you could write a number sentence different ways and think that it is only written as
____ + _____ = _____.

They have memorized facts and still need to work on solidifying their number sense and really understanding what the different parts and symbols mean in a number sentence.

9 = 1 + 8
1 + 8 = 9
1 + 8 = 7 + 2
9 = 9

During our small group sessions in Math Daily 5, kids worked on balance scale mats and cubes to show balanced equations.


We also continued to work on finding different ways to make a number. This helps us when we try to balance number sentences and a part or whole is missing.


If I have 4 + 2 = ?…………. I could put:

4 + 2 = 6
4 + 2 = 2 + 4
4 + 2 = 0 + 6
4 + 2 = 5 + 1

etc…because I know all the combinations to make a number.

Today we looked at another word to explain numbers that are balanced and equal.


We found out true means the same thing as those words and False means our number sentence is imbalanced and unequal.

I didn’t take any photos but we sorted number sentences as True or False…and if they were False, students had to explain how they could make it True.

Do your kids truly understand the equal sign is?

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Create your OWN Listen to Reading Books!

I found this great idea from Kayla over at Top Dogs Teaching. Visit her blog to get the step by step on how to use the App Audio Boom!
We used her idea to create our own Listen to Reading Books for Daily 5. We have been talking about why we do Listen to Reading and how it helps us become better readers.

Why do Listen to Reading:

  • It`s fun
  • You can read books that are too hard for you to read on your own
  • You can hear what good storytellers sound like
  • You can hear what fluent readers sound like
We created an anchor chart of what we noticed when we listened to books by good storytellers.


Students then had the chance to sign up to come and record themselves reading a book. They needed to be able to do everything on the chart.  Students used Read to Self time to practice reading fluently and changing their voice!
Here is the sign up sheet I made.


I chose to have students record during recess time as we are an open area school and it is one of the only times when you can find quiet. (unless its indoor recess, which of course is what happened our first day of recording! UGH)

Here is the set up for recording. I used a little mini microphone on my ipad to help eliminate background noise but it is totally not necessary.

photo 1

Once the recording is complete, you upload and Audio Boom creates a QR code for you!


I decided to print the QR codes and tape them onto index cards. The great thing is many kids can record themselves reading the same book and you can have multiple cards with different QR codes on them for different kids readings!

I put the book in a bag with the index card. On the index card I wrote who it was read by.


I created a new Listen to Reading bin for just our Storyteller Books. Kids can come to the bin, take out a bag and scan the QR code with the ipad to listen to!


Go check out Kaylas post to learn how to use Audio Boom to record!

Happy Saturday!

Monday, 26 January 2015

Place Value: Tens and Ones Activities

We have been working lots on building and recording tens and ones. It has really helped my lower kids in counting and understanding numbers and their relationships to other numbers.

We recently introduced some new number puzzles to our Math by Myself Activities.

There are 3 different kinds of puzzles. 4 piece, 2 piece and 1 piece.


I store my puzzles in ziploc bags. These ones are a little more intricate than my other puzzles, so I taped an example to the bag of how to correctly complete it, in case they forget.

The first puzzle works on showing the number in numerals, tens and ones (words), base ten blocks and ten frames.


In the next puzzle, students need to connect the base ten blocks with their corresponding number card and then write how many tens and ones. The puzzle pieces are laminated and we use a whiteboard marker.


The last puzzle has students circling how many tens and ones are needed to show the number. There are no pieces to connect, just circling with a whiteboard marker.


Click {HERE} to go grab the number puzzles!

Place Value Puzzlesa

I printed them 4 to a page in order to save cardstock! Each puzzle style goes through the numbers 1-50. I would recommend mixing them up and making multiple puzzle bags so as not to overwhelm the kids. In the 4 piece puzzle set, I was able to make 3 different bags using all the numbers from 1-50.

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