Ways to Write a Number: Monster Math

Every year, I always like to review the different forms and ways to write a number. We use Everyday Math in our class and there are always questions about showing a number in many ways. While many of my students know how to show it using addition or subtraction problems, practicing the different forms like word, expanded, and using place value blocks are often forgotten, but still important.

I am in love with Scrappin' Doodles monsters (I use them for my grouping cards found HERE) and was dying to incorporate them in a fun and engaging lesson. They are just too cute and the kids loooove them :)

Monster Math

Click the picture above to find it in my TpT Store!

This activity took up a large chunk of our math time today and was so much fun! I set it up like a scavenger hunt and it was the perfect way to keep them moving while practicing math and giggling at the cute monsters :)

I first printed, cut and laminated all of the monster cards. There were 24 in all, so it was not too time-consuming. Plus, I plan on reusing them year after year, which will be easy.

Right before math class, while the kids were at lunch, I went around the room and taped them up all over the place. I didn't hide them anywhere, instead I put them in fun places like the window, on the back of my desk, above class supplies, on our clip chart, etc.

When the kids came in from lunch, I passed out the packet and we worked on an example problem together, reviewing the four forms and also glancing around the room to see where we could see the little monsters hiding.

This is the first of five pages- you can make a packet of all five or pick and choose the pages and monsters you want to use.
I then sent them off to find the monster of their choice and copy down what was on the card into the right spot on the row. They would then use that info to fill in the three remaining forms. All 24 cards were mixed up throughout the room, so they had to read place value blocks, standard, word and expanded forms.

It was great to see them hunt down their favorite monsters first and then see all of the fun things that monster was doing in its various forms. They completed these independently, but could ask friends for locations of monsters if they got stuck.

It was great to collect these packets at the end and see how much practice they had during such a short span- waaaay more fun than book work and it's always a good sign when they comment that math went by so fast that day :)
I just noticed her bottom word form was wrong, but oh well ;)
We are going to review these and I will keep the cards handy for some of my kids who will need the additional practice. They are small enough to use as flash cards, so it would be a very easy center activity, too!

I have added Monster Math to my TpT Store- check it out and enjoy!


Monday Made It: Personalized Book Boxes

Happy Monday!
I am excited about this Monday Made It because my students did all of the work ;) Gotta love that!

We are using the Daily 5 this year and also have tables, not desks, for the first time, so I batted around several ideas this summer thinking about how to give my kids something personal (since they wouldn't have a desk), but also functional (since our room is only so big and can't support lots of extra "stuff").

The solution= Personalized Book Boxes!

These were sosososo easy and the kids absolutely looooved making them!

I started with the Ikea FLYT Magazine Files:

$2 for 5 book boxes? Yes, please! I bought way too many and am actually using them to help keep me organized, so it's a win all around :) Plus, who doesn't love a trip to Ikea?!

I had read reviews that said these didn't hold up, so I thought that personalizing them would be the best way to help kids remember that these were their own personal boxes and to treat them accordingly. By decorating them they now have lots of color and kids showed a lot of pride when they were decorating them, so I'm now hoping they last past Winter Break :) :)

I then found lots of color Sharpies for super-duper cheap! I love Sharpies, so I know these will be well-used for many, many years. I bought 12 packs (2+ for each table) and I was pleasantly surprised to see that was enough for the group. That may also be that I have an incredibly sweet & kind group of kids, too :) Yay!
Keep you eyes peeled at Walmart for these- I think that's where I found them on sale. You can click the picture to get them from Amazon, but they aren't as cheap :(

I then talked to them about their book bin and how these would live close to our class library and hold our books for the whole year. I had 2x4" labels with their names on the front and they could decorate the sides with their own designs, colors, favorite books, characters.... whatever! It was theirs and they were excited about the personalization piece.

Now, my students have their designs all over their bin and they have a fun way to show off a little bit of themselves and their personality in our room!

Head over to 4th Grade Frolics to see all of the other wonderful Monday Made Its! Have a great week :)


Daily 5: Launching Read to Self

Well, it's halfway through the first full week of school and I am trying to get as many routines and procedures up and running as I can, while also remembering to take it slow and ensure that we are building our stamina.

In past years, I have definitely rushed through so many of these steps trying to get to the next thing and I end up paying the price for it later. Practicing the slow-and-steady approach that's laid out in The Daily 5 has really helped me across the board, not just in reading!

We launched The Daily 5 this week and have talked solely about Read to Self. I wanted to let you in on some of our initial minilessons. If you're like me, the visual piece is HUGE when learning about or tweaking a new idea, so I hope these help!

First up, our anchor chart (I-Chart) for Read to Self:
I always add in a character asset that I want them to practice during that time- for Read to Self, it is "Responsibility" since kids certainly have the temptation to goof off or doze off instead of read :)

I also added in the last bullet point in "Teachers are:" because I wanted kids to know that I will not be interrupting their reading. This was an "aha!" (or "oops!") moment for me when I was rereading the book this summer because I am definitely guilty of wandering around and giving quiet praise to the kids who are doing what they are supposed to be doing. I wanted them to instead be building their responsibility without my constant doting, so I included this reminder for them, but mostly for me ;)

We first talked about I-PICK as well as the "Five Finger Rule". I got these lovely signs from The Teacher Wife and attached them with ribbon so they look sosososo pretty in our room :)

I introduced the "Five Finger Rule" when it came to the last letter- Knowing all of the words. We used some Whole Brain Teaching gesturing to go through the levels.
  • When I read a book (hands open like a book), I open to any page and start to read.
  • When I come to a tricky word (hands up on either side of your body and shrugging your shoulders), I put up a finger
  • 0-1 fingers (hold up a fist, then the index finger) is too easy (brush our hands off to the side)
  • 2-3 fingers (hold up 2, then 3 fingers) is Just Right (hold up two thumbs up)
  • 4-5 fingers (hold up 4, then 5 fingers) is too tricky (hold up both hands in front of us like "stop" or "slow down")
We used this opportunity to practice Mirror & Teach-Okay and it went really well!

If you would like a copy of my "Five Finger Rule" sign, pick it up for free HERE.

We talked a lot about Just Right Books. I made an anchor chart and compared it to riding a bike- I'm in Colorado and that's the main form of transportation for adults and kids in this town :) I left the mouth expression off and as we talked about each level, I added it in with Sharpie based on the students' suggestions after we had defined what it felt like to ride a bike and compared that with reading. It was a great lesson and we had lots of fun with it!
One of my girls said that it feels like you get "sucked into your book and don't want to stop" (love it!), so it was a great intro to voracious reading- a CAFE strategy- and it may even be our Word of the Day tomorrow ;)

I hope this helped and that your Daily 5 launching is going smoothly and wonderfully :) We are up to about 7 minutes of stamina, so we're moving right along!

To see more of my Daily 5 posts, click HERE.


Day 2: High Five To a Great Year!

Each year, I love to have the kids create something personal and little for the bulletin board on our classroom's front door. I always try to teach with the door open (unless the air conditioner is on!) and I love to have it show something inviting.

Here's what I came up with this year:
lol, my hand seems {huge!} in the middle :)
This is such a super-easy project and the kids loved it!

All you will need are:
  • cardstock
  • Sharipes
  • markers & color pencils
  • scissors
I first decorated my own hand and then had the header posted on the board so kids knew what we would be doing.

I showed them my "High 5" and then passed out a sheet of cardstock to each student. They had their table supplies at their desk and their only rule was to write their name in black Sharpie and make sure it could be easily seen after they color their hand.

Some kids chose to do random designs on their hands and others chose to make more personalized designs. I liked the variety and think they turned out great!

After they had finished tracing and decorating their hand, they cut them out and I laminated them to make them more durable for the year. I hot-glued them to the bulletin board with the cute header and it looks so fun, welcoming, and colorful when you get to our classroom!

Want the "High Five To a Great Year" header? It's available on Google Docs for free HERE or by clicking the picture below.

I hope you are enjoying your Sunday evening and I am heading to bed soon to get ready for our first full week back! Eeek! Go figure I already have a cold, and so does my 15 month-old...never a dull moment :)


Day 1: Being Bucket Fillers

A few years ago, I found out about the concept of Bucket Filling and fell in love. It was the perfect way to highlight how being kind or cruel has its effects. The concreteness of the idea really hit home with the kids and I'm excited to say that now our entire school reads Have You Filled a Bucket the first month we go back. Yay!

If you have not read this book, you MUST! It is incredible :)

The basic premise is this: we all walk around with buckets. When someone is nice, it fills our bucket. When someone is mean, it drains our bucket.

People who are nice and do nice things are Bucket Fillers. Those who dip out of other people's buckets are Bucket Dippers. Bucket Dippers think dipping from other people's buckets will fill their bucket, but really, their bucket is emptier than ever. {love that part!}

The book goes on to explain ways you can be bucket fillers and it leads very well into creating your own list as a class about how you can be bucket fillers in the classroom and at school. I found a FANTASTIC resource on Pinterest and have blown it up to poster size to hang in my classroom because the ideas were all spot-on!There are a host of other fantastic anchor charts on my Bucketfilling/Character Ed board on Pinterest if you'd like to see more.

Today, we also made a version of Cara Carroll's Peacemakers/Peacebreakers chart, but I changed the headers to read "Bucket Fillers" and "Bucket Dippers":
Each child had a cut out on their seat, so they had to read it aloud and say whether it was bucket filling or bucket dipping. Kids would gesture along by using a thumbs-up for bucket filling and a thumbs down for bucket dipping.

You can pick up a free copy of the headers HERE.

You can download the words and phrases from First Grade Fanatics by clicking HERE.

Now this chart is hanging prominently in our room so we can refer back to it throughout the year :)

There are so many ways to display bucket fillers bulletin boards, mini buckets, etc. in the room. I am so limited on wall space, so I have devised something simple and easy that still acknowledges my kiddos who fill buckets and builds our classroom community at the same time: Our Classroom Bucket!

I found this to be the easiest because it still is a bucket, but whew! it's so much easier than finding room for 27 buckets!

Here is my classroom setup with the poster (I made is poster-size so it's easy to read from anywhere!) and our class bucket and the bucket filling cards I ordered from Vistaprint.

Anytime throughout the week, kids can come back, grab a slip and fill it in, then drop it in the bucket.

Then, once a week, I will take the bucket during our class meeting and choose as many as I can to read aloud and share with the class. We applaud the bucket filler and the recipient can keep the card to take home and show their parents.

If we run out of slips, I will open it up to the students for a verbal bucket filler slip: "So and so filled my bucket when ____"

All of these ways help to acknowledge the kids that are doing great things and going above and beyond. I will often see them referring to our anchor chart and the cool poster from Pinterest when they are writing their slip, so I find it helpful to keep those near the bucket and/or meeting area.

Do you use Bucket Filling? I'd love to hear any additional ideas I can incorporate this year :)


Open House Success!

Our Open House happened this morning and it went so well! The kiddos and their parents stopped in to meet me and see their new classroom. After teaching third grade for seven years, I am still surprised how little they are when they come to me at the beginning of the year! I also got visits from my old students who are in 4th and 5th grades, and even some who are going to middle school.... I love my job :) :)

I had my lovely new tables all set up with some small items for the kids and parents and they all came from great bloggers out there for FREE! Yay :)

Full shot of (most of) my tables and student bins in the back
Their names are on the backs of their chairs (easy to switch spots, if necessary, and keeps a more "open workspace" feel to the room).
A bag of Lucky Charms, my Back to School letter on store-bought letterhead with my contact info, and Farley's parent questionnaire (in blue so it sticks out!)

Better close-up of the questionnaire- it's copied front-back
I am sosososo thankful to the following two bloggers for offering these items for free:
They both have the most amazing resources and blogs- be sure to check them out (but I am almost positive you already have!!) as soon as possible :)

We're back for our first day tomorrow and I will be posting about the first few days over the course of this week. Now, to get some rest {ha!}....


Monday Made It: The Turn-In Bin

I am so thankful for Monday Made Its because they totally make my Monday sosososo enjoyable :) Reading through everyone's crafts and ideas starts my week off on the best possible foot!
This week's project: The Turn-In Bin!
To the right are my bathroom passes- pick them up for free HERE.
Since I use numbers with my kids, I knew this would be something easy to implement and would help me keep track of  everything from home in a simple and easy way!

I use Star Homework in my class, but there are also times when I need to collect assignments, notes from home, and the like. These tend to get lost if the kids simply hand them to me, so I thought a general "Turn-In Bin" would work best.

I used clothespins and put the student's number on the tip and their name on the long-ish part. I did this for the front and back so I could see them clearly no matter which way they are facing.

Then, I used some red and green Sharpie to color in each of the ends so I would know who turned in something and who didn't.
Notice some ends are green & some are red? Green means they have turned it in and red means they haven't. I will switch these back to red at the end of the day (or make it a part of classroom jobs).
This is a super-simple way to see at a glance who has turned in an assignment and who hasn't. It's not foolproof, but it's way better than hunting down kids throughout the day for a missing assignment :)

I made a sign with my favorite clipart from Scrappin' Doodles and it's yours for free! Click on the image below to download it from Google Docs:

I hope you can use this and if you haven't had the chance, head over to 4th Grade Frolics to discover so many wonderful projects for your class and home!


Great Resource to Help With Word of the Day

I am in love with my iPad and plan to use it a lot more this year in class, from Google Docs to record conferences, to finding some great apps to help make my life easier :)

One of my most recent discoveries: Vocabulary Builder!

My friend found this through Julie at Second Grade Style for her 2nd grade class and I was so excited to see that they had an app for grades 3&4 and also 5&6 as well as 1&2!

I am planning on using this app to help on those mornings when I cannot think of a Word of the Day to save my life (especially when I haven't had enough coffee!) :)

To download this free sign, click HERE

For those of you who may be new to my blog, I use Word of the Day as a vocabulary-building transition tool throughout our day. It is a part of our Morning Meeting and I introduce the word to the class, define it, use it in a sentence and then kids need to listen for that word at the end of my directions during the day before they can leave their seat and begin.

It works like a charm and I love it!

I use words from:
  • our social studies & science units
  • character ed lessons
  • current events
  • math terms
  • reading group vocab we have found
  • student-nominated words using my Vistaprint business cards
  • and now this app!
The app goes in alphabetical order and I am not sure how many words there are total, but there seems to be an awful lot! Each word has its part of speech, a definition, and its use in a sentence. There is also the ability to hear the word said aloud, which is awesome!

I hope this helps and I'd love to hear any other easy vocabulary resources you have!

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