Having Fun with Math Videos

"This is fun" is my all time favorite compliment.  I know that when students are having fun while learning, they are are more engaged.  More engaged means less discipline problems for me.  A win-win for any teacher, right?

When an activity is fun, students take more risks and have less anxiety about what they are studying.  Of course, all teachers would like every lessons to be fun and engaging.  Unfortunately, teachers have a limited amount of time to plan lessons.

One way you can extend your math lessons and make math fun is with videos. Students benefit from hearing math concepts a second time, presented a different a way. Jason @ Common Core 4 Kids emailed me this week to tell me about a special promotion. Your school can get a site wide license for a full year for $25.  This promotion ends November 3rd.
I have written about Common Core 4 Kids math videos before. Math was a difficult subject for Jason, the owner of the site. This has been his motivation for finding a way to help students. Jason just added a new 3D math game that will strengthen students' skills. With first player games and videos in the games, students can revisit the videos again and again. Students learn concepts through videos and visuals with audio.  Students will answer questions about topics like place value blocks, clocks, and much more.

Would you like to check out this site?  You can get a 15 day free pass

This blog post is sponsored by 
Common Core 4 Kids.

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Behavior Tips: Grab their attention!

Back to School, Spring Fever, March Madness . . . . if you are a teacher, you realize that there are more than four seasons. Halloween is the beginning of the "Do Whatever it Takes" season. This is the time of the school year when students are comfortable with each other, comfortable with you, and "let their hair down" behavior-wise. This is also the time of the year when you are trying to teach the bulk of your curriculum.

When you began teaching, managing behaviors was at the top of the list of important skills to acquire. Your students must listen to you in order to learn. How creative are you when it comes to "Do whatever it takes" season?
"All eyes on me" takes on a whole new meaning when you set up a system like the one in the picture above.  I found these eyes at Party City. Grab them at an after Halloween sale.  The blow up eye would be a good reminder or point to it (visual cue) when you say, "all eyes on me".  The little eye "balls" would be a fun reward system.  Pass out one to students who are modeling the desired behavior.  When all of the balls are passed out, model students earn a reward - eat lunch in the classroom.  Model students will turn the balls back in and the incentive game begins again.
Halloween supply stores sell werewolf ears like the ones in the picture. The next time your students are having a particularly difficult time with listening, put on a pair of werewolf ears.  Once the laughter dies down, your students will see the werewolf ears and remember that they need to listen and follow directions. Visual cues can work wonders!
Party supply stores are also a great place to find fidgets. Some of the fidgets are really cheap, too. I found the stretchy bracelet for forty cents at Party City.

What is your favorite behavior tip?

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What's on your Bookshelf? FREE Book List

Why do some students wander around during free reading time?  Do you have one of those students?  He flips through the tubs of books but can't ever find something that he wants to read.  Seeing all of these tubs of books in many classroom libraries can be overwhelming for some students. How can you help these students use their reading time more effectively?
Do you have a bookshelf like the one in the picture? I like using a bookshelf that shows the front cover of books to feature books about the theme or topic that I am teaching.  This type of bookshelf can help the overwhelmed student (O.S.). Use this shelf as a "one stop shopping"  place for books for your O.S.

  • Bookshelf should be small.  It is better if it shows front cover like the one in the picture.
  • Rotate books on this bookshelf frequently - at least twice a month.
  • Have a wide selection of books: fiction, non-fiction, grade level above and below.

I made a PDF of books with links for October themed books for you.

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Win Gift Cards & Books

It is hard to believe that I began this blog journey 5 years ago! I remember writing my first post and feeling like I was writing into the great abyss. Would anyone ever read something that I wrote? With a little time, help from Pinterest and Facebook to spread the word, I recently had my 10 millionth page view on this blog. How crazy is that?!!! Plus, I now have 40,000 followers on my Facebook page. This calls for a celebration!

To celebrate my blog's page views, 10 teachers will win a $10 shopping trip in my TPT store. Enter the rafflecopter below if you'd like to shop in my store.

I will email the winner.  
Make sure you put your correct email on the rafflecopters.

To celebrate my Facebook followers milestone, one teacher will win a $40 gift card to the Gift Card Mall. The winner gets to choose the store from the Gift Card Mall site. Enter the rafflecopter below if you'd like to win a Gift Card Mall gift card.

I'm celebrating 2 milestones so 2 teachers will win a box of books that are taped and leveled. There are 20+ books in the box. Enter the rafflecopter below if you'd like to win a box of books.  Be sure to tell me what grade level you teach so I can choose appropriate books for you.

Go visit my friends, Ashley and Fern, for a chance to win more prizes. Make sure you follow all of our Facebook pages because we will each announce the winners on our Facebook page on Saturday, October 22nd.  We will also email the winners.

WE WILL CHOOSE A NEW WINNER if no response to email by midnight October 24th.

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Growth Mindset, Q.R. Code plus freebie

I love inspirational videos. You can use these for class meetings, watch and then reflect in journal, or inside recess. 
In this video, a football team leader was being pessimistic about an upcoming game. The coach ask the player to do something for him. Watch this video when your students are needing to change their mindset.

I found more videos that you might want to check out.

by Carol Dweck - 9:37 minutes

This is a video about a boy who had lost confidence in himself until he learned about growth mindset.
Growth Mindset - 2:11 minutes

I made the safe share links for these videos into page of Q.R. Codes. Plus, there is a page that students can write their thoughts about the videos. Get a free copy of these Growth Mindset pages.

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Reading Homework: Book Bags & Minutes

Lately, there has been a debate about the merits of homework. Some schools have made an effort to shorten the amount of time students spend on homework and a few have stopped the practice altogether.
One thing I think parents and teachers will agree upon is the value of students reading books.  Is there a way that you can encourage reading - really  reading books, not just signing a reading log?

Think about your own reading habits.  Is everything that you read on the same reading level, same type of materials or genre?  No, probably not.  In an average week, we read magazines, posts on the internet, books, newsletters, letters, and other materials.  Why not organize something similar for your students with Book Bags?

Book Bags can include a variety of types materials like magazines, fiction and non-fiction books. You can use reuseable shopping bags or themed bags like the ones in the Target Dollar Spot.

The theme of the bag can be used a variety of ways, too.

Minion themed bag found at Target Dollar Spot
Possible themes:  Minions or yellow 

If you purchased my Readers Response file, you may download it again.  I added materials to organize Book Bags that are in the picture above.

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Early Reader Tips

Kindergarten and first grade teachers:  Have you found lessons or activities for early readers that you use every year? It seems like we are always adding new ideas and strategies to our teacher toolbox.  Here are a few of my favorites.
Slide and sound is a good warm-up activity to use with your small groups.  It is a hands on way to show how letters blend together to form words.  You can get a free copy of the multi-sensory slide and sound cards, task cards, and worksheets here.
Organize a tub of song books.  Include books with songs that students are familiar with like the ones in the picture above.  Students will read and sing, practice their book handling techniques, and gain confidence.
Soundboxes are a great phonological awareness tool. Use these to practice segmenting words into individual sounds.  I love to use seasonal themed soundboxes and small erasers like the ones in the picture above.  You can get a free copy of these soundboxes here.
The Bubble Gum Homework program was one of the best things I did to improve my students' reading skills.  The structure of the program keeps the students - and parents - motivated which is why I think it had such an impact.  

There has been quite a bit of debate in the news lately about whether students should be given homework.  With this program, students are encouraged to study a minimum of 3 words per week. There is not a paper (printable) assignment for the students to complete.  Parents and students can study the words the way they feel works best. 
Early readers need to work on fluency.  It is fun to work on fluency with a partner.  You can get a free Fluency Check here.  I just added a bigger Fluency Check file with 10 reading passages - kindergarten level and 10 reading passages - 1st grade level plus other activities this week.  You can see it here.

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Fun with Mysteries

Do you have junior secret agents in your class this year? These are students who love gadgets, have a sense of adventure, love to read mysteries, and enjoy studying any type of map. Or do you have students on the opposite end of the spectrum?  Do you have students that act like they want to be anywhere but school. If so, maybe it's time for a little adventure!

The first time I introduced "Spy 101" was in October during Red Ribbon Week. My students had to choose a country in South America or Mexico. Each student wrote their own mission plan. For example, one student said the Statue of Liberty was stolen and reported hidden in Chile. Another student said the President that we see on t.v. was an imposter. The real President was getting medical treatment in Brazil. His mission was to see if the person in Brazil was the real person or the imposter President. 

In order to write their mission reports accurately, students had to research their country's: weather, terrain, culture, mode of travel, and other important details. Some of my students even visited travel agencies. They got posters, pamphlets, and extra information about their country which further enriched their reports.
You can integrate this with your current social studies unit. If you are studying Greece, have the mission take place in Greece. If you are studying continents, assign each group to a different continent
A literacy center - "Operation Bookworm" is included which also includes a book list with title, author, and reading levels (2nd - 6th grade).

Integrate science with this unit with this invisible ink lesson.  

Here's a video about making invisible ink you can show your class:
Safe share link
Each student will have their own spy folder and assigned a number (like James Bond). Labels are included.

Activities include:
Operation Bookworm
-Signs: color and blackline
-Mystery booklist: 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th
-Reading Tracker: 2 forms - chapters and pages
-Story comparison: venn diagram
-Book Log: Traveling with Book
-Setting Details: country/state/city, climate, landforms, flag, culture, interesting facts
-the Clues: write 3 clues
-Character Traits: is / is not tree map and generic tree map
-Mission location: locate on map (United States)
-Mystery location: locate on map (United States)
-Mission location: locate on map (world)
-Mystery location: locate on map (world)
-Research: background information
-Mission Report
-Mystery Report
-Secret Code
-Secret code message #1 and answer key
-Secret code message #2 and answer key
-Secret code message - write your own message - 2 forms
-Top Secret labels
-Agent labels

Do you follow my Facebook page?  I have been hosting book giveaways.  I will be giving away mystery books this week.

Do you need more books?

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Hallowiener How To Writing, Making Words, & More!

Halloween is a fun holiday!  All of the planning for costumes, carving pumpkins, and decorating can spill over into the classroom.  By the time the actual day arrives, the energy level of students can be off the charts.  The last thing students need is a sugar-filled party.

Years ago, my reading specialist introduced me to the book, The Hallo-wiener, by Dav Pilkey.
 The other dogs in this story make fun of Oscar, the dachshund (wiener dog).  The other dogs rush off and leave Oscar when it is time to go trick-or-treating.  In the end, Oscar rescues them and they all end up as friends.

It is an entertaining book with a good message for children.
The Hallo-wiener  book sets the theme for the perfect fall - Halloween party.  For your next Halloween party have "hallo-wieniers"!  You can easily make these in the classroom with a crockpot.  Put the wieners in the crockpot standing upright.  Add water after you finish adding all of the wieners.  Turn the crockpot on and they will soon be ready.  You can serve chips and water bottles with it.  Notice there is nothing that screams sugar on the menu.  Your parents will thank you for not sending home their child on a sugar high.
Let your students complete this making words activity while the wieners are cooking.  Your students will make as many words as possible from the word "Hallowiener".  There are letter tiles at the bottom that they can cut and arrange to help with this activity.  This is also a fun partner activity.
Let your students write the steps of how to make a hot dog after they finish eating.  Encourage your students to use transition words like the ones in the picture above.

In the ideal world, all teachers would have involved parents who can lend a hand for activities like this.  Unfortunately, that is not everyone's reality.  I have organized a "Hallo-wiener" day with my class and managed it completely by myself.  My Hallo-wiener file includes a parent note asking for supplies.  Many parents are happy to send in supplies but may not have flexibility with their jobs.  I would suggest that the date you ask for supplies be a couple of days before the activity so you have time to purchase missing supplies.  Check out the preview file to see the other activities included with the file.

How do you celebrate Halloween with your class?

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Cultural Diversity throughout the School Year

Our world is a giant melting pot and many classrooms reflect that diversity. Celebrations Around the World is one of my favorite units that celebrates different cultures. Wouldn't it be nice to have a center that celebrates cultural diversity all year long?

You can easily set up a diversity center with some books and a few reading response forms. I just added the pages below to my Reading Response & Book Bag file that would be perfect for this center.

Grandfather Tang's Story is a story that can be used with this center and enrich your math lessons, too. There is a tangram template and tangram sign included.

Some cultures and languages use an alphabet that is different than ours. Show examples of different types of alphabets. I recently visited my local thrift store and found the books below. Alef-Bet is a Hebrew alphabet book. The picture above is an example of an assignment that works with an alphabet book. You can click on the pictures below for more information about the books.

One of my favorite things about books is that you can travel without spending money. There is this big world out there just waiting to be explored . . . . with books!

Do you hang a map in your classroom? Too many times maps are something that is rolled up and put away after a lesson. I highly recommend hanging a map low enough that students can touch it, explore it, and talk about it. You will be surprised at how this quickly becomes "the" new hangout spot.

Maps are also a great way to show (document) the settings of the books you've read. Make a map themed bulletin board to show the settings of the books you've read to your class. You can also include a map with the cultural diversity center. I found this one at Lakeshore. It is about the size of a placemat - perfect size for a literacy center.

Introduce other languages with a cultural diversity center. There are many books that incorporate a few words of a different language that is perfect for this center.

Manana Iguana is the Spanish version of the Little Red Hen. The book is shown above in the picture. You can watch a video of it below:

Video: Manana Iguana 2:02
Safeshare link

Many girls add an American Girl doll that looks like them to their birthday or holiday wish list. It is familiar, relatable to them.

Characters in books work the same way for students. Have you ever had a student ask you where the books are in the library that look like him or her? After that happened to me, I made a conscious decision to look for books that have characters that represent our world.

SUGGESTION: One of the things I have found very helpful is looking at the publisher of books that I purchase. If you purchase a book that is published from another country, you will want to look at it very carefully.

In the picture above is a book called, "The Inspiring Stories from Aesop" by Kunwar Anil Kumar. When I looked closer at the book, I noticed that some words, although translated properly, may not be the choice of words I would prefer. The title of the fable in the picture is "An A#s in a Swamp". Although the word ___ is correct, I would have used the word "donkey".

The fable that we call "the boy who cried wolf" is called "false alarm" in this book. There are other differences that I found interesting and would make interesting lessons.

Just remember . . . . always preview books you purchase or parents donate to ensure the word choice is what you prefer for your class.

My husband's job has moved us from place to place. We currently live in the San Francisco bay area. I live halfway between San Francisco and Silicon Valley. There are several advantages of living here:

It is a culturally rich community.
Education is highly valued here.
It is heaven for people who love books.

Families place a high priority on education which means they purchase many, many, many books. When their children are finished reading the books, they donate them to the local thrift store. There is an overabundance of children's books at thrift stores. I can purchase children's books for 25 cents - $1.49 (chapter books). Most of these books have been gently used.

I have been purchasing used books, taping the edges, and leveling them (if levels are given on Level It or Book Wizard app) and hosting "Need Books? Giveaways" on my Facebook page.
Visit my FB page for my latest Need Books Giveaway. The theme is: Culturally Diverse Books. Here are a list of the books included with this giveaway. I will include Amazon links so you can read more about the books.

INDIA: Tenalirama
MALAYSIA: Hamid's Surprise
KOREA: What will you be Sara Mee?
AFRICA - Ghana: One Hen
SYRIA: Fatima and the Dream Thief
NATIVE AMERICAN - Hopi: The Warrior Maiden
CHINA: Sagwa, The Chinese Siamese Cat
CHINA: Grandfather Tang's Story
JAPAN: A Day in Japan
IRELAND: Dreaming of America
VIETNAM: The Lotus Seed
CARIBBEAN: How many days to America?
AFRICAN AMERICAN: Something Beautiful
AFRICAN AMERICAN: Goin' Someplace Special
HISPANIC: Let's Read about Cesar Chavez
BILINGUAL: A book of Seasons - English & Spanish
Some SPANISH words: Manana Iguana
Some SPANISH words: Siesta
RUSSIA: Molly's Pilgrim
JEWISH: Alef-bet: A Hebrew Alphabet Book
JEWISH: Bone Button Borscht
DEAF COMMUNITY: Mother Goose in Sign Language
VARIOUS COUNTRIES: This is the Way we go to School 

Do you have any favorite books that I should add to this center?


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