Sunday 30 September 2012

Teaching Number Facts up to 20

Tens Frame

Tens Frames for 15


In my first grade class (Second Year Infants) I always use ten frames and triangles to teach number facts up to 20. They are great visuals that can get students to recall number facts quickly. I also teach both addition and subtraction together so that students can actually play around with the signs and the facts so that they can see patterns and form relationships.

Number facts can be very difficult for students to grasp if it is not done in a meaningful and practical way. I spend a lot of time getting students to build numbers on these frames then eventually transfer these 'pictures' in 2D form, that is, they use numbers and signs to record their sentences. e.g. 

When students understand the relationship of these facts and the signs learning number facts would be so much easier.

You might also like these products:

Apples and Dots Fact Family Frames

Base Ten Block Party! Frames for Every Teacher

Wednesday 26 September 2012

Upper Elementary Blogs and Resources

photo of: The Great Upper Elementary Pinterest Link UP hosted by RainbowsWithinReach

So you teach upper elementary (Std 3 to 5) and you're in need of a lot of ideas to pin down learning for your students. Well, here is the pool to begin your search. Debbie Clement from Rainbows Within Reach has given you a headstart. She has organized some beautiful and inspiring ideas from all over blogworld and pinterest into a neat list of links just for you! So if you're pinterested you can take time to search ALL great and pinspiring blog links! 

Sunday 23 September 2012

The Invaluable Task Cards!

Have you ever heard about task cards? Do you know what they are all about? Well let me tell you a little about this wonderful teaching tool. Task cards are actually that, little cards that contain some task or activity for students to complete. It can be used for both individual and group learning. Task cards are an invaluable tool for today's teacher because of its ability to target a wider range of skills and to promote student autonomy. It captures a more detailed picture of how much students have learnt because it requires them to use more of their knowledge to complete the task. The fact that its use allows a buzz of social activity through collaborative learning makes it a very invaluable asset! 

Types of Task Cards

Task cards can be made to mirror your style of assessment in your classroom. Assuming that you do try to vary your question types, task cards can be created as simple activities, Multiple Choice itemsShort Answer Responses or Open-Ended Responses. For a great breakdown of these types and some more details hop on over to the website of fellow blogger Rachel Lynette of Minds in Bloom at Totally Task Cards!

How to Create Your Own Task Cards!

There are many task cards that you can purchase from the internet (including my SayNoName Synonym Task Cards). However, it is also very rewarding to create your own. All you need are:

Index cards
A pen
A task(s)

If you prefer, you can always create them using a word processor program. Just print, laminate and cut.

Task Card Examples

Take a look at these Task Card ideas that I have gathered from Pinterest! Click on the pictures to get to the source!  


Math Task Cards


Task cards

Sunday 16 September 2012

How To Teach Spelling-The Order of Letters!

As a child I remember getting lists of words that I had to learn to spell in a very short space of time. These words grew to be more of a challenge as I grew older, and the list got longer and longer with my climb through the class levels. Somehow I would always master the art of spelling, yet I cannot remember actually studying these words at school. To me it was simply a case of mastering-the-art-of-letter-sequence-recall!

As a teacher I think fun is the name of the game. I give a list of words, yes, but I teach the words and use them in our class vocabulary for an entire week. By the next Monday, I use Fill-in-the-blanks and word searches to get my students to spell those words correctly.

Today I present some other ideas from around the net that can spruce up your spelling lessons by infusing fun and enjoyment to a seemingly boring exercise!

These ideas are great for kindergarten to Grade 6 (First Year to Standard Five)


Spelling Speedway

Make a race track with posterboard or cardboard. Game pieces include a toy car for each player and a die. Everyone throws the die and the person with the greatest value starts the game. Using the list of spelling words the first player is given a spelling word. If he gets it correct he can roll the die and move that number of spaces. However, if he gets it wrong he must lose a turn. The game continues in this manner for all players.

Scrabble Spelling

from Ashley Pennell

Spelling Journals

Students can also keep a list of words in a spelling journal. In the journal they can draw pictures and write ideas to help to remember the spelling of the words.

Spelling Tic Tac Toe 

from Sailing Through 1st Grade

This tic tac toe consists of 9 squares of activities. Students will choose 3 in a line in any direction just like the traditional tic tac toe game. Using their spelling list students are to perform these activities as an aid in remembering how to spell their words. The activities can be created by you.

Break The Code

First Grade Spelling Activities: Crack the Code!: A Spelling Challenge

In this activity each letter of the alphabet is assigned a number or picture. All you do is simply write a string of numbers or pictures to represent the spelling words and have students break the code by  matching the numbers to the letters. This is lots of fun! 

Here is a CODE using pictures that you can download from Mrs Gilchrist's class


Spelling Bingo

This is a game that you can make. Simply fold a piece of paper into halves until you get 16 squares. Have students copy their spelling words into each square leaving one for the FREE space. Using some sort of markers (e.g. coins, beans or bottle caps) call each word and have students cover them with their markers. The child who has B I N G O must spell all his words correctly before he can claim the prize.

'Get To 30' Spelling Activity (Grade 3-6)

This is a great spelling activity for the older students. Created by Lorraine Vasquez over at Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies  students get points when a column of spelling activities are completed. Every activity allows them to explore creative ways of engaging with their spelling words.

Thursday 13 September 2012

Play by the Rules!- A Singular and Plural Sorting Game

It is always very time consuming to get students to identify nouns far more to remember all the rules that govern sorting them into singular or plural categories. Of course, with practice they soon get the hang of it and they then move on to other skills. But why not cut teaching time in half by using games and activities which allow them to have fun and enjoyment while learning? I always believe  that games are very effective in the classroom, especially when it comes to making learning much easier and informal too!

Play By The Rules is a great sorting game that uses the rules of determining the number of a noun to get students to build their store of cards. The game uses very clear pictures and labels along with the knowledge base of students to facilitate learning. 

Play By The Rules is so much fun that your students will be learning with ease. Their spelling is also sure to improve.


This game is available at my TPT store. Click HERE for further details.

Saturday 8 September 2012

The Need for Guided Reading

At the start of the school year it is important that you find out where your new students are by performing an assessment. What also helps is being able to ascertain where each child is along the road to independent reading. My first grade students have already been assessed in letter/sound identification and sight word knowledge. Based on these results I now have to group them according to their instructional level. 

In guided reading students are put into groups of 3-5 students for a 15 minute session (flexible for older students). The books chosen for each group would vary according to their needs. For example, books may range from predictable texts for the lower level to decodable texts, books containing a large amount of sight words, leveled books in a series or trade books for the more independent readers. The teacher selects an instructional focus then allows the groups to read together while she walks around, providing guidance to students. For instance, when stuck on a word she can question students to help them arrive at an appropriate decoding strategy. The teacher may also provide guidance in interpreting meaning of the text or predicting outcomes.

Running Records

A running record is an observational tool that is used to record the reading behaviors of individual students. It captures what he does while reading, how he self-corrects and what strategies he uses to decode new words.These patterns can be used to determine the reading levels of students.

Click HERE for a free running record

Click HERE for the guide Codes for a running record

While you are busy observing students and providing guidance to groups it is necessary to monitor the activities of all groups. The stronger students may finish early so may have to ensure that more tasks are at hand for them.

Guided reading is a very effect way of allowing students to be in charge of their own learning. It is a great instructional strategy that can produce students who are more confident about their reading ability. It can also motivate all students by making reading a social activity.

Here is a FREE Strategies for Determining Unknown Words Poster by Miss Snowden

You may also be interested in my Spring Word Wall Cards. Click the picture below.


Thursday 6 September 2012

Recycle CD Holders


Are you tired hearing about recycling? I hope not! I found a fantastic video on how to upcycle CD spindles into wonderful works of art. I think that with a stretch of your imagination you can come up with a tweak to these ideas for your classroom.

You may also like:


This one is a great idea for my earrings!:)

Wednesday 5 September 2012

How Fair is Education?

In my studies last year I came across this illustration that made me question my purpose and role as a teacher. As teachers we have a mammoth task of getting all our students to achieve the same goal. In this illustration  all the animals must climb the tree in order to be selected for whatever purpose. As you already know the monkey can outdo the other animals because he has been climbing trees all his life. The bird may have some skills and he can always use his wings to his advantage. The dog, the walrus, the fish, the elephant and the penguin do not stand a chance in this competition. 

What do you think?

Monday 3 September 2012

How To Organize Your Classroom Library- Without Shelves!

SOS I need help! I have one shelving unit in my classroom and may have to divide it between my library and my students' notebooks. I think that I have a need for at least one more unit. It is not enough for me so I really have to find a pinteresting solution. This is my library corner and the table to the right in this picture is my "sub shelving system' aka all purpose table. The picture below was taken before the start of school and not much has changed. 


Pinterest Ideas

So pinterest is everybody's solution for finding creative and innovative ideas. I must say,  I thought that my search for 'shelf-less' library ideas was an impossible feat, however, i was in for a surprise. 

Take a look at some shelf-less library ideas!

how to make crate cubbies for the classroom

Large containers

Cardboard boxes

Transforming Furniture,Sustainable Building,Bicycles,Green Home decor,Green Materials,green Interiors,green furniture,Green Design Events,DIY,Prefab Housing,ikea furniture,copenhagen design week 2011,recycled shipping containers,
Wooden crates
Plastic Shelves
Shoerack Library

Plastic containers

Mygrafico Digital Arts & Crafts

Sunday 2 September 2012

Styrofoam Sheet Calendar!

Recently I got my hands on a large piece of styrofoam sheet from a furniture store and did not know what to do with it. Then, thanks to pinterest, I saw these beautiful wall decor and immediately I began thinking of how best to use this idea in my classroom decor.

   Pinned Image

I came up with this..

 A Styrofoam Sheet Calendar!

What you need: 

A styrofoam sheet
A piece of fabric of your choice
A sheet of black bristol board/card stock paper
Craft Glue
Craft knife

Of course I used my very own Flower Theme Classroom Kit  labels and graphics.

30 Fun Would You Rather Opinion Writing Prompts

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