Sunday, September 27, 2015

Math FUN At The Monster Mall

This is the perfect time for your students to shop at the Monster Mall!  We met Common Core State Standards in the most un-common way!
Here are some of our monsters and one of our menus.

I started by cutting squares of green construction paper to 7" X 7".

I created some monster pieces (like eyes, noses, scars, hair, necks with bolts, and mouths) and made a menu:
I gathered or made hair, eyes,
noses, mouths, necks, and scars.
I got my craft supplies from Oriental Trading Company. They have wiggle eyes, pom-poms for the noses, yarn for the mouths, and foam sheets for the head, neck, and hair.
Each item on this menu cost one cube.

Then, I called up 4 students at a time and I gave them each 5 cubes, counters, or plastic coins to use as money.
Each of the 4 children I met with used a different
colored set of five cubes so I could keep track of
how many cubes each child gave me.
Each item cost 1 counter, so they did not have enough cubes to buy every item, but they did have enough to buy 5 items.

You can also use any counting blocks or play coins.
You can use stacking counters for money.
Plastic coins are always fun for children to use as they shop for pieces for their monsters.

This menu used 1 cent
 instead of 1 cube for each item.  

Some students bought hair, some did not.  The ones who bought hair got to decide if they wanted the hair to point down like bangs or up like spiked hair.

Some bought a scar to use on the side of their monster's face.  Some used the scar as a mouth.

If they bought a yarn mouth, they got to decide if they wanted the mouth to smile or frown.

Each monster looked different from the others, but they all cost 5 cubes.

We put them up in the school showcase.
Our monsters look great in the showcase
along with our stories.

We displayed our menu in the showcase too.
I love how each monster looks different.  
You can add more parts or increase the prices of the items to make it work for your own class. 

I have shopping receipt templates for 3 other stores:  
Meow Mall:  Students shop for parts to decorate their black cats.
Snowman Shop:  Students shop for parts to decorate their snowmen.
Leprechaun Store:  Students shop for parts to decorate their leprechauns.
You can find these receipts and directions here.

The Common Core State Standards call for real world math.  Shopping is as real as it gets, even at the Monster Mall!  Here are the CCSS covered in this lesson:

  • CCSS.Math.Content.K.CC.B.4 Understand the relationship between numbers and quantities; connect counting to cardinality.
    • CCSS.Math.Content.K.CC.B.4a When counting objects, say the number names in the standard order, pairing each object with one and only one number name and each number name with one and only one object.
    • CCSS.Math.Content.K.CC.B.4b Understand that the last number name said tells the number of objects counted. The number of objects is the same regardless of their arrangement or the order in which they were counted.
    • CCSS.Math.Content.K.CC.B.4c Understand that each successive number name refers to a quantity that is one larger.
Leave a comment & share a FUN Halloween activity that you do! 

Visit our Teachers Pay Teachers Store HERE.
Visit our Facebook Page Right HERE.
Visit our Pinterest Boards over Here.
And visit us again right here at our blog where we "keep the FUN in the FUNdamentals!"

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Keeping "Play" in Your Kindergarten Day + FREEBIES

Justifying the Importance of Play:

In these times of "Kindergarten Rigor" and test score mania, how do you justify the importance of "play" in your kindergarten classroom?
Kids love to play, so why not play with sight word meatballs?

Well, I was basically able to keep my “play based” kindergarten by providing excellent test scores at each of the trimester reporting periods. Achieving high test scores doesn't mean that you can't provide lots of opportunities for play. I understand the importance of accountability and measurable means to report student grown and drive my instruction and intervention, but I refused to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Where "play" fits in my day:

My kindergarten day consisted of engaging whole group lessons, meaningful independent work (required of all students), and differentiated small group guided reading and math instruction.  CLICK HERE so see a post about my typical day. 
From attendance check-in to just playing with numbers, these centers are just plain FUN!Click the image to see a post on how you can build your own Rekenrek. 
You can grab the FREE NUMBER CARDS by clicking HERE.

During the independent work time, I pulled my homogeneous small groups for specific skill work. If your independent work was done (and quickly checked by an adult, meaning me or a parent volunteer) and you weren’t meeting with me in a small group, you could use your time to choose ANY center and play.
Kids can "play" with letters and learn their names while having fun.

Why this formula is win-win for teachers, admins, & kids:

So basically, admins see kids engaged in powerful small group lessons, meaningful independent work, and educational play activities.  You can see great ways to keep "play" in your day by CLICKING HERE for part 1. Then, CLICK HERE for part 2. 
One more additional benefit: Happy Kids who are excited to learn!

Creating Centers That Foster Play:

So, how did I create play centers that were also educational? I started by looking at the standards I needed students to master. There are some samples of great centers throughout THIS BLOGPOST. CLICK HERE to see it.
The power of print should be everywhere in your classroom. 

I literally wrote the sight words on the train tracks with a Sharpy marker. Students were often heard saying, "Give me the piece that says like," as they were building their train track. 

I also labeled EVERYTHING! From the science center to the home center. This also provided opportunities for sorting as students sorted the forks and spoons or the fruits and vegetables according to the labels.
These "detectives" are exploring at the Science Center. No directions included, just explore & discover! 
I incorporated social studies and science in our centers. I set up outfits representing our community helpers in our home center and lots of science realia in our "Discovery Center" which also included math tools like rulers and balance scales.

And then there were the stores! My students loved my monthly stores were students could pretend to buy items with plastic coins. They were adding, subtracting, and problem solving as they had fun. 
We also created a coffee shop, a candy store, and a burger stand. The kids created the menus. 

They loved wearing the clerk aprons and making the parts for the stores. For our See's Candy Shop, they decided that the cube shaped candies were 1 cent while the cylinders were 2 cents. Then, they filled the empty heart shaped boxes with pretend candies (which our upper grade buddy class made with my free templates) and they added to come up with a total price for the box of candy. See's is happy to give you paper candy cups and little bags too. There is just so much you can learn from shopping!  You can grab the FREE candy template by CLICKING HERE.

Why I Wrote This Post:

I received an email from a teacher asking how I was able to justify "play" and when I put the question out to my FaceBook followers, I was directed to this article. CLICK HERE to see that article too.

I hope that this post helps you to bring "play" back into your day and justify its importance to your administrators. 

I'll be presenting on this topic at: 

Brea, CA:  Click Here  and CLICK HERE to see the brochure. 
Norman, Oklahoma:  Click Here and again Here
Austin Texas: Click Here and 
Pasadena, CA:  Click Here

And you might like:

Click on the image.
My students loved creating these at a craft center and wearing them home:

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Where Does Lemonade Come From?

We celebrated "Yellow Day" in TK!

We all wore yellow, we made individual cups of lemonade, and we made a book about yellow things!


First, I requested organic lemons from our parents by placing a Post-it on our "Giving Tree".  You can grab our Giving Tree FREE here.
I also requested cups, organic sugar, and filtered water.  My great parents had everything we needed at school by 8:00 A.M.  :)
Wow, this has been
over 460 times!

Here it is mounted on construction
paper and laminated.
You can use any type of Post-its.
 The apple ones are so cute! 
Then, I brought in my juicer and a small knife to cut the lemons.  Now, this juicer is older than me, and I'm pretty old!  Yep, it's about 60 years old and it still works great!  You can use any juicer, even a fork inserted into a half of a lemon works well.  Just juice over a strainer to remove the seeds.
It's hard work!

They loved working hard to make their own
You can usually find a juicer like this one for about $10 at a swap meet or flea market.  My son bought one, power sanded it with steel wool, repainted the base red, and gave it as a gift.  It looked so amazingly retro!

Problem solving when the juicer started to move.
I like the way his yellow crown covered his eyes.
I didn't have to smudge out too much of his face!

He loved squeezing his own organic lemon!

How we Made Lemonade:

OK, after each child in my small group of 4 juiced 1/2 of a lemon, we poured 1/2 cup of water into a plastic cup.  
Spills are OK.  That's why we worked on
yellow construction paper.  :)

It was interesting to see who knew how to
1st: hold the white cup so it didn't tip, and
B: pour quickly enough so as not to spill.
(Do you like that 1st, then B thing?)
Then we added 2 teaspoons of freshly squeezed, organic lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of organic sugar.
Measuring wet and dry ingredients.  
When they stirred, they got to hear the sugar scraping the bottom of the cup as organic sugar tends to come in larger granules than highly processed sugar.  

Five Senses Link:

So, we saw the yellow lemons, smelled them as we squeezed them, listened to the sugar scraping the bottom of the cup, tasted the lemonade, and felt the bump lemons and the wet, cool lemonade.

Linking Our Color Days To Our Calendar:

For the first 11 Fridays, we celebrate our Color Days.  I use these Color Day Notes

and Color Days Calendar Cards to remind students to wear a particular color on a particular day.
The notes are
in both English
& Spanish.
You get 2 on
a page so they
are easier tocopy.

Color Day
Calendar Cards
You can find these items by clicking on the images.
Then, we make a Color Day Class Book for the color we are celebrating that week!  This download also includes an individual

Our Color Days
Class Books.  
This download also includes an individual student book.  This also integrated writing into our day.  :)

Enjoy keeping the FUN in the FUNdamentals!
See you all tomorrow!
Palma :)

Monday, September 21, 2015

Bring On The Puppets!

Phonics Puppets:

I love the purple mouse.

I set out new puppets based on the letters we have covered thoroughly so far - Ss, Mm, Rr, Tt, Bb, and Aa.  Students will match the written letters to the puppets' initial sounds.

We have a spider, mouse, rooster, tiger, bee, and an alligator.  They should make interesting story lines with those characters, right?

The Purple Mouse:

I created a book to go with this purple mouse puppet.  It's a mini book about how a little mouse turned purple.  There are 3 characters in this story.  Their names are "One", "Two",  and "Three". There is also a focus on reading the color words "red", "blue", and "purple" as well as the number words from one to five.  Elements of text allow students to discover characters, the setting, the problem, and the solution.  Link it to science and art by creating purple with paints, Play Dough, or Kinetic Sand. You can see the book by clicking HERE.

You can find the purple mouse puppet by clicking HERE.

Puppet Stage Skills:

The puppet rack is usually on the carpet behind the stage.
Just in case you have to justify having a puppet stage and puppets in your classroom, here are the skills students will be practicing:
oral language
identifying characters
sequencing a story
re-telling a story
identifying initial sounds
isolating sounds
matching the written letter to the initial sound

Do you use puppets in your classroom? 
Tell us how in the comments below.

Remember to "Keep the FUN in the FUNdamentals."

See you all tomorrow.
Palma :)

Sunday, September 20, 2015

It's the LAST DaY! Share on FB for 5 extra entries:

Enter  Here:

Click HERE to enter to win up to $2000 from ESGI:
Click the image to see the Rafflecopter.
And if you share the blog post with the Rafflecopter, you will earn 5 EXTRA ENTRIES!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Perfect For October

I Love Circle Books...

... you know, the kind that brings you right back to the beginning at the end of the story. 
You can find that technique used in If You Give A Mouse A Cookie and all of the other books in Laura Joffe Numeroff's series, but my favorite circle book is by Arden Druce and it's called: 
Witch, Witch, Come to my Party. 
(Scroll down to see non-Halloween ideas too.)
Now, don't let the title scare you away. It's a fun book that includes Halloween costumes and Pat Ludlow's illustrations are beyond belief! AND... this is a GREAT way to introduce elements of print, such as characters and genre.  The concept of fantasy VS reality is alive and well in this book!

Young and Old:

This book is great to share with all elementary grade levels. Younger children will love the pattern of the literature and the graphic illustrations. Upper elementary grade students will also love the illustrations, and can be inspired to create their own version of the book to then share with primary grade students. 

Here are some great ideas from Amazon:
Just for fun in the first reading: "Can you guess who Owl might want to invite?" - cover the last word on the page if the child is reading print. For a child who is beginning to identify print, don't cover the word, but make a big deal that they're trying to read instead of guessing: "Hey! You read that. Come on, now, cut it out! I'm going to have to cover the word..." Then the child begs you to remove your hand and promises not to read, but is all the while sneaking peaks at the word. This kind of play is the best and most effective way for children to develop lifelong reading skills.
The predictable pattern and rhythm of the text combined with the find and relevance of the story line make this book an ideal reading development tool, inviting participation from children as young as three and promising success for beginning readers. 
Use the last page to play games: Observation and Memory: "Can you remember who Pirate wants to invite?" Math (order numbers): "Who is first, second, third in line on the last page." "Is that their order in the book?" Also, "Who is next?" "Who is before Unicorn?" "Who is after Shark?" "Who is last?" 
Encourage children to observe the rich detail in Pat Ludlow's art work. They will notice the veins, the warts, the broken teeth, the cobwebs and bugs in the witch's hair. They'll want to touch the points of Cat's fangs and claws to 'feel' how sharp they are! Just look at Shark's teeth. What kind of shark is that? Are his teeth like that in real life? (go to the encyclopedias, next time you're in the library) 
Play a game with children of inventing their own riddle story using the pattern of the text: 'Clown, clown, come and play.' - 'Thank you, I will, if you invite Magician.' - 'Magician, Magician, come and play.' - 'Thank you, I will, if you invite Juggler.'...Children can create their own riddle book. Don't forget to give it a surprise ending!

And here is my...

... template for creating a similar book with your students. 
Use this with your youngest students: As they illustrate the characters they would like to invite to their party, you write the name of the character and they copy it at the bottom of the page and again (twice) at the top of the next page. It's fun to use their classmates' names as the invited characters.

This is also a great collaboration activity to do with your upper-grade buddy class. Each kindergarten student can be buddied with an upper-grade student to complete the book. The kindergarten student illustrates while the older student writes.

Click the image above to see the book template.

Non-Halloween Ideas:

You don't have to use a Halloween theme, you can have students write about other storybook characters they might. You can even have them invite non-living things related to the science or social studies theme you are studying. For example, while studying landforms you might use:
"Mountain, Mountain, please come to my party." "Thank you, I will, if you invite Hill."

Click HERE for the book template.

Now, continue with this fun linky by clicking HERE or on the button below:
Click the image to continue to the Linky Party.

Monday, September 14, 2015

How To Be A Superhero Teacher: Win this $2000 Prize for your Team!

Let's Face It...

... kids are stressed! They are expected to do so much more than ever before and they are tested beyond belief! That is why I have made it my mission, my goal, my life's quest (OK, Palma, calm down) to share tips and techniques that make learning FUN, meaningful, reduce classroom stress, and help teachers to provide the data necessary to drive instruction and make their administrators happy.

So, how do we achieve this?

If you have been following my blog, you have surely picked up a few tips and techniques along the way to make your lessons fun and meaningful without turning the teacher into a Pinterest groupie.  "But what about the testing?" you ask. Well, here is my secret weapon...

Making Testing FUN:

The best way I have found to make testing FUN, (yes, I said FUN), is to test on a computer, laptop, or tablet with ESGI. When I first saw ESGI years ago at a conference and I discovered that you can create your own custom tests, my eyes got as big as saucers!

Sure, you can use the wonderful built-in tests that ESGI and "Friends of ESGI" have made (I'm one of the friends and I created T.K. assessments). But getting to create my own tests allowed me to test the letter names and sounds in the order I taught them in and I was even able to create trimester tests! 

The Best Things About ESGI:

1. My kids beg to be tested ("Please, can you test me next?")

2. The data is so helpful for creating my RTI groups, driving instruction, and reporting to both parents and administrators. (We also use it for team planning as we look for student needs and trends while planning new lessons.)

3. The parent letters and flashcards save me oodles of hours each week. (Before, I would study the test results and handwrite individualized flashcards for EACH student. Now, I just click "print flashcards".)

AND... as an added bonus, you get a very useful parent conferencing tool that helps you to easily schedule parent conferences and helps keep you super organized.

Now, you can win a FREE year!

I'm giving away one FREE year of ESGI for up to TEN TEACHERS on your team! Yep, you heard that right! That's a $2000 value!  

An ENTIRE TEAM of teachers at your grade level
can win one FREE year by entering my Rafflecoptor.
Sign up for your 60-day FREE trial & enter the code B2174.
No credit card # required. 
Existing ESGI customers:
 just enter your user name for a chance to win 
an entire year, up to 10 licenses, for your grade level.

This give-away is over.
The winner is:
Ashley Sharp!

Fear not:

If you don't win, you still get to try out ESGI for FREE for 60 days, but wait, it gets better.

Click the icon to sign up for FREE.(No credit card required.)

If you remember to enter the code: B2174 when you sign up for your free trial, you will automatically get $40 off of your first year with ESGI!  You heard that right, $40 off!

So you can go ahead and enter through the Rafflecopter and sign up for your FREE trial now, enter the code, and give it whirl. Your administrators will love it, your fellow teachers will want to know how you are able to save yourself so much time each week (and just imagine how thrilled they will be if you win a 10-license package for your team!), and your students will be begging you to be tested. Trust me, I have used ESGI for years now and it was the BEST thing I ever did!