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Monday, March 30, 2015

French Lick Blogger Meet-Up

We headed out of Georgia on a Friday afternoon to join some amazing bloggers for a weekend of fun! We were all excited for a girls weekend away.
On the airplane ready for take-off
As soon as we got there, we met up with some of our favorite bloggers to have dinner! Thanks Katie Mense for this picture!

Deedee Wills, Deanna Jump, Erin Mullet

The next morning we got up and did some fun shopping at the French Lick Resort. Yall! This place is beautiful. Then, it was time to head to the meet-up! We were so excited to see what Holly Ehle had put together and we knew it would be amazing.

Megan, Ginny, Deedee, and Megan ready to devour a yummy lunch!

Kim, Megan, and Ginny ready for a great meet-up!
Next, Holly planned a fun get to know you game. We were letter T!
Adding our name, what we like to teach, and one word to describe ourselves
The teachers we met were quite the inspiration to us!
 Then, we had our fun gift exchange! It was so neat to see all the different teacher tools revealed. Check out last weeks post about the tool exchange.
The Kindergarten group at the gift exchange
Next, it was time for the round tables! Kim led one with Holly on student engagement. Megan and Ginny attended the one on Twitter, iPads and Facebook! We learned so much from other teacher bloggers.

Finally, we got some very awesome teacher swag! Thanks to all of the amazing sponsors that made this happen! Every teacher walked away with their very own Erin Condren Teacher Planner
We got some awesome goodies!
During the drawing, Megan won a Hue document camera. Monday morning after the event, it was already set up and ready to be used!
Megan using the iPad and Hue document camera as part of her lesson

The fun did not stop there! Thanks to Teachers Pay Teachers and Go Noodle we had an amazing pajama party! Here are a few pictures from that event.
If you can't tell...we had a BLAST. We cannot wait for next year. Check out the linky below and don't forget to check out our sponsors and enter to win your own bag of swag!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Spring Sale with my Blogging Buddies at Blog Hoppin'

Hey Guys! I'm joining with some of my blogging buddies over at Blog Hoppin' for a Hopping into Spring Sale. Head over to my store where everything is 15% off! Happy Spring, Ya'll!
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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Manipulatives and Experiments, Oh Yes! Chapter 7

“When learning is active and hands-on, the formation of neural connections is facilitated and information is much more readily remembered than information learned from an abstract viewpoint, where the teacher is doing the word while the students watch.” Wow! That’s pretty powerful on its impact to our teaching. So hold on…this is going to be a long post.  I couldn’t decide which ones to share, so I’m sharing them all! This chapter makes me think of something I learned about Math Instruction…


So what does this mean? It means that ALL LEARNING should be  at a conceptual level! This means real objects, things that can be manipulated.


For example, in this story problem, the kids are using plastic teeth to figure out the answer—that’s conceptual.


And these kids drew a picture to figure out the answer. This is the pictorial level. Sometimes when our kids have difficulty here, we think it is because they don’t understand the problem. But, really, if we just change HOW the children are learning to a manipuative, that might be successful. The last level is abstract. This is when the children solve the problem FIRST using numerals and symbols. Now….once your kids get to this level….we still want them to show how they solved the problem through drawings or manipulatives. It is just that the solving of the problem was done abstractly.

Here’s a few dollar store ideas on manipuatives that you can make super cheap!


Here’s a great way to work on mixed operations. The mouse is just a cat toy, they came 3 to a bag. I stuck a pipe cleaner in the back side, collected a dice, and some pony beads!

Here’s how you play:

  1. Give each child a mouse and some beads.
  2. The children roll the dice and put that many beads on the pipe cleaner.
  3. Roll again. Now they must decide whether they need to put some on (addition) or take some off (subtraction.)
  4. If they have 5 beads on the tail and they roll a 3, then they take 2 beads off of the tail.

Here’s another example of the same game using rubber ducks and a bowl of water! What is it about water?!!!??? Kids love it!Slide13

Another great way to use manipulatives is by using number bonds. You can download those here as a freebee.Slide14

My smart friend, Catherine Kuhns, once told me that this is the way we should say it:

  1. First, start with the whole… “I have 5 gingerbread men.”
  2. Then, say the two groups…. “I have two gingerbread men, I have 3 gingerbread men.”
  3. Last, say the whole again…. “I have 5 gingerbread men.”

Why? Because this way the kids see that nothing happens to the gingerbread men when you divide them into two sets. When you bring them back together, you still have the same amount. Remember Piaget and Conservation of Number from your college days?

Marcia also talked about the importance of clay. I’m wondering how many classes still use a playdough center? I know, I know…. it’s messy, it gets stuck in the carpet, it dries out… But, Marcia reminded me of why we are doing it! It makes them smarter! Here are a couple of ideas we did during our shape unit.


So what about that block center? Do you still have one? It is sad that sometimes in an attempt to “improve test scores”, to “add rigor”, to “get them ready”……the very things that will do just that are eliminated. I keep going back to something from one of the earlier chapters….we are trying to make SMARTER children. REAL learning does just that!Slide5Slide6

I made up some easy cards with real world problems and ask the kids to figure out how to solve the problem using the blocks! This was amazing!Slide7Slide8

And last, a few science experiments. One thing that Marcia said was that kids need to be the ones doing the experiment, not sitting and watching the teacher do them. So….I try to keep them really simple! You can find other science experiments (here).


My friend Bert actually gave me this idea, I just “fancied” it up a bit.


And now…here’s the last one…

Ever read kids a book and they “don’t get it”. In this story, baby duck doesn’t like the rain. If kids are lacking the schema about ducks feathers, they will not be able to understand why the parents tell him he is a duck and ducks like rain. So here’s what we did…

  1. First, read some nonficiton information about ducks and their feathers.
  2. Then, test it out with this simple experiment.
  3. Last, read the book and ask the kids why baby duck is being silly. They will “get it” now!

This quote from Marcia’s book sums everything up: “Students in the early grades should be allowed to use manipulatives for as long as the students feel they are needed.”

Now head on over to  Deanna’s blog to see what other teachers are sharing!bookstudy1

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Monday, March 23, 2015

12 Ways to Compose and Decompose Numbers 11-19


“Have you ever said, “I’ve done everything but stand on my head and they still don’t get it?” Well, this is one of those standards—composing and decomposing numbers. Now, when I say “get it” I mean do they REALLY get it?

  • Do, they understand what is happening when they snap ten together and what does the “1” in the front really means?
  • Can they show my multiple ways to make each number 11-19?
  • Can they explain what is happening?

So when Michele and I got together to plan how we were going to teach this unit, it took a little longer than usual, like a lot longer! Each month Michele and I meet for dinner at Panera. After dinner, we spend a few hours mapping out how we are going to run our small groups the next month. After we come up with the activities, we each “do our part” at home.  I usually create the games and make the photo directions. Michele does the scripting! (Glad she likes doing it, because I don’t!)


These are the easy to follow “general” photo directions  for each game. In the scripting, Michele explains how to use the activity in more detail with your intervention, on target, and challenge level kids.


I make each game in color and black and white…so you choose which works best for you!


I got the idea of asking for proofreaders on facebook from my friend Deedee. So…how exciting was it to see that one teacher who proofread last night could use the game today!!! She chose to make the game black and white and run it on brown paper. Love the page protector and dry erase idea for the recording page! Here’s the game they were playing…..


Be sure and follow us on facebook! If you like to proofread, for a free copy in exchange, you might be next!

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Sunday, March 22, 2015

French Lick Teacher Tool Gift Exchange

We had such a fun time in French Lick, IN last weekend with over 100 bloggers.

Holly Ehle from Mrs. Ehle's Kindergarten Connections put together quite the meet up! It was so much fun to get together with other teacher bloggers and discuss all sorts of things about teaching, blogging, and helping other teachers.

One of our favorite parts of the weekend was the teacher tool gift exchange. They separated us by grade level and Amanda Pauley told a left-right-left story that was hilarious and made the game so much fun!

We were so excited about our gifts that we only took a few pictures. 

I got quite the large collection of Flare pens. They have already made it into the cup in my office and I use them every day!

Megan got some really cool sharpies, pencils, and a precious notebook, She may have gotten a bag of peanut M&M's that didn't even make it back to Georgia. 

Ginny got a container of binder rings. Those will be great to use when making flash cards!

Here are a few other gifts that we thought were really neat!
Wipe-off dice
Write the Room apron
Erasable markers
Mini mailboxes from the Dollar Spot at Target
Scentos Marker Holder

The Scentos marker holder was made by Katie Mense's husband! I cant wait to order mine soon!

Head over to Miss DeCarbo's blog to link up!
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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Guided Reading Unit and Easter Redo!

Just a quick post to let you know that I finished up with the April Guided Reading Unit .
Here are the titles
Here is a sample of some of the phonics, writing, and non-fiction text practice pages.
If you already have our Easter Math Game Unit, I updated it with new graphics. I added another sharing game and another measure me game.
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Saturday, March 14, 2015

Chapter 5 Book Study: Mission Organization

“….these tools are some of the best friends of a teacher who desires to facilitate the comprehension of students. They address both the left and right hemispheres of students, so they are beneficial to all.”

This is  quote from Marcia’s book! Doesn’t it feel great when we can find a strategy that is helpful to all of our kids?

Here’s what else she says:

  • “Because the brain remembers images more easily than just words, graphic organizers are one of the tools that are effective for organizing patterns.”
  • “Graphic organizers are powerful tools for instruction since they enable students to organize data into segments or chunks that they can comprehend and manage.”

So here some of the ideas we have used in our classes. These were some circle maps we made during our Thanksgiving. The kids brainstormed words that were all about Thanksgiving. They loved the craft…remember chapter 2?


This is an example of a bubble map. On this map we brainstormed words that described plants.


This is an example of a Venn Diagram we made during our Bats Unit to show the difference and similarities between bats and birds.. A great non-fiction activity for Stellulana.


This is an example of a double bubble map we made during our farm unit. We made the craft earlier in the week. Then the kids answered the question to decide where to glue their face.


This an example of a tree map. I LOVE tree maps for writing! They are a great way to get your kids writing!


Having kids sign-in using this 2 column tree map is another example.


This is an example of a brace maps. Brace maps are used to show the parts of a whole. The slide below is another example of a brace map.


This is an example of a flow map. These are also great for retelling stories, sequencing events, and for concepts that show change over time.


This is an example of a double bubble map that is great for cause and effect!

So….how are you getting your kids thinking organized? Hop on over to Michele’s Blog and see what other teachers are doing! I am loving this book study! Not only has it given me great content for a blog post, it has affirmed us of many of our practices as well as showing us some new ones we want to try!


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