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October 9, 2022

Multiplication Facts Review Activity

 Daily multiplication fact review is easy with quick games and activities. 

This math activity works well in a small math group or can be used as a large group game.

Directions for Wash My Car!

1. Draw a large car outline on the board. 

2. Fill the car with a bunch of math facts.

3. Students line up. Each student uses an eraser to point to a multiplication fact. The student reads the math fact and states the answer. If correct, the student erases the fact and goes to the back of the line for potentially another turn. If incorrect, the student simply goes to the back of the line.

4. Continue until the car is washed!

Once students know how the activity works, draw 2 car outlines on the board, divide the class into 2 teams, and have students race to wash the cars. Use a relay race format where each team has one eraser which gets passed to the next student in line after each turn.

This activity also works well with sight words!

Need more math games and activities?

3 Fun and Easy Ways to Practice Math Facts

4 More Fun and Easy Ways to Practice Multiplication Facts

Whole Group Math Games

Students are sure to be math motivated! 

September 19, 2022

10 Ways to Promote Reading at Home

 Creating readers can be fun, and the process lends itself to parent-child bonding.

When parents or guardians ask how they can promote reading at home, here are some ideas you can suggest:

1. Visit the Local Library.

Can you remember the smell of your childhood library? The feeling of choosing those 3 books to take home? Today's libraries offer so much more than physical books. Children may enjoy an educational program at the library followed by choosing a few books to borrow. Some libraries even hold used book sales a few times a year. You just may find that perfect book for 50¢!

2. Let Them See You Read, Read, Read.

Children observe and learn from the adults around them. Take a physical book with you wherever a wait is involved...dental and doctor's appointments, motor vehicle, practices, etc. Let them see you reading at the park, the beach, and while relaxing at home.

3. Visit a Bookstore.

Plan an outing to a local bookstore. To keep expenses down, set a limit as to how much your child can spend.

4. Give Books as Gifts.

Books make great gifts and there are so many possibilities to match interests. Start a tradition of giving a book on a holiday that your family celebrates. Gift cards to a bookstore are another option.

5. Make a Reading Fort.

Make a fun fort out of blankets or sheets. Grab books, flashlights, and some snacks. Let the fun begin!

6. Read to the Kids.

Kids are never too old to hear a story, and a bedtime story is a nice relaxing way to end the day.

7. Listen to Audio Books.

Driving the kids to practice? Have that book downloaded and ready to go. 

8. Visit a Little Library.

If you pass one of those little libraries, leave a book and take a book. If you don't have a little library nearby, why not make one?

9. Have a Reading Picnic.

Pack a lunch, a blanket, and some books. Find some shade and enjoy your snacks and books!

10. Encourage Kids to Read to Younger Siblings or Even Pets!

Children can read picture books to younger siblings. If the books are below grade level, they can still help build fluency and confidence. Reading to pets could also be fun!

Parents and guardians, along with the children, are sure to benefit from some additional reading time at home!

August 2, 2022

Whole Group Math Games

Quick whole group math games motivate students and reinforce skills that have been previously taught. Basic facts games can be easily added at the end of each lesson or possibly in the middle of the math block as a brain break. 

I Have Who Has type games are easy to fit in. These games begin by handing each student a game card. The student who has "I have the first card" begins the game by saying "I have the first card. Who has....(the fact on their card)" Play continues until the student with the last card says. "I have the last card." Try keeping a few sets of these cards on hand as a daily review! 

When students need a more active game, have a large beach ball prepared with lots of multiplication facts written on it with a Sharpie. Students toss the ball around and answer the fact closest to their right thumb before tossing again.

Another quick review game is Musical Math. This activity begins with a worksheet on each student's desk. Play some upbeat music as students walk or dance around the room. When you stop the music, students grab a seat and work on a worksheet. Problems can be completed in any order. Students write their initials next to each problem completed. Play the music again as a signal for students to stop working and walk or dance about again. Repeat as time permits or until students seem to be finishing up the worksheets. Musical Math can be used to review many different skills.

Need even more math games? Check out these:

5 Whole Group Games That Work With Kids At Their Seats

Math Game Time

Students are sure to love math time!

June 7, 2022

Teach Descriptive Writing All Year Long

Students may benefit from working on descriptive writing throughout the year. The descriptive writing ideas below start with building background knowledge and proceed to students writing on their own.

1. Share examples of descriptive writing.

In the beginning, you can introduce descriptive writing by pointing out descriptions on products such as cereal boxes and packages of toilet paper.

Next, move on to descriptive writing in books. You could use books you have on hand because many stories have descriptive writing.  If you are reading a chapter book as a read-aloud, you could casually point out descriptive writing here and there without disrupting the story. Make it a point to share examples of vivid descriptions.

2. Have students write a descriptive sentence. 

Once students have some background knowledge, they can try out some descriptive writing for themselves. One way to start out is by using photos from magazines or travel brochures. Give each student a photo and have them make a list of words to describe the picture. Encourage the use of the 5 senses. Students then use their descriptive words to write a sentence that describes the picture. Have students share their sentences.

3. Expand on simple sentences.

Give students a sentence with little or no descriptive words such as:
The cat walked across the yard.
Model expanding the sentence to something like:
The smoke gray cat stealthily walked across the backyard in search of a field mouse.
Give students a few sentences to expand on their own. Use this activity as morning work, a warm-up, exit ticket, or informal assessment.

4. Continue descriptive writing throughout the year.

Starting slowly with descriptive writing will keep students focused on the skill without getting overwhelmed. As you introduce figurative language, challenge students to include these elements in their writing. Keep a descriptive writing learning center in your rotation.

This resource works great in a learning station and is perfect for students who are ready to move on to develop their descriptive writing skills in paragraphs:

Remind students that clear descriptive writing paints a picture in the reader's head and prepare to "see" some amazing paintings!

Need more ideas for descriptive writing? Try

April 18, 2022

Early Finishers - Warning! Not For Quiet Classrooms!

Early finisher tasks are often assigned to students who finish assignments before the rest of the class. Although these tasks can be worthwhile assignments, the early finishers themselves are an overlooked valuable asset. 

In many situations, the early finishers can act as coaches for students who are struggling to keep up. Coaches work particularly well when students are completing hands-on activities such as craftivities. 

One way to facilitate coaches could work like this:

1. The first wave of students finish an assignment.

Other students are at various stages of completion...anywhere from just finding their scissors to almost finished.

2. Have the early finishers clean up their own space.

While the early finishers clean up, notice the various stages of completion of the other students. Mentally consider which early finisher may be a good match up for slower workers.

3. Ask "Who would like a coach?" and "Who would like to be a coach?"

Just ask students who are still working if they would like a classmate as a coach to help them move along. Then ask who would like to help out and be a coach. Students who are still working and the early finishers love this opportunity! 

4. Pair up students.

You know who works well with whom. Match up coaches to students still working.

5. State your expectations.

As students settle in beside each other, tell them that talking is expected, but to make sure that indoor voices are used. Add your expectations for use of materials. 

6. Assign additional coaches.

Continue assigning those who finish with those who are still working.

7. Monitor.

Walk around and assist as necessary.  

Student coaches are a win win win situation! The early finishers get something to do that isn't just another assignment, the slower workers get a little push, and the teacher has no additional assignments to prepare or grade for the early finishers. You just may find that the students who tend to work slowly pick up the pace on their own so that they have the opportunity to be a coach!

March 8, 2022

Fun Ways to Teach Geography

 There are many fun ways to teach geography!

1. Play Globe Toss

For this whole group game, students toss an inflatable globe around. When a student catches it, they identify the place that their right thumb lands on.

2. Play I Packed My Suitcase

With this whole group memory game, students take turns naming places for each letter of the alphabet. The game gets progressively more difficult as students have to remember what the students before them have said.  Here's an example of a game: The first student says, "I packed my suitcase and I'm heading for (a place that starts with A) Alabama." The next student says, "I packed my suitcase and I'm heading for Alabama and (a place that starts with B) Bali." The third student says, "I packed my suitcase and I'm heading to Alabama, Bali, and (a place that starts with C) Costa Rica." Continue working through the alphabet until all students have had a turn. If you exhaust the alphabet, return to A. For tricky letters, allow students to peek at a map!

3. Have Students Learn About the Compass Rose

Students will love these fun geography ideas!

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February 8, 2022

Super Fun No-Prep Brain Break Game

 "Warmer, colder, you're getting hot!"

 "Huckle Buckle Beanstalk!" 

Huckle Buckle Beanstalk is played like this:

Choose a small object to hide. 

Tell students that you will hide the object while they have their heads down. No peeking! 

With students' heads down, the teacher hides the object in plain sight without moving anything.

Say, "Heads up!" and explain that students will walk around the room looking for the object without touching anything. 

When a student spots the object, they return to their seat, and call out, "Huckle Buckle Beanstalk!" Students continue to look and follow the same procedure of returning to their seats and calling out, "Huckle Buckle Beanstalk."

If searching students struggle with finding the object, the seated students can call out: warmer, hotter, colder, you're freezing, you're burning up, etc to help.

The game ends when all students have spotted the object.

*Hint: Encourage students to keep walking for a bit after finding the object in order to trick their classmates into looking someplace else.

Add a little educational value to this game by hiding an object to introduce a unit. For example, if you are about to study magnets and electricity, you could hide a magnet. If you are going to study animals, you could hide a small plastic elephant. If you are about to read Charlotte's Web, you could hide a small spider. Have students determine what the next unit is, and this game can be part of an anticipatory set! 

Need more no-prep brain breaks? This quick, no-prep brain break resource is another student favorite and is great for those times when the students (or you!) have lost focus. 

Remember to join in on the fun!