## Sunday, August 31, 2014

### Combinations of Numbers with Magnetic Sticks

What an exciting week for back to school!  A few weeks ago, I wrote about making magnetic counting strips and using paper clips to do a variety of early numeracy activities.  That post has been super popular and shared many, many times!  As I continue to revisit ideas from Teach Like a Pirate my creativity has been great and I have really been trying to think outside the box. Today I want to share with you how I have taken the same sticks and gone to the next level for mathematical thinking and worked with combinations of numbers.

 Here are the original counting sticks.  You can see how I used them, what materials I used and find directions for making these here.
So here is the difference.  I made the sticks exactly the same way but instead of making the numbers 1-9, I made the numbers from 5-10.  For each number, I made at least 3 sticks.  I still had plenty of colored sticks left from my box of 500 and I grabbed another pack of the glittery foam numbers from the Dollar Tree.  Instead of using silver paper clips, I ordered some new colored paper clips specifically for this project.  They are coated in plastic but still are metal underneath and stick to the magnetic strips just fine.

After sorting the paper clips by color, I put 2 colors in each bag with the sticks for that number.  Obviously the sticks that say 10 need more paper clips in the bag than the sticks that say 5.

I store the 3-5 sticks in the bag with the paperclips and now I have them ready to go for intervention or for workstations during Guided Math rotations.

Kids can just dump the bag out and get to work.  Since we are at the beginning of the school year, these are great to use with first and second graders right now.  I may make a set later this year for Kindergarten kids and will probably make that set with numbers from 3-10.

For kids who are ready, you can make a simple recording sheet using a piece of scrap paper or a sticky note where they record the equations that go with the paper clips.

What is your favorite way to work on combinations of numbers?

Head over to Kid's Math Teacher for other ideas for teaching second grade math.

## Friday, August 29, 2014

### My Favorite Classroom Supplies: 3 Hole Punch

Like many teachers, I have a thing for school supplies.  I use them every day and want quality at a good price.  My philosophy for school supplies is not to buy the cheapest things, but rather the things that will give me the best value over their lifetime.  A teacher I work with has a paper cutter that she purchased when she first started teaching in 1962.  It is huge, heavy, sharp and still works like a charm.  That is ideally what I want from my school supplies.  If that can't happen, I do want them to last as long as possible.

Last spring, I shared with you my favorite pencil sharpener and today I want to tell you about another one of my school supply loves.

I purchased this 3 hole puncher in the spring of 2004.  I was working as a classroom teacher in a 4th grade class and had already gone through several 3 hole punches when I decided enough was enough.  I took a pool of other teachers in the school to see what they were using, what they loved or hated about their 3 hole punch and tallied the results.  It was amazing how passionate teachers were about school supplies!  Then I
headed down to my local Staples (this was before my love affair with Amazon began).

I picked out this little fellow.

And I fell in LOVE!

After 10 years I am happy to say that I am still in love with this thing and here are the top five reasons why

1. The paper guide does NOT adjust!  About 99.9% of the time my students or I need to punch holes, it is on an 8.5"X11" piece of paper.  Having the paper guide stable makes it easy and accurate to ALWAYS have the holes line up.  No more changing that paper guide or having it break off!

2. The handle is easy to lock down into a not using place.  Because I have had this hole puncher through multiple classrooms, schools and grade levels, the ability to lock the handle down easily has been great for safety.

3. It can punch holes in a lot of paper at once.  This hole puncher is rated for 40 sheets of hole punching capacity and I have easily done 40 sheets or maybe even a few more many times over the last 10 years.

4. The paper circles cut out of the holes are cleanly cut out and stored in a large container below the puncher.  I can not stand when you use a 3 hole punch and it leaves the little paper circles attached in one corner and you have to rip them off.  Not acceptable and it makes a huge mess in my classroom.

5. You don't have to push with all your strength or weight to get it to work!  I have worked with kids from Kindergarten up through 8th grade and none of them have struggled to push down on this thing.  The big level and sturdy construction allow a gentle push to get the job done.

 10 years young!

After 10 years, this thing still gets used every day and still looks fairly new.  Here is to hoping the next 10 years are as good as the last 10 years!  My hope is that if my teaching career lasts the same 50 years that my colleagues has that thing thing will still be beside me.

 I just purchased my first laminator this week after checking out a lot of reviews on Amazon.  Here is to hoping that I will still be in love with this after 10 years.

## Saturday, August 23, 2014

### Math Books That Will Change Your Teaching!

Today I am teaming up with some of the best math bloggers out there to bring you 12 different math books that will change your teaching!  Each blogger has chosen a different book to tell you about and will be giving away a copy of that book on their blog.  Check out this great group of blog hop participants!

I spend a lot of my time reading math and teaching professional development books.  I always get some good information out of the books I read but only a handful of them get a special spot on my shelf as the books that I will recommend over and over again to other teachers.  Today I want to tell you about one of those books.

#### A Focus on Fractions: Bringing Research to the Classroom

I first read this book when it came out in 2010 and it completely changed the way I teach fractions.  The authors of this book read all of the research on how kids learn fractions and present it in an easy to read format.

Chapter 1: Modeling and Developing Understanding of Fractions
What kinds of models does your math program use?  Do you know there are three different kinds of models that kids need to interact with as they are developing and understanding of fractions?  I certainly did not!  This chapter will walk you through area, set and linear models and give you some ideas for incorporating more modeling into your classroom.  I found linear models completely lacking from my math program when I first read this book.  As I gradually addressed these changes and added more modeling into our program, I noticed a big difference in kids' understanding and ability to use models to solve problems.

Chapter 2: Inappropriate Use of Whole Number Reasoning
Have you ever had a kid tell you 1/4 is bigger than 1/3 because 4 is bigger than 3?  This is just one example of inappropriate whole number reasoning.  This chapter also gets into some detailed ways that teachers actually TEACH kids to use inappropriate whole number reasoning during their early fraction instruction.  This is a huge eye opener to most teachers, especially those who teach first and second grade.  I had to tweak some of the wording I use with kids when I teach first and second grade fractions.

Chapter 3: What is the Whole?
This chapter helped me push students conceptual understanding of fractions much deeper.  It made me realize that all the questions I was asking involved giving the students the whole and asking them to find a part.  I never thought of asking kids to find a whole when given a part.  An example of this would be showing kids what half of the candy bar looks like and asking them what the whole would be.  These problems seem so awkward at first when you are not used to asking them but quickly become part of your repertoire and really help push kids' thinking to the next level.

Chapter 4: Partitioning
This chapter made a huge difference in how I use models with kids and how I teach them to use models as well.  This breaks down the difference types of partitioning and shows you how to move kids from halving to more complex fractions.  Good drawing of models has gone a long way in helping my kids construct all kinds of algorithms and notice many patterns in their fraction understanding.  Think about how you would teach kids to draw eighths or fifths or twelfths.  Check out this chapter for more help!

Chapter 5: Comparing and Ordering Fractions
Before you read on, think about how many strategies there are for comparing fractions.  I could think of one and only one before reading this book.  The common denominator.  Well I was VERY wrong about that.  Now I listen to my students very carefully when giving them comparing fraction type problems.  I also am much more intentional in which fractions I ask them to compare so that I can elicit some of the different strategies.  This chapter outlines five different strategies for comparing fractions and your students WILL invent these on  their own if given the right fractions.  This chapter gives teachers lots of aha moments!

Chapter 6: Number Lines and Fractions
I am a bit embarrassed to admit that before reading this book, I did little to no work with linear or number line models for fractions.  Fraction number lines barely made an appearance in our state standards and showed up very inconsistently in our math program.  After reading this book, I discovered the power of the number line and now my number line lessons are some of my favorite ways to elicit the big ideas of fractions and to help kids make connections between fractions, decimals and percents.

Chapter 7: The Density of Fractions
This is about really getting at the big idea of infinity and more specifically that there are an infinite number of fractions between any two whole numbers.   The number line model really supports this big idea!  Think about asking your students to name two fractions between one fourth and one half.  Could they do it?  How about naming two fractions between seven eights and a whole?  See how these questions can open up some great discussions?

Chapter 8: Equivalent Fractions and Comparisons
Finding equivalent fractions is such an important skill for kids to have!  It is the gateway to fraction operations and something many MANY kids need more work with.

Chapter 9: Addition and Subtraction of Fractions
Now that my district follows the Common Core State Standards, we do a lot more with fraction addition and subtraction in grades 4 and 5.  Most of this work used to be done in grade 6.  The biggest aha I got from this chapter is that just because a kid can follow the common denominator procedure to add or subtract fractions does not mean they have any understanding of the quantities.  There is an example in the book that asks kids which number the sum of two fractions is closest to and a kid does a great job showing fraction addition with common denominators, gets a fraction like 19/20 and then says the sum is closest to 20!

Chapter 10: Multiplication and Division of Fractions
This chapter is chuck full of great ideas for fraction multiplication and division which has always been something I had struggled to teach in a conceptual way.  This is where I first thought about using the area model for fraction multiplication.

If you teach fractions, this is definitely a book that could change your teaching!  It is loaded with examples of real student work and will open your eyes to some new ideas for teaching fractions.  It also is a great example of using formative assessment to inform your instruction.

Go grab this book now or enter below for your chance to win a FREE COPY!  This giveaway is open to folks living in the US or Canada!  At the bottom of this page you can head over to the next stop on this blog hop!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 Head on over to The Recovering Traditionalist for the next stop on this blog hop.  She will be telling you about one of my favorite math professional books of all time, Children's Mathematics

## Tuesday, August 19, 2014

### New Book Study: Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids

This summer, I read three great professional development books (Teach Like a Pirate, Guided Math in Action and Teaching Numeracy) and participated in 3 fun book studies.  I love the feeling of empowerment I get from reading a good professional development book and would like to continue reading more empowering books during the school year.  Back to school season is in full swing in my area and despite my decision to only work part time, I will be busier than ever.  With that in mind, I know the only way to make sure I keep up with my own professional reading is to participate in another book study.

In the last few weeks, I have been hearing a lot of buzz on Facebook and on other blogs about Whole Brain Teaching.  I discovered this amazing website and this great book!

I spent some time exploring in the first steps category and liked what I read so I have decided to jump right into reading this book!  There are strategies in there that apply to K-12 so grab your favorite teaching friend join me on this journey to learn more about how understanding the brain can help us with classroom management and better teaching.  The book is available in paperback on for the Kindle. (which by the way you can download a FREE kindle reading app on most devices)

The book is under 300 pages but is broken into quite a few chapters so we will cover multiple chapters each week.  I will be posting on Wednesdays!  Feel free to post when it is convenient for you!  If you have a blog and want to write a blog post about it, just leave a link in the comments section.

October 1 Chapters 15-18
October 8 Chapters 19-22
October 15 Chapters 23-26
October 22 Chapters 27-29
October 29 Bonus Chapters 30-32

## Monday, August 18, 2014

### Monday Math Literature Volume 56

If you missed last week's post on using a bug theme and working on numbers to 20, you can see it here!

This week I want to share with you a story that you might already be familiar with.  I first fell in love with Chicka Chicka Boom Boom very early in my teaching career.  When I left teaching a straight grade classroom to become a math specialist, my class gave me the number version of this book.

I love using this book with preschoolers, in Kindergarten and in first grade.  It is great for working on symbolic notation.  I find it a wonderful book to work on basic numeral recognition and an excellent resource when kids are struggling with teen versus ten numbers such as 17 and 70 etc.

There are so many activities you can do to follow up this book!  I could write about a bunch of them but instead I will send you over to Making Learning Fun where you will find many ideas and free printables to go along with this great story!

## Friday, August 15, 2014

### Fun with Numeral Recognition

I have been working on some fun number recognition activities using these super cute number buttons.  I like these buttons because they are bright and colorful and I have already found many ways to use them.

#### Number Buttons and Water Beads

Recently, I was at the dollar store looking for a cookie sheet for my magnetic 10 frame project when I stumbled upon water beads.  I had heard a teacher talk about these as a sensory bin material at a conference several months ago so I grabbed a pack to try out with my number  buttons
 I made sure I had at least 1 of each number then grabbed another handful

 Dump in the water beads and the number buttons and you are ready to go!

My kids had a great time playing in the water beads and working on recognizing numbers.  Some quick easy things you can do:

1) Have kids find a particular number.  Find me a 7, now a 3 etc.

2) Have kids fish out all the numbers and sort them according to number or color

3) Have kids pick 3 numbers out and put them in numerical order

4) Find one of each number and but them in order from 1-9

5) Build bigger numbers like 74, 109, 1000, etc.

6) Choose 2 numbers and tell which is bigger.  You can also make a greater than/less than symbol to place between the numbers.

 Don't these look fun?

 We had so much fun with these that I ordered some colored ones.  I can't wait to try them out!

#### Ice Excavation

Another thing I did with these button numbers is ice excavation.  I took 1 of each number and placed them in a muffin tin.  I then added the corresponding number of gemstones.  I topped it with some water dyed with food coloring.

I stuck the entire thing in the freezer overnight.  When I was ready to use these, I just let them sit out for a few minutes and they popped right out of the muffin tin.

It was a very hot day so they started melting right away.  It was good to do this on a nice sunny day because the kids ended up getting a lot of water on themselves.

We put them in counting order and practiced using words such as greater than and less than.  I also had kids count the gemstones to see if the number of stones matched the numeral.  Then I let the kids have eye droppers and bulb syringes and a dish of warm water.  They picked up the warm water and dropped it on the ice.  They melted well and the kids had a great time counting and exploring the numbers.  If it had not been a hot day, I would have used some salt as well to speed up the melting process if necessary.

What are your favorite ways to work on number recognition?  Have you used water beads in the classroom?

Head over to A Pinch of Perfect for more great ideas!

## Wednesday, August 13, 2014

### An Easy Way to Work on Basic Shapes

Last week, I purchased some foam sheets to make pool noodle boats and have a few leftovers.  I also have colored craft sticks left over from my number sticks project. I got out my little used stencil collection and made some fun shadow puppets with my extra supplies.  Of course I love including math in everything I do so I made all the basic shapes in addition to other animals and such.

 Easy steps!  Cut foam shapes, hot glue to craft sticks!

 Star

 oval

 Bear who likes to eat the basic shapes!

This made a great rainy day activity and will be equally useful as a purposeful center in a Kindergarten or preschool classroom!  All of these shadow puppets and a small flashlight will fit in a quart size freezer bag giving you something ready to go in browse boxes or to keep kids buys while you are meeting with small groups!

For some fun songs about shapes check out my favorite You Tube videos about shapes!

## Monday, August 11, 2014

### Monday Math Literature Volume 55

If you missed last week's post about Ten Black Dots and the ten frame freebie, you can check it out here!

This week I want to share with you a great piece of literature that you would not traditionally think about using during math class.  The author, Jerry Pallotta has written several great math literature books but this one is a bit different.

I have been so inspired by the Math and Literature series, I have started to look at my collection of children's literature with a math lens.  I used this lesson with a group of kids who will be in Kindergarten or first grade this fall.

There are a lot of facts about bugs in this book!  It is a great way to build vocabulary and non-fiction knowledge about bugs but let's talk about using this for math.  This crew of kids has been working on numbers to 20 and we used this book and some realistic plastic bugs to further explore counting, numbers to 20 and pairs that make 20.

 Many pages have multiple bugs pictured on them and these are the pages we focused on when using this book for math.  We figured out how many bugs were pictured and how many more we would need to make 20.

 Another picture that is great for figuring out how many bugs are there.  I know these kids very well and was able to call on kids who I know need more practice with one to one correspondence to help me count up these bugs.

We then used the plastic bugs and these bug 20 frame cards to help us work more on numbers to 20.  We also made a small world/sensory bin for the bugs which they had great fun with while reviewing vocabulary, counting and other skills!

 Using the plastic bugs to help us solve problems.  Notice how they look like a 20 frame?  This helps students connect this lesson to the next one and the 20 frame bug learning center they will be using.
 Our bug sensory  bin

We also threw in a counting and estimating routine to kick off our days of using bugs in math.
 As a kick off to using this book, we estimated and then counted the bugs in this bug box.

We finished our work up on bugs and numbers to 20 with these cute bug themed 20 frames!