Primary Junction's Top 3 Most-Viewed Posts

December 30, 2011

Fern Smith is having a link-up party for top 3 blog posts of the year. It's been so much fun going through everyone's top 3 posts, I thought I'd join in! This little blog began in August. Although it's only four months old, it's been a fabulous start. I've met a lot of fabulous teacher and parent bloggers and am looking forward to what is to come in the next year. I'll be beginning the year with a series on phonics, which I'm very excited about! I wish everyone a wonderful New Year!

Without further ado, here are my top 3 posts of the year according to visits:

New Year Sale (20% Off!)

Measurement Unit

Christmas Crafts From Store-Bought Kits

December 12, 2011

I LOVE to make crafts! I could literally spend hours and hundreds of dollars in a craft store easily. As a teacher, I love to share and incorporate my love of crafts with my kiddos. When we were in school, we had a lot more time for arts and crafts. Today, the emphasis has shifted to stronger academics (not that I completely agree with that!) and that leaves not a lot of time for crafts. I love holidays because they provide excuses to sneak in some art!

Toilet Paper Tube Caroler

December 11, 2011

This toilet paper tube caroler is easy to make and is an adorable keepsake!

Cyber Monday

November 28, 2011

My products on Teachers Pay Teachers, along with many other teachers, are on sale today for 20% off. Teachers Pay Teachers is also throwing in an additional 10% off, so you can save up to 30% off today! Make sure to visit for some amazing ideas and products! Click on the picture to go to my store!

The Elf on the Shelf

November 25, 2011

With Thanksgiving over, Christmas is now in full swing! Over the next few weeks I will be sharing many holiday traditions and activities I have used in my classroom. First up is a tradition your kids will love!

How many of you have heard on The Elf on the Shelf? I only discovered this amazingly fun tradition a few years ago and loved the idea so much I had to add it to my classroom. It's a little on the cost side, but it's an investment that is worth making. It comes in a sturdy, well-made box with a hardcover book and a stuffed Elf.

Mental Movies

October 20, 2011

Sometimes it's easy to assume children know how to "read" or "listen" to a book, but often I'm reminded children need to be taught the appropriate behaviors for reading and what reading is simply all about. Those of us who were fortunate enough to be natural readers sometimes take for granted or just simply overlook "natural" reading behaviors. Throughout my teaching career, I came across many children who had difficulty recalling what they read or listened to. I even saw children who were in the upper grades struggling to remember what a story was about. There are many reasons for this, but sometimes it's as simple as children just reading but not "soaking" up the words. One thing I do to help with this is to teach Mental "Movies".

All About Fall Books

October 19, 2011

As I have mentioned before, I love for my students to make keepsakes in class, and these little books are one of my favorite things to make! We make them several times a year for different occasions and almost always for the different seasons. They're easy to make, and a lot of learning and work goes into them!

Ice Cube Fun

October 15, 2011

While dealing with a big block of ice today, I realized ice cubes offer many fun learning opportunities!
Experimenting with Hot/Cold:
If you have a block of ice or simply a few ice cubes stuck together, let your child/student touch and describe how the ice cubes feel. Then, put the ice cubes under hot water (make sure to have adult supervision so no child gets burnt), and watch how quickly they shrink and ultimately disappear! No matter how old you are, it's fascinating! This would also be a great opportunity to discuss solids and liquids!

Solid Shapes Book

October 14, 2011

To go along with our solid shapes unit, we always make "My Solid Shapes Book"! These are easy to make, and the kids really learn a lot from it.

To make, each student will need 8"x11" sheets of paper. They will need half the amount of pages their book will have. For an example, the solid shapes book above has 7 pages, so it required 4 sheets of 8"x11" paper. If the book being made has an odd number of pages, just double that amount, and you'll end up cutting half of a page off.

Shape Share Day

October 13, 2011

I'll be sharing some shape resources over the next few days, but I'm going to begin with Shape Share Day. Shape Share Day is an activity I do after introducing and studying solid/3D shapes. Students bring in one example of either a cube, sphere, cylinder, rectangular prism, pyramid, and cone.

Pumpkin Day

October 12, 2011

How many of you are having a Pumpkin Day this year? It's a ton of fun, and a great way to celebrate and participate in fun activities related to the occasion. Here are a few activities my class did:

Robert Munsch

October 11, 2011

I'm sure you have heard of Robert Munsch before, at least through his book, Love You Forever. What you might not know is that he is a classic children's author with almost all of his books featuring hilarious plots and exaggerated lines, which make his books perfect read alouds. Also, his books always have an expected, repetitive line, so kids are allowed to join in the read aloud. I have many favorite children's authors, but if I had to pick one that rose above all the others, it would be Robert Munsch. His books were a staple of my childhood, and I continue to love them as much today as I did then. While teaching, I always shared his books with my students and found many of them were not familiar with his work (:0 - oh no!), but upon sharing the books, they were absolutely engrossed and always asked for more. I think every child should know his work, and I guarantee there will be a Robert Munsch book they love!

Fraction Flowers

October 10, 2011

These fraction flowers will make learning about fractions a ton of fun!


October 09, 2011

I love fun Science experiments, and it doesn't get too much more fun than Oobleck! Oobleck is another term for a cornstarch and water experiment. It's a perfect lesson for any introduction to science or solids/liquids/suspension unit. So simple but way fun!

Bat Friends

October 08, 2011

October is the perfect time for a unit on bats and/or spiders. After reading Stellaluna by Janell Cannon, my kids made these adorable bat friends.

Winner of Reading Strategies Guide Giveaway

Congratulations Erin!
You should have received an email from me earlier.

A huge thank you to all who entered!

The winner was chosen randomly through's Random Number Generator.

If you'd like a copy of the Reading Strategies Guide for yourself, I'm offering it for 10% off TODAY ONLY at my TeachersPayTeachers store.

Making Writing Exciting

October 07, 2011

Writing is one of those subjects kids can either really dedicate time to or fly through. When I taught, I tried to dedicate as much time to writing as I could as it is an enjoyable process, and I think kids really need both a creative outlet and the guidance to become good writers.

Classroom "Rules"

October 06, 2011

Instead of having class rules, I had class jobs. On the first day of school, I always told my group of second graders that they were so smart and responsible that they were ready for jobs instead of rules. We discussed how our classroom was a team/family, and we all worked together to make sure our classroom was a great place to be. Then, after a discussion about jobs and what happens if you don't do your job, I let my students come up with a list of their jobs and my jobs.

Parts of a Pumpkin Labeling Sheet

October 05, 2011

This pumpkin labeling sheet would make a great addition to any pumpkin or Halloween unit. It covers four parts of a pumpkin (stem, tendril, skin, and ribs). Included is both a color and black and white (great for copies and letting kids color) copy.
Download here!

For more pumpkin ideas, check out my Pumpkin Day unit.

Phonics Generalization Mini-Lesson

Yesterday I posted the 18 Phonics Generalizations, and today I am going to share a mini-lesson template for teaching them! Here are the steps to follow:

Phonics Generalizations

October 04, 2011

Phonics Generalizations are phonics rules that are taught to emerging readers to help them learn letter combination sounds to increase reading and spelling ability. Theodore Clymer researched over 45 phonics generalizations and found that only 18 were proven to be true at least 75% of the time. This goes hand-in-hand with how difficult the English language can be because there are so many rules and what works in one situation, often doesn't in another. Below are the 18 Phonics Generalizations proven to work at least 75% of the time:

Giveaway: Reading Strategies Guide - CLOSED!

Sorry, this giveaway is now closed!

Scaredy Squirrel

October 02, 2011

Have you heard of Scaredy Squirrel? He's another character I came across a little over two years ago, and I just love him! Scaredy Squirrel is what his name implies. He is afraid of many different things in the world and often stays in his tree to avoid his fears. Throughout each book, he identifies his fears, makes an emergency plan, and faces his fears. The books are often told through many lists and are very organized.

Ghost Window Clings

October 01, 2011

These super-cute ghost friends are easy to make, and kids will love every minute of it!

Flat Stanley

September 29, 2011

Have you ever heard of Flat Stanley? I hadn't up until about two years ago when another teacher friend introduced me to him, and I'm so thankful! Flat Stanley is one of the best characters and set of books I've come across in a long time. I'm not the only one who thinks so either, teachers and students alike LOVE him!

Teacher Talk Thursday: Classroom Share

September 28, 2011

I always love to see how teachers organize and decorate their classrooms. It's always fun and inspiring to see so many creative, amazing ideas. Today I am sharing photos of one of my classrooms. In this particular classroom, I was in a mobile old mobile unit that had served as everything from a music and ESL classroom to my Second Grade classroom, and it showed. Here's a look at how I organized my classroom in a very small setting...


When I found out my students would be tested in Grammar, I had to come up with some creative ways to teach my kids all the rules and tricks of our English-language system. My unit on verbs went along on the idea of verbs showing action, so I came up with a Hollywood theme to make it relevant and fun for my students. They always remember anything fun, so I tried to incorporate that idea into my unit.

Spelling Inventory

September 27, 2011

I want to share with you an amazing tool I discovered as a teacher that was a lifesaver! When I discovered this tool, I had a group of students that were all over the place when it came to reading/phonics knowledge. Hardly any two students were on the same level, and it was hard to pinpoint exactly where my students were lacking in phonics knowledge. It made teaching very challenging when it came to reading, spelling, and writing. Then, I discovered the answer to my problems! Let me introduce you to the Spelling Inventory!

Teaching Addition & Subtraction

September 26, 2011

Memorizing those addition and subtraction can be a nightmare for teachers, parents, and students alike! In my experience, the goal of every second grade teacher was for every student to finish the year with their addition and subtractions facts memorized. Then, third grade would review quickly in the beginning of the year before moving onto multiplication and division. Many, many students struggle with memorizing their addition and subtraction facts though. It's very challenging for them. Many students and parents think they're fine if they can add using their fingers, etc., but that's not so. Students often rely on those fingers way too much! When they do, it becomes a major problem when trying to learn two-digit addition/subtraction, addition/subtraction when regrouping, and multiplication/division! So, we parents and teachers must work together to make sure those facts get memorized!

Resource Binders: An Organization Tool For Teachers

September 25, 2011

 Organization is an essential skill of being a teacher. Teachers often deal with more paperwork than anything else. As an organization nut, I had to have a simple way to organize all of my worksheets, parent handouts, and teacher guides. There are many different ways teachers do this such as using a filing cabinet to hold files separated by topic or storage boxes for each season that hold books and worksheets. I liked the storage box idea, but I wanted to be able to easily flip through all my resources and see right away what I have, and I needed everything organized by topic. So, I got the idea to create resource binders, and I LOVE them!

Great Websites for Kids

September 24, 2011

Overall: (Common Core Standards that many states have adapted and will be using in the classroom very soon.) (Watch videos and do related activities - Subscription is required, but some parts are free.) (Subscription is required but this site offers wonderful video resources.) (Interactive site for Preschool-Kindergarten students featuring activities for all subjects) (Interactive math and reading games) (Infotoons for kids - includes a variety of subjects) (Contains links for a variety of K-12 topics) (Free educational games for kids - includes a variety of subjects)

Fall Unit Resources

September 23, 2011

Today marks the beginning of Fall/Autumn, so I thought I would share some of my Fall unit resources with you. Click on any file to download the PDF. To download a zip file of the entire Fall Unit, click here.

Johnny Appleseed Books

September 22, 2011

With it being late September and Fall approaching tomorrow, most teachers include a unit on Johnny Appleseed around this time. Below are several ideas and activities you can use for this unit.

I always begin any unit on Johnny Appleseed by reading Johnny Appleseed by Steven Kellogg.

Talk Strategies

September 21, 2011

Anytime you read a book with a child or a child reads a book, it is important to discuss the story with them. Not only does it help a child develop comprehension and prediction skills, it also helps to develop their mind and imagination. Here are a few different talk strategies you can use to make discussing books fun!

Adding Tens

In this lesson, students will learn how to mentally add multiples of ten to a two-digit number by modeling using tens rods and unit cubes.

Join My Facebook Page!

September 20, 2011

I've received some fantastic visitors lately, and I just wanted to remind you to "like" my Facebook page, so you can stay up to date on all the latest at Primary Junction! You can visit my Facebook page by clicking on the above link or clicking the "like" button on the sidebar! Hope to see you there!

I'm liking up with The Lesson Plan Diva's Facebook Link Party! Check it out here.

How to Make Spelling Fun!

September 19, 2011

School is back in session now, and that means many kids are bringing home spelling words each week. I've compiled a list of activities that make spelling words fun, and I guarantee kids will learn at the same time! If you would like to download a PDF version of the tips below for your refrigerator or to pass along to parents, download here.

Odd and Even Fun with Skittles

September 18, 2011

With this activity, children will be able to determine the difference between even and odd numbers and tell whether a number is even or odd and why.

Activities with Counting Blocks

September 16, 2011

Yesterday I talked about the pack of 18 counting blocks I found in Target's dollar bin for only 30 cents. Well, today I am going to talk about some great math activities you can do with these counting blocks. Let's get started!

Run, Don't Walk, To Target!

I took a little trip to my local Super Target this morning, and I have to share some amazing deals I found! The dollar spot is my favorite part of Target. They always have some great stuff in there. Well, today was no exception.

At my Super Target, the dollar section today was a mix of back to school supplies, Halloween merchandise, and food. Well, they had a sign up saying any back to school merchandise with a brown dot near the UPC was 50% off. Now, the back to school stuff was $1 to begin with. The teacher in me got all excited! Then, I noticed the sign said the sale was good only through the 14th of September...two days ago. I decided to take my chances anyway...the stuff was only a dollar to begin with anyway.

Beginning Teachers: Interviews & Portfolios

September 14, 2011

It's Thursday, so it is time for Teacher Talk Thursday. On Thursdays posts will be dedicated to teachers, classroom management, and ideas to be used in the classroom. Tons of fun stuff is ahead! Today, I will continue our Beginning Teacher series by discussing interviews and portfolios.

Family Tree Keepsake

September 13, 2011

Nothing is more precious than a child's drawing or writing, and what better way to capture it than a family tree? This adorable activity is sure to be a favorite childhood keepsake.

Counting Syllables

This week's reading strategy helps build graphophonemic awareness that I talked about when discussing the four components of teaching reading, aka "The Apple".

The Apple - The Four Components of Reading

September 12, 2011

Reading is an essential skill, and more emphasis is placed on this skill than any other in education. Before I begin posting different strategies for teaching reading, I want to give some background knowledge. There are numerous theories, strategies, and products to teach reading, but they all basically boil down to the same four components. Thus, I present The Apple.

Think of teaching reading as eating an apple. There are four components:

Math Mondays: #1 Tips For Building Math Skills at Home

With a little creativity, you can make math lots of fun! Here are some easy things that you can do at home to help your child with math. I have used this as a handout at parent nights before. Parents often like to keep a copy on the fridge. Enjoy doing these activities with your child. Download a copy for your fridge or for your classroom here.

Abstract Masterpieces

September 11, 2011

Who doesn't love a fun art project? This easy project will be loved by both kids and parents alike, and it's something you'll probably want to frame! It's that great!

Skip Counting Using A Hundred Board

Number recognition and counting from 1-100 is the foundation of math. After students can identify a number, the next skills to be taught are usually skip counting and identifying numbers on a hundred board. This is where some children begin to get confused and struggle somewhat, and this is a skill that must be mastered before more difficult skills can be taught. If a child does not master these skills, addition, subtraction, and money skills will not come easy. Therefore, today's post will be focusing on the skills of skip counting and recognizing skip counting patterns using a hundred board.

Skip Counting is the big term used for counting by 2's, 5's, 10's, and 100's. These skills will be touched upon in Kindergaten and First Grade and often must be mastered by the beginning of Second Grade. Once a child can count from 1-100 easily(and that means around two minutes with limited to no help), it is time to teach skip counting. In my opinion, counting by 5's and 10's is the easiest, but many begin with counting by 2's. These are skills that help with adding, subtracting, money, and patterns. Patterns during the primary years are often adding or subtraction by skip counting. In a minute I'll show you how to use a hundred board to teach these skills, but first some ways you can quiz your child on skip counting:
  • Passing a toy or foam ball around in a circle and skip count. For example, at night, have the family sit down for a minute and pass a ball around and count by 5's until someone in the group reaches 100.
  • Keep track of many days you are in school! One way is by keeping a number line, which also helps with another math skill: number lines! One easy way to do this is with register paper. Each day add the number of days you have been in school, and circle or write in a different color of marker the skip counting numbers. For example, write numbers in black, but numbers counting by 2's in green, numbers counting by 5's in purple, and numbers counting by 10's in orange(and perhaps circle these too!).
  • When introducing money, introduce it a coin at a time. I'll talk more about money in the future, but casually point out pennies count by 1, nickels by 5, and dimes by 10. Just knowing this will make teaching money (a very difficult skill for children) much easier.
Okay, now onto how a hundred board fits into all of this skip counting talk!

A Hundred Board is a perfect way to teach skip counting! Whenever I teach this, I have my kids get four crayon's out. I pick the color's and everyone uses the same colors.

First, we will color or circle all the numbers skip counting by 2. Have your child tell you what they notice about counting by 2's. They should see a pattern! Talk about how counting by 2's is every other number, and they all end in either 0, 2, 4, 6, or 8. They may also mention it is every other row or column.

This is also a great time to talk about odd and even numbers! I will be dedicating a post to odd and even numbers in the future, but I often re-do this activity again when doing odd and even numbers with two crayons.

Next, let's work with skip counting by 5's. Take another crayon and color the numbers that count by 5. (Please excuse my poor drawing...drawing with a mouse has never been my specialty!) Once again, ask your child what they notice... discuss any patterns they see.

Next, we will have counting by 10's.
Color or circle all numbers counting by 10's. Ask your child what they notice.

Next, you should point out the white blocks. Ask your child if they notice anything about them. They might notice they end in 1, 3, 5, 7, or 9. This is a great time to introduce the term "odd numbers". You can either leave these white or color them. It might be easier to leave them white though so they stand out. :-)

Make sure to discuss how special each column is. Make sure your child notices all the numbers that end in 1 are in the same column, etc. This really helps out when having to identify where a number goes on a hundred board.

Phew.... what next? Take the time to quiz your child. You can let them begin with their hundred board and move up to quizzing them without it. Have them count by 2's, 5's, and 10's, and move up to asking them what number comes after 15 when come by 5's, etc. These are great questions to ask when in the car or taking a bath. Just spending a minute or two asking these questions helps your child retain the information/skill.
Above is a blank hundred board. This is great to use for number recognition and skip counting. You can have your child fill in the blank board from 1-100, only even numbers, only odd numbers, only counting by 2, etc.
Above is a Hundred Board Puzzle. Your child will cut out the rectangle/square pieces, put them in order on a sheet of a paper and glue. This is a great assessment to see how well your child recognizes the relationships between numbers and the Hundred Board. Plus, it's a lot of fun!

Finally, the most challenging skill of a hundred board - filling in the blank! Now, this is a skill that shouldn't be expected of a child who has not mastered the above skills. It is a skill that is often expected of second grade students in the beginning of the year.

With this sheet, students have to fill in the missing numbers on the pieces of hundred board. It looks easy, but what happens is students will see 5, 6, 7, 8 in the top row and think the row below it should be 9, 10, 11, 12.... but that's not correct. It's just a piece of a hundred board so really what should be below it would be 15, 16, 17, 18.... remember each number in a column counts by 10. This is a challenging skill... so make sure your child is ready for it. If you try it and they struggle, it's a great time to go back to the hundred board to look at how it is laid out. Also, you may want to try this sheet using a hundred board first. Let your child do the sheet while using a hundred board. They won't feel so intimidated, and they will work up to mastering the skill on their own without the help of a manipulative!

Finally, as a huge technology advocate, I will try to always have a technology extension to go along with each skill. This week it is Oswego City School District's game Give The Dog a Bone! I have never met a child that did not LOVE this game! Children are given a blank hundred board and one minute to find ten hidden bones for a dog. They are given a number and must find where it is located on the blank hundred board. (This is where are the skills we have worked on pays off - such as knowing where the 2's, 5's, and 10's are... if you know where 20 is on a hundred board, you can easily find 23.) Children love the fun challenge, and they're learning at the same time!

Have fun working on those hundred board skills!
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