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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