Thursday, March 9, 2017

Place Value and the Great (FREE) Race to 1000 Game

Place value is one of the underlying math skills that can make or break a student.  Students NEED a solid understanding of place value to master skills such as addition, subtraction, mental math, and explaining how addition and subtraction work.

In Kindergarten, students start by working with ten frames and understanding that teen numbers are a set of ten and some more ones.

In First Grade, students begin exploring place value deeper by working with 2 digit numbers, naming the positions as ones place and tens place, completing mental math of 10 more and 10 less and using place value as a specific addition/subtraction strategy.

In Second Grade, students are building on Kindergarten and First Grade to begin working with 3 digit numbers by adding the hundreds place.  Students will be counting, forming numbers, comparing numbers and using place value to solve more complicated problems.

It is critical that students are able to work fluidly and flexibly with base ten.  One of the best ways for students to do this is to play games.

One of my student's favorite games is the Race to 1000 game.

(Please note, some links are affiliate links which means I may receive some pocket change to help support this blog and fund teaching expenses when you make a purchase. As always, the opinions are my own and I promise to only share what I truly love- cross my teacher's heart!)

To begin play, we divide into 2 teams (you could do more).  Each team gets a work mat and base ten materials while I collect the big foam die I have!  (If you do not have any base ten materials, I have used these fun printable ones!)

The premise of the game is simple.  Each team has 6 rolls to build a number that reaches as close to 1000 without going over!  If they go over 1000, they lose!

When a team rolls, the look at the number and decide if they are adding ones, tens or hundreds to their number or work mat.  After making the decision, they add to their work mat and play goes to the next team.  Play continues until each team has made 6 rolls.  Teams count their base ten materials and compare numbers!

After students have played in a group for awhile, they love to play in partners.

You can differentiate this game by changing the number that students build.  Try going smaller or larger.

You can download the work mat here!  After printing the work mat, I recommend laminating or placing in a page protector so students

Friday, March 3, 2017

March 3- Five for Friday

This was such an exciting week for me! I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching to tell you all about it!

My kiddos participated in a wax museum this week! It was soooo much work... but SOOOO amazing.  I'm so proud of my kids!

As part of my school's STEM team, I was able to attend NC TIES today!  It's a great conference and it was so much fun!

Today sealed the deal on starting Maker Space in my classroom!  I went to a really great session about creating a Maker Space on a budget.  I am going to do some more research on Maker Space but I am thinking about doing it Friday afternoons.  I am flip-flopping back and forth on whether or not to make it an earned activity (because seriously?  Why can't they turn in papers?) and just making it open for everyone.  Thoughts?

At the beginning of the year, our admin challenged us to do a team building activity each month.  We haven't managed to do one every month, but we are a pretty close team.  We get along well and support each other.  

Tonight, we went to an Escape Room!  It was a haunted house and we had so much fun!  This is us before we went in!

Monday, I'll be presenting at a conference!  It's as part of the STEM team and we are talking about our experience at Space Camp this summer and sharing some activities.  I feel a little out of place, because this is actually a middle school conference and I teach 2nd grade!  I'm excited none the less.

Here is my MOST exciting news!  I started accepting sign-ups for my new newsletter!  I am passionate about helping other teachers find balance in their work/home life.  Click on the image below to sign up AND receive my exclusive 5 Ways to Find Balance as a Teacher.

Finding Balance

If you have any suggestions for starting a Maker Space, or if I should make students earn it, drop me a note in the comments!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

How to Find Balance by Letting Go of Guilt

At some point in time, women went from wives and mothers to superwomen.  We decided we wanted it all and could have it all-- and would provide it all!

Now, I'm not saying you can't.  I'm not saying you shouldn't.

Girlfriend- if you want it, go get it!

However, I am saying that in the journey to have it all... we sometimes lose what really matters--


We become stressed, tired, cranky and, quite honestly, not a lot of fun to be around.

Is that WHY you want it all?

Not me!  I want it all for several reasons- provide my family with a great life, retire early so I can travel, make a difference in the lives of the children I teach and support learning environments in the community.  

I have found that one of the keys to finding balance is to let go of the guilt.  Here are 2 situations I experienced gut wrenching guilt.  Holding on to the guilt stopped me from moving forward with my goals.

#1- The Mom Guilt!  

My son was born 7 weeks early.  My breast milk never came in.  The 2 things my body was designed to do- carry a child and feed it- failed.  Hello, GUILT!  Getting over that took a L-O-N-G time.  I spent hours worrying about how much I had failed my son.  Then one day I realized- he was FINE.  He was better than fine!  He was thriving!  Nine years later, I have an extremely intelligent, highly creative engineer in the making!  

Baby's First Picture!

Building Rockets at Cub Scout Camp!
#2- The Teacher Guilt!

My first year teaching, I taught a student I'll call Sam.  Sam was quiet.  He worked really hard but didn't get anywhere.  He was failing First Grade.  I went through the schools then protocol for identifying students with learning disabilities.  I had him observed by the school psychologist.  Nothing.  I retained and taught him the following year.  The next year, he moved to a different district, but I stayed in contact with the family.  He was immediately diagnosed with ADD, put on meds and became a straight A student. Two years with me and I couldn't help him... Hello, GUILT!

Moving On

Moving past the guilt was imperative to not getting stuck.  It takes these simple steps:

#1- Learn something from the experience.  I learned to be more sympathetic to others.  I learned how to recognize ADD.  I learned how to partner with parents.  

#2- Be thankful.  Be thankful for what you learned.  Be thankful for the experience.  Be thankful for what you DO have.  I AM thankful for the amazing child I have.  I AM thankful that Sam got the help he needed.

#3 Forgive yourself.  This step can be the hardest and usually isn't a one time thing. Every time those guilty feelings or bad memories come up, repeat to yourself a forgiveness mantra.  I like to say "I did the best I could with the information I had.  It is not my fault."

This is the first blog post in my Finding Balance series.  I have worked really hard to find balance in my life and want to share these tips with you!  Since finding balance is an ongoing struggle, I would also love to hear your tips in the comments below!  You can also sign up for my email list to get more tips!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

How to Make Green Eggs and Ham

One of my favorite activities to do on Dr. Seuss's birthday is to make green eggs and ham for breakfast.

At my school, student's eat breakfast in the classroom so this is really easy for me to add to it.  I've also served it in the afternoon when it fit my schedule better.

Green eggs and ham is easy to prepare- in the classroom or at home!

Green eggs and ham is simple and fast!  All you need are basic ingredients- eggs, ham, green dye, pan, spatula and heat source.  I like to use the already diced ham just to make life easier!

Over my teaching career, I have made green eggs and ham a variety of ways.  In a crock-pot.  The night before and microwave them at school.  On a griddle at school.

My FAVORITE way is on a griddle at school because cooking with kids is awesome!

(I forgot to take pictures last time I made them, so I made some at home!)

A few tips-
1.  Assemble all ingredients before hand!
2.  Work in small batches- scrambled eggs are easy but not when you are scrambling 2 dozen!
3.  Use a gel food dye- my fingers never turn green when I use gel!

Crack the eggs into a bowl and mix with a fork.  Add the green dye in the mixed eggs and stir.  Since it's a gel, you might end up with pieces of gel in the eggs.  Don't worry- when the eggs start cooking, they will melt and mix into the eggs!

Mix the diced ham into the eggs and pour- carefully- into the pan or griddle.  

Scramble quickly.  If you had gel pieces, you should see them start to melt into the eggs.

When the eggs are finished, plate and serve!

How do YOU celebrate Dr. Seuss' birthday?

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Meet the CFTC Blog Hop and Give Away(s)

I have really enjoyed being a part of Conversations from the Classroom.  To celebrate our first month of collaboration, we are hosting a series of hops and give aways!

A few facts about me!

Single mom of the greatest boy ever!

We have 2 cats- Anakin PawWalker and Marti McMeow

I currently teach 2nd grade, but have taught K and 1st!

I have worked at the same school for my whole career!  I love my colleagues, my school and my community.

My favorite color is red, my middle name is Lee and I would rather read a book than almost anything else in the world!

I love helping teachers in 2 ways!  I want to help you fill your bustling classroom with fun and engaging activities AND I want to help you find balance in your life so you aren't spending all your time at school!

Last summer, I took an amazingly epic trip to Space Camp!  It was the trip of a life time!

I'm hosting a give away for

Enter the giveaway by entering below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now that you've entered my give away, HOP over to 2 Scoops of Kindergarten to meet more of Conversations in the Classroom!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Stop the Boredom! 3 secrets to engaging students in centers!

I πŸ’“ centers!  They promote independence in my students.  Give me time to work with small groups or individuals.  AND-- they are FUN!  (Did I say fun?  Shhhh!  Don't tell anyone!)

Seriously, sometimes I feel like all the fun is being sucked out of learning, school and being a kid!  We HAVE to do this...they HAVE to master that...

Really?  What about wonder?  Engagement? Fun?

For years, I have searched for the perfect way to keep centers consistent so students can complete them on their own, but engaging so students don't get bored.

You know what does it?


Novelty is defined as being new, original or unusual, I find that it also means it's fun.  Kids having fun are engaged.  Engaged kids are learning kids!

Here are my top three secrets to using novelty in centers.
(Please note, some links are affiliate links which means I may receive some pocket change to help support this blog and fund teaching expenses when you make a purchase. As always, the opinions are my own and I promise to only share what I truly love- cross my teacher's heart!)

#1- Think cheap.  Novelty wears off if you keep it around too long so do NOT sink much money into it.  One of my students favorite bits of novelty is tiny centers.  I print center activity resources 2 to a page so that they are about half the size.  Set some magnifying glasses out with the center and its a whole new ballgame.  Guess how much that cost?  Yep, NOTHING!

#2- Make it seasonal.  This allows you to keep the same structure to an activity so students can continue to work independently, but make it different enough that students are engaged.  In January, put it on snowflakes and snowmen.  In February, break out the hearts!

#3- Change the writing utensils.  For writing instruction and assignments, I prefer students to use pencil.  However, when they are making a list of short a words or writing in a collaborative journal, I relax that rule.  Every few weeks, I put different writing tools out for students to use.  A pack of metallic crayons cost me a few dollars, but brought tons of multi-paragraph writing!

I am always looking for new ways to add novelty so I would love to hear what you do!  Leave me a note and watch for a shout out!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

5 ways to prepare for the holidays!

No, I'm not crazy... well, maybe a little.

Yes, I know the holidays just passed!

Yes, I am preparing for the holidays now!

Here are 5 ways that you can prepare for the holidays NOW to save yourself time and stress in November and December.

#1- Every month (or payday) buy a gift card... in November and December, you will have plenty of money saved for extra shopping!  Alternatively, you can check with your bank to see if they have a Christmas Club account.

#2- Using your favorite list making app (or notebook) make a list of everyone you buy for... as you see things and think of ideas, write them down (or go ahead and buy it!)

#3- Start making gifts early.  There are lots of crafty people in the world!  If you are one of them, harness those powers and get crafting!  Creating all those hand-knitted scarves or needlepoint hangings take time.  The earlier you start, the more you can make!

#4- Shop now if you are in the market for new Christmas decorations!  Now is the time to find them CHEAP!

#5- Consider online options.  According to a survey completed by Consumer Reports National Research Center, the most stressful part of the holidays is dealing with long lines and crowds. I have a family tradition of going shopping on Black Friday with my mom, grandmothers and sister, but everything else was done online! (Actually, some online shopping was done at the mall during Black Friday shopping, but that's another story!)

Drop me a note in the comments if you have any other tips for preparing for the holidays!  I would love to hear them!
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