Monday, January 16, 2012


Hello Sweet Friends,

A new year brings new resolutions. I started this blog at the beginning of the school year, not really knowing what I was getting myself in to. I moved grade levels and that was a huge change for me and I wasn't having the time I needed to blog.  With it being a new year, I've decided to get back into blogging, but under a new name. This one wasn't quite doing it for me, so I've made a change. You can now find me at Sweet Teachings. I'm really excited about the move and look forward to starting over again now that I have more time to myself!

If you head on over now, there's a little post about Synonym Rolls and coming soon, multiplication!

Hope to see you soon!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Place Value Songs

I am feeling so fresh and relaxed from our 3-day weekend! Our district was off on Monday for Fair Day and the kiddos are off today for staff development. It was a much needed break and I am so thankful for some quality R&R!!

We're almost finished with our Place Value unit and the kids are really moving along quite well! The place value unit was a little scary to me at the beginning. Moving up from first grade with the new Common Core Curriculum made math seem very hard! I love, love, LOVE teaching with songs, so I tried out some new tunes to help my little ones grasp the new standards. So far, it's working!!!

This song I modified from the Teacher Tipster. This guy is amazing!! He reminds me of a really good friend of mine who passed away a few years ago. I love watching his videos and remembering my good friend Nick! He worked with kids at a summer camp I worked at and truly had a gift! Teacher Tipster's song only covered tens and ones and we are learning hundreds, tens and ones. The new song goes a little like this...

"I don't know but I've been told (kids repeat)
Hundreds are big and bold (kids repeat)
Tens are tall and ones are small (kids repeat)
Help us count them all (kids repeat)."

The kids use the same motions for tens and ones (from the video). Since hundreds were added, the kids stand up and open their arms, making a square with their arms. I call on a few kids to go to the front of the room (as hundreds, tens and ones) and the rest of the class counts them. The kids love this activity and it's a great time filler/brain break throughout the day.

Another song we sing helps us comparing/ordering numbers. We teach the students to look at the largest place first. For example, when comparing 753 and 943 the kiddos should look at the 7 and the 9 because the hundreds place is the largest place. To help the kiddos remember this concept we sing the following to the tune of "The Farmer in the Dell"...

"We look at the largest place,
We look at the largest place,
When comparing numbers,
We look at the largest place."

I love teaching with songs because the kids seem to remember what to do word.for.word. When a student is comparing/ordering numbers, I ask them which place they look at first. They always answer, "We look at the largest place", which are the exact words from the song. They never vary their answer. Some kids even use the tune when telling me which place they look at. I love it!!!

I hope these songs can help your place value lessons. Do you have any math songs that work for your class?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Listen to Reading Resource

Hello Sweet Friends!

I promise I'm still alive! Things have been super busy around here and this little ol' blog is the one suffering! I'm trying my best to find time to post but the craziness of this school year is winning!

Here are a few quick resources for everyone using Daily 5. Since I'm lucky enough to have six student computer stations, I do my "Listen to Reading" online. Here are a few websites we use during our Daily 5 time.

Online Storytime by Barnes and Noble has become my Daily 5 best friend. The kids love going to this website and listening to celebrities/authors read their favorite story books. The great thing about this site is that it has thumbnails of book covers for the kids to see. Once they find a book they want to listen to, they click and enjoy!

Another site we use is Read to Me. This site works similar to "Online Storytime". You can search for books by looking at thumbnails of the book cover. There are some great books on this website! My kiddos love to listen to "Fancy Nancy", "Chrysanthemum" and "Excuse Me" to name a few.

I am proud to say that we are currently doing 4 of the Daily 5. Any advice on how to successfully start "Word Work"?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sum and Difference Game

My kids took their first math test and some of my friends need a bit more practice on finding the sum and difference! Here's a quick game I thought of on my way to work this morning. All you need for the game is a set of playing cards (minus the face cards) or a set of number cards.

Flip and Find

I hope you can find a way to use this!!!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Math Menu

Happy Monday!

Today was our first tutoring session and boy did I come home T.I.R.E.D! We tutor after school until 4:45, which makes for a long day! Although it's a hard day, I love only tutoring one day a week! Anyways, here's another menu I'm using this year. It works really well for differentiation with those really high kiddos! This menu works during my math time. Once these kiddos are finished with their necessary math work they take out this menu and start working. These kids are usually working on this while the rest of my class is finishing their independent practice and I'm at my teacher table working with a small group. It's a great way to give those kids something constructive to do rather than reading a book at their desks or talking to their friend who is still working! I know you all understand the kids I'm talking about! :)

Choice Café

The menu is set up almost like a restaurant menu. I call it "Choice Cafe" because the kids have choices in what they do. They must complete the main dish and two sides. The desserts are optional. I encourage the kids to do as many items a possible. They have until the end of the unit to complete their menu.

I'd like to say again (as I said in this post) that not all the ideas on the menu are mine. Many come from Differentiating Instruction with Menus by Laurie Westphal. It really is a great book with TONS of ideas on differentiating your classroom.

Our next unit is coming up in less than a week and I'd love for my kids to get a chance to "show off" their creations and share them with each other.  I'm hoping to have a special share time for these kids, calling it their "Menu Meeting". The kids will critique each other's work with post-it notes at the end of the week. It's a way for them to celebrate their hard extra work. Hopefully the kids will see this time as a special reward for working so hard and a time to see what other kids did with their menus.

I hope you had a wonderful Monday!!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A New Way to do Homework

I wanted to share a new way second grade is doing homework. Our school district is really pushing student choices throughout their learning so we decided to tie that into homework. In the past we printed out packets of math and reading practice. It was a great way for the kids to practice skills learned in class, but there was really no student choice going on. This year our new idea is to have a weekly menu in which students choose from a few options as to what they wish to turn in. Here is the menu we are using this week. (This is the first time I'm using Scribd so I'm sorry if it's not working right.)

Homework Menu

The choices are not 100% mine. A few I came up with (with help from my team!) and a few came from this amazing book I recommend. Differentiating Instruction with Menus by Laurie Westphal is a great resource for menus! You can purchase the books by subject and within each subject are menu templates for different topics. The one I have above has addition and subtraction assignments, reading, grammar and spelling.

I can't wait to see what the kids come up with for their homework! Every week is going to be different for both the kids and myself. It's going to be a total surprise (hopefully good surprise...) when they turn in their work on Friday!! I love giving the kids the option on how far they want to take their homework and how creative they want to be!

Do you have any ideas for next week's homework menu?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Math Games!

Good morning!

Yesterday I was out of school for mouth surgery. I really hated taking off so close to the beginning of school, but my doctor seemed to think I need to have it done a.s.a.p. It was nothing major, just a little cyst in my gum line. I felt surprisingly good yesterday afternoon but still could not talk (which is super hard for me). So, I decided to use my time off of school working on things for school. Why do we teachers do that? Anyways, here are a few math games I worked on yesterday!

Our first unit is tons of addition and subtraction strategies. The district curriculum had us playing a game from AIMS on flipping over 2 number cards, adding them up to find the sum, and crossing that number out on a strip of numbers. Since I'm really trying to differentiate for a pilot program this year, I decided to make a similar game, but instead of adding 2 numbers, some of my students would add 3. Students will use dice instead of number cards. Click on the game picture to download.

The next game is something I made to help my students understand the equal sign and determine if the equations are true or false.  Students will look at the equation on a card and sort it into a piles, true or false. This game is also differentiated because I've provided multiple sets of cards at different difficulty levels. Once students sort the cards into the piles, they write the equations on a recording sheet. If the equation was false, they must correct it on their recording sheet, giving them practice with fact fluency.

I hope these games work for your kiddos! Math is so different for me this year so I'm having to create many extra things for my kids to use! Be on the lookout for more games!!