Thursday, May 30, 2013

Google Eyes Problem Solving

Picked up this package of Google Eyes at the dollar store. Do you see the math problem-solving potential?

Look at the big arrow. I bought this package of eyes intending to use them for people eyes in an art project. If I'm using them for people, what problem will I encounter if the package holds 125 eyes? How many people can I make?

Look at the small arrow. It shows that the package contains:

15 pc (2.4cm), 50 pc (1.2cm), 60pc (1cm)

If I use same-sized eyes for each person, how many people can I make with each size? Will I have any leftovers to create a "one-eyed monster?" If so, which size eye will my monster have?

This morning over the breakfast table, this package led to a discussion about odd and even numbers. I love looking for math problems in the environment!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Portfolder Proud: Northwest Passage Explorers (more photos!)

**Added a bunch of new photos. So proud of this group...hope you'll indulge a repost! :)

We've been studying the explorers who searched the Pacific Coast for a Northwest Passage. A few highlights included:
  • the NW Passage game
  • the NW Passage song
  • the trial of Francis Drake
  • letters to (and from) Queen Elizabeth
  • NW Passage timelines & book with Drake, Heceta, Cook, Gray, and Vancouver
  • sailors and scurvy (aye, we need sauerkraut!)
  • the sea otter/fur trader game
We culminated with Portfolders. Here are a few to share...
As I receive parental permission to post photos I will add more**, so check back if you are interested in seeing additional examples! ;)

Monday, May 27, 2013

Math Monday Blog Hop #101 (May 27, 2013)

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

You Know You're a Math Teacher When...

You know what it feels like to walk across one of these...


Find at least one of these each day...
  • in the kitchen, bathroom, livingroom, dog's dish
  • in the reading corner, whiteboard tray
  • between the covers of a book
  • under the edge of the carpet
  • under the edge of you

Monday, May 20, 2013

#100...Math Monday Blog Hop & Giveaway! ( May 20, 2013)

Unbelievable! This is the 100th Math Monday Blog Hop hosted on love2learn2day.

To celebrate, Yelena McManaman, co-author of Moebius Noodles: Adventurous Math for the Playground Crowd, has offered a copy of the book in a celebratory giveaway. The book contains math games and activities for very young children (infants to kindergarten age). The author writes,
"It is not a book about numbers or shapes or counting since we felt there are already so many wonderful books about these subjects. Instead, our book explores math topics such as symmetry, functions, sets and quantities, and grids. We believe that such advance concepts can be understood and loved by even very young children. We believe that children are born mathematicians and it is our responsibility as parents and educators to support and develop their mathematical minds, not just mathematical skills."

To enter, please leave a message in the comment section below, saying why you would like to win a copy of the book. Contest open until May 28. A winner will be chosen at random and announced May 29.

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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Visual Models Make the Math!

I remember little of early elementary school math, so I find it rather remarkable that this stands out...

My elementary school math experience was primarily composed of rules or sequential steps to memorize. One rule: add by starting with a given number rather than starting with 1. So if we had 6 and wanted to add 3, we were supposed to start with 6, rather than starting at one.

I'm not sure how I missed the instruction (I did enjoy watching Stacey, the class clown, tie Jennifer's shoelaces to her chair...recall that much better than math class), but I couldn't add by starting with a given number.

Why? Here's my 7-year-old thinking:

Should I say 6 and then count 3 more on my fingers (say "6," then "7, 8, 9"), or should the 6 count as one of the 3 numbers I'm counting? (say "6, 7, 8"):

7 (holds up 1 finger) 
8 (holds up 2nd finger)
9 (holds up 3rd finger)


6 (holds up 1 finger) 
7 (holds up 2nd finger)
8 (holds up 3rd finger)

Can you follow my thinking? I was so worried about the steps that I forgot to consider what I was actually being asked to do, or what it meant to add two numbers. What if someone had given me visual support?:

A number line that shows I already have 6 hops and need to add 3 more hops:
A Number Rack to show that I have 6 beads and am adding 3 more:

Or Number Pieces to show that I have 6 units and add 3 more:

I don't think my teacher ever knew that I couldn't add by starting with a given number. After I missed a bunch of problems, I just gave up and put my fingers under my desk and counted, starting with 1. Because I was so busy with this inefficient addition method, I think I missed memorizing my addition facts. I don't think I mastered those until adulthood.

But I got straight-As in math through high school. I was a master math swindler.

Do you support math concepts with visual models? Do you have a story to tell about a kid like me? I'd love to read your comments. :)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Fraction Relationships on the Geoboard App

Here's another way of exploring fractions on the Geoboard App (free and available online or as a download for electronic devices.) I asked a 4th grader to determine which is greater, 1/2 or 3/8? Here is his response:

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Opinion Writing with Purpose: 2 Letters!

We want young writers to write their opinions and support the ideas with solid reasoning. One of the best ways I've found to develop this skill is through letter writing. Using one of the ideas from 101 Ways to Make Book Reports Fun, my students have been writing some fabulous opinion pieces.

Recently, our studies have focused on explorers who searched for the Northwest Passage. We read about Sir Francis Drake and learned about his relationship with Queen Elizabeth. Students were dismayed to learn that she ignored much of his pirate-like behavior, wanting money to finance her projects.

One week, I suggested they write letters to Queen Elizabeth, explaining their concerns. After the letters were complete, I asked them to write replies to their own letters, pretending that they were Queen Elizabeth. (They didn't know that this was coming.) They did an incredible job!! Here are a couple of examples:

From a third grader:
Dear Queen Elizabeth,
I'm writing this letter to tell you about my opinion about your actions. I think you are hurtful because you are taking people for slaves. This tears families apart. In addition, you are taking money and gold from other ships, which is stealing. Sir Francis Drake is killing a lot of people which you know about, but you continued giving him tons of weapons and ships. I kind of do not like you, but you are pretty. I'm really glad that I'm studying you because you have some cool things to learn about.
From, L

Dear L,
I am writing this letter in response to the letter you wrote me. I think what you wrote in the letter was wrong.

I'm the Queen, I am supposed to take care of our beautiful country. My mom, Grandma, Great Grandma, and Great, Great Grandma all have been Queen for so long and have passed it on to me.

If I was not being trustful and someone caught me, I would be put in jail. I would never want to risk my life to get thrown in jail.

I love little children, they are my friends. How could I tear families apart. I lived in a royal family, I loved my family's happiness so why would I destroy other families?

Hoping my letter will change your opinion about me.
Queen Elizabeth

From a 4th grader:
Dear Queen Elizabeth,
I am writing you a letter, because I want to tell you what I think of you. I think you are mean because you knighted Sir Francis Drake. You also gave him more ships to defeat Spain. You Queen Elizabeth are cruel. When you gave Sir Francis Drake more ships, you knew that he was going to take people and sell them as slaves. You are a dishonest person; when Sir Francis Drake stole money from Spain, you said the money was for the country, it was just for you and Sir Francis Drake. You just wanted to make yourself rich. I think you are the meanest person I know.
From, M

Dear M,
I am writing this letter in response to your hurtful letter. I am not as evil, horrid, and hateful as you think I am. Let me explain to you, M.

I was so hurt when I read your letter. You almost made me cry when I read it. If I did not care about people, I would not feel hurt.

Also, I come from royal blood, and I am the Queen. In addition, my family has taken care of my good country for years, and I will do the same thing too.

If I gave Sir Francis Drake more weapons, someone would know, and remove me as the Queen. People watch over me every minute of the day and night. I don't have any time to be by myself. I hope you will think differently of me.
Queen Elizabeth

The letters become more real as students select paper to represent their characters. My students crushed paper bags to make old paper for the background on their first letters and used "royal" paper to write replies.

Check out more ideas to make learning fun!

Common Core Standards:

Monday, May 13, 2013

Math Monday Blog Hop #99 (May 13, 2013)

Unbelievable! We're at the 99th Math Monday Blog Hop. How should we celebrate hop #100?? :) Have an idea? Post in the comments section below.

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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

Never underestimate the power of a mother.   

Grace & Hope gave our son a mother during the first three years of life. For that, we will always be thankful...

P.S. Amazon commissions from love2learn2day go to Grace & Hope to enable more children to call someone "Mother."

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Feelings Journal: Working Through Mads, Sads, Scareds...

...whines, impatient rumbles, caustic sibling spats...and every other feeling that just might cause the nearest adult to walk out the front door to "check the mail" 47 times in a single morning sigh.

Have you ever heard anything like this in your house? Or classroom (at home or at school)?
"I don't want to!"

[whining] "I want somebody to play with."

[angry] "He touched me!"

[impatient] "Aren't you ready YET??"

"It's MY turn! NOW!"

"Why do we have to do - eat - look at - touch - listen to - clean THAT?"

I have. So I created a new tool. Whenever I hear my kids express a big (negative) feeling, I give them an opportunity to develop their social/emotional skills. Here's how it works...

Each child has a "Feelings Journal." When I hear something break erupt, I ask them to record the feeling they are presently having, how strong the feeling is, and the cause of the feeling. Then, they look at a list of activities that have the potential to turn the feeling around. (Turn that frown upside down?!) They select one activity. Afterward, they return to the journal and reevaluate their original feeling, giving it a new number.

This is an AWESOME tool!

Within a matter of minutes, children go from whiny, mad, impatient, irritable, or scared to happy. It's delightful to see them begin to realize that they are in control of their feelings. Some recent examples:

Child #1 says, "You didn't get my paper ready!" I say, "Sounds like you have some strong feelings. Why don't you take a moment and write about it in your feelings journal?" The child says he is "impatient" and an "8" on a score of 1 (low) to 10 (high.) He decides to go pet the cat to feel better. When he returns, his feelings number is now a 2! (And for the record, the paper WAS ready!)

Child #2 whines, "I want to go to Matt's house."  (He writes, "I dot Get to Go to Matts Hoas") He gives the feeling a 7. Looking at the list, he can't decide what to do, so I suggest he take a walk outside to dump the compost. He agrees. When he comes back he gives the feeling a 1.

This could be used at home or school...anywhere that children have the opportunity to stop what they are doing for a few minutes* and change gears/activities long enough to recognize and process their current feelings. At home, it'd be a great thing to start during summer break!

*School note: the list of activities include movement. The document specifies that the child needs to get teacher approval before doing an activity. If the list is not well-suited to your situation, a sheet is included to develop your own classroom list of 10 activities. 

This pack, appropriate for K-6th grade, comes with:
  • Feelings Journal Cover (3 options: boys, girls, mixed boy/girl)
  • "Things I Could Do To Change My Mood" list (3 options: home, school, child-created)
  • Journal Page (options: independent reader, early reader with pictures which include boy, girl, or mixed boy & girl graphics)
  • Feelings Booklist
  • Feelings Book Basket Labels 
Here's hoping that this helps all your little sweeties (at home and at school) to develop social/emotional skills that will make it easier for you to parent and to teach. (And not feel the need to "check the mail" 47 times in one morning!) Thank you in advance to those who take the time to leave feedback in my store; when you leave feedback, TPT allows you to earn credit toward future purchases. Also, if you become a store follower--and I hope you do!--you will receive an automatic notification when I update this product. Again, thank you!

Go to:

Teachers Pay Teachers

Teachers Notebook

Graphics in the pack are from My Cute Graphics. (And who couldn't help but feel better after looking at such cute pictures!)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Calculating Elapsed Time: Nepal!

I never knew. This is awesome.

If your kiddos need to practice elapsed time ~OR~ if they want an elapsed time challenge, try this...

Calculate what time it is in Nepal! From Wikipedia:

Nepal Standard Time (NPT) is the time zone for Nepal. With a time offset from Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) of +05:45, Nepal Standard Time[1] is one of only two official time zones with a 45-minute increment from UTC. The Chatham Islands, which uses Chatham Island Standard Time also has a 45-minute increment from UTC, its time zone being UTC+12:45.

So the time difference doesn't fall on an hour, but on a portion of an hour (+ a given number of hours AND 45 minutes)

Awesome. Try it. :)

Monday, May 6, 2013

Math Monday Blog Hop #98 (May 6, 2013)

It's Teacher Appreciation Week! Thank you for all you do. I continue to be inspired and challenged by the innovative ideas you post.

Look for celebratory sales at Teachers Notebook (all week) and Teachers Pay Teachers (May 7 & 8).

If you want to share this collection on your blog, just grab this link:
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Saturday, May 4, 2013

Explore Oregon Regions!

Oregon teachers and homeschoolers...I am very excited to announce that my new unit, Explore Oregon Regions, is finished! In this unit, 3rd-6th grade students learn about four regions of Oregon (Coastal, Cascades, Willamette Valley, Eastern) and consider how location influenced the lives of Native Americans. Activities use art, music, reading, speaking, and writing to bring information to life.

Students make a salt dough map, sing a region song, research and present an expert project on a region, perform a region commercial, write a book about regions, and make a 3-D art display demonstrating what they've learned about the Native Americans who lived east and west of the Cascades.

The unit requires a few basic supplies, listed by project/activity. You'll also need to visit your library to gather non-fiction books on Oregon.

The unit (46 page pdf) includes:
  • detailed teaching notes, including directions for working with a classroom or with a single child.
  • photos & examples of student work
  • introductory activities
  • regions of Oregon song (and songbook)
  • mapping project (including making a salt dough map)
  • expert project on an Oregon region
  • commercial presentation on an Oregon region
  • writing a book, The Important Thing About Oregon
  • 3-D art project to learn about how regions influenced lives of Native Americans
  • more than 25 student sheets/blacklines

You have the option to purchase a bundled unit which also includes Descriptive Poetry & Tissue Painting: 5-Sense Your Poetry Lessons.

The bundled unit (includes Explore Oregon Regions with the poetry unit, an additional 17 page pdf) is available at:
Teachers Pay Teachers
Teachers Notebook

Or pick up Explore Oregon Regions (46 page pdf) at:
Teachers Notebook

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Best Writing Teacher & Editor EVER!

I don't generally posts information about classes & services that other teachers have to offer, but this is too good to miss. Ever since our college days, sweating through the same English education coursework, I have known that Sherri is an incredible writing teacher. I watched her teach. Then homeschool. And now she's expanding her outreach to include online students.

If you have a child in need of some extra help in writing--or if you have your own papers that need a professional's touch--you will not find a better teacher/editor. (I send her my lesson units to proofread. She doesn't miss a thing!)

You will find her online at By Degrees.  If you teach writing yourself, you'll also want to check out her blog.

Disclaimer: I do not receive any monetary compensation if you use Sherri's services; we don't have any business arrangement. I will, however, continue to send her my lessons to proofread.  She's simply the best! :)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Skittles Riddles

Ever since my students had so much fun with Skittles Fractions, Estimation, and Graphing, I've been on a Skittles math alert. When I saw that our library had Skittles Riddles Math, I had to check it out. Literally.

The book uses visual models to look at a variety of math concepts: greater than/less than, addition/subtraction, negative numbers (negative numbers with Skittles are NOT a good thing!), pie graphs, fractions, etc.

Although the book is recently out-of-print, it's easily found in libraries and is still pretty inexpensive online. If you're doing Skittles Fractions, Estimation, and Graphing, it'd be a great addition to your lesson. Using the activities in a math center? Just add the book to the center area.

In the process of researching the book, I accidentally ran across another Skittles resource. Have you seen Skittles Riddles? The candy? Apparently, Skittles has a product called "Skittles Riddles" in which the color of the candy doesn't match the flavor. I'd love to find a supply for another math lesson. Kids could make their own questions and predictions. What percent of the green candies taste like each of the other flavors? Are they consistent? Do they colors and flavors ever match? If so, what percentage of the time? The mathematical questions and possibilities are endless. If you see them anywhere, let me know what stores to check! :)

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