Sunday, October 28, 2012

Math Activities with Pattern Blocks

Pattern blocks are helpful tools to create a plethora of hands-on math activities.  As I've noticed as a sub, pattern blocks are not just for students in first grade and below (as I previously assumed).  Activities with pattern blocks can be adapted to fit a wide range of skills and difficulty, strengthening geometric reasoning and spatial awareness.  Here are some activities and games students can enjoy:

  • The Last Block is a 2-4 player game that challenges students to be the last player to place a block on the gameboard.  You can use this as a board for the pattern block game.
  • FirstGradeParade adapted Musical Chairs into a game where students added blocks to the patterns created by other students.  This is a great way to get students up and moving while practicing with patterns!
  • MathLearningCenter has free pattern block lesson plans to download and use in class.  Activities are suited for K-2 students.
  • MarcialMiller lists several games and activities using pattern blocks.  Ideas include everything from working with tessalations, fractions, and making pictures of animals and flowers.

3 Books for Read-Alouds and Activities

Take a look at these terrific, tried-and-true children's books that are perfect for read-alouds and centers.  These 3 books are ones I have either read to classes or seen kids enjoy independently, and I've found websites that also recommend the same books and include activities you can complete after reading.

Dodger and Me  by Jordan Sonnenblick is a nice chapter book to devote to read-alouds, and Yearn4Learning's class considers it a favorite.  She has posted a chapter-by-chapter reading response packet to go along with the book.    

A Bad Case Of Stripes by David Shannon, one of my favorite picture book writer/illustrators, is one I definitely have enjoyed reading to students.  StepIntoSecondGrade turned the book into a coloring and writing activity for her students, and she's shared it on her site!  Your class can color their own stripes on Camilla, the main character, and write about the cause and effect of events in the story. 

The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister is one of the most popular books I see in school libraries.  Kids love the cool illustrations, and I must admit that I love seeing the glittery images on the covers of the Rainbow Fish series.  That's why it was so exciting to see LearningParade's eye-catching craft activity designed around this book.  Students create a tissue paper lantern that closely resemble the colors associated with the popular book covers.  Students can also work on a cut/paste activity and color their own rainbow fish in this printable sheet from the site.

As an added bonus, check out MrsRojas's story maps made with post-it notes!  They are just the right size for a little story analysis for students.  She's even included a printable sheet to include information about different story elements.

Happy reading!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Teaching with Task Cards

Do you use task cards for teaching activities?  You may want to consider doing so when you observe all their benefits.

Task cards are pretty self-explanatory:  they are cards which contain tasks, or activities for students to complete.  Teachers usually create a deck of these task cards for students to practice skills.  They are good worksheet alternatives, can be adapted in to games, easy to make and readily accessible since so many teachers make and share them.

Here are some resources about task cards, if you're thinking about utilizing them:
  •, which gives a thorough explanation for various ways to use task cards, including for individual, small group and whole class activities.  The site also provides details on several types of task cards and gives examples of each.  There are also four sets of free task cards as a sample of the type of material sold on the site.  Visit here for a one-stop shop for info on task cards! 
  • Talbott's Teaching Trove contains a few sets of free task cards, including working with antonyms and rounding numbers.  My favorite are the "7-Up" cards, which encourage students to turn short, lifeless sentences into descriptive ones.
  • The Third Wheel posted free math task cards to sharpen students' problem solving skills.
  • forums have many awesome members who create and share task cards for all subjects and grade levels.  Sign up and join to share and contribute.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Halloween Activities

Are you ready for Halloween yet?  It's just around the corner.  Check out a few neat ideas for Halloween crafts and activities:

  • Monster Yard Lights are cool art projects to work on after reading a spooky story starring monsters.  Using little more than paint and a milk jug, you can help students design monsters that they can use for Halloween decorations.  Stick them around the room for fun, or allow them to mount them on sticks to make glow-in-the-dark yard lights.
  • LewisLearningLibrary allowed her class to do several fun Halloween activities, including analyzing a story in invisible ink and learning some cool things about bats through crafts.  Students learned everything from how many bugs bats can eat in an hour to how long their wingspan is.
  • Play Ghost Blasters, an online game where you blast the ghosts that contain multiples of a chosen number.  It's a good way for students to practice their multiplication.
  • Make cute little spider web snacks as a treat for students. 

And here is a list of some read-alouds you may consider for Halloween:

Halloween Night by Marjorie Dennis Murray

Bone Soup by Cambria Evans

Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich by Adam Rex


Bats at the Library by Brian Lies (check out the other bat books in the series!)

Sipping Spiders through a Straw by Kelly Dipucchio

Monday, October 8, 2012

Using Popcorn in the Classroom

Hi, guys!

Did you know that October is National Popcorn Poppin' Month?  I'm going to celebrate by making popcorn my go-to snack this month.  You can help your students celebrate by integrating popcorn into many classroom activities during October.  Here are a few ideas for inspiration:

  • Use kernels for an estimation activity.  FirstGradeParade posted this and included cute little autumn-themed, printable cards for students to estimate how many popcorn kernels will fit on it.  After they estimate, they count the kernels to see how close their guess was.
  • Have students describe popcorn using as many adjectives that come to mind.  Here is Room-Mom101's take on BabblingAbby's adjective activity.
  • Challenge students to create a box that holds the most popcorn.  Fawnnguyen did this activity for sixth-graders studying volume.
  • Make a popcorn book club discussion.  This is also an idea from FirstGradeParade, complete with printable discussion-starters.  Students discuss their books and eat popcorn.
  • Create popcorn writing by crumpling up popcorn-shaped papers with characters and settings written on them.  Students randomly choose the papers and write a story using the elements written on their papers.  This comes from ApplestoApplique and is similar to my Build-A-Story activity, but with a popcorn theme!

How else can you add popcorn to your October activities?