Even and Odd Numbers

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Hey y'all! Teaching even and odd numbers is one of the simplest concepts we teach all year. But how do we "increase the rigor?"


One way is by using math stations. Stations allow students to think through problems on their own or with their group. By making students accountable for their thinking, you have less students just along for the ride in whole group lessons and not doing any thinking.


With math stations, we have a whole group lesson on Monday, then students go through a series of stations Tuesday through Thursday, and we have another whole group lesson or activity on Friday.


Each unit includes interactive notebook pages, recording sheets, games, task cards, student directions, and lesson plans.


In this unit's whole group lesson, we build even and odd numbers using counters (this is a perfect reason to stock up on Target mini erasers!). Station activities include sorting answers into even and odd sums, sorting by the number of letters in each classmates' name, a dice game, and a card sort. Then on Friday, students color by sum on the mandala below.



To find out more about how math stations work, click here. There are several more 2nd grade math stations available to last the whole year. For more information about this unit, click here.

Stay tuned for more great resources coming soon. Have a wonderful week and stay sweet.

Making Math Stations Work for You

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Hey y'all! Have you taken the plunge and tried math stations yet? If you have, excellent! If you haven't, or you want to but aren't sure how to manage it, here's a few ideas on how it could work for you, but first, let's cover the basics.

What:

Math stations are a set of 6 stations the kids go to throughout the week. If you're familiar with the way we set up science stations, this is very much the same setup. We typically have a whole group lesson on Monday, do 2 rotations a day on Tuesday through Thursday, and have a culminating activity on Friday. The whole time during rotations, I am walking around monitoring students, providing feedback, and making sure they are understanding the big ideas in each station.


Why:

Why should you try math stations? In my classroom, math and science stations are the most organized and engaging part of our whole day. The kids are excited, they know the routine without any prompts from me, they are independent in their learning, and I rarely have a student off task. This is the time of day when I hear, "This is the best day ever!" most frequently. The kids are LEARNING and they see it as play. It's a win-win.

To get our stations organized, I label each box with a number. Students are assigned a group and typically rotate through each center together, but not always as I'll show you below. These are shoebox sized plastic bins I picked up from Target, but you can find them anywhere.


Who:

Keep your groups flexible. I assign my students groups based on how they interact with each other. I may pair a couple of struggling readers together if I know they can persevere and figure things out together, or if I know that I can help them both at the same time in that set of stations. I may pair a high kid and a low kid together if I know they can work well together. You know your kiddos. Set them up in groups that get along well together but won't get each other off task.

Don't be afraid to mix things up either. If I see they're getting a little too comfortable together, I'll reassign groups. If they're off the charts awesome, I'll let them pick their partners for the week. You be the judge on what your students can handle.


How:


The "how" is flexible. More often than not, we do centers the way they are described above. But not all weeks are that organized. Sometimes we have an early release that cuts into our math time. Sometimes, we have special event that messes with our schedule. Whatever the reason, there are other ways to make it work.

Option 1: You have a four day week, so you can do the Monday whole group lesson on the first day of the week, then do 3 stations a day on the next two days, and the culminating lesson on the last day of the week.

Option 2: Do the Monday lesson on your first full math time of the week. Set up the centers on a day where you have a full hour and half or more and rotate through all 6. Then, do the Friday activity on the next full math day. This requires some stamina from your littles. I wouldn't use this setup at the very beginning of the year.

Option 3: Do the Monday lesson on a full math day. Setup all the centers on a day when you have a solid hour and half, but let them choose which ones to go to, how long to stay, and where to go next. Do the Friday experiment at the end of the week.

**I use this option with skills my students are already pretty strong in. I do not use this setup with content heavy units because I want to make sure they get to Every. Single. Station.



Option 4: With some skills, I knew my students were not ready to do stations independently. We did the Monday lesson whole group. The next day, we did 3-4 of the stations whole group. Wednesday and Thursday, students played the games from the stations we didn't do whole group in partners or groups of 3-4 while I talked with each group to make sure they knew how to apply the skill. And Friday we did the whole group culminating activity. 

Option 5: Do one activity a day whole group. This isn't the same as stations, obviously, but if you have a class that just can't handle it then this might be your best bet for setting expectations.

I personally don't like doing it this way. Even my toughest classes were the best behaved during stations, so I am a HUGE advocate for rotations. However, you have to do what's best for your students and their learning styles.


Putting it all Together:

I hope I answered a few questions for you. I've heard many teachers say they love reading centers but are hesitant to try math stations because they've never taught it that way. If you're at that point right now, rest assured that it can be done and your students will love you for it. Teaching math this way has been SO MUCH FUN for both my students and me. I no longer have wiggly ones interrupting the whole group lesson because they can't sit still. The fast pace of the centers keeps them engaged and focused.

To grab a copy of the center organization signs, click here (it's free!). And stay tuned for more math units coming soon. 

Stay sweet,

Teaching Kindness During the Holidays

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Hey, y'all. Do you find that each year your students have a bigger case of "the gimmes" during the holidays?

I feel like each year, my students' wish lists get more and more pricey. That's why I've started implementing the 12 Days of Giving in our classroom.


I hang up a string in the room and attach these cards to them with clothes pins. Each day for the 12 school days leading up to winter break, we turn a card over and show kindness to others by completing the directions on the card.

Some cards are more detailed than others. One day, students may simply give a smile to someone. Other days, students will decorate cookies for school staff members. The best parts are that students learn the beauty of giving to others and you can choose when to do certain tasks.

For instance, I usually have students pass out cookies on Friday. And I plan card making days for times I know I'll have the supplies we need.

You can get a free copy of these cards by clicking here. Have a wonderful season of giving and stay sweet.


Telling Time in 2nd Grade

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Hey, y'all! I hope your students are enjoying math stations as much as mine are! Our next unit is telling time and we are so excited. 


On Monday, we make this handy little clock to help us practice and fill out the first recording page as a whole group. You can pick up a copy of the clock for free here.


Tuesday through Thursday, students visit a series of stations to practice telling time to five minutes. Games, lesson plans, recording sheets and student directions are included. 







On Friday, students show what they know by playing Telling Time Scoot. I love playing scoot because it's a great assessment tool. 


You can pick up your own set of telling time stations here. Stay tuned for more math stations coming soon and have a wonderful week!

Stay sweet,

How to Calm a Silly Class

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Hey y'all. It's that time of year. We're in that "scrape the kids off the ceiling" part of teaching. Everyone's favorite! But there are ways you can keep the holiday crazies under control. Here's my top tips:

1. GoNoodle
There are lots of high energy GoNoodle videos, but when your students have enough energy already, it's time to play the deep breathing ones. A few rounds of balloon breath and usually you can give instructions again.


2. Take time for a directed drawing.
There's something about having to listen and follow specific directions like this that makes them super excited to focus. And the coloring or watercolor that follows can be very therapeutic for a wound up kiddo. There are tons of printable options on Teachers Pay Teachers and videos on Youtube. Pick your favorite and go for it!

3. Breathe Like a Bear
Sit in a circle or at students desks and do some deep breathing/meditation activities. The book Breathe Like a Bear has some fantastic exercises for kids to help regulate their energy levels and focus. And once students are familiar with them, the activities can be done anywhere. We particularly like "blowing out the candle" or "cooling the hot chocolate" while we're in line before heading to lunch.


4. Turn on the music.
There are all kinds of music streaming websites. My current favorites are Amazon Music's Calm Down Kids station, nature sounds, and, closer to Christmas, holiday instrumental music. Play it just loud enough that students can hear it when talking in a low voice, but not so loud that it drowns out the noise. That just makes the noise worse.

5. Turn down the lights.
Using natural lights, lamps, or string lights brings the energy level down exponentially. We like to turn the lights off and set up a "roaring fire" from Youtube on our Smart Board. The ambience makes things feel cozy, and cozy usually helps with calm.



6. Do a little yoga.
Yoga for kids can be found on GoNoodle or Youtube. If you practice it yourself, you can lead your own session. The stretching and mindfulness that it takes to do some of the poses does amazing things to release some of the sillies and get students back to focusing.

7. Read aloud a chapter book.
We have a rule in my class: If it's a picture book, you have to sit up; if it's a chapter book, you can lay down if you choose. Letting them lay down does awesome things for settling them down. It's such a simple but powerful activity and much easier to get things done afterward.


How do you calm your class when they get a case of the sillies? Let me know in the comments. Have a wonderful week and stay sweet.

12 Days of December Read Alouds

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Happy holidays, y'all! It's the most wonderful time of year...for books! There's nothing like a read aloud to help scrape the children off the ceiling! :-p Here are a few of my favorites:
This post contains affiliate links. 

1. There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bell!
A classic "Old Lady" story to kick off the craziness season. If you're not familiar with this series, the Old Lady swallows a series of things that eventually come back out to make some seasonal thing--a scarecrow, an Easter bunny, or in this case, Santa Claus.


2.  Pete the Cat Saves Christmas
It's exactly what it sounds like. The furry friend is back to save Christmas and make sure everyone has a groovy holiday. The rhythm and rhyme of this book will have your littles excited to hear this read aloud.



3. Too Many Tamales
As the family gathers for their Christmas celebration, Maria loses her mother's ring. She thinks it's in the tamales and her cousins help her eat them in search of the missing ring. This book is full of cultural connections and talking points, highlighting different traditions from different cultures.


4. How to Catch an Elf
Ready for a fun day of creating elf traps? This book is perfect for kicking off an excellent STEAM challenge!


5. The Biggest Snowman Ever
This one can take you into January, too. One day while reading this book to my class, I substituted the names of the characters for names of my students. Could I do this with any book? Of course. But it has become the "magic book" in our classroom. Scholastic has had it for $1 in recent years in December and I've gotten one for each student in my class. They go nuts every time we read it.


6. Mrs. Greenberg's Messy Hanukkah
I love this book because it talks about a culture that isn't the majority in our classroom and it focuses on taking care of others during the holidays. Rachel is so worried that Mrs. Greenberg is alone for Hanukkah that she goes out of her way to make her feel special. It's a sweet story with important themes.


7. The Hanukkah Hop
We always talk about different cultures' traditions during December and The Hanukkah Hop is a great introduction to Jewish traditions. Rachel prepares for her family's party and gets the dreidels, latkes, and menorahs ready. It's perfect for introducing the vocabulary related to Hanukkah.


8. The Gingerbread Man
We read this one at the beginning of gingerbread week. There are many different versions of this story, but I personally prefer the classic one. Pairing it with The Ninjabread Man makes for a great lesson on comparing stories.


9. Jingle Bells Batman Smells! (P.S. So Does May.)
Junie B. Jones is in full swing during the holidays. The rambunctious first grader learns an important lesson about giving in this fun early chapter book.


10. Snowmen at Christmas
I love to read this one just before we leave for winter break. It's an imaginative fantasy about how snowmen might celebrate Christmas and one that leaves most of my students wide-eyed and ready for the holiday to begin.


11. An Irish Night Before Christmas
As far as comparing traditions goes, this one will make your littles think. In Ireland, the elves wear green, jump down the chimney to let Santa in the front door, and the donkeys that pull the sleigh will eat the roof if you're not careful. This book has so many talking points and is a great way to introduce a wreath craft. Disclaimer: While I love this book, I do edit out a few phrases that may be seen as cheeky in America. Use your discretion and read it ahead of time before introducing it to your class.


12. The Smallest Gift of Christmas
Roland discovers that the best gifts of Christmas are not necessarily the biggest gifts. If you love Peter H. Reynolds books (I am Human, I'm Here, I am Yoga, Happy Dreamer), you'll love The Smallest Gift of Christmas.


I hope you found some new titles that you'll love sharing with your class and some new strategies for sharing them. Enjoy and have a wonderful, fun-filled, holiday season!

Stay sweet,

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