Monday, 28 May 2012

Math on the Run

If you are not yet on Summer break, you are no doubt counting the days until the end of the year...and wondering what to do with your kiddos each day to keep them busy in a meaningful, but fun way... If this sounds like you, read on! A very dear friend, and long time colleague of mine, came up with a brilliant Math game a good few years back. This game requires virtually no preparation, can be done on the spur of the moment, keeps kids actively busy and thinking and is the perfect activity for those days when you you're feeling in a slump. We named it "Running Math" and here's how it works...

You will need a set of flashcards/equation cards for whatever concept you want to consolidate (e.g. number facts, tables, addition of 10's, doubling, etc), paper and pencil or dry erase board and pen and a calculator for each student. Lay all the flashcards out on the floor in a central place in your classroom. Give each child a paper and pencil or dry erase board and pen. Here's the part the kids really like....have them remove their shoes and socks! Now explain the rules:
  • NO running (I know, I know...why is it called running maths then?!!?!)
  • NO pushing
  • NO talking
The object is for each student to collect, write down and complete as many sums as they can within the time you allocate. The children walk (quickly) to the flashcards take one, return to their table, write the sum and the answer, return to the pile of flashcards to swop the card...and repeat....until you say stop. You can time them for however long you feel that they can manage...2mins...5mins...its up to you! When you call 'STOP!' they put their pens down and swop papers/dry erase boards with a friend.

Now it's time to check the answers. I always liked my students to become au fait with the mechanics of a calculator from early on - not to do calculations but as a skill in and of itself. (I know this is a "hot topic" so if you don't like to use calculators then you can check the work yourself.) I had the children use their calculators to check their friends answers. They then counted how many correct answers they had, wrote the total at the top of the page and returned the pages to the owner.

I always liked to "reward" the "Running Math" champ with a round of applause or a few house points. To find out the champ I had all the students stand and then had them sit down if they did not fit the number I called. E.g. 'Keep standing if you got more than 10 correct',  'Remain standing if you got more than 20 correct', etc. (You can go up in whatever interval you feel is appropriate for your students achievements.) Keep going until you have only the champion standing. All the students can give the child a clap (or you could award a small prize).

Once you have played this once you will have your students begging to play it again and again! It became a good old standby activity in my classroom...and the kids LOVED it!

If you are looking for other "active" Math activities you are sure to like my 'STOMP' games (Stomp subtraction facts and Stomp addition facts) available in my TpT store.

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Tuesday, 15 May 2012

A boost of positive energy for your classroom for the end of year!

It's almost Summer and the countdown for the end of the year has begun! Are you thinking about the last few days with a little bit of a sense of trepidation....How to keep the kids busy without them getting too excitable? How to maintain a happy air in the classroom when everyone is getting a little tired and all to ready for a holiday?!

You could end your year with a burst of positive energy, joyfulness and gratitude. 'Sunflower Journal' pages are a great way for your students to record their happy memories of the year gone by, to express gratitude for special people and moments during the year and share their happy thoughts and wishes for the upcoming vacation. By focusing their "Summer's coming!" energy towards finding "gratitude moments" you will reap the rewards of a happy, peaceful, positive end of the year. Visit my TpT store to download this freebie!

Wishing you an end of year and Summer filled with your own "gratitude moments" and happy memories!

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Friday, 11 May 2012

Sunflower Journals: Finding Gratitude Moments, Joyfulness and Positivity Everyday!

It was many years ago, after hearing about Gratitude Journals on Oprah, that I introduced this idea to my second grade students. The idea was an instant hit in my classroom and my students were eager to write as often as possible (especially as no editing was ever required in these journals!). I provided them with writing prompts 2-3 times a week to keep them thinking positively about different things and I was amazed at how soon they began to find "gratitude moments" in everyday occurrences and situations. Occasionally students even asked to take their journals home so that they could add a little more writing or jazz up their entry with a cute illustration.

I soon discovered that the positive energy from these journals was overflowing into my classroom. Sure, the kids still rankled each other - kids will be kids, you know! But they were beginning to focus more on the positive. Little things, like saying nice things about each other and noticing when someone said or did something nice to or for them. And they were happy. And you know what they say "Happy kids = Happy teacher"!

I was recently reminded of these journals by a thread on Facebook and mentioned to some fellow bloggers that I had once used them in my classroom and would they be something other teachers could use. Fellow blogger, Laura Candler, quickly responded to my mention and told me about her 'Happy Thoughts Journals' (read her blog post by clicking on this text). Thanks to her encouragement and support I dug out my old hand drawn worksheets and quickly got to tackling a digital unit for my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

I discovered a cute image of a sunflower I had used for these journals so long ago amongst these papers and I immediately knew that the seed had been planted for something great! 'Sunflower Journals' were germinated and grew...and grew... The sunflower is a symbol of such positivity, joyfulness, warmth and energy, exactly what we want our young students to be and become. By creating their own Sunflower Journal covers (craft included in the unit) students will be engaged from the start with this yearlong activity. The pack includes over 120 writing prompts (which can be used in Literacy Centers or as independent work) to keep directing your students thoughts to happy, positive places, times, memories and ideas. All the time learning to show gratitude for the everyday, small things in life. The unit would not have been complete without an activity to germinate sunflower seeds so that each student has their own sunflower plant to remind them of the idea of looking for "gratitude moments".

With the end of the school year drawing near and students looking back at the time that has passed and forward to a fun-filled Summer vacation, I thought it would be great to have a few journal pages that focus on the "gratitude moments" of the year gone by and of thoughts for the vacation ahead. I have compiled these journal pages into a FREEBIE for you to use right away in your classroom. Visit my TpT store to download a copy...  My little way of showing gratitude for and appreciation of YOU!

And now, why not spend a few moments jotting down some things you are grateful for in YOUR life... You will be amazed at how uplifting the positive energy is!
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Thursday, 3 May 2012

Happy birthday to me...and a treat for you!

Today is my birthday and as a little treat for you everything in my TeachersPayTeachers store is less 41% for today only. Please stop by to make the most of this special offer!

Please remember I am in South Africa (GMT +2) and this special sale will run from 0h00 on the 3rd of May to 0h00 on the 4th of May. Happy shopping!
*(Graphic from PrintCandee)
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Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Teacher Appreciation Jackpot!

A huge thank you to everyone who participated in the Teacher Appreciation Jackpot yesterday! I hope you were able to stock up on some terrific freebies! - I know I did! An ENORMOUS thank you must be extended to Laura Candler, April McNair and Adrianne Meldrum for all their hard work in putting this together! You ladies are FANTASTIC in my book and greatly appreciated! Thank you from the bottom of my heart! Don't forget that the TpT sale continues until 8 May so keep stocking up your cart and "shop 'til you drop!"

Next week is Teacher Appreciation Week and to ensure you feel TRULY appreciated a number of TeachersPayTeachers sellers and bloggers have arranged the first ever TEACHER APPRECIATION JACKPOT, an amazing "blog hop" event involving more than 130 bloggers!

We wanted to show our appreciation for you in a BIG way, so we've all agreed to give away one of our TeachersPayTeachers products for free on that day! Each free gift will be valued at between $3 and $8, so the total jackpot amount is estimated to be over $500!

Because so many bloggers are participating, this event will be divided into three grade level groups. Each of those smaller events is being coordinated by one blogger as shown below:

  • PK - Grade 2 - April McNair on A Modern Teacher
  • Grades 3 - 6 - Laura Candler on Corkboard Connections
  • Grades 7 - 12 - Adrianne Meldrum on The Tutor House

  • All the excitement unfolds on Sunday, 6 May! Not only will there be masses of items available for you to download for FREE in the Teachers Appreciation Jackpot, but there will also be a massive sale at TpT in honor of Teacher Appreciation Week. Please take a look through my TeachersPayTeachers store and feel free to load up your shopping cart! No need to worry that an item you add to your cart now might be the one that becomes free; if a product in your cart becomes free later you will not pay anything for it at checkout.

    Below you will find links to all the PreK-2 blogs that are participating in the Teacher Appreciation Jackpot. Each of these wonderful teachers will have a FREE gift available for you to download on Sunday! This is our way to show our appreciation of all that you do each day in the lives of your students and families.

    And now, here is the gift I have available for you in my TpT store:
    I know that you will definitely want to add this to your word wall activities and Literacy Centers next year!

    Thank you for following my blog and store...I hope you are made to feel truly appreciated next week!
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    Tuesday, 1 May 2012

    Global Teacher Connect Giveaway!

    At Global Teacher Connect May is the month to celebrate teachers...and to show our appreciation a number of us have agreed to post new freebies each day for you to download and use in your classroom. Today I added a little gift from South Africa in the form of a 'Safari Park Data' worksheet. To download a copy click on the link below to be redirected to GTC.

    Happy Teacher Appreciation Week next week!
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