Sun & Moon partners in the classroom: a freebie

Just posted a new freebie over at my TPT store! I use partners in my classroom for lots of things, including turn & talks on the carpet and buddy reading in Reader’s Workshop. In my effort to bring more nature into my classroom (even in the form of clipart), I made up a list for Sun & Moon partners. You can print it out and post it somewhere. Then when you ask your kiddos to turn and talk to their partner, you can say “Sun partners go first,” or vice versa!

Click on the image below to download the freebie, or find it at my TPT store here.

Sun Moon partners

50 Ways to Bring Wonder: Mystery Bag Monday

50 Ways to Bring Wonder into the ClassroomIn an effort to bring curiosity and joy back into the elementary school classroom, I decided to start a series called 50 Ways to Bring Wonder into the Classroom. I hope to keep these ideas simple and easy to implement for the time-crunched teacher. Most of these ideas come from other teachers, blogs, and books – so I don’t claim credit for them! Click here to see previous posts in the series. And without further ado, here is the next idea!

4. Have Mystery Bag Monday.

Mystery Bag Monday is such a fun way to introduce a new topic or review an old one, and kids LOVE it. I just took a simple brown bag, glued a Mystery Bag picture on it, and voila! Instant Wonder And Mystery. Here’s how I do it:

When I’m starting a new unit, I choose something that represents the topic, such as a leaf for a Trees unit, a mini pumpkin for a Pumpkins unit, you get the idea. Then I pass the bag around the circle and let each student touch, hold and smell the bag. Just don’t peek inside! I write one clue at a time on the board, and call on a few kids to make predictions after I reveal each clue. Then, after all three clues are given, they take their science journal back to their tables and draw or write what they think is in the bag. We each share our predictions, and then I do the big reveal!

mystery bag

This is so much fun, takes very little time, and is a great way to gauge your kids’ understanding of the new topic. You could do the same thing as an assessment, giving them three clues about something you’ve already studied. And most importantly, it brings a little bit of curiosity and wonder into any unit of study!

How number sense develops in kindergarten

In my quest to devour as many teaching books as possible over winter break, I’ve been reading the fantastic book Number Sense Routines: Building Numerical Literacy Every Day in Grades K-3 by Jessica Shumway. It’s filled with ideas on how to incorporate routines that build number sense every day. My district uses the Everyday Mathematics curriculum, which touches on a lot of the teaching practices that help grow number sense. But it doesn’t seem to have an orderly, progressive and easily understandable description of how number sense develops as children’s brains grow. How do I know when kids are ready to start decomposing numbers? If a kindergartener can count to 50 but can’t do one-to-one correspondence [pointing to one item at a time while they count up], is he ready to start decomposing teen numbers? Will a kindergartener be able to point out which amount is more and which is less, if she can’t count?

Fortunately, the Number Sense Routines book explains all this! They include a wonderful description of the number sense learning trajectory, which I decided to write up in a cute flow chart. I printed out the chart and have it in my lesson plan book. I use this to plan what’s next for each of my math groups, based on where they are on this flow chart. For example, if they are still working on one-to-one correspondence, I know they aren’t yet ready to tackle composing and decomposing numbers.

Click here or the picture above to download the chart. Hope it helps you too!