## My Favorite Fraction Tools

I wanted to share with you these new tools that I ordered for this year. I knew that we would be studying a lot of fractions, and we only had the linear models for a class set. Normally, when introducing fractions I start out with whole sheets of colored paper and have students cut them apart into halves, thirds, fourths, and so on. Then students can lay these pieces of paper on each other to find equivalent fractions. While this has value for students understanding that fractions are parts of a whole (piece of paper), students tend not to cut them out perfectly, so their equivalence investigation is a bit skewed. Because of this I move to manipulatives for the equivalence investigation, but again, I only had tools that were linear models…so here is what I ordered… Foamy fraction squares!

What is even better than the fact that they are brightly colored and quiet?

They are exactly the same size as a base ten block! This makes teaching decimal equivalents so much easier! I know the shadow makes the base ten block look larger but, they really are the same size.

See!

Students can easily see that one-half equals five-tenths, one-fifth equals two tenths, and one tenth equals ten hundredths.

I ordered a class set of these from EAI education here. I promise I make no money from telling you about these, but they make teaching fractions so much easier. Every teacher who has used them loves them!

## Need Activities to Teach Counting?

I was so excited to get these unifix books that I ordered. With there being a shortage of counting activities in our regular kindergarten textbook, I was eager to find more. These simple and practical books for kindergarten and first grade offer several counting activities like the following:

- Shapes that students cover with cubes to see how many cubes will fill the shape. Students count the number of cubes that fill the shape.
- Cards with a different number of shapes on them that students match to numbers cards.
- Number cards to match to plastic baggies with cubes in them.
- Games like “First to Fifty” in which students spin a number spinner to draw a certain amount of cubes to cover a board. Students can count how many they have left to cover.

There are some other good number sense activities included also. These are available at Didax for $13.95.

## My New Singapore Math Manipulatives!

I get the luxury of ordering new math materials for my school. To prepare for all of the common core instruction in place value, fractions, and decimals, I ordered lots of fraction circles, some more unifix cubes, and some place value strips. When my order came in this week, it was like Christmas! That is always the feeling I have anytime I rip open boxes of new math materials! I am most excited about the place value strips which are pictured below. As you can see in the pictures, they come apart so that students actually see the value of the number. These are one of the Singapore Math manipulatives. Each color matches the Singapore math discs if you decide to get those as well which I use with 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade. If you want to have a smaller size, there is also a copy, cut and laminate version in one of Sandra Chen’s books, *The Parent Connection for Singapore Math*.

## How Can You Teach Common Core Standards with Number Bonds

Well, I have let my blogging activity slide as I have been trying to give more attention to developing my materials for Teachers Pay Teachers. My sales have done better this year than ever–I suppose due to the work I put in on some lesson activities from this summer. I have TONS of math activities I could sell that I have made over the years for all grade levels however to sell them I want them to be perfect so it takes me a while to make them look as good as I want them to look.

I hope you will be pleased with the most recent activity I posted today. First graders at my school are working on becoming fluent with their number bonds (sums) up to 10. They have been building number bonds with two colors of snap cubes and then coloring a model of what they built. They have been using the printables I just uploaded to TPT. I also developed a Smart Board lesson to match the number bonds printables since one of the first grade teachers reported at our last planning meeting that the students were confused about how to write an equation. The Smart Board lesson allows the teacher to model the bonds of ten with snap cube virtual manipulatives and move the symbols, and numbers around to build an equation. See below. Click on the picture to read more.

## You Can Use this Fabulous Tool to Build Word Walls

Post-it definitely had teachers in mind when they developed these repositional lined sticky notes. These sticky word strips are great for word walls, to help highlight a word on anchor charts, or to label items in your classroom. This tool allows teachers to easily create a print rich environment. They are also colored, so they easily allow for coding the stickies by topic. For example all life science words could be green. Since they are repositional, I like to leave them on my white board while we are learning the concept, so I can write a definition or draw a picture with each word. Then move them over to the word wall later when we aren’t currently using them. I can always move the words back if we work on them again. I highly recommend these to anyone wanting to teach vocabulary! Target carries these and I usually can pick up a package for about $5 before school begins.

## Where Can You Find Amazing Word Walls?

I just heard some colleagues discussing word walls that come pre-printed with pictures to go with the words. They have math, science, and literacy word walls–all with pictures. I didn’t know how good they were until I clicked the link for myself…and wow! They are fabulous! Just take a look at the pictures. I am attaching a link to the picture so if you are interested in viewing more or purchasing them, just click the picture.

## Pi Hoop–Deal or Dud?

After designing a lesson for students to *discover* pi and trying to collect many sizes of circular containers, I happened across this The Pi Hoop in the ETA/Cuisenaire catalog. Since I order all of the math supplies for my school, I thought, “Wow! At only $4.95 I could order a whole class set”. So I did. When the hoops arrived I was excited since this alleviated having to find multiple containers to teach the discovery pi lesson. On showing them to some teachers at a common planning meeting, I was dismayed to find that the cheap plastic cracked when trying to fold down the ruler part that creates the radius of different circles. If you are gentle with the pi hoops, the concept of the hoop is great because it allows for a discovery lesson–however if an adult was able easily to break the plastic, imagine a class full of kids with the pi hoops in hand. In my opinion, save your money–they may come out with a sturdier version later on. Collect containers for now. An assortment of containers most likely will engage your students more than a plastic hoop anyway.

## Improve Your Students’ Engagement During Reading/Writing Workshop

Visiting with a colleague, she passionately shared with me the amazing difference that a book called ** The Daily Five** had made in her literacy instruction. My colleague, who is a veteran teacher, learned about this at a differentiation conference, and she tried using the methods for the first time this school year. Other teachers have come into her room during her reading workshop and see the quality of student engagement. They insist that she share what she is doing to have students so engaged. The Daily Five improves students’ stamina to read voraciously on their own and to independently work on their own while the teacher pulls small groups. The small groups are more targeted to individual needs because the teacher spends less time with each student and doesn’t have to attend to students who are working independently. To read more about “The Daily Five” visit this link: http://www.thedailycafe.com/public/department38.cfm.