# Rounding activities (whole numbers and decimals)

Last week I reposted my blog regarding use of number lines to assist students with number sense and rounding. Check it out for free activities and rounding charts. Today I am sharing some more rounding activities I developed and used with students to practice (with either whole numbers or decimals). These activities can be varied to suit your students’ needs.

These grid templates are to use the activities with 2-4 students (or teacher vs. student if working one-on-one online). I developed 3 different grid sizes (4 x 4, 5 x 5, and 6 x 6).  You will also need something to generate numbers for each set of players:

• Grid for playing board:  Get here FREE  Grid 4 x 4   Grid 5 x 5   Grid 6 x 6
• 2 dice (1-6)
•  2 dice (1-9)
• digit cards (0-9) — get your free set here:  0-9 digit cards
• deck of playing cards (with tens and face cards removed)
• spinner (with digits 0-9) — 1 is ok, 2 is better

The objective of the game is for a player to capture 4, 5, or 6 squares in a row (horizontally, vertically, diagonally).  You decide based on the size of the grid and the skill level of the players how many captured squares are needed.

The teacher can write in possible answers on the grid and laminate for continued use (samples below). Then students can use a game piece  (flat stones, two-color counters, etc.) or different color dry erase marker to mark their square.

• Using a paper form, students can write in answer choices randomly on the grid (supplied by the teacher for accuracy). Then each player can use a different colored crayon to mark their square.

Here are some different variations of the game (whole number rounding to nearest 10, 100, 1000 and decimal rounding to the nearest tenth or hundredth).

Rounding to the nearest ten:  You can use the blank grid to write in your own numbers randomly.  Consider which number generated options you are using.  If you use 1-6 dice, the biggest number on the board has to be 70 and remember there’s only 2 ways to achieve 70 (by rolling a 6 and 5 or a 6 and 6).  If you use 1-9 dice or number cards, then you can place numbers from 10-100 on the board.  This gives a few more options and a chance to round higher numbers.

• Roll 2 dice (or turn over 2 number cards, spin spinner twice)
• Generate a 2 digit number.  If a 3 and 5 are rolled, the player can decide to make it 35 or 53.
• Round that number to nearest 10.
• Find that number on the grid.
• If using a laminated board, place a colored “chip” on it. If using paper, each player colors their chosen # with a crayon.
• Player #2 follows same steps.
• Each player is trying to get 4, 5, or 6 in a row (depending on which grid size you choose).
• It’s more fun if you try to block the other player and use strategies about your choice of a number to round (should I use 35 — rounded to 40?  Or 53 — rounded to 50?)

Rounding to the nearest hundred:

• Follow same steps as above, except use 3 dice or 3 number cards.
• Place numbers such as 0, 100, 200, 300 . . . randomly on the board. In the samples pictured I numbered to 1000 since I used 0-9 dice. I didn’t show a 0 on the boards pictured below, but should have since a number less than 50 could actually be generated. If using 1-6 numbered dice, the highest would be 700.
• Example:  Roll a 2, 5, 6 — player can make these numbers 256, 265, 526, 562, 625, 652.  The number choice becomes part of the strategy of the game to see which spot is available on the board.

Rounding to the nearest thousand:

• Follow same steps as above, except use 4 dice or 4 number cards.  If using 1-6 numbered dice, the highest would be 7000.

Rounding to the nearest tenth:

• Follow steps similar to rounding to nearest tenth, except answer choices on the grid would look like this:  .1, .2, .3 . . .
• If using number cards (as pictured below) or a spinner with digits up to 9, be sure to include a space on the grid for 1 (which is what you would round these numbers to:  .95, .96, .97, .98, or .99.
• Again, be mindful of randomly placing numbers because it depends on which number generating options you are using.  If using 1-6 dice, I would only include a couple of spaces with .7 because there’s a limited number of ways to round to .7 with dice numbered 1-6.  The only way to round to .7 would be to roll a .65 or a .66.

Rounding to the nearest hundredth:

• Follow steps similar to rounding to the nearest hundred by using 3 dice or turning over 3 number cards.  Be sure to include a space or two for an answer of 1.

Other tips for playing:

1. Provide students with a blank white board to draw an open number line to check out their answer.
2. Provide a sentence frame such as:  I made the number  ______ which is rounded to ________.
3. Remind the players that it is their job to watch their opponent and challenge anything they think may not be correct (in a friendly, helping manner of course).
4. Shorter time frame for playing?  Choose the 4 x 4 grid.  Longer time frame?  Choose the 6 x 6 grid or use the 6 x 6 grid with the winner being one to get 5 in a row.
5. Consider creating a box of 4 completed squares in addition to 4 in a row.
6. This can be played as teacher vs. students in a virtual setting.
7. This can be played in a one-on-one online setting by using a document camera or posting a screen shot on the screen.

Let me know if you try these!  Pass along any extra tips you have.

Also, a reminder to contact me if you would like personalized professional development over any reading or math strategy.  I can do a Zoom session with you or a group of teachers.  Flexible payment options.  Also, check out my link on the side bar for Varsity Tutors regarding the opportunity for you to tutor students online or in person (and earn a bonus for using my name).

Take care, stay safe!!!

# Rounding and Number Lines

I get requests from many teachers to help with instructional strategies regarding rounding, so I am happy to share my thoughts (and freebies) with you. Difficulty with rounding usually means students lack number sense. The essential goal of rounding is: Can you name a benchmark number (whole, tens, hundreds, thousands, tenths, hundredths, etc.) that a given number is closer to? I have found the more experience a student has with number lines, the better they will be with number sense, and the better they are with rounding to the nearest ___.  Then this rounding practice must be applied to real world problems to estimate sums, differences, products, or quotients.

When doing a google search for tips on rounding (ie Pinterest), you very often find an assortment of rhymes (such as “5 or more let it soar, 4 or less let it rest”) and graphics showing underlining of digits and arrows pointing to other digits. These steps are supposed to help children think about how to change (or round) a number to one with a zero. Many students can recite the rhyme, but then misunderstand the intent, often applying the steps to the wrong digit, showing they really don’t have number sense but are just trying to follow steps.

My answer (and that of other math specialists) is teaching students how to place any number on a number line, and then determining which benchmark number it is closest to. Continue reading to see examples and get some free activities. And watch next week for some new rounding activities for grades 2-6 (whole numbers and decimals).

# Listening to your students read Part 2: Running Records and the Structural Cueing System

This is part 2 of a series on ways you can efficiently listen to your students as they read, identify cueing systems the child is using / neglecting, and offer helpful prompts that will guide them as they read.  This blog will focus on the Structural Cueing System. Even though this is considered an early reading strategy, there are many intermediate elementary students (and higher) with reading difficulties who would benefit from this type of analysis and prompting.

The second cueing system is the use of (S) Structure or Syntax of our English language. Much of a child’s knowledge about language structures comes as a result of speaking or listening to how language naturally sounds. A reader attempts to make it sound right. Below are 3 possible scenarios with analysis of a child’s possible response.

Using this text:  She runs with the puppy.

1. Suppose a student read it this way:

√        ran      √       √         √.

She     runs   with   the   puppy.

This student is using structure because “She ran . . .” sounds right. He/She is also using M (meaning) because it makes sense. And the child is using visual (V) cues because ran / runs are visually similar.

2. Suppose a student read it this way:

√       runned       √      √         √.

She    runs       with  the   puppy.

This student is not using structure because “She runned . . .” does not sound structurally / grammatically correct. However, it still makes sense (M) and is still visually similar (V).

3. Suppose a student read it this way:

√      chased      –        √         √.

She   runs      with   the   puppy.

This student is using structure because “She chased the puppy” sounds right. He/She is also using (M) meaning because it makes sense. The child is not using (V) visual cues because chased and runs are not visually similar.

When a child is not using structure, their errors in reading are typically with verb tenses. Often with -ed ending words they will use the wrong pronunciation (such as look-ded), or they will generalize by adding -ed to words which don’t use it to make past tense (runned, swimmed, bited). Or a student may be an English Language Learner – be sensitive to their needs. They may not know what “sounds right.” In that case, you as the teacher should model what it should sound like.

Helpful teacher prompts to help a student monitor for (S) Structure / Grammar:

• Did that sound right?
• Does that sound the way we talk?
• Is there a better way to say it?
• What word would sound right there?
• Can you say it another way?
• Try ______. Would that sound right? Listen as I read it. Now you try.
• Listen to this (give 2 choices). Which sounds better?

Remember, it is often most helpful to wait until the child completes the whole sentence before prompting or trying to correct an error. This gives the child an opportunity to monitor themself and perhaps self-correct. If the teacher (or parent) jumps in right away after the error is made, it is the teacher doing the monitoring, not the student.

To assist you with documentation about the child’s cueing system, see part 1 about Running Records. In your notes for the child’s oral reading, write the word they said above the word from the text. Analyze to see if they are making meaning, structural, or visual errors. Does the child tend to use one cueing system over another? What prompts can you offer to help the child monitor their reading and self-correct?

Finally — be sure to let the student know when you notice their self-corrections and montoring.  For example:  “I noticed you changed the word ‘runned’ for ‘runs’ in the sentence. You made it sound right! Good for you!” This reinforces use (and hopefully continued repetition) of the strategy.

Happy Listening! Next time Visual Cues – Part 3

Clip art courtesy of MS Office.

# Happy Holidays

This has been an incredibly difficult year in so many ways.  But during these difficult times, you teachers do what teachers have always done — you show unbelievable flexibility, you adapt to changing situations with a variety of resources, spend countless hours making sure you have the best lessons, and continue to show compassion and caring for your students — because that’s who you are!! I am proud of you, and I want to thank you for hanging in there with me this year. I hope I was able to provide some help as you navigated through uncharted waters.

We are all looking forward to 2021, and hope to get closer to “normal.”  I wish the best for you, your family, and your school. May you have a brief respite here at the end of December and time to enjoy it and relax a little bit.  Happy Holidays to you!  I will resume my blog articles in January.

# Listening to your students read Part 1: Running Records and the Meaning Cueing System

Taking a running record is written documentation of a child’s oral reading. It consists of listening to a child orally read a passage while you document it as best you can on paper. As the listener, you note errors (such as omissions, insertions, substitutions),  pay attention to strategies they are using or neglecting, and are alert to what is easy and what is hard. Many publishers now provide a written page of the text for you to keep track of the child’s reading page by page, while experienced notetakers can do it at a moment’s notice on any blank paper.

I attended a Reading Recovery workshop about mid-way into my teaching career, and heard from two teachers who described how to take a running record and then analyze the results to determine which strategies students were using or neglecting. That one workshop forever changed how I listened to my students read, and how I talked to parents about their child’s reading successes or difficulties.  About 8 years after that I had formal training in Reading Recovery methods, and subsequently completed a Masters in Reading . . . all because of that workshop!  I learned all mistakes are not equal and provide a huge clue as to what cueing system a child is using. I learned that I can help steer a child toward a neglected strategy by carefully crafted teacher prompts. I learned that there are much more effective prompts than the standard, over-used:  “Sound it out.”

The benefits of running records

• Identifies accuracy of reading (independent, instructional, or hard)
• Provides a record of strategies used, errors, corrections, phrasing, fluency
• Helps teachers identify cueing systems the child is using / neglecting (meaning, visual, structural)
• Documents progress over time
• Can help determine a level for guided reading purposes (Fountas and Pinnell, Reading A-Z, DRA, etc.)

# Number Talks with Dot Cards: Subitizing, Number Sense, Facts (Part 2)

Hi!  This is Part 2 regarding ways to do number talks using dot cards. This post will feature random dot cards. See the last post for strategies with ten frame dot cards and some background information about why and how (click HERE).

My pictures below feature dot cards provided via an extra purchase from this great resource regarding Number Talks. I blacked out the number in the small print at the bottom of each card because I was using them online and didn’t want the magnification to show the number.  When showing them in person, the number is too small really for a student to notice or I can use my hand to cover it when showing the card.  Anyway . . . that’s for those of you wondering what the little black smudge was. Here’s an amazon link to the cards which you can get digitally for \$19.95 (279 pages worth): Number Talk Dot Cards

My previous post (linked above) also listed 2 resources for ten frame and random dot cards.  Here is another one you might like and is great to use with partners as well.  I’ll describe an activity with them below.  Dot Cards for Number Sense (\$2 from mathgeekmama.com)

You may like checking out mathgeekmama for other wonderful FREE resources.

Random Dot Cards

While I refer to these as “random” dot cards, it really doesn’t mean the dots are just scattered willy-nilly.  The dots on these cards are still organized, but just not on ten frames.  When using these cards, the goal is for students to “see” patterns with the dots to aid their subitizing and quick recall of number pairs.  You might start with dot dice first, then look for these on the dot cards:

• groups of 2
• groups of 3 (such as triangles)
• groups of 4 (such as squares)
• groups of 5 (like on a dice)
• groups of 6 (like on a dice)
• doubles
• near doubles

I also often point out to students how I mentally “move” a dot to visualize one of the above scenarios. This will be shown in the pictures below with an arrow.

Procedures for whole group (either in person or on Zoom):

1. Flash the card (longer for more dots).
2. Students put thumb up (I prefer thumb in front of chest) when they have decided the amount.
3. Randomly select students to tell you how many they saw. No judgement yet on who is correct and who isn’t.
4. Then ask the VERY important question, “How did you see it?”  This should elicit various responses which will help reinforce different ways numbers can be decomposed.
5. If desired with in-person sessions, you can have students pair-share their response first before calling on students to tell you. This way all students get a chance to share their way with a ready listener.  Click on this link for a way to silently signal  “Me too” in sign language. I find this very helpful especially for those students who want to respond — and helps avoid the “he took my answer” complaint.
6. Record the different responses on a chart tablet.
7. On the occasions where there are limited responses, here are some options:
• Ask students if they see a way another student might have seen it. Be prepared — you might get some amazing (or long-winded) responses.
• If students don’t see something I think it worth mentioning, I might say, “Here’s a way I saw a student think about this one last year.”
• Or you could  just show the card another day to see if there are some new responses then.

What do you see with these?  . . . Plus some examples:

How do you see these? . . . Plus suggested outcomes:

Procedures for individual or partners (great for online tutoring or class center activity)

1. Flash the card (longer if more complicated).
2. Student tells you how many.  If not correct, show the card again.
3. Ask, “How did you see them?”
4. If the card is laminated, circle the parts the child describes.
5. Tell how you (teacher) saw it.
6. Ask, “How might another student see it?”  This gets them to see other possibilities.
7. Record responses.

With the activity I mentioned earlier from mathgeekmama.com, this is a great with partners. I would recommend dot cards with no more than 8 dots for this activity:

• Start with a stack of dot cards (face down).  Provide a blank laminated square to record dots on.
• Partner 1 selects the top card and flashes it to partner 2 (perhaps 2-3 seconds).
• Partner 2 uses a laminated blank square to try to draw the dots (with dry erase marker) to match what partner 1 showed them.
• Both students reveal their dot cards to see if they match.
• Switch roles and repeat.

As an individual activity, provide the laminated dot cards and a dry-erase marker.  Circle the dots.  Write a math problem to match it. Take pictures to record answers. (Recommendation: Do this after you have already modeled it during a Number Talk session.)

Take care. Share your experience with using dot cards for Number Talk sessions. I love success stories!

Interesed in personal professional development, or PD for your grade level team or school? Please contact me for special rates. I can meet via Zoom for just about any need you have (math or reading).  I’d love to help!

# Number Talks with Dot Cards: Subitizing, Number Sense, Facts (Part 1)

Do you see 3 + 4 =7 or perhaps 5 + 2 = 7? Maybe you see 3 + 2 + 2 = 7.

I have been using dot cards for many years with K-2 students as part of my Number Talks routine. I’d like to share some ways to follow this routine using both ten frame dot cards and random dot cards.  These are also easy to use via distance learning situations.

If you haven’t tried this before, you are in for a treat!  It is so nice to listen how students process their thinking. I never cease to be amazed at how developed a child’s thoughts can be expressed . . . and how many children take this as a challenge to see how many ways a dot picture can be explained.  I often feel I learn so much about my students capabilities (or sometimes the deficits) during this type of Number Talk session.  Look for my recommended links below (FREE).

What are the benefits?:

1. Students gain the ability to subitize (tell a quantity without physically counting).
2. Students gain number sense by noticing more dots, less dots, patterns aid counting, the same quantity can be shown different ways, sequencing numbers, skip counting, and many more.
3. Students gain the ability to see many different ways a number can be composed or decomposed which assists with addition and subtraction facts.
4. Students gain practice with strategies such as counting on, add/subtract 1, doubles, near doubles, adding 9, adding 10, missing addends, and equal groups.
5. Teachers are able to observe students’ processing skills in an informal math setting.

Materials needed:

1. Ten frame dot cards:  This set is FREE from TPT and includes ten frame cards as well as random dot cards. Great find!!  https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/FreeDownload/Number-Talks-Early-Level-Starter-Pack-10-Frames-and-Dot-Cards-4448073
2. Random dot cards (not on ten frames)

General procedures:

1. Decide how you are going to show the cards:
• Show to students who are seated near the teacher?
• Show to students via a document camera projected to a screen?
• Show to students online with a split screen?
• Show to students via a ppt?
2. Depending on the grade level, you may want to flash the card quickly to encourage subitizing or shorten/extend the time the card is shown.
• To encourage subitzing to 5, I recommend flashing the card for a couple of seconds for dots from 1-5 for all age groups.
• Depending on the number of dots and the complexity of the dots, you may choose to shorten or extend the time you display the card for amounts more than 5.  The goal is for the students to look for patterns, equal groups, doubles, dots making squares, rectangles, or triangles, determine a quantity, and then explain how they arrived at that amount.
3. Students put a quiet thumbs up when they have decided the quantity.  They should not say the amount outloud at this point. This shows respect for others who are still processing.
4. The teacher observes to see who is counting, who is participating, who uses fingers, who is quick /slow, etc.
5. Teacher asks random students, “How many dots?”
6. Teacher asks random students, “How did you see them?”
7. Results can be stated verbally or written down by the teacher.

Here are some examples with sums less than 10:

Here are examples using 2 ten frames to illustrate quantities greater than 10:

Next post:  I will feature ways to use the random dot cards for your Number Talk sessions.

Do you need professional development for yourself, your team, your school?  Please contact me and we can work out a plan that fits your needs.  I can provide personal help via email or Zoom all the way up to custom made webinars or power point presentations.  Let me know!

Do you know students who need extra help at home via online tutoring?  See my link for Varsity Tutors and mention my name.

Do you want to do some online tutoring yourself at a time that works with your schedule? See my link for Varsity Tutors and mention my name.  Feel free to ask me questions as well.

# Number Pairs / Number Bonds Activities (PreK-2): Part 2

This post will feature some more number pairs / number bonds activities as well as ideas for informal assessment (along with some FREEBIES).  See the previous post for Part 1.  Also, here is another cool virtual manipulatives site:  https://toytheater.com/category/teacher-tools/  You will find lots of materials for students to use to help with these activities:  counters, bears, two-color counters, whole-part-part templates, Rekenreks, etc.  Check it out!

For all of these activities, the student should be working with the number of manipulatives to match their focus number.  They should do several different activities using that same amount to get lots of different experiences making the same number pairs repeatedly.  After a generous amount of practice, assess the child and move to the next number when ready. An important feature of each activity is for the student to verbalize the combination being made. Using a sentence frame they can have with them or putting it on the board for all to see is a plus:  “____ and ____ makes _____.” Students will usually need reminders that you should hear them saying this.  It takes if from just playing to being cognizant this is a serious math activity.

1. Heads or Tails:  Use coins and a whole-part-part template.  The student shakes and gently drops some coins (stick to one type of coin). Then sort according to how many landed on heads vs. tails by placing them on one of the templates.  Say the combination outloud:  “5 heads and 2 tails makes 7.”  Repeat.  Here’s a FREE Coin Toss recording sheet.
2. Paper Cups:  The student finds different ways to place small paper cups up or down to match their focus number.  Example:  To make 7 I could have 5 up and 2 down, or 6 up and 1 down, or 4 up and 3 down, etc.
3. Hiding or “Bear in the Cave”:
• Use a small bowl, clean plastic butter tub, etc. and some objects (cubes, stones, beans, cheerios, M&Ms).
• With a partner and the number of objects matching the student’s focus number, partner 1 closes their eyes while partner 2 hides some of the counters under the tub and the rest outside or on the tub.
• Partner 1 opens his eyes and names how many outside the tub and then tries to determine the number hiding.
• Partner 2 can then reveal if partner 1 was correct or not.
• Calling it “Bear in the Cave” was the idea of a math specialist I follow and clicking on this link will take you to her site with the opportunity to get the directions and recording sheet (Math CoachsCorner:  mathcoachscorner.com Bears in the Cave freebie)
• Be sure when students are playing that they say the number pairs outloud such as, “3 and 4 make 7.”
4. Roll and Cover Game / Four in a Row:
• Items needed:  A blank grid template (4×4 or larger), counters or crayons for each player (up to 3), and one of the following to create numbers needed to play (spinner, number cards, custom dice).
• With the grid template, create the game board by randomly placing all of the numbers making up the number pairs for the focus number and fill up the grid. If working on number pairs of 6 as pictured, place these randomly:  0, 6, 5, 1, 2, 4, and 3
• Using a spinner, custom dice, or number cards, select the first number (example 5).  Make this sentence frame:  “2 goes with ____ to make 6.”  Locate the missing number on the grid and put a counter there (or color if using a printed worksheet). How to create an easy spinner: Draw one with the number of spaces needed and duplicate for multiple students. To use, students place a pencil vertically on the center of the spinner to hold a paper clip at the center. Spin the clip.
• The object is to try to get 4 of your counters (or colors if using a worksheet) in a row (vertically, horizontally, or diagonally).  Blocking your opponents may be necessary to keep them from getting 4 in a row.
• A freebie attached for Number Pairs of 6 (same as picture):Capture A game of six CE
5. Stories:  Students can create stories using pictures from clip art or other art work:

6 children and 1 adult = 7 OR 4 girls and 3 boys = 7  Or 2 pink shirts + 5 other shirts = 7

Assessment:

1. This page can be used to record a student’s mastery of the number pairs / bonds.  On all assessments, observe if student names hiding amount immediately (meaning fact is known) or uses fingers or other counting methods such as head-bobbing, etc. For mastery, you want the student to be able to name the missing amount quickly.Click here for free PDF copies: Number Bond Assessment by CE and Number Pairs assessment class recording sheet CE
2. The Hiding Game above can also be used as an assessment as the teacher controls how many showing / hiding.  Ask the same questions each time:  “How many showing?”  and “How many hiding?”
3. Folding dot cards:  Hold one flap down and open the other. Ask, “How many dots?”  Then ask, “How many hiding?”I got these free at one time from www.k-5mathteachingresources.com, but not sure they are available now. At any rate, they look easy to make.These are also good to practice with a partner.Here is a similar one I made for FREE with the PDF copy :Number Bond 3-10 assessment in part-whole format
4. Whole-Part-Part Template:  Using a circular or square template, place a number or objects in one of the parts.  Ask student how many more are needed to create the focus number.  This can also be done with numbers only as shown in this picture.

Let us know if you have tried any of these, or if you have others that you’d like to share!

As I’ve mentioned before, as a consultant I am available to help you as an individual, your grade level team, or your school via online PD, webinar, or just advice during a Zoom meeting.  Contact me and we can make a plan that works for you.  If you are interested in tutoring during your “spare time” check out my link for Varsity Tutors on the side bar.  Mention my name and we both get a bonus. Have a wonderful, SAFE week.  Mask up for everyone!

# Number Pairs / Number Bonds Activities (PreK-2): Part 1

Learning the combinations for numbers (number pairs / numbers bonds) is critical for both operations — addition and subtraction. This is slightly different than fact families, but it’s related.  With number bonds, students learn all of the possible ways to combine 2 numbers for each sum.  Think of whole / part / part.  If five is the whole amount, how many different ways can it be split or decomposed?  For example these combinations illustrate ways to make 5:

• 5 = 1 and 4  (also 4 and 1)
• 5 = 2 and 3  (also 3 and 2)
• 5 = 5 and 0  (also 0 and 5)

Knowing these combinations will aid a student’s understanding of the relationship of numbers as they also solve missing addend and subtraction problems.  For example:

• For the problem 2 + ___ = 5.  Ask, “What goes with 2 to make 5?”
• For the problem 5 – 4 = ____.  Ask, “What goes with 4 to make 5?”

I suggest students work on just one whole number at a time and work their way up with regard to number bond mastery (from 2 to 10). You may need to do a quick assessment to determine which number they need to start with (more of assessment both pre and post coming in Part 2). Once a student demonstrates mastery of one number, they can move on to the next. It is great when you notice them start to relate the known facts to the new ones. Here are a few activities to practice number pairs.  They are interactive and hands-on.

One more thing:  PreK and KG students could work on these strictly as an hands-on practice, naming amounts verbally.  Using the word “and” is perfectly developmentally appropriate:  “2 and 3 make 5”.  With late KG and up, they are ready to start using math symbols to illustrate the operation.

1.  Shake and spill with 2-color counters:

Shake and Spill

Use 2 color counters.  Quantity will be the number the child is working on.  Shake them in your hand or a small paper cup. Spill them out (gently please). How many are red? How many are yellow?  Record on a chart.  Gradually you want to observe the child count the red and then tell how many yellow there should be without counting them. This will also aid a student with subitizing skills (naming the quantity without physically counting the objects). To extend the activity, you can create a graph of the results, compare results with classmates, and determine which combinations were not spilled. Click on this link for the recording sheet shown:  Shake and Spill recording page

2. Connecting cubes:  Use unifix or connecting cubes.  Quantity will be the number the child is working on. Two different colors should be available.  How many different ways can the child make a train of cubes using one or both colors?  If working with 5, they might show this:  1 green and 4 blue; 2 green and 3 blue; 4 green and 1 blue; 3 green and 2 blue; 5 green and 0 blue; or 0 green and 5 blue.  They could draw and color these on paper if you need a written response.
3.  Ten frames:

Use a ten frame template and 2 different colored objects (cubes, counters, flat glass stones, candy, cereal, etc.) to show all of the cominations of the number the student is working on.  Using a virtual ten frame such as the one here Didax.com virtual ten frame or here Math Learning Center – Number Frames are also cool – especially if you are working from home or don’t want students to share manipulatives.

4.  On and Off:  This is similar to shake and spill above.  Use any type of counters (I especially love the flat glass tones for this myself) and any picture.  For my collection, I chose some child-friendly images on clip art and enlarged each one separately  to fit on an 8.5 x 11 piece of paper (hamburger, football, flower, Spongebob, ice cream cone, unicorn, etc.).  Put the page inside a sheet protector or laminate for frequent use.  Using the number of counters the student is working with, shake them and spill above the picture.  Count how many landed on the image and how many landed off the image.  Like mentioned above, the goal is for the student to be able to count the # on and name the # off without physically counting them.  1st and above can record results on a chart or graph.  Often just changing to another picture, the student feels like it’s a brand new game!  You might also like to place the picture inside a foil tray or latch box to contain the objects that are dropped.  The latch box is a great place to store the pictures and counters of math center items.
5.  Graphic organizers:  The ten frame is a great organizer as mentioned earlier, but there are two whole/part/part graphic organizers which are especially helpful with number pairs – see below.  Students can physically move objects around to see the different ways to decompose their number.

Check out Jack Hartman’s youtube series on number pairs from 1 to 10. Here’s one on number pairs of 5:   “I Can Say My Number Pairs: 5″ He uses two models (ten frames and hand signs) and repetition along with his usual catchy tunes.

Also, please check out the side bar (or bottom if using a cell phone) for links to Varsity Tutors in case you are interested in doing some online tutoring on the side or know students who would benefit from one-on-one help. Please use my name as your reference — Cindy Elkins.  Want some PD for yourself?  Contact me and I’ll work out a good plan to fit your needs!

Next post:  More activities for learning number bonds and assessment resources (both pre- and post-).  Take care!!

# Teaching the Alphabet / Letter Sounds Online

How do you go about teaching your online students about the alphabet and letter sounds when you can’t be with them in person? That is the topic of today’s blog.  By no means do I have all the answers, so please chime in with your ideas too!

In an actual classroom, your students would have opportunities to manipulate and sort objects by letter or beginning sound, to write under your watchful eye and guidance, to find the letter used in actual text, and experience fun learning center-type activities to immerse themselves.  Maybe it’s not as hard as you think — below are some possible teaching strategies (and some FREEBIES) you can use with your students to help teach the letter sounds and alphabet. By all means, ensure this instruction is a regular and systematic part of your teaching routine.

Before I go on, one important piece of equipment in case you are working from home and not at school would be a document camera.  I know from my experience that physically holding something up to the camera for a student to see isn’t always a good idea.  For one thing, it covers your face. It wiggles when you hold it.  It can appear backwards (unless you uncheck “mirror my video” if using Zoom). While the type of document camera purchased for your classroom is likely too costly for home use, there are many small portable ones (see Amazon) in the \$100-200 price range that connect to your device via a usb port. With their downloaded software you will be in business!  I use one from Ipevo which I love!

My document camera has been crucial to online teaching. It allows me to show strategies in real time, read text together, play games, show pictures, etc.

1. Alphabet cards:  Cards that are colorful and a good size to show students under your document camera are essential.
• Present when teaching the letter / sound for the first time. Show how to form the letter. Use cards easily for frequent review. These are like the type you might have posted on the walls in your traditional classroom.
• Here is an editible FREE set from TPT. Editable alphabet cards with pictures  While the pictures shown are very good, I did notice on the vowels some of them are using a picture to represent the short sound (apple, elephant, umbrella) while some pictures represented the long sound for the vowel (ice cream, orange).  In some cases, this would prevent me from getting the set — but it’s FREE and you can edit it to change the picture.  Or better yet, for the vowels show 2 pictures (1 to represent each sound).
• Here is another set from a TPT author who is very early-childhood friendly and has a ton of good free stuff (you may have to join her blog to get access to the free stuff).  I like her alphabet cards because they have a few pictures to accompany each letter.  https://thisreadingmama.com/mega-pack-free-phonics-cards/
2. Alphabet – how your mouth should be formed:

O says /o/ like this:

This is a critical aspect of teaching letter sounds.  It matters how the lips, teeth, and tongue are coordinated to produce the sound.  For example, many young children have difficulty with /l/ and can often be corrected by physically showing them where to place the tongue (behind the front teeth).  You can show them how their lips, etc. should look with each letter.  It’s ok to exaggerate a little bit. And by all means, when working on the next item in my list (video), make yourself visible so they can see how to form the letter with their mouth and you can check via your screen if the child is forming their mouth correctly.

3. Alphabet videos:  I am sure most all of you have used videos from youtube for your students.  Here is the one I recommend because of the repetition of the letter sound and pictures starting with that sound.  In each video (devoted to only one letter at a time) the student gets dozens of opportunities to say the sound and objects with background music that is motivating to get children to participate.  Here’s one for the letter Mm: “Have Fun Teaching” Letter M /m/ video on Youtube
4. Alphabet pictures:  With a document camera, showing pictures (or real items) with the beginning sound you are teaching is easy.  Here’s a set (6 b/w pictures for each letter) that can be sent to students to put together as a mini book for each letter, or printed and cut apart for you to use for teaching.  A Dab of Glue Will Do (Blog) Free alphabet booklets  The word is printed with each picture making it easy for you to point to the first letter for emphasis.
5. Alphabet writing:  If your online students have a whiteboard, you can use your document camera to model how to write the letter, let them practice, and then hold up their board to show you.
6. Alphabet in text:  It is super important to include opportunities to see the letter you are working on in text.  I recommend using the child’s name, class member names, easy patterned text, or short poems.  Show the text under your document camera or pull up from a licensed site you have access to. Have students find the letter wherever it appears in the text. This shows students how letters are being used.
7. Alphabet sorting and review:  Using pictures (like from #4 above), you can show a picture (cover the word though) and have students name the letter, hold up a letter tile, or write the letter on their whiteboard to show you. You can also display 2-3 letters (magnetic, tiles, or written in column form on a whiteboard) and help students sort pictures by telling you where to place them. This is also a good video to review all of the letter names, sounds, and pictures/words with that beginning sound:  Jack Hartman Alphabet song
8. Alphabet practice:  There are a lot of resources you may already have that can be transformed to a digital format via boom cards or Seesaw, etc. Some teachers also print up packets at school for weekly distribution to parents (worksheets, cut-n-paste, sorting), and these could be included as supplmental to your online teaching.

Finally, please read this Alphabet research I summarized.  Alphabet Letter and Sounds Research (C. Elkins Edublog)  Very eye opening and beneficial in my opinion. You will come to understand why children get confused with learning the alphabet.  Example:  “F” is pronounced with a short vowel sound before the letter /ef/ while “J” is pronounced with a long vowel sound after the letter /jay/.  “Double you” = /w/.  “Aych” = /h/.  You will find a great 1 page teaching template for teaching letter sounds which focuses on aspects I mentioned above (Here is the letter, here’s how it sounds, here’s how to write it, here it is in text).

Take care!  Hope you are all well and safe. Looking forward to your comments!

# Excellent FREE Online Reading and Math Sites – My favorites!

Are you looking for a place to find great quality FREE online stories / books that fit your child’s or students’ reading levels? What about instructional math videos just right for explaining math concepts, and virtual math manipulatives (especially if students don’t have any at home)?  I have 4 I highly recommend and will highlight below.

1. https://www.readworks.org/  Readworks.org is a very high quality non-profit site which can be used with individual children or the whole class.  You will find articles, ebooks, and a library. Search by grade level, lexile level, genre, skill, etc. Most articles have an audio function and can be presented digitally or printed. The text selections really help build background knowledge that a lot of students are missing. Be sure to check out their “Article a Day” program.  As a teacher or parent, you can create a class and make assignments.  Comprehension questions and free response questions are included. ALL of it is FREE.  They have webinars available to learn about all of the features. Well worth your time!
2. https://www.wilbooks.com/wilbooks-free-resources  If you are looking for leveled books for PreK-3rd grade students, then Wilbooks may definitely meet your needs.  There is a good selection of fiction and non-fiction leveled by grade level or guided reading levels A-M.  Levels A and B have around 30 titles each. Not all of the levels have that many, as it varies. The back cover of each book tells the grade level, guided reading level and word count in case you want to do a running record. If you want access to their entire collection, the price is VERY reasonable. I haven’t purchased it myself YET, but it states \$1.99 for a monthly individual account. I have been using these books and the students like them!
3. https://learnzillion.com/p/  This is a really good site for math instructional videos and lessons.  Learn Zillion used to be totally free, but like others you now have to purchase a subscription to get everything they have to offer.  BUT, by creating a free account you still get access to about 1000 videos. You can search by grade level, standard, key word, etc. The instructional videos are done very well and are easy to follow (at least the one’s I have viewed).  And they are short and concise.  These would be great to use with a zoom lesson in your class or as a parent who is searching for the right way to explain a strategy.  The objectives are clearly stated, videos are often also available in a slide format so you can explain it yourself, and you have the option to make assignments as well.

So there you have it, 4 great websites well worth your investigation!!  Do you have some to recommend? Just respond by clicking the little speech bubble.

P.S.  If you are interested in any of the following to meet your professional or personal needs, please go to the bottom of my “About Me” page for more details (black bar at top of this blog).

• Professional devlopment – private, job-embedded, workshop, or webinar
• Working as an online tutor
• Referring a student for online tutoring

# Number Talks – Online

You know I am a huge advocate of doing daily number talks. I have written several posts about this which I will link below.  But how can you conduct a number talk via Zoom or whatever platform you are using?  Here are some suggestions.

1. Post a problem on your screen. Write it horizontally (so as not to immediately suggest it should be solved via the standard algorithm).
2. Ask students to show a way they might solve the problem.  Using a marker (so the end product will show up when displayed), students work on their whiteboards or notebook paper tablet.
3. Give a reasonable amount of time (depending on the grade level and the problem given).  Teacher can even play some soft background music to signal time to start working.
4. Students signal with a thumbs up when they are done (on their screen or in the chat box).
5. The teacher can interject he/ she would love for some of the students to share their thinking, so when they are done and waiting for the others, think mentally on how they might explain it.
6. With a signal to end working time, students then hold up their whiteboards.
7. The teacher can select some to share (or students can volunteer) showing the different strategies used.  The teacher can model the strategy on his/her screen as the student verbally describes it.
8. Different strategies can be recorded on an anchor chart for future reference.

Here are some links from my Number Talks posts.

Professional Development Opportunity

As you know, I have been working as an educational consultant the past five years — job-embedded professional development with elementary teachers regarding math and reading instructional strategies. With the COVID-19 nightmare, schools are closed in most locations. School administrators are hesitant to commit to job-embedded consultants right now because there are so many uncertainties.  However, if you as a teacher or parent are interested in private one-on-one online consultation visits with me, I am available to help you reach your instructional goals.  We will work out a plan that is easy on your budget and schedule. Contact me via the comment box with a brief request and I will email you privately.

What can we work on?

• Reading strategies (phonemic awareness, phonics, cueing and prompts, comprehension, text structures, fluency . . .)
• Math strategies (subitizing, number sense, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, place value, rounding, fractions, geometry, . . .)
• Interpreting data
• Writing and spelling
• Other topics you don’t see here?  Just ask.

Tutoring Opportunities

If you know students who are in need of online tutoring (anywhere in the US at any grade level PreK-College), you are invited to refer them to Varsity Tutors using my name (Cindy Elkins).  It is a very reputable company that matches tutors with students in any subject or grade level. https://www.varsitytutors.com?r=2Asn3c

If you are interested in becoming an online or in-person tutor yourself, you are also invited to contact Varsity Tutors. You would be an independent contractor who can set your own hours and accept only the students you feel comfortable working with. Payments are direct deposited twice a week. Give them my name please. Use this link: https://www.varsitytutors.com/tutoring-jobs?r=2Asn3c

Click on the badge icon with my photo on the right sidebar to check them out. Or the links above. On your phone app, the badge will be at the bottom.

**I do receive a bonus when my name is used as a referral. Thank you for your trust in me!

Stay safe everyone!

# Back to school stories

WELCOME BACK!!

Whether you are participating in an online or traditional classroom setting, building classroom community is still important. As part of building a classroom community, you likely will have many discussions about diversity, friendship, and showing respect in various ways.  Here are some great resources for literature that might emphasize the point you are trying to make.

Weareteachers.com 14 books with great follow-up ideas.

• This site is one of the best because it doesn’t just give a summary of the story, but it provides very practical follow up ideas include a get-to-know-you bingo, anchor charts, self-portrait, writing, posters, brainstorming, drawing, etc.
• For the above book, “Dear Teacher,” she suggests writing a postcard to a friend or family member telling them about the first week of school.
• For the book, “Name Jar,” the article suggests brainstorming and creating a poster showing different ways to greet a new student.
• There might be some new titles here that kids haven’t heard in previous years.
• This teacher provides some printables to accompany the books she recommends. These deal with more advanced issues such as kindness, diversity, perseverance, homework and writing.

In the next post, I will share some ways to do number talks via an online format.  Stay tuned!  Let me know how you are doing!

Also, feel free to share my blog with parents who might be working with their children at home. My articles focus on reading and math strategies (with modeling of the steps involved when necessary) from KG through upper elementary.

# 24 Summer Time Math Activities which can be done at home!

I realize many of you  (teachers and parents) may be searching for ways to link every day activities to math so that children can learn in a practical way while at home during this surrealistic period.  Happy Fourth of July and . . . .Here’s a list of things you might like to try:

Outdoors

1. While bouncing a ball, skip count by any number. See how high you get before missing the ball. Good to keep your multiplication facts current.
2. How high can you bounce a ball? Tape a yardstick or tape measure to a vertical surface (tree, side of house, basketball goal). While one person bounces, one or two others try to gauge the height. Try with different balls.  Figure an average of heights after 3-4 bounces.
3. Play basketball, but instead of 2 points per basket, assign certain shots specific points and keep a mental tally.
4. Get out the old Hot Wheels. Measure the distance after pushing them.  Determine ways to increase or decrease the distance. Compete with a sibling or friend to see who has the highest total after 3-4 pushes.  Depending on the age of your child, you may want to measure to the nearest foot, inch, half-inch or cm.
5. Measure the stopping distance of your bicycle.
6. Practice broad jumps in the lawn. Measure the distance you can jump. Older students can compute an average of their best 3-4 jumps. Make it a competition with siblings or friends.
7. Some good uses for a water squirt gun:
• Aim at a target with points for how close you come. The closer to the center is more points.
• Measure the distance of your squirts. What is your average distance?
• How many squirts needed to fill up a bucket?  This would be a good competition.
8. Competitive sponge race (like at school game days): Place a bucket of water at the starting line. Each player dips their sponge in and runs to the opposite side of the yard and squeezes their sponge into their own cup or bowl. Keep going back and forth. The winner is the one who fills up their container first. Find out the volume of the cup and the volume of water a sponge can hold.
9. Build a fort with scrap pieces of wood. Make a drawing to plan it. Measure the pieces to see what fits. Use glue or nails (with adult supervision).
10. Take walks around the neighborhood. Estimate the perimeter distance of the walk.
11. In the pool:
• Utilize a pool-safe squirt gun (as in #6 above).
• Estimate the height of splashes after jumping in.
• Measure the volume of the pool (l x w x h).  The result will be in cubic feet.  Convert using several online conversion calculators such as this one: https://www.metric-conversions.org/volume/
• Measure the perimeter of the pool.  If it is rectangular, does your child realize the opposite sides are equal.  This is a very important concept for students regarding geometry (opposite sides of rectangles are equal).
• What if you want to cover the pool? What would the area of the cover be?
• Measure how far you can swim.  Time the laps.  What is the average time?
12. Watch the shadows during the day. Notice the direction and the length.  Many kids don’t realize the connection between clocks and the sun. Make your own sun dial. Here are a few different resources for getting that done, some easier than others:

Indoors

1. Keep track of time needed (or allowed) for indoor activities:  30 minutes ipad, 1 hour tv, 30 minutes fixing lunch, 30 minutes for chores, etc.  This helps children get a good concept of time passage. Even many 4th and 5th graders have difficulty realizing how long a minute is.  This is also helpful as a practical application of determining elapsed time. Examples:
• It’s 11:30 now.  I’ll fix lunch in 45 minutes. What time will that be?
• I need you to be cleaned up and ready for bed at 8:30.  It’s 6:30 now.  How much time do you have?
• You can use your ipad for games for 1 hour and 20 minutes.  It is 2:30 now. What time will you need to stop?
2. Explore various recipes and practice using measuring tools.  What if the recipe calls for 3/4 cup flour and you want to double it?
3. In the bathtub, use plastic measuring cups to notice how many 1/4 cups equal a whole cup. How many 1/3 cups in a cup? How many cups in a gallon (using a gallon bucket or clean, empty milk carton)?
4. While reading, do some text analysis regarding frequency of letter usage.
• Select a passage (short paragraph).  Count the number of letters.
• Keep track of how often each letter appears in that passage. Are there letters of the alphabet never used?
• Compare with other similar length passages.
• After analyzing a few, can you make predictions about the frequency of letters in any given passage?
• How does this relate to letters requested on shows such as “Wheel of Fortune” or letters used in Scrabble?
5. Fluency in reading is a measure of several different aspects:  speed, accuracy, expression, phrasing, intonation.
• To work on the speed aspect, have your child read a selected passage (this can vary depending on the age of the child). Keep track of the time down to number of seconds. This is a baseline.
• Have the child repeat the passage to see if the time is less.  Don’t really focus on total speed because that it not helpful for a child to think good reading is super fast reading. Focus more on smoothness, accuracy and phrasing.
• Another way is to have a child read a passage and stop at 1 minute. How many words per minute were read?  Can the child increase the # of words per minute (but still keep accuracy, smoothness, and expression at a normal pace)?
6. Play Yahtzee!  Great for addition and multiplication.  Lots of other board games help with number concepts (Monopoly, etc.)
7. Lots of card games using a standard deck of cards have math links. See my last post for ideas.
8. Measure the temperature of the water in the bathtub (pool thermometers which float would be great for that). How fast does the temperature decrease. Maybe make a line graph to show the decline over time.
9. Gather up all of the coins around the house.  Read or listen to “Pigs Will be Pigs” for motivation. Keep track of how much money the pigs find around the house. Count up what was found. Use the menu in the back of the book (or use another favorite menu) to plan a meal. Be sure to check out Amy Axelrod’s other Pig books which have a math theme Amy Axelrod Pig Stories – Amazon  Here is a link to “Pigs Will be Pigs”: Pigs Will Be Pigs – Youtube version
10. Help kids plan a take-out meal that fits within the family’s budget.  Pull up Door Dash for a variety of menus or get them online from your favorite eateries. This gives great practical experience in use of the dollar to budget.
11. Look at the local weekly newspaper food advertisements.  Given a certain amount of \$, can your child pick items to help with your shopping list?  If they accompany you to the store, make use of the weighing stations in the produce section to check out the weights and cost per pound.
12. Visit your favorite online educational programs for math games or creative activities.  See a previous post regarding “Math Learning Centers.” The pattern blocks and Geoboard apps allow for a lot of creativity while experiencing the concept of “trial and error” and perseverance. These can be viewed at the website or as an app.  Here’s a link to it to save you time. Virtual math tools (cindyelkins.edublogs.org)

Please share other activities you recommend!!  Just click on the speech bubble at the top of this post or complete the comments section below.  I miss you all!

With so many parents taking on the role as teacher, I thought I would provide some resources you can pass along to parents.  In this post you will find some reading strategy help via one-page parent friendly guides (for primary and intermediate). I also included resources for math to provide some practical activities at home as well as some fun card and dice games that emphasize math skills.  Feel free to pass them along. Enjoy!

Math

On another note:

I am in the process of moving from OK to Arizona!! We have lived in our home for the past 35 years . . . but we have this opportunity to be closer to our family (two sons, a daughter-in-law, our only grandson, and my sister).  I am taking all of my teaching materials with me and still plan to continue my blog, develop more instructional resources, and provide PD via online platforms. I hope you all will stay tuned!!  Stay safe everyone!!

# Telling Time Part 4: Elapsed time (continued)

In my last post, I shared my favorite model for elapsed time (Mountains, Hills, and Rocks) using an open number line. In this post I will share another version of the # line some of you might like — I’ll list the pros and cons of it as well as show the std. algorithm / convert version.

I hope all of you are doing well. I realize many of you are involved in distance learning with your students – and this may be in addition to taking care of your own children’s needs at home. So I understand my blog might not be on your top list of priorities, but I do hope you will bookmark it and keep it for future reference.  But again, if you are home with kid, then dealing with elapsed time is a perfect real-life math situation they can apply on a daily basis.

The Z Model:

The Z model is a straight number line “bent” into 3 parts of the Z:

• 1st “leg”:  From start time to next full hour – determine how many minutes
• 2nd “leg”: From hour to hour – determine how many whole hours
• 3rd “leg”: From last hour to end time – determine how many minutes

Here is an example to see the steps involved:

Here’s another in one single view to determine elapsed time between 7:50 and 1:10:

Pros:

1. It helps break time down into smaller chunks.
2. It’s a visual model which can help a child mentally process the elapsed time in these chunks.

Cons:

1. Students would more likely have to know automatically how much time has elapsed on the first “leg” of the Z. In other words, can they mentally figure that the time from 8:25 to 9:00 (the nearest hour) is 35 minutes?  Or the elapsed time from 3:47 to 4:00 is 13 minutes?
2. In my opinion, this model is mostly just helpful when start and end times are given and the task is to compute the total elapsed time. It would not be very helpful if the task was to determine the start or end time.
3. If a child can figure the minutes of elapsed time of the first “leg” of the Z, they might not need the visual model to solve.

The Std. Algorithm / Converting Model

This model resembles a std. algorithm problem because time is aligned vertically and added or subtracted.

• When adding, any minutes which total 60 or over would be converted to hours.
• When subtracting, exchange 1 hour for 60 minutes.

Here is an example to see the progression from start to finish when start time and elapsed time are the known parts:

Here’s another example in one view:

Contextual scenario: At 2:45 I went to the zoo. We stayed there 3 hours and 25 minutes. What time did I leave the zoo?

Here’s an example that involves a known end time and elapsed time. The problem is to determine the start time which involves subtracting time:

And another problem in one view:

Before I got ready for bed at 9:20 p.m., I spent 2 hours and 35 minutes doing homework. What time did I start my homework?

Pros:

1. Students who are ready for more abstract strategies might enjoy this model.
2. This model is more useful when solving problems in which the task is to find the end time or start time.
3. This can be utilized with hours, minutes, and seconds problems.

Cons:

1. Having strong knowledge of number combinations that equal 60 is needed.
2. There may be two or three steps involved to arrive the final answer.
3. The regrouping in the subtraction version may involve two types which could be confusing: minutes vs. base 10 (as shown in picture directly above)
4. Understanding what converting time means and why we subtract and add within the same problem (subtract 60 minutes, but add 1 hour).

I miss seeing my friends in person!  Let me know how you are coping during these crazy times!

# Telling Time Part 3: Elapsed Time – Start and end time known

Wow! What a difference a couple of weeks makes.  My last post (Time Part 2) was 2 weeks ago, and life was pretty normal here then. Maybe you are using your extended time off to just try to calm down, maybe you are catching up on home chores or your favorite Netflix series, or maybe you are digging out some favorite recipes. Just in case you are using this time to help your own children with learning objectives or catching up on some PD for yourself, I am here to help any way I can. Remember in the black bar above you can access my learning aids without reading all of the articles to find them. Or type what you are looking for in the search box. Or look at the categories list to pull up by topic.

Today’s post will focus on concepts related to elapsed time.

As I mentioned in Telling Time Parts 1 and 2, it is important for students to have a concept of time. How long is a second, a minute, an hour? What tasks can be accomplished in those amounts of time. These are foundational concepts students need to better understand elapsed time. Are you making notes of time during the school day (or at home now) to make it relevant?  Questions or statements such as these are helpful:

• “We have 10 minutes to finish attendance and lunch count. Look at the clock so you can keep track.”
• “Lunch will be ready at 12:00 noon.  Look at the clock. It’s 11:30 now, so lunch will be ready in 30 minutes.”
• “It’s time to get ready to go home. Look at the clock. What time is it?  You should be ready in 5 minutes. What time will be it then? What will the clock look like?”
• To help speed up time for transitions and work on a class management goal at the same time, try this for a procedure such as lining up: “Boys and girls, it’s time to line up to go to PE.” As students line up, you as the teacher will silently keep track of how much time it takes students to get ready. When they are ready, say someting like:  “It took you 3 minutes 20 seconds to get ready. We miss learning time when it takes this long.  Let’s see if we can beat that next time.”   Most kids respond well to this mini challenge.  If it’s a real contentious issue in your class, this can be followed with an easy reward such as: “It took 3 min. 20 seconds to line up and get ready. That is too long. Next time we line up if you can get ready in less than that time, I will keep track by building the word G-A-M-E.  You earn a letter each time you beat the previous time to line up.  The time starts when I say line up and the time stops when everyone is facing the front, quiet, and hands to themselves. You must walk to do this.”  Building a short word helps students earn a reward in a short amount of time so they are more likely to strive to meet the goal. It is easy to implement and can easily be incorporated into a reading or math game.  The word to build could also be F-U-N.  Then it’s wide open to what that could be:  A video, talk time, drawing time, a few minutes extra recess.  Yes, this takes time also – but it helps students work together toward a common goal, and may save your sanity.  This “time” technique can also be applied to other procedures such as getting out materials, staying quiet, etc.  One hint:  Don’t do a countdown or let students know how much time they are taking as you are keeping track.  If you announce, “We are at 2 minutes . . . you might make it.” this gives students knowledge they have time to waste.” We are trying to build an awareness of time along with a sense of urgency and teamwork. So wait until they are all ready to announce the time it took.

Okay, a little off topic – but showing how there are many ways to help students become more aware of time in their daily lives.

As in most story problems related to time, there are 3 components.  The story gives 2 of them, and the problem is to find the missing one:

1. Start time
2. Elapsed time – the time it takes for something to be finished
3. End time

There are several common strategies, some which are more pictorial and some which are more abstract.  Of course, I am in favor of those which provide some visual representation at first such as an open number line or a Z-chart. I will feature the number line model today.  More abstract models are the T-chart and lining up times vertically like you would doing a standard algorithm and adding / converting times. I’ll focus on those in future posts.

Number line:  There are a few versions of time number lines out there which help students move from start time to end time. Some already have time increments noted on the line, some use jumps that all look the same.  I happen to love the “Mountains, Hills, and Rocks” look because it helps immediately to differentiate between the hours and minutes and doesn’t require any advance preparation as with pre-marked number lines. The mountains represent hours, the hills increments of minutes, and rocks are individual minutes.  I will share 3 types of elapsed time problems, but just elapsed time unknown in this post:

• elapsed time unknown
• end time unknown, and
• start time unknown

Elapsed time unknown: This features stories in which the start and end time are given.  So students must find the elapsed time. Bobbi went to the movie theater at 7:15 p.m.  It ended at 9:45 p.m.  How long did the movie last?

• Put the known parts on the number line and label  (start at 7:00 / end at 9:45).
• Underline the hour part of the number.  Can we add an hour to the 7? Yes.  What time would it be then? 8:15.  Now here is how we show an hour (with a mountain). Can we add another hour? Yes. What time would it be then? 9:15. Add another mountain and keep track of the time under the line.  Can we add another hour? No. Why not? It would be 10:15 which is past the end time.
• Now we will switch to minutes (called the hills).  The hills are used to show increments of 5, 10, 15, 20, 30, etc. Since we all write different sizes, etc., I continuously tell students this:  “It’s the number we write inside of the hill that matters more than the size or length of the hill.”  This is because sometimes due to space limitations, my 5 min. hill looks the same length as my 10 minute hill.
• Underline the minutes part of the number 9:15.  Now let’s add minutes until we get to 9:45.  This can be done several ways depending on students’ understanding.  I might make hills of 5 minutes each.  In this problem, I might make hills of 15 minutes each.  I might want to add 5 minutes in one jump to get my minutes to a number ending in 0. Some students would realize that 30 minutes would connect us from 9:15 to 9:45.  When teaching and modeling, we all do the same way. Then when they seem comfortable, we look at different ways to show the same problem.  This provides a safety net for some, while a challenge for those who enjoy it. For this example, I would say: “Let’s get our 9:15 to an easier time to work with . I’m going to just add 5 minutes. Looking just at the minutes part of the number, what is 15 + 5??” Yes, 20. So what time would it be now? Yes, 9:20. Our number now ends in a zero, which we can add to mentally. Let’s add 10 min. to that. What is 20 + 10? Yes, 30. So what time is it now? Yes, 9:30. Let’s add another 10 minutes. Can we do that? Yes, because 30 + 10 is 40 and 9:40 is before 9:45. Now how much time is there between 9:40 and our end time of 9:45? Yes, just 5 minutes. So that will connect us to the end time of the movie at 9:45, and we are almost done!
• The last step is to look at the numbers we wrote inside our mountains and hills and combine them. You will see Bobbi was at the movie theater for 2 hours (2 mountains) and 30 minutes (5 + 10 + 10 + 5) = 2 hours, 30 minutes.

Stay tuned for more examples of elapsed time problems through the next few posts. Future posts will provide some freebie story problem practice and good resources you might like.              And stay safe and well!!!

# Telling Time Part 2: Reading a clock

In this post, I will present some ideas for reading and drawing clock times (especially the analog):  to the hour, half hour, quarter hour, and 5 minute increments. Along with practice telling time should be opportunities to put it in context.  For example, While setting the clock for 8:00,  I would mention that at 8:00 in the morning I might be getting ready for school or eating breakfast, while at 8:00 at night I might be doing schoolwork, watching tv, or getting ready for bed.  Look for some freebies throughout this post!

Time to the hour:

1. Short hand / short word = hour
2. Long hand / longer word = minutes
3. Use an anchor chart to show a large clock and label the hands.
4. Always look for the short hand first when naming time to the hour.
5. Show with a Judy clock or the clock on https://www.mathlearningcenter.org/resources/apps/math-clock. Observe what happens to the hour hand when the minute hand moves all the way around the clock one time.  Admittedly, this is a hard concept for kids because we are imitating an hour in time in only a few seconds. And no one has time to watch the clock for an hour!!
6. Discuss what events take about an hour to accomplish (see Telling Time Part 1 for more info).
7. Draw pictures to show 2 different times of day with the same time (8:00 in the morning, 8:00 in the evening)
8. If you want students to practice drawing a clock correctly with the hour notations, try it in the steps shown above.

Time to the half-hour:

1. Shade half of the clock
2. Show the position of the hour hand when it is half-past the hour.  It should be positioned half way between the 2 hour numbers.  I usually show students you should be able to tell the approximate time even if the minute hand was missing based on where the hour hand was located between two numbers.  So when students are drawing hands to show 7:30, help them see the hour hand will be half-way between the 7 and the 8.
3. Brainstorm events which take about 30 minutes to accomplish.
4. During the morning or afternoon, announce each time 30 minutes has passed.

**For 3rd and up, start looking at what 30 minutes of elapsed time looks like on a clock.  The minute hand will be directly opposite where it started out.  For example:  3:40 + 30 minutes = 4:10.  The minute hand would change from the 8 to 2 which cuts the clock in half.

Time to the quarter hour:

1. Practice dividing a circle into fourths (vertical and horizontal lines) and label with 12, 3, 6, and 9.
2. Label your classroom clock with 15, 30, and 45 next to the 3, 6, and 9. Here’s a freebie from “Dr. H’s Classroom” on TPT: Clock labels – FREE
3. 15 minutes is a fourth of 60.  Or 15 + 15 + 15 + 15 = 60.  Check that students aren’t confusing it with 25 minutes (since 25 cents is a quarter dollar).  Remind students that “quart” is common in many terms:  quarter (4 in a dollar); quartet (4 singers); quart (4 of them in a gallon); quarter in sports (one fourth of the game).
4. Brainstorm events that might take about 15 minutes to accomplish.
5. Check out my Time to the Quarter Hour lesson practice and game below.
• 8:15 — eight fifteen, quarter past 8, 15 past 8
• 8:30 — eight thirty, half past 8, 30 minutes past 8, 30 minutes until 9:00
• 8:45 — eight forty-five, 45 minutes after 8, 15 minutes til 9:00

Here are two FREE activities to practice time to the half hour and quarter hour.

• The first one is a guided practice to help students learn different ways to write the same time. I usually have them select 2 ways from the options at the top (or bottom). The packet includes time to the half hour, quarter after and quarter til, sample answer responses, and a blank page to create your own. Click HERE
• One is a game I named “Tic-Tac-Time.”  Students play with a partner on a clock tic-tac-toe board.  I provided a black print version and a color version. For the spinners page, students will need a paper clip or if you have clear spinners to place over top, that is great! Students spin the time using both spinners, then pick a spot on the tic-tac-toe grid to help them potentially get 3 in a row. They draw in the hands and write the time. Click HERE for that game.

Time to five minutes:

1. The key, of course, is counting by 5s as you go around the clock.  But do students always start at 12 and count all the way around no matter where the minute hand is positioned?  Perhaps if the minute hand is at the 8, they can start with 30 (at the 6) and count 35, 40 to the 8.
2. Brainstorm events that might take about 5 minutes to accomplish.
3. Again, make sure students look at the hour hand first, then the minute hand.

My pet peeve about drawing clock hands: I usually insist students just draw straight lines or use very small arrows on the clock hands because they often put huge arrows at the end that are distracting (and time consuming).  We also practice the length of each hand such as this:

• Minute hand extends from the center to the edge of the clock
• Hour hand extends from the center to just touch the number

What are your favorites for helping kids tell time correctly? Please share!

# Telling Time Part 1: Basic concepts

Concepts of time are one of the subjects we teach at school, but often has more application at home:  Time for bed, time to eat, time to clean up your room, time to play, and so on. I have found when working with students in 3rd and 4th grades about elapsed time, that they often don’t have a very good concept of time. It’s no wonder. We (as teachers or parents) say, “You have 1 minute to . . .” or “I’ll be there in a minute!”  But in reality that minute has stretched to much more like 5 or 10.

So what can we do to help with concepts of time at school (or home)?

• Post a copy of the daily schedule. Refer to it often.
• Use a timer for certain tasks.
• If you announce a time, stick to it.

Try these activities with students. The ones you use will depend on the grade level. Click here for a FREE copy of the brainstorming recording sheets (pictured below): What can you do in 1 sec., min., hour

1. “Tick-tock” — It takes about 1 second to say this word.  Brainstorm what things can be done in this amount of time. Try some of them out (clap, blink, snap, swallow, etc.). It’s effective and engaging to have students brainstorm first with a partner before sharing with the whole class.
2. Watch an analog clock for 1 minute:  Observe the second hand going around 1 complete time. It feels like a long time has passed when actually watching it. Brainstorm things that can typically be completed in one minute (brush teeth, put on socks and shoes, drink some water, etc.)
3. You may want to discuss other chunks of time (especially 5 minutes or 15 minutes since we eventually want students to be able to read a clock in these increments). 5 minutes — eat a snack, get dressed, walk across the school.  15 minutes — walk to school, finish a worksheet, eat a sandwich.
4. Brainstorm events that take about 30 minutes (eat lunch, watch a sit-com, take a bath) and an hour (basketball practice, chores, shopping, math period).
5. Incorporate writing and drawing to name a start time and an end time with a label or a couple of sentences about the activity (see attached). Even 1st and 2nd graders can begin to think about this amount of elapsed time.

Once students have a better understanding of how long something takes to finish, then students will have a better grasp of telling time and determining reasonableness of elapsed time problems. Plus it may enable them to become better judges of their own time with regards to home chores and school assignments and events.

Enjoy your week! Time Part 2 coming next.

# Phonics Part 7: Word Analogy Strategy

I have been a fan of using a word-analogy strategy to help students decode words for a long time. Actually ever since I saw a video and read more about Irene Gaskins Benchmark Word approach years ago.  She even had a school in which she practiced this approach. Word analogy is the process of using a known word to apply to a new word.  Think of it as being a word detective. Sometimes word families are envoked, but more often similar vowel patterns are analyzed.

Here are ways I have used it recently with students:

1. A first grade student came to the word far in a sentence. He stopped and didn’t try anything. There was no picture. Skipping the word and reading on would not have helped in this case. I wrote this word “are” on a small whiteboard (knowing the child knew this common sight word). I asked:  “What is this word?”  Child responded correctly with “are.”  I underlined the are in the word and said, “Use this part of the word to help you.” The child could immediately and correctly respond with “far.”
2. A fifth grade student came to the word wren in a sentence. She did not recognize the word, and again there was no picture, even though from the context she could tell it was a type of bird.  I wrote the word “write” on the board, suspecting she knew it. She did, immediately. So I underlined the wr and said, “Use this part of write to help you with this word you don’t know.” She quickly surmised it was wren.
3. A second grade student came to the word termite in a sentence and stopped. I had the student cover up the ending (mite) to expose ter.  Still nothing. So I wrote “her” on a small whiteboard I always keep handy with my teacher materials.  She knew it quickly. Then I told her to apply that “er” part to the tricky word. She was able to quickly say “ter” and then used the picture to confirm the correct word was “termite.”

These are specific examples to help children realize they can apply something from a known word to a new word. . . . without the teacher giving a mini lesson on vowel sounds, decoding rules, tricky r’s, sounding out letter by letter, etc.  It’s very helpful when dealing with whole words or word parts. This is exactly what we want students to be able to do on their own as they make their reading journey.

Here is an article from the University of Illinois about the methodology:  Look closely at pages 9-11 for application in the class. Here is an excerpt regarding decoding the word “momentum” in this sentence:  “The falling object gained momentum as it fell.” Students use the key known words go, ten, and drum to relate to the syllables in the unknown word. Get the article here: A Metacognitive Approach: Using what you know to decode words you don’t know

The typed word analogy chart pictured below is a handy reference.  I keep a copy (in a plastic sleeve) close by to pull out when needed. I point to a known word on the list and then help the student use that to help with a new word. When I don’t have the chart close by, I write a word I feel is known on a little white board, show it to the student, then show how to apply it (as in examples above). Here’s a FREE copy of the chart (word document): Benchmark word analogy list

I have also presented this small chart as a larger version on a poster board for all students to reference in the classroom.  It’s a different version of a word wall.

Give it a try, and let us know what you think!