Retelling Literature and Information Text with Story Gloves

4 Dec


Story gloves are a “hands on” approach for retelling a story with visual clues. Using the story gloves helps students successfully construct meaning from text and also helps them identify the difference between literature and informational text.

Informational Text Story Glove: Talk about the main idea from text then each supporting idea

Literature Story Glove: Talk about the characters, setting, problem, events and ending of the story. (Ending card is on back of glove)

story-gloves-writingHow to Use Story Gloves

  • Modeling: The teacher reads a story to the students then puts on the story glove and retells the story, pointing to the visuals on the glove.
  • Interactive: The visuals for the story glove are placed in a bag. After the teacher reads a story students take turns drawing a visual from the bag and telling about that part of the story. Then the student can attach the visual to the glove.
  • Small Group: Students are divided in small groups with a book and a glove. Assign one student to be the leader. Students read the story together or listen to a story on a tape recorder. Then the leader puts on the story glove and uses it to guide the discussion of the story.
  • Independent: Have story gloves available at the class library for students to use when reading independently or with a buddy.
  • Writing: Have students write the retelling of the story on a paper story glove.

Click here for directions, colored images, and writing black lines.

Milk Carton Magic Machine

23 Oct

magic-math-machine-2These milk carton magic machines make such a fun center activity. They are easy to make, and they are run on kid power: no batteries and no plugging in! Here’s how they work:

Student Directions:  Pick up a card and read the problem. Answer the problem then check your answer by put the card in the hole at the top.  The answer will slide out of the bottom slot. It’s like magic!

Teacher Directions:  Click here to download the directions for making a milk carton magic machine. Cut several cards which will fit easily into the milk carton slots from card stock or poster board. Write a problem on one side of the card. Flip the card over and write the answer on the back. When the student puts the card in the hole at the top, it will flip over inside the carton, and the answer will slide out. On the cards you can write math problems or any questions and answers from across the curriculum.



Body Switch Writing Project

25 Sep

body-switchHere is one of the favorite writing projects for all grade levels. Print a variety of faceess bodies on plain paper. Have each student choose a body and glue their own photo on the body. Then students can color the setting around the body. This is a great springboard for writing a fictional narrative. Have students plan the characters, setting, problem, events and ending for the story and then complete the writing process. This page can be used for the cover of the published book.

Click here for some faceless bodies to download as well as a narrative fiction planner.

Color Coded Number Chart

11 Sep

NUMBER LINE colored 12.xlsThis color coded number chart is an effective visual tool to teach students the patterns of skip counting and number factors. Note that each factor 2-12 is a different color. The factors for each number are color coded in the dots above the number on the chart. Students can keep this number chart in their math folders as a handy tool. There are many ways to use the color coded number chart:

Skip Counting – Start with two and count the red numbers.  Start with three and count the yellow numbers, etc. Look at the pattern of the colors.

Multiplication – For the problem 3 x 4, start with yellow and skip count four yellow dots.   3 – 6 – 9 – 12              3×4 =12

Prime numbers – Except for 3, 5 and 7, the prime numbers have zero colored circles, showing that it is only divisible by one and itself. This comes in handy when students are trying to reduce fractions. If the denominator is a prime number, it cannot be reduced.

Least Common Multiple – To Find the LCM of 3 and 4 look on the chart to find the lowest  number that has both a yellow and green circle. LCM of 3 and 4 is 12.

Greatest Common Factor – To Find the GCF of 21 and 28 look above the numbers 21 and 28 to see what colors they both have. Check the color chart to find the largest common factor of the two numbers. GCF of 21 and 28 is 7 (purple)

Click here to download the color coded number chart. There is also a blank chart, so the students can color in the factors as they learn them. Have some white-out handy, as they might make some errors. :-)

Using Plickers in the Elementary Classroom

7 May

plickersPlickers is a fun, easy and free app which quickly assesses student knowledge. Best of all… only one smart device is required! At teachers assign each student a number and print a set of Plickers cards. Each student is given a Plicker card with his or her assigned number. The black image on the card is different for each student. If you look closely at the Plicker card on the left, you will see it is card #3. On each side of the card you see letters A-D. The letters are small, so the students cannot tell what other students are answering. For younger students you can print the cards in a larger font and write large letters A-D on the back of the card. When students  are asked a question, they hold up the card with the answer on the top. Using the Plickers app on a smart device the teacher scans all the cards. The app shows the teacher all the names and answers. Very simple for the teacher, and the kids love it! Here are some ways to use Plickers in the elementary classroom:

  1. Exit Ticket: At the end of the school day  have students answer questions about what they learned during the day. What a simple and quick daily assessment!
  2. Vocabulary Quiz: Multiple choice quizzes where the students choose the definition of a word are a perfect way to pre-assess and post-assess vocabulary knowledge.
  3. Information Text Reading: Before reading informational text give the students multiple choice questions about the topic. Scan their answers, but don’t tell them the answers. Have students search for the correct answers during the reading. This is a very effective way to get students excited and engaged in informational text.
  4. Opinions: Conduct a quick poll about student opinions on certain topics. The graph created by the app can be printed and shared.
  5. Parent Survey:  Survey the parents on different topics during a parent night with some multiple choice questions. Examples: What subject does your child like the best? When is the best day for you to come to conferences? How often does your child read at home?
  6. Quick Quizzes: Quizzes can be given spontaneously through out the day. You can plan the questions ahead of time on the app or website, or you can just ask questions on the fly. The possibilities are endless!

“Something From Nothing” Magic Book

9 Apr

Many kind and concerned teachers have contacted me to see if all is well, since I haven’t had a blog post for a whole year! Well…here is my story, and luckily it is a happy one. I went to Shanghai, China a year ago to work with a private school district. I have two great sons, a lovely Chinese daughter-in-law, and an adorable granddaughter in Shanghai. (Side note: She now has a little brother…2 weeks old!) Needless to say, I had a wonderful time working and playing in China for three weeks. When I returned home, the Chinese school district asked me to continue writing literature based curriculum for them. I’ve spent many hours for many months finding and creating activities based on quality children’s literature. I decided it’s time to get back to my blog and share some of the ideas.

Click here to learn how to make this project for one of my favorite books, Something From Nothing by Phoebe Gilman.

s from n 1



Lessons for Equal Group Word Problems

1 Mar

equal groupsI find that the bar model is an effective tool to help students better understand equal groups and figure out if they need to multiply or divide in an equal group word problem. If they need to know the whole, they place a question mark in the answer box and multiply. If they need to know the part, they put a ? in the bar and divide.  Click here for  some multiplication, division and mixed lessons and practice pages using bar models to help students understand and solve equal group word problems.

Across-the-Curriculum Math Days

1 Feb

measuring MadnessMath Days are enriching and motivating for students. I like to have an across-the-curriculum math day about once a month on a Friday. Fridays just need to be a little different! Allowing students to be immersed in math skills across the curriculum helps them better understand math as they see it used in such a wide variety of ways. You can take photos of the students engaged in the different activities. The following week have the students write about what was going on in the photos. We put these pages into a class book which we keep at the math center. Needless to say these books get read and reread often.

Click here for some examples of math day activities and a blank planning form.

Lessons for Elapsed Time Word Problems

4 Jan

Understanding and solving elapsed time welapsed time imageord problems can be tricky for students. There are three types of elapsed time word problems: elapsed time unknown, start time unknown and end time unknown. Students must first be able to decide which type of elapsed problem they are solving, so I created lessons and practice problems for each of the three types of elapsed time word problems. These lessons have very effectively increased student understanding and success in solving elapsed time word problems. Click here to download the elapsed time word problem lessons and practice pages.

Addition and Subtraction Word Problem Frames

7 Nov

add subThere are so many different types of addition and subtraction word problems and many ways to solve them. I have found these word problem frames effectively provide students with structure and success when solving addition and subtraction word problems. Each frame has a different tool students can use to solve the word problem. Click here to download the addition and subtraction word problem frames.