Daily Schedule

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Where We're From

We are in the midst of a big identity/mapping project. Each child took home a "family tree" worksheet, and came to school knowing where they were born, where each parent was born, and where their grandparents were born. Families are beautifully diverse, however, and we delighted in seeing that some families had several sets of grandparents, for example.

So far, we’ve used the worksheets to fill out two different charts. One chart was labeled STATES, and one chart labeled COUNTRIES. Using color-coded stickers, we placed a green sticker by the country name where we were born, a red sticker by the country our parents were born, and a yellow sticker where our grandparents were born. Then, we placed the same colored stickers by each state (if someone was born in the U.S.).

A cute dino filling out his information

You can see at a glance that most people were born in the US - all of the students in our class (green), and many parents (red) and grandparents (yellow). However, lots of yellow stickers in other countries as well!
Here is the states chart - heavily Michigan, especially for the students. but lots of red and yellow stickers on the other states. 
The next step will be to will apply all of this information to three maps – we have a Michigan map, a map of the United States, and a world map. We will see at a glance where each generation came from. This will probably happen next week.

Map reading, and learning basic geography skills (for instance, knowing the difference between city, state, and country), are very important, and are still being developed at this age. This project has been a great real-life application of these skills.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Real Life Math

Every year, it's the same - I head to the store to buy all the materials I need to make the "gingerbread" houses for our annual tradition for the last day before winter break. As you know, the first and second grade classes will spend the morning decorating houses made from graham crackers using lots of frosting and candy. But before that can happen, Grace and I will need to actually make the houses - so off I went to buy the required graham crackers. It always takes me a few moments to remember how many each house requires, to multiply that by the number of students in my class, and then to figure how how many crackers are contained within each box. The boxes don't come out and tell you that - they generally tell you the serving size, and the number of servings. It's a whole lot of mathematically steps! I thought it would be a good lesson for the students this morning, so I brought in four boxes of the crackers I bought, and set up the problem for them. How many boxes did I need to buy to make a house for 10 students?

First I sketched out the pattern for each house:

Two whole crackers for two sides, two whole crackers tilted in for the roof, two half crackers for the shorter ends.

Then we divided into four groups and I gave each group a box of crackers and told them to read the side. Not much more instruction was given - I wanted them to "struggle" a bit.

Lots of drawing and discussion followed. Different techniques were used, but two groups came up with the answer within about 10 minutes - 2 boxes, with 2 crackers left over (for the builder!). Other groups needed some adult help to work it out, but were able to be successful in the end.

This type of mini math project is perfect in that it demonstrates to children how important math is in everyday life. But the question remains - what am I going to do with 2 extra boxes of graham crackers?

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Number Heads - Easy, 5 Minute Math Games

You don't always need a lot of equipment to play some really fun math games - often, all you need are some dice or a pack of cards. We play lots of games to practice skills in math class, and I am always on the hunt for games that are quick, and that can grow and expand as the students' understanding does. We start simple, and go from there ... sometimes I introduce the trickier versions, and sometimes the students come up with their own variations. This allows all students to find their "goldilocks" level - just enough challenge so that it is really fun, and ensures that they are building on the skills they already have.

Number Heads is a game where you roll dice a certain number of times, add them up, and try to come as close as you can to get to a certain number.

We started last Monday with rolling two dice three times. We called this 2 Rolls to Make 100.  Each time you roll, you write down a two digit number, deciding each time what "place" the numbers should go (a roll of 1 and 3 could make 31 or 13, for example). The goal is to get as close to 100 after three rolls. Once a number is written down,  you may not change it, and you can only add the numbers after all three rolls are written down.

The skills we are practicing include:

* estimation
* adding with renaming
* adding more than two numbers
* place value
* number sense

Then, we started rolling three dice three times to make 1000, or 3 Rolls to Make 1000. Each time you roll, write down a three digit number, again deciding what place the numbers should go.

More advance versions could include:

5 Rolls to Make 200: Roll 2 dice five times to create three, 2-digit numbers. Add them together. Aim to get as close to 200 as possible.

2 Rolls to Make 7000: Roll 4 dice two times to create two, 4 digit numbers. Add them together. Aim to get as close to 7000 as possible.

Of course, the possibilities are endless. I wonder what the students will come up with?

Friday, December 8, 2017

Weekly Update - December 4 - 8

This information also found in Walter's weekly email:

This week, we really focused on one of our favorite projects - our annual Winter Raptor study, with the accompanying preparation for a “birdie bake sale”. On Monday, each child chose a raptor from the Leslie Science and Nature Center, and has been learning about/drafting sketches of their choice all week. 

We presented our drawings, plus information about the upcoming bake sale, at the all-school Friday morning meeting. 

We read a sweet memoir, Owl Moon, which was perfect for both the theme of Identity and our seasonal project. Our favorite thing was making the beautiful bird house gourds, which will be part of the sale on Thursday morning, December 14th. This was a LOT of messy work - scraping, washing, sanding, and polishing.  

In math, we learned a new game - Roll 3 times to 100. This game was perfect to practice many skills - addition with renaming, estimating, and place value.

We began each morning with a fast new favorite, “Last number standing”, which is another place value practice game.

Dillon and Lexi did a great job as usual doing their duty as special readers, and all children made wonderful illustrations on their weekly poem, I Heard a Bird Sing. Lots of students were able to memorize this one - an almost lost art, sadly. We continue to work on our spelling skills and handwriting, and are still enjoying The BFG. I hope to finish by Winter Break.