Sunday, November 29, 2015

All Aboard the Polar Express! {FREEBIE included}'s that time of year again!  Friday my class will be having Polar Express Day complete with a literature unit, art projects, movie time and "warm" hot cocoa!  To get us in the spirit we will be incorporating the Polar Express into our station time this week.  I created 5 ELA station activities that will be perfect practice for: real vs nonsense words, beginning sounds, ending sounds, rhyming words and sight words.  You can grab these too {HERE}.  Check out the stations below.

If you have been to my blog before you know that I'm a huge fan of roll and cover games! I put together a Polar Express version last year that I will definitely be pulling out again this week. I hope you can use it too! There are 3 versions to meet the needs of your learners. Click on the image to download your copy of all 3 versions for FREE.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Letters Alive: Student Led!

If you haven't heard of Letters Alive you better check out my previous post {here}.  It's awesome!!  It is an augmented reality program that brings the letters to life for your students. is now available on Donors Choose!
Confession.  I'm a teacher which means I LOVE control.  I was initially reluctant to let my students take a turn with the letter cards.  Not because I didn't want them to enjoy the interactive part but because I was nervous about them placing the cards in the right spot or knocking the camera over.  I took my time introducing them to the letter cards and the the colors and eventually began calling on them to lead our exploration time.  I will now admit that my students are far more successful with Letters Alive than I am.  For real.  Here's one of my kindergarten students leading the class on some sentence building.  You will hear the rest of the class chanting different colors for him to use.  He ultimately chooses brown, which makes the toucan change color.  It's hard to see on my screen through the camera but you can tell by the oohs and aahs when it happens.
A video posted by Mary Lirette (@marylirette) on
Pretty cool, huh?  As I get more and more comfortable with augmented reality I am letting my students take the helm with this.  It is absolutely amazing how they just know how to turn the cards to make things come alive.  I look forward to what else my students can teach me with this program.  :)

Monday, November 23, 2015

Gobble Gobble Fluency Practice and a Freebie!

Happy Thanksgiving!  Here's a totally turkey sight word game that's perfect practice for this week.  There are 2 versions: one with sight words for practice and another with simple fluency sentences using sight words and short a and short i words.  Add the cards to a basket and you have a festive review game.  Click on an image for more info.  :)
Make sure to pull out this one this week too!  I included 3 different levels: Rolling 1 die {man...the singular throws me every time}and covering the number, rolling 2 dice and covering the sum, and rolling 3 dice and covering the sum.  Download it for FREE.  Enjoy!

Of course the games are based off of this fun book:

Monday, October 26, 2015

It's Halloween Week! Throwback Freebie

I can't believe we are already to the last week of October! Pumpkins, spiders, bats...oh my!  I will be pulling out the Halloween stations this week.  Here's a throwback (on a Monday!) with a freebie at the end.  :)

Here is a peek at today's stations!

 You can find these activities and more here:
 (Old Lady Roll and Cover is FREE!)

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Easy, Fun, No Prep. Onesies Subitizing Game!

Hello! School is in full swing and unfortunately, several things have taken precedence over my blog here lately.  Things are starting to calm down a bit so I'm hoping to rededicate a few nights a week to creating and blogging again.  I have an on-going list of things to share!

Last July I mentioned a dice game that a friend and fellow teacher introduced me to.  (Thank you, Carol!) She named it "Onesies" and promised that it would become a favorite with my kinders almost immediately.  She was right!  It has no prep time and can be played in a matter of minutes (or seconds for some).  This game makes for great subitizing practice to strengthen number sense.  All you need are 6 dice!

I keep 6 dice already grouped together in those tiny containers from the dollar store so that they are easy to grab off the shelf when we have a few minutes to play.  You can have your kids practice rolling and stacking from 1-6 or you can extend the game a bit by having them roll a tower of all one's, then two's, etc., all the way to six.  It just depends on how much time you want to devote to the game.  I like to put my kids in partners and have them race each other.  We've been playing this randomly for weeks and it has yet to get old.'s a lifesaver when I need to keep my kids educationally entertained for a minute while I'm getting something together!

I hope this is an easy game to incorporate in your own classroom.  Happy dice rolling! :)  I will be back later this week with a giveaway of one of my favorite HeidiSongs products!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Letters Alive! Augmented Reality Awesomeness

I've been playing around with a really cool kit over the last few weeks and I want to share it with you!  I ran into CEO and "Chief Zoo Keeper" Cynthia Kaye in Vegas over the summer and she spent about 30 minutes introducing me to Alive Studios and their augmented reality awesomeness.  Honest first impression?  I told my husband "I've got flashcards and teach my kids letters everyday. What's the big deal?" Then she put the card (I think it was the elephant!) under the camera and it came to life.  Like 3D without the glasses kind of life.  Mind blown. 
She sent me the Letters Alive, Storybook Alive AND Math Alive kits to use in my classroom and I've been obsessed with them ever since!  My own child, my husband, my new kinders, my kindergarten team and all 3 of my administrators have been my guinea pigs as I work my way through all of the amazing technology.

I had my friend and co-worker video me this afternoon so I could show some of the cool tricks of the Letters Alive kit.  It's Friday afternoon and my voice is almost gone so no judgment.  :)

Seriously.  Can you see why I've been so excited about this?
  • It's a supplement to your reading curriculum
  • It's engaging
  • It involves multiple modalities to reach a variety of learners
  • It's Common Core aligned
There are many more videos of Letters Alive in action that you can view on the Alive Studios website {here}.  Make sure to explore their site for more information.

I can't wait to start using the letters and sight words in my small groups.  I have some ESL students that I know are REALLY going to benefit from this program this year.   I will document our progress! :)

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Math Linky Reasoning and Measurement {Weeks 6 and 7!}

Ok.  So school started back and I'm a little behind on my posts for our linky series on number sense!  I'm going to combine week 6 and 7!  Laura with Kinder Kraziness is hosting week 6 on Reasoning Strategies {here} and Marsha with Differentiated Kindergarten is hosting week 7 on Measurement {here}.  Make sure to visit them to read their wonderful ideas. You can link up your ideas on their pages as well.

Differentiated Kindergarten

Week 6: Reasoning Strategies

According to Marilyn Burns, you should always question students about their reasoning strategies.  You should do this when they are right AND when they are wrong.  This provides opportunities for deeper understanding and encourages alternate ways of looking at problems. 

    Questioning Students: Prove It! are all familiar with the teacher look.  I've had to really work hard on my facial expressions over the last few years.  When you call on a student to provide an answer and they give you something totally off the wall it is really hard not to react with your face.  However, you need to re-train yourself to not give it the answer right or wrong? Good question.  :)  I like to tell my students to PROVE IT.  They give me an answer, I act like I do not know if they are right or wrong, and then I have them prove it to the class.  I will tell you that most always my students who give wrong answers initially end up identifying their mistake during their explanation.  That's what we want.  When kiddos find their own mistakes and are able to correct them in the moment they are more likely to remember to apply their new learning in the future.  Click on the image or here to download you own copy of the "Prove It" sign.  I keep my on the wall in my carpet area as a reminder for students.

    Alternate Ways of Solving Problems

    One of the ways we practice reasoning strategies is by seeing how many different ways we can solve a problem.  For example, if my students were solving the number bond above I would have multiple students demonstrate different ways of solving it.  These could include:
    • base ten (one group of ten + 6 ones = 16)
    • 16 -10 =
    • 10 + 6 =
    This helps our students build number sense and become comfortable with the connection between addition and subtraction.

    Visible Thinking Routine: CSI

    Traditionally a CSI stands for color, symbol, image and I use it primarily with reading.  After reading a story, my students give me a color for the story (like black for Tacky the Penguin or green for Hide, Clyde!), a symbol that encompasses the story and an image that pops into their brain when they think about the story.  For The Greedy Triangle a student might give you: 

    • Color: green for greed
    • Symbol: a wand to represent the "poof" from shape to shape
    • Image: 2 friends holding hands to show the friendship and loyalty of the triangle's friends
    You could even modify the color part by changing it to number or shape to go along with your math lesson.


    Week 7: Measurement

    Measurement is a fun way to use concrete experiences that lead to further investigations.  It takes estimation (week 5) to the next level.
    I also love how it gives students opportunities for selecting tools and using appropriate units.  We usually start with unifix cubes, links, paper clips or anything thematic that we are studying.

    Visible Thinking Routine: Think, Puzzle, Explore

    A Think, Puzzle, Explore routine is similar to a traditional KWL chart.  One huge difference though...a KWL is more fact-driven and a TPE is more inquiry-driven. It allows for connections with prior knowledge and encourages inquiry and curiousity.  It also helps to see what direction your students are wanting to take the unit of study.  Here's a TPE my class did at the beginning of our measurement unit.  Forgive the was an in the moment chart and I was writing their input as fast as I could!

    Connections with Literature

    Here are a few book suggestions that encourage reasoning and measurement.

    I hope you were able to get some new ideas from this post.  Thanks for reading. :)
    Make sure to check back for our final week on math fluency!

    Sunday, August 2, 2015

    Estimation! {Math Linky Week 5}

    First Grade Blue SkiesEstimation is the topic for week 5 of our linky series all about number sense!  Jennifer with First Grade Blue Skies is hosting this week so stop by and read her ideas {here}.

    Here are a few ideas on how to use estimation in your classroom:

    Week 5: Estimation

    Estimation should be embedded into problem solving.  Discussing real-world problems, like which checkout line to get in at the grocery store, helps students understand the importance of estimation in everyday life.  It is something that is easily incorporated into morning meeting or math tasks.  There's nothing wrong with incorporating a little seasonal fun with your estimation too.  :)

      Visible Thinking Routine: Chalk Talk

      Place butcher paper or something similar in different areas of the room.  Allow students to walk from paper to paper with a marker and add their ideas, observations, thoughts and questions to the paper.  You could brainstorm items that might weigh the same as an elephant, a feather, etc.

      Visible Thinking Routine: Tug of War

      Have your students participate in a tug of war debate such as Do we estimate the total to be closer to 100 or 1000?  Students can divide up into sides of the classroom depending on what they estimate to be true.  Let your kiddos argue and defend their position while they try and convince their classmates to come to their side of the classroom.

      Estimation Online Game
      PBS Kids- Curious George

      Guesstimate Game

      Divide your class into groups of 3.  Have 2 of the students place a sticky note on their back or forehead with a number on it.  Have the 3rd student tell the sum of the 2 numbers and see if the students can guess their hidden number (practice for missing addends too!).

      You could also do this with one student who has a number on his/her back.  Have the class give clues using "Math Talk" and allow the student to ask questions to help figure out the secret number.

      Sid the Science Kid "My Best Guess" Song

      Count Around the Circle

      Decide on how you will count around the circle (i.e., skip counting by 5's) and let students estimate what number the last person will say.

      Connections with Literature

      Here are a few book suggestions that encourage math discussion of strategies.

      Make sure to check back for week 6 on reasoning strategies! :)

      Monday, July 27, 2015

      Math Strategies (Linky Week 4}

      Swamp Frogs It's time for week 4 of our linky series all about number sense!  Heidi with Mrs. Samuelson's Swamp Frogs is hosting this week so stop by and read her ideas {here}.

      Week 4: Discuss Strategies

      It's important to have class discussions about the strategies used for solving problems.  Students need to know that it is ok to solve a problem in more than one way and feel confident in using multiple strategies for solving. 

      One of the first examples that pops into my head is working a word problem.  The word problem may clearly call for a subtraction number sentence.  However...I love it when my kids figure out they can also solve backwards with addition.  Or use part-part-whole and number bonds! When we come across word problems during our morning messages, I love to let my kids come up to the white board and illustrate different ways of solving the problem.  It is really beneficial for my students to verbalize their thinking as they explain it to others.  It is helpful for those in the audience too who may or may not have thought to solve that way!
      • Students need to be able to explain their thinking
      • Explaining their reasoning gives insight into what's going on inside their little brains!
      • This helps children cement their ideas and re-evaluate them if needed
      • Math talk questioning stems can help facilitate math language between learners until it becomes more natural in their partner discussions

      Visible Thinking Strategy: What Makes You Say That?

      Pretty self-explanatory! :)  It's amazing the answers your children will give you when you ask them this question.  Sometimes it's pretty eye-opening!  I make it a point to ask this question multiple times a day (even if I think I already know the answer!).

      Mathematical Practice Standards
      A few years ago I created a kid-friendly version of the Mathematical Practice Standards to use in my classroom.  Each card is related to a community helper to help make it easier for my students to identify with.  These are posted in a pocket chart in my room and we refer to them often (this really helps build our math language!).  You can grab them in my store for FREE by clicking on the pic or {here}.

      Higher Order Thinking Math Tasks

      Have you seen Susan Moran's (T.G.I.F.! Thank God It's First Grade) Higher Order Thinking Math Tasks??? I LOVE these!  They are listed for 1st and 2nd but they make for great whole group discussion or small group tasks with my kinders.  Check out her blog post {here} for more info and tell her Mrs. Lirette sent you! ;)

      Connections with Literature

      Here are a few book suggestions that encourage math discussion of strategies.

      Make sure to check back for week 5 on estimation! :)