Friday, April 22, 2016

Five for Friday...On a Friday!

Happy Friday!

Yes, I am really posting my Five for Friday on a Friday!!! I've not been blogging lately because I've been so busy overwhelmed at school lately. Will April never end?

Anyway...Thanks as always to Doodle Bugs Teaching for hosting this fun linky party. I love reading about what everyone is up to. 

I've been feeling good about my writing instruction lately. That hasn't always been true this year. We've been working on writing stronger narratives. One of the areas my students have difficulty with is stretching their stories by adding relevant details. They basically try to stretch the story by adding more words. Usually the same words. So, I end up with stories like this:

     We played outside. We had fun. We played zombie tag. 
     It was so fun. I won. I had a lot of fun.

Shoot me now.

So, I've been trying to help the kids find ways to stretch their stories in more interesting ways.

I decided to start Quick Write Fridays to work on using descriptive details.  First, I project a stock photo on the board. Here's the one we did today.

We spend a couple of minutes brainstorming words that we could use to describe what's happening in the picture. I post that on the board beside (on top of, really) the picture.

Next, I give the kids 10 minutes to write. They can write a description, a story, a poem... Whatever the picture inspires them to do. Here are a few of the pieces my kids wrote.

Last week, we used this beautiful fall photo and I talked about trying to use our other senses in our imagination.

I love how this piece turned out.

We've only done the quick writes for two weeks, but I'm already seeing the impact on my student's writing. I'll keep this going until the end of the year. Next year, I'll start with it right away.

Field Day!

We had our field day a little early this year so it won't interfere with testing. It was a beautiful day. The kids had a blast and I enjoyed watching them compete in all the events.

I was lucky enough to see this on Tuesday night.

After field day, it made for a long day, but it was worth it!

Fraction Fun

We're working on our fractions unit. I had my kids play a fun game to explore making fractions of a group. They rolled number cubes and counted out that many cubes. Then, they had to see if they could group the cubes into halves, thirds, and fourths. They recorded their results on a chart they copied into their math journals. Fun!

I have to leave you with some great pictures from my Wildlife Kayak Tour last weekend. It was a beautiful afternoon.

That's it for this week. 

Until next time,

Monday, April 4, 2016

Math Tip Monday: Four Great Books to Teach Measurement

Welcome to Math Tip Monday! 

Kayla, from K's Classroom Kreations, and I host this linky each month to encourage teachers to share ideas, tips, and best practices for teaching math in the primary classroom. Please join us and link your blog post below. Don't forget to include the Math Tip Monday image in your post and please link back to the host blogs. Also, please share the love by leaving comments to let our bloggers know you appreciate their ideas.

I love connecting children's literature to my math teaching. Today, I thought I'd share with you some awesome books I use while teaching my measurement unit. I've provided links to each book's Amazon page, but keep in mind that most of these books are available through multiple sellers. For each book, I've included an idea for a follow-up activity that will engage students in actively exploring measurement concepts.


I often start teaching measurement by comparing sizes. I use How Big Is It? to talk about the size of various objects in relation to other objects. My kids are always fascinated by the pictures and it helps them to get a real sense of how large these well-known objects really are. My kids are especially fascinated by the animal comparisons. The photograph of a polar bear standing on a basketball court next to some incredibly tall players is mind-blowing! The giant squid lying in front of a two story house and the giraffe whose head reaches into a second-floor bedroom are equally impressive. 

I usually follow this book up with some practice using comparative language. Students locate objects outside or in the room and then write comparative sentences in their math journals. 

"A water bottle is taller than a milk carton." 
"This stick is shorter than this bench." 
"My arm is longer than a pencil." 
"The I-pad is as long as my pencil box."

It's a little bit like a scavenger hunt and the kids get good practice using the vocabulary to compare various measurements. And my kids love it!


I love Leo Lionni's Inch by Inch! It's a great way to introduce the concept of measuring length using inches. The story is simple. An inchworm avoids becoming a meal by measuring various parts of  different bird's bodies. He is stumped, though, when he is asked to measure the length of the nightingale's song. My students always appreciate how the quick-witted inchworm cleverly avoids becoming the nightingale's breakfast.

For a follow-up activity, I ask my students to measure the length of various objects around our room. We use inch-long pieces of chenille stems - I always get green ones so they can measure using their own fuzzy inchworms! I've also used some commercially produced inchworms for this activity, but my kids seem to enjoy the ones I make just as much.


How Big is a Foot? is the perfect book for helping students understand the importance of standard versus non-standard measurement.  The story tells about a young carpenter's apprentice who is charged with building a bed for the queen. Confusion reigns when he discovers the bed he built was way too small. My kids immediately understand how the mistake occured. The king's foot and the apprentice's foot are not the same size.

This year, my kids had a great time with this follow-up activity:  I had them create two doll-sized beds. The first was created using small paper clips to measure the length and width. The second bed was created using large paper clips to measure. They created the beds, recorded and analyzed their results, and then wrote about what kind of doll might fit in each bed. This activity was also very useful as an assessment. I was able to see who was having trouble with measurement concepts before we moved on to using standard units and measurement tools.


I just discovered Loreen Leedy's Measuring Penny a couple of years ago. This is a wonderful book to use for a variety of measurement concepts: standard vs. non-standard units, comparative measurement, height, length, weight, volume, time, temperature, and money. In the book, Lisa measures her dog, Penny, in lots of different ways. 

This book is a great introduction to a home-school connection. Next time I use it, I plan to assign my students a measurement project to complete at home. Just as Lisa's teacher does in the story, I'll challenge my students to measure something in their home in several different ways. I wonder what my students would come up with!

Do you use literature in your measurement lessons? What books and activities would you recommend? Share your thoughts in the comments!