Cookie Monster Subtraction Craft

4/17/2016 / Leave a Comment
We have been focusing on subtraction this month, so I knew the time had come for a math art project to show what they have learned.

Subtraction is always harder to demonstrate visually. I spent a lot of time thinking about how we could do this and then it occurred to me...Cookie Monster! Who doesn't love Cookie Monster? And he is the perfect subtracting tool!

I hopped over to Sesame Street's website and found a directed drawing. He was actually a lot easier to draw that I expected!

Next, I headed over to Amazon for some round labels. I prefer to use stickers for these projects. It allows my students to physically express the problem rather than trying to draw it. I find many times they make a simple mistake when they are just drawing it out.
First we did the directed drawing, I love how these turned out. My favorite thing about directed drawings is that even though we do it step by step, they all come out so different!
After they were finished drawing and coloring Cookie Monster with their oil pastels, it was time for the stickers. We talked a lot about how your starting number had to be less than 10, so we would have room for the cookies in his mouth as well as on the page.
I allowed them to come up with their own problem and display it anyway they chose.
Next, I gave them the amount of stickers they requested and let them have at it! Having the stickers in their hands helped a lot of my kids who still need to move it around physically in order to see the problem. They could see how after Cookie Monster ate the cookies, they would be gone forever!
As you can see, some were successful when it came to subtraction and some were still thinking of it as an addition problem. We still have a ways to go, but it was a great way to informally assess where everyone was at, in a fun Friday kind of way!

What are your favorite subtraction activities? Let me know in the comments below!
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Kindergarten Math Centers - 100's Activities Tuesdays Part 3

3/12/2016 / Leave a Comment
When I returned to Kindergarten last  year, I knew that I wanted to focus on mastering the 100's. Not just counting to 100, but truly understanding the 100's chart and how it works.

When I taught 5th grade, I had a lot of students who could not count forward or backwards from a given number easily. They also struggled with the sequence of numbers above the 80's. I believe that once you deeply understand how the 100's chart works, you can apply that place value knowledge in all math concepts.

Keeping this in mind, I knew I needed a whole day where our centers would be devoted to all things 100's! One thing that I needed a lot of was foam dice. A definite must have in Kindergarten, they are a lot more fun to roll and a lot quieter too!
Ten frame to 100
In the beginning of the year I used the red and yellow counters for this activity. Then I discovered the awesomeness of the mini eraser! My students are way more motivated to complete this task when there are adorable tiny erasers involved! I purchased these sets from Carnival SourceMichaels and Target. And this is just the beginning of my addiction, more are arriving this week!

To play this game they just need a dice and a set of erasers. They roll the dice and display that many erasers on the ten frame.

Some of my groups use 2 dice for an extra challenge. A few groups have tried predicting how many rolls it will take before they get to the bottom of the chart. It is always neat to see how they alter these activities to suit their own curiosities and interests.

120's charts dry erase
I found these dry erase 100's charts on Oriental trading and they are amazing! They have the numbers through 120 on one side and a blank 120's chart on the other side. 

We have used these for whole group activities as well, but my students love racing each other to see who can fill in the most numbers first! I also leave a 2 minute sand timer at the table so they can see how far they can get before the sand runs out!

Monthly 100's charts
These monthly 100's charts are a great way to show the natural progression your students make in writing their numbers though 100 during the course of the year. I start it our first week of school - it is a struggle the first time, but we talk about how it is an end of the year goal. They understand that they have a lot of time to work towards it. I notice many students begin to take it very seriously around December or January.

At the end of the year they decorate the cover and I turn it into their own 100's book! I had them waiting at their seats on the last day of school last year. They all sat together in the morning flipping through the months and talking about how much better they had all gotten!

Dry erase 100's charts
As all classes do, my students love any chance to use a dry erase markers. I bought these ticket holders last summer and they are perfect! They are just a bit bigger than an 8.5 x 11 inch paper, which makes them a lot easier to store.

My monthly 100's chart set includes these scaffolded hundreds charts. There are options for 1-25, 1-50, 1-75 and 1-100. This allows you to slowly challenge your class as the year move forward. Each sequence has 5 different scaffolded sheets that challenge them to fill in the missing numbers. The pre-filled boxes help to ensure that they stay on the right track.

Roll to 100
This activity is similar to the eraser ten frame game, but we use blank 100's charts instead. They can choose either stamps or stickers and they roll their way to 100.

I have some students who take this one very seriously, and say each number as they place the stickers on the chart. It is a great way to practice one to one correspondence.

Build to 100
We play Build to 100 after our Problem of the Day and mini lesson every Tuesday. I have the cards divided up into sets of 22 (one for each student in class). They sit in a circle and try to build their way to the target number for the day.

We have 2 rules; one is that you cannot tell anyone when it is their turn and the other is that we have to do it before the time runs out. I let them choose the time they think it will take, I set it on my iPad, but I make sure to hide it from them so they don't get too distracted!

In the beginning of the year we build to 25, then around the November we build to 50. In January and February we build to 75 and then from March on we are building all the way to 100!

After we have done this as a whole group, it sits out at the rug for them to try to complete in a small group. It is very neat watching them try to support each other in their individual counting goals.
Up next, Buddy Games Wednesday!

What kind of 100's activities do you use in your classroom?

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Kindergarten Math Centers - Motor Skills Monday Part 2

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When I created the names for our math centers, I never anticipated how much my class would embrace them. I was so surprised back in October when they would come in on Monday morning and tell each other "It is Motor Skills Monday today!"

I knew that I wanted to have a entire  math day each week with the focus being on motor skills. My class last year really struggled with pencil grip and cutting. I used a lot of the components I use now, but having them all one day really stresses the importance of the skill. 

We spent a lot of time talking in the fall about how the muscles in our hands need to have exercise just like our bodies. I would tell them stories about my 5th grade students  and how they struggled with handwriting and cutting.  This helped them to understand how it important it was for them to work hard to build these muscles.

First up is our cut and color activity. All of these worksheets come from The Crazy Pre-K Classroom's Scissor Skills unit.
Every week we kick off our math center time with this activity. The beginning of the unit starts with basic shapes and lines to really get them ready. As the year goes on, I choose the thematic pages to best suit the week. My class LOVES these activities.
I thought the monster would be too hard for many of them, but almost every student was able to cut the monster out without losing a single leg!

Hole punchers and edger scissors

Both the hole punchers and edger scissors are new this year. I stop by Hobby Lobby on my errand night and buy whatever cardstock is on sale! Cutting can get so monotonous for little ones, but give them some edger scissors and they are hooked!

In the beginning of the year this bin was a bit frustrating for some students. We talked a lot about how the more they practiced, the easier it would get. Now everyone can use the scissors and even the mini hole puncher independently. The downside? We find itty bit hole punched creatures all over our room every Monday afternoon!

Tweezer Bins

This was a very easy center to prep, a shoebox filled with tweezers and a whole lot of fun stuff to pick up! I included unfix cubes, pattern blocks, dominoes, popsicle sticks, foam pieces, coins, ribbons, paper and money in our bin.

We like to play this in a groups of 2 or 3. Each student challenges another student to pick up a certain item. The rule is that you can only use your tweezer, not your other hand or any fingers!

Ice cube trays and beads

This bin is another favorite in our room. I wrote numbers in the bottom of each ice cube tray with sharpie. I added in some beads and and some tweezers to help them count and place the correct number of beads into each slot.

I also included some pipe cleaners for beading bracelets. They love making patterns on these bracelets. Some kids like to string on as many beads as they can fit, then they estimate how many are on it before they count them. I love the ways in which they modify and challenge themselves at each center!

Lacing beads

I had no idea of just how much they would enjoy these lacing beads. They use them to create patterns as well as build towers! One of my youngest students came running over to show me this tower he made. My favorite moment was when he told me that he even got the sphere to sit on the top of it! <3


I am going to be honest, I never used geoboards last year. I was very hesitant to give my students access to that many rubber bands! This year I decided to embrace them and I am so glad that I did. They are able to create the most amazing things on them!
The cats were inspired by Creating Teaching Inspiring's class. She shared the amazing cats her class made on Instagram a few weeks ago.

I showed them to my class and they were so excited to try out cats on their boards.  I didn't help them at all, so it took them a few minutes to realize that they needed to turn their geoboards over in order to create the circle for its face!

Now that they have discovered the circle on the back, their favorite thing to do is make pizzas!

Nuts and Bolts

These nuts and bolts are my newest purchase. I think they will be more beneficial in the beginning of the year, but I could not resist trying them out with this class.

What I like about them is that you can put as many nuts on the bolt as you wish, but the more you put on, the trickier it gets! I think they are going to enjoy this challenge!
It is only halfway through the year and I am amazed with the changes I can see in their coordination. I have not had to zip anyone's jacket since the end of December, and in New Hampshire, that is a wonderful thing!

They love coming up to me to show how easy it is to cut small items, string beads and use the hole punchers. I love the sense of pride and accomplishment they achieve at the end of each Motor Skills Monday!

Up next, 100's Activities Tuesday!

How do you incorporate motor skills into your classroom?
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Kindergarten Math Centers - Part 1

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Our whole day is centered around workshops, so I kept the trend going for Math as well. We start off our math workshop at the rug. Everyone grabs a dry ease marker and a whiteboard, I love these whiteboard paddles. They are are the perfect size for writing and small enough so we don't feel overcrowded at our rug area!

First up is the Problem of the Day which consists of four skills; comparing numbers, counting on, adding and subtracting with ten frames and money.

I display this PowerPoint on the tv and unveil one box at a time. They write their answer on the paddle and hold it up so I can assess their understanding. It keeps things quieter too which is a bonus as math is after recess, so we need some relaxation time!

After the problem of the day, we use our tv for our My Math lesson. I love the ConnectEd app because my students can write on my iPad and it shows up on the tv screen. This really helps everyone to stay focused on the lesson for the day.
Before we head off to centers, we do a quick group activity. Sometimes we use task cards, sometimes we put numbers in order, or count and add with manipulatives. 

Lately we have been using our magnetic ten frames for our group activity. I love the variety of ways in which we can use them for a quick activity.
After that, it is on to centers! Last year I assigned my kids to centers. I found as the year went on, that it led to a lot of disruptions. If they were not interested in the center I sent them to work at, or inspired enough to explore it in a new way, behavior problems would occur. 

This year I decided to try doing things a bit differently. Each day has a theme:

Motor Skills Monday - click the picture for more information on each day!

100's Activities Tuesday 

Buddy Games Wednesday

Exploration Thursday

They can choose whatever activity they like for that day. They then bring the shoebox bin to a table. It took a lot of time to train them to do this, but now they know that however many kids sit at that table are the amount that can do the activity. 

I have three circle tables that seat 4 kids, two hexagon tables that seat 6 kids and a trapezoid table that can sit 2 kids. We also use our rug area for larger activities. 
Allowing them to self select their activities has changed math in ways I could never have expected. All of my students are way more engaged and on task during our center time. 

They are so focused that I am able to run my guided math groups at my back table during this time, with little to no interuptions. Having the class so focused really allows my math groups to become more engrossed in their lesson as well.

Occasionally I will see someone who is off task, and I then suggest they move on to a new activity and table. Overall, I would say that only happens about once a week.

In the next parts of the series, I will give a closer look at each day and the different activities we do.

How do you run your centers? Do you assign rotations, or let it be more student directed?
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