Kindergarten Math Made Easy! (Plus, a Flash Freebie!)

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Have you ever struggled with how to teach the required math standards.. but still make it fun and – most important – at the right level for every one of your students?

I’ll admit it. I have. I developed these math units after struggling to make our big box curriculum meet our needs and finding I needed to supplement a whole lot. These units have been classroom-tested and kid approved. I’ve used these units the past 3 years and my kids have never loved math more – or had better data!

I’m even more excited about them now because, by popular demand, I am currently working on adding differentiation options to each unit! I just finished Unit 1 Numbers to 5 and I am in love. I have included below level/intervention and enrichment options that is going to make it so easy to just TEACH!

Let me show you what’s included:

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Isn’t it gorgeous?! So what’s included in each unit? Well, each unit contains or will contain: lesson plans, differentiation options, anchor charts, and an end of unit assessment (I am currently working my way through updating each unit).

The lesson plans include: a number sense warm up, a teacher-directed activity, a partner game or activity, independent practice, and a home extension.

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This is an example of one of the lessons. Everything is laid out for you!

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Then you have your differentiation plans. You can use these in small groups or during the lesson! Either way will work.

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Each lesson contains a partner activity. For this lesson, students are playing number bump with the numbers 0-5. For below level, students will be playing with JUST the numbers 0 and 1! For enrichment, students will use subitizing cards instead of the number die. They’re very easy changes to make to support each of your kiddos!

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Some of the subitizing cards are pictures above.

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I have also included extra practice sheets for those intervention groups (although nothing says you can’t use them with ALL students! 😉

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Each lesson also contains an independent activity. For this one, students will be matching all of the pictures that represent the number 1 to their number page.

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I have also included a home extension for each unit. I know many teachers who use these as exit tickets or morning work instead of home extensions! You can use any piece of these units however you need to!

I have put the curriculum bundle and the first 4 units only SALE through 7/18 only!

If you’ve stuck around to the end of this post, then yay! You get to hear about a special flash freebie I have to celebrate all of YOU!

These book bin labels feature real photographs perfect for our ELL babies, and book stickers to help students build independence! These labels with only be free for the month of JULY but if you download them now, you will have access to them FOREVER!

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How To Make Your Own Rekenreks

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If you know me, you know how much I value spending time explicitly teaching number sense. Rekenreks are a GREAT way to build number sense in students and provide hands-on support for beginning addition and subtraction.

I really like having a class set of rekenreks for whole group math talks, but I really don’t like spending a lot of money. This set cost me less than $10 and a wonderful parent put them together for me in one evening!

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For student rekenreks, I just cut cardstock in half and laminated it (I don’t think laminating it is necessary, but it has helped them last me 2 years so far). Then I punched two holes on each side. I put a pipe cleaner in each hole on one side and knotted them together. Then I put 5 red beads and 5 white beads on both pipe cleaners, strung them through the other side, and knotted.

Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

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You can use foam boards for durability, they just cost more and require more cutting power than I was willing to put into it.

My teacher rekenrek is made out of a foam board, but another teacher was kind enough to make it for me. 😉

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Want to make these yourself or send home with a parent volunteer? You can download the directions for free by clicking here or the picture above!

You can also pin this post for later:

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8 Fun, Free Letter Review Activities

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If you are a kindergarten teacher, you know how important it is to teach and review letters until it feels like you’re in a real life version of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. It can get old, fast to us and to our kiddos.

Thankfully, it’s SO easy to spice things up a little bit and keep those letters interesting to both us and our students! All of these activities require little to no prep and if they use materials, it’s probably something you have already in your classroom!

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I don’t think this activity is new to anyone, but it’s a staple. I know some teachers absolutely despise playdough in the classroom because of the mess, but really, I say the bigger the mess the more learning is happening!

This activity is awesome for for fine motor and it helps students really see the lines and curves of each letter. Win!

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Another playdough activity! Just like some teachers despise playdough, I despise ink pads. I’ll admit it – ink covered hands touching every important paper and surface is my kryptonite.

As an alternative, I let my students stamp letters in playdough! They just pick a letter, find the stamp, and stamp it in the playdough. As an added bonus, this stamp set has each letter on printed on the tray so students have to match them when they all accidentally on purpose get jumbled up. I just got it on Amazon.

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This is another activity that is great for fine motor because students have to really work to manipulate the pipe cleaners just right. Eventually, I let them make sight words using pipe cleaners too! It’s always a favorite.

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This activity I just thought of on the spot, but I LOVE it! Students pick a letter and then have to find the matching letter in the bag of letter beads. Then they string them onto a pipe cleaner.

This is another activity that could also be used to practice sight words! Just have students string the letters to make each word onto the pipe cleaners! How easy it that??

The next few activities are meant to be done whole group or in small groups and would be great for when you have an extra 5 minutes to fill.

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For this activity, you will think of a letter and give students clues to guess what it is. You can use features such as “It has a circle then a stick” or sounds “Bear begins with it.”

Once students get the hang of this, they can be the ones to think of the letters and give clues!

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This game practices beginning sounds. You will say a letter and a word that begins with that letter (b balloon). Then you will go around the circle as students say words that begin with that letter (ball, bear, bee). When they cannot think of any more, that letter ends. You can make it a competition by seeing which letter they can think of the most words for!

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For this activity, you will need a bowl of letter magnets or tiles. You could make it really interesting by getting a plastic cauldron around Halloween time! You will stir the pot while saying,

Letters, letters, in my stew. Pick a letter just for you!

A students will reach in and grab a letter. You can differentiate by having them name the letter, say the letter sound, or name something that begins with that letter. If you want to make it REALLY hard, you can have them try to guess the letter by feel before they take it out!

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This is probably not an activity you have room for in your classroom (and if you do, i’m jealous!), but it would be fun to do outside or in the gym.

Students will work together in small groups of 2-3 to form letters with their bodies! They can do this laying down or standing up, but some letters will be much easier laying down.

I hope these ideas were useful to you! These letter review activities are a bonus included in all of my Little Readers Whole Group Literacy units, but i’m also offering them as a blog exclusive FREEBIE here:

Letter Review Activities FREEBIE

You can also pin this post for later:

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Easy Name Activities

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Every year that I have taught kindergarten, I have always had multiple students come in not even able to recognize their own name. So it’s no surprise then that we spend a LOT of time our first few weeks of school focusing on names.

The activities i’m going to show you today do not take a lot of prep at all but are fun and would be perfect for Pre-K to 1st grade kiddos who need some name practice.

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This activity is probably not new to you, but it’s a staple in my classroom! I use these name puzzles in guided reading groups and I let my students keep them in baggies in their book boxes to pull out throughout the day.

If I have a student who is just beginning to learn their name, I only make one cut right in the middle of their name. As they master the puzzle, I cut more and more pieces until it is finally all cut apart!

If you are doing this as part of guided reading groups, it is always a big motivator to cut the puzzles at the table. My kiddos practice extra just so they can have the most pieces!

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I LOVE this rainbow names craft because it is SO easy but it brightens up our room beautifully!

I just write each kiddo’s name on the clouds and then give them enough rays to write 1 letter of their name on each ray (for some students, I write the letters). They have to put the rays in order and I check them before they glue.

I have this craft as a freebie in my store! If you don’t want to print the rays page on colored paper, you can also cut strips of construction paper.

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Another easy word work activity! All you need is a name and magnetic letters or letter tiles. I’ll find all sorts of different letters just to make this more interesting.

You can also take a picture of students at the beginning of the year and put it next to their name so they can easily pull out the right one!

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Along with those cards, I use sentence frames for students to practice reading.

Now, I know it would be easy to type these up and laminate them but, just being honest, i’m not likely to do that! I like easy, low prep!

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The last activity is this fun name craft! I like this one because it doubles as a name puzzle – students can take the crayons out of the box and put them in order to make their names.

This craft is very similar to the rainbow craft. The students cut out their boxes and I staple the sides and write their name on the front. Then they write 1 letter on each crayon and put them in their box.

I’ve just added options for longer names too! You can check that out here.

I hope you enjoyed these easy name activities! If you have any go to ways to practice names, i’d love it if you left them below!

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Beat the Teacher: A Whole Class Incentive

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We have officially reached the time of the year where this is the constant soundtrack in my head:

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Maybe it was because spring break was so early this year, but it just feels like the summer bug is hitting us hard right now! As we’re getting ready to become first graders, I knew it was time to give us a little extra motivation.

There are variations of this incentive all over the internet, but this one works well for us! My class this year thrives on friendly competition and we have a good relationship – this is important with this incentive!

When my students came in this morning, our white board looked like this:

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With this incentive, it is important that you only choose one goal to work on. We have been on the struggle bus when it comes to sitting on the carpet peacefully, so that was our goal.

Every time I  saw students showing whole body listening, raising their hand to speak, and listening when others were talking instead of shouting over them, they got a magnet in their ten frame.

Every time students rolled on the carpet, yelled out, or talked during a lesson (sometimes i’d give a warning first), I would get a magnet in my ten frame.

I got these large magnetic ten frames from Lakeshore Learning.

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Their goal was to have more magnets in their ten frame than me by the time we were done at the carpet. If they happened to fill their ten frame, I game them an “X” on the chart and the board was cleared.

If I had more magnets or we tied, they just didn’t get an X. Nothing more than that!

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Now, for this particular goal, it is a lot of work. It was a new competition every time we came to the carpet. I would clear the ten frames after every carpet session to keep the competition fresh.

I would also have to clear the ten frames mid-lesson if the class filled their ten frame. Good thing teachers are pros at multi-tasking!

I also want to mention that this is not meant to be a long term incentive. I’m sure you could use it long term, but I think it would be most effective when it’s new and exciting.

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If students had more magnets than me or they filled the ten frame completely, they would get an “X” on this chart. When the chart is full, they get to choose one of these prizes:

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We’ll vote on which one we want as a class. If you download the freebie, an editable PowerPoint version is included so you can choose your own prizes.

By the end of the day we had 4 X’s, so it shouldn’t take us too long to get there!

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The little guy on the board was to remind us of how we are supposed to look at the carpet. I could just point to him as a reminder. I’m actually shocked at how much my students needed that visual!

I’ve included him just in case your class has the same goal, but you could use this incentive to target any desired behavior!

If you want to try this incentive in your classroom, you can grab it free here:

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Or pin this post for later:

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Number Bonds for Number Sense

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Honestly, there was a time when I hated number bonds because I didn’t understand them or how to make students understand them. Obviously, I don’t feel that way anymore!

Now I LOVE number bonds because they are such an easy way to expand students’ number sense and help them decompose numbers. This is one of those skills that I cover multiple times a year and build on as our math experience grows.

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This is the anchor chart that I used to introduce number bonds. I also have the exact same thing in a SMART board file so we can practice number bonds digitally.

I did not have the addition and subtraction problems on there the first time I introduced number bonds! Like I said, we revisit this skill multiple times throughout the year, so once I had introduced addition and subtraction, I went back and showed my students how they can turn a number bond into an addition or subtraction problem.

If you want anchor charts you can print off or display on a screen, you can grab them free by clicking on the pictures:

 

This is also when I introduced Turn-Around Facts, which I will show you later on in this post!

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When i’m introducing number bonds, I like to use different manipulatives as the parts to keep engagement high. They are also easy to move back and forth from the parts to the whole, so students can really see how the parts make up the whole.

Besides counting bears, I like to use playdough, mini-erasers, counting chips, and little toys I get from Dollar Tree. Basically anything to make it feel new and exciting!

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Having student physically swap out one manipulative for another and changing the parts is an easy, concrete way to show them that there are different ways to decompose a number.

You can get this mat as a freebie by clicking on the picture:

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Once we begin addition, we will use this mat to come up with all the different ways we can add to get a certain number:

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Another great way to practice making number bonds is with dice:

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Just roll 2 dice for the parts and count the dots for the whole. I like to have my students color-code just to reinforce that the dice are making the parts.

You can get this recording sheet as a freebie by clicking on the picture:

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I also like to use dominoes:

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These are what I use when I introduce Turn-Around Facts:

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It’s super easy to turn the domino around and show that the parts may change places, but they still make the same whole!

Do you have any great ideas for teaching number bonds? I’d love to hear about them!

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Gus the Plus & Linus the Minus

OH my goodness! Can you say long time no blog??  All I can say is it has been a crazy semester. But I’m back and ready to roll!

If you’ve been teaching for a while, or even if you haven’t, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of Gus the Plus and Linus the Minus before. After all, they’re one of the cutest ways to help your students remember the plus and minus signs!

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We’ve spent the last few weeks becoming familiar with addition and subtraction and I feel like its *clicked* with most of my students.

That said, I feel like one of the hardest things for my students every year is being able to switch back and forth easily. They want to do just addition or just subtraction, and they tend to not pay any attention to the signs.

That’s where the idea of this craftivity was born! First, I introduced Gus & Linus. Then, we did a sort whole class. Yes, it looks rough but I literally had the spark of inspiration for this activity and prepped it all in my 20 minute lunch!

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Then, I walked my students through the steps of creating Gus & Linus and sorting the problems themselves. I chose to have already solved problems for them to sort because I wanted them to JUST focus on the sign, but if you choose to do this, I included a version where students can solve the problems too!

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They all ended up so unique and adorable! We will definitely require much more practice with mixed facts, but I LOVED introducing it this way.

This activity is FREE here. Just click the picture or click here to download:

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Lesson Planning Bonanza! {With a Template Freebie}

Ok. Before you throw rotten tomatoes at me, I know, you’re on summer break or you’re about to be on summer break and the very.last.thing you want to be thinking about is lesson planning.

I 100% understand. During the last 2 weeks of school, my lesson plans were single words scribbled into a mini-notebook I found while cleaning out cabinets {true story}. #typebteacher

But my brain has been on overload planning mode now that it has nothing to do, so I’ve been putting my all into getting my lesson plans for next year pumped out. It’s going to be a crazy busy year, so I thought i’d deal by getting ahead.

Just in case you’re in my same boat, or you’re just browsing for ideas for next year, I thought i’d share how I lesson plan with you {and stay tuned for a freebie at the end!}

You might have seen a picture of my lesson plan binder that I shared in this post. I have a yearly curriculum outline and then weekly plans. The only day that gets its own page for planning is the first day of school.

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This is what the curriculum overview looks like. This is a great free template I got here.

This doesn’t go into a lot of detail, but it gives me a quick glance at themes and what i’ll be teaching that month. The “GK” stands for Guiding Kinders, which is what I will be using for shared reading this year. LOVE Deanna and DeeDee.

I like having this monthly overview at the front of my binder so I can quickly look ahead and feel more prepared.

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This is what my actual lesson plans look like. I print them back to back so that when I open my binder I can see both the morning and the afteroon.

Again, these aren’t super detailed. You could make them that way if you wanted, but I view lesson plans as more of a guide. They tell me what lesson to teach or what activity I want to do, but most of those lessons already have full lesson plans in another binder somewhere.

I made these lesson plans before we changed our daily schedule for next year and i’m too lazy to go back and change them all so the subjects aren’t quite in the right order. That’s ok.

Here is the daily schedule I put in my binder:

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Like I said before, the only day that is special enough to get it’s own full 2-page lesson plan is the first day of school. Here is how I made that:

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Oh goodness. I just realized these have changed as well now that I need to introduce flexible seating! I’ll go over how I will introduce that in another post.

We actually have two first days. Half of the class comes for a full day Thursday and the other half come Friday. The lesson plan this day is pretty much all routines routines routines.

SO. Here is the freebie I promised you!

There are templates that look just like my pages but without the words, then there are blank pages with just the frames. The font I used on every page was “HelloTypewriter” from Hello Literacy and you can add tables to the blank pages by clicking “insert table.”

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