Tumblebooks: Free Stories for Kids

TumbleBooks of the Day is a project that provides free daily content for families, schools and public libraries to promote literacy and love of reading.

TumbleBooks of the Day is a project that provides free daily content for families, schools and public libraries to promote literacy and love of reading. Each day there is a Book of the Day, Math Book of the Day, Game of the Day and Spanish Book of the Day.  There is also a Fun Fact of the Day that is customized for each state.

TumbleBooks is a FREE online collection of children’s books that are read TO your child.  TumbleBooks is available at local libraries and from home with your library card.  (SHHH…. A search of TumbleBooks of the Day will also give you the same resource each day).

Many of the picture books are animated, have sounds and music making them very engaging to younger listeners and readers.  The longer chapter books are narrated to your child, similar to an audiobook.  However, you child can follow along the text with the narration.

Yes, it does count as screen time, but isn’t nice that it counts as some early literacy and educational purpose!

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Math Enrichment Problems: May 2019

Math Enrichment Problems (May) for Grades 2/3
Math Enrichment Problems (May) for Grades 2/3

Welcome to the 6th month of threeringsconnections.orgMonthly Math Enrichment Problems post, Each month I post some Math Enrichment problems for grades 2-3.  I hope you will find them useful with your students in class or your kids at home.

Don’t forget to use 1 of your 6 problem solving strategies

  • Draw a picture
  • Guess and Check
  • Use a table or list
  • Find a pattern
  • Logical reasoning
  • Draw a picture Working backwards (try a simpler version first)

Problem Solving – Here we go! 

  1. It was Jerry’s birthday. He bought 26 cupcakes. He gave one cupcake to each member of his class, one to his teacher, one to his principal, and one each to the two secretaries in the office. He also had a cupcake.  All the cupcakes are gone.  Including Jerry, how many students are in the class?
  2. When Donna calls Noreen on the phone the call usually lasts 12 minutes.  Last night they talked on the phone for 1 minute more than twice the time they usually spend on the phone.  Last night’s phone call lasted ___ minutes.
  3. There are 5 numbered lockers outside Brooklyn’s classroom. She opened all 5 lockers.  Then Meghan closed lockers 2 and 4. Emily changed locker 3. (That means if it was open, she closed it or if it was closed, she opened it.) Teagan changed locker 4 and Abby changed locker 5.  Which numbered lockers are still open?
  4. Some 2nd and 3rd graders entered a total of 32 poems in the Poetry Contest. Five 3rd grade students entered 4 poems each.  The 6 remaining 2nd grade students entered the rest of the poems. If each of the 2nd grade students entered the same amount of poems, how many poems did each 2nd grader enter.
  5. Lowyn added up all the single-digit odd numbers and all the single digit even numbers.  What was the sum?
  6. A pet store has only cats and dogs.  There are a total of 64 legs for all the cats and dogs. If there are 9 dogs, how many cats are there?

ANSWERS

  1. 22 students in the class
  2. 25 minutes:  2 X 12 minutes = 24 minutes and 1 additional minute
  3. Brooklyn opened locker 1 and it stayed open.  Meghan and Emily closed 2,3,4.  Teagan reopened 4 and Abby closed 5.  The only ones that are opened are 1 and 4.
  4. 3rd graders entered 20 poems (five students each entered 4 for 20 total). The 32 total poems minus 3rd grade poems (20) =12 left to be divided by the remaining 6 students.  So, each student entered 2 poems (6 students X 2 poems =12 poems)  32 = 20 +12
  5. 1+3+5+7+9 = 25 and 2+4+6+8 =20   so 25+20= 45
  6. IF we have 9 dogs with 4 legs that means 36 legs (9 X 4).  64 legs – 36 legs = 28 legs belong to cats.  Since cats have 4 legs (4 X 7 = 28). There are 4 cats.

Don’t forget to check in NEXT MONTH for more Enrichment Problems 

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Check for Understanding: Increasing Teacher Effectiveness

Many teachers use a limited amount of student assessments. Often this is due to a lack of the awareness of the importance of frequency and variety in lesson design. However, the climate of high stakes testing and teacher evaluations has created an interest in Checking for Understanding in Professional Learning Circles (PLCs).

Many teachers use a limited amount of student assessments.  Often this is due to a lack of the awareness of the importance of frequency and variety in lesson design. However, the climate of high stakes testing and teacher evaluations has created an interest in Checking for Understanding in Professional Learning Circles (PLCs).

Checking for Understanding and Teacher Observations

A few years ago, NYS mandated a new teacher/administrator evaluation system.  The new system includes some controversial high stakes consequences.  Although teacher observation in our school were very good, we discovered that we used limited techniques to Check for Understanding. Therefore, we created a Professional Leaning Circle (PLC) to learn some new techniques.

Checking for Understanding: PLC

Once we identified the need for varied assessments in lesson design, we created the following 4-step implementation plan.

  1. Identified 8 (avg. 2 per month) commonly used assessment techniques to use in the first semester. Starting in the second semester, we added one additional technique per month to try.
  2. Offered teacher-led Professional Development opportunities on each technique led by teacher-presenters. Each workshop included a technique overview, examples and alternate versions.  
  3. Created and used a 3 column (technique, definition, Teacher Notes), teacher-friendly tracking system.  The Teacher Notes column was added so teachers could personalize specific ideas (e.g. subjects, examples, student groups).
  4. Added “cheers and jeers” to each meeting to share results.    

Checking for Understanding: Must Haves

  • Learning standards are broken down into small objectives and learning is assessed prior to moving on.
  • Try to involve all students in answering questions.
  • Use both individual and whole group techniques.   
  • Assessment directly relates to learning.   
  • Aim to increase participation through questioning.
  • Opportunities are natural and meaningful that practice new information and connect to prior knowledge.
  • Checkpoints are established throughout the lesson.
  • Specific language is included in the questioning to identify exact information not known.
  • Help students think about what they are learning to make them aware of their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Check for understanding at least three times a lesson: after Introduction to New Material (INM), Guided Practice (GP), and at the conclusion of the lesson.
  • Vary assessment to keep everyone engaged.

5 Things We Learned about Checking for Understanding

  1. Teachers felt that they were more effective.  
  2. Lesson plans became more detailed.
  3. Teachers became more thoughtful in lesson design to include more assessments throughout the lesson.
  4. Teachers thought more about “the learning” rather than “the teaching”.
  5. Teachers enjoyed sharing ideas and learning from each other.

Overall, our Checking for Understanding PLC was successful.  For some teachers it refreshed their memory of assessment techniques; for others it provided new resources. It was a good reminder all of us that as educators we are responsible for learning, not teaching.

Tip #1: Teachers found that listing the strategies and identifying them by numbers in their plans helped them track how often they used each technique. The system also helped them try new techniques and/or perfect old ones.

Tip #2: My favorite resource about on-going, formative assessment is
Checking for Understanding by Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey. The book contains dozens of ways to thoughtfully and systematically monitor student learning.

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Happy Mothers Day

I’m blessed three times over. To my 2 daughters-in-laws you are wonderful wives to my sons, wonderful moms to my grandchildren and special people to me.  To my daughter you are a wonderful mom to your 3 little girls.  Always remember….

Our grandchildren are such wonderful gifts in our lives. Each of you gives so much to make them happy, healthy children. We appreciate everything you do for them.  The three of you are appreciated and loved.

Happy Mothers Day!

Social Emotional Learning is NOT OPTIONAL

Social Emotional Learning Skills help students be “ready to learn”. They help kids understand and manage their emotions. They are necessary to establish positive relationships, to feel and show empathy and helps kids learn to make responsible decisions.

In classrooms worldwide, educators have known FOR YEARS about the importance of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) for student success. We have spent countless hours helping kids and families deal with issues that were not directly related to academics. School attendance, apathy, poor decision-making skills and behavioral issues impact academic success.

It seems to me that research studies that supported SEL skills have been almost ignored in recent education.  Instead, the path to academic success has been paved with standards and testing.  I am happy to see that policymakers have finally re-routed the focus of education success to include social and emotional learning. However, the recent detours have been expensive in both money and lost student learning.

SEL: Better Late Than Never?

I consider myself an optimistic educator. I believe in the power and the importance of education. Although I believe that SEL are necessary in the classroom, I am skeptical that teachers will be able find the time to include the curriculum and most importantly do it well.  Teachers already have a “full plate of mandates”. Policymakers are reacting (although delayed) with guidance and resources, but they are expecting teachers to fix a major issue in a 7-hour day.  Social and emotional learning is a 24-hour job and must start when a child is young. It should not be a “subject” to be taught in school.  These skills should begin in the home and be reinforced in school and by childcare providers throughout a child’s life. 

What Are Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Skills?

Social Emotional Learning Skills help students be “ready to learn”.  They help kids understand and manage their emotions. They are necessary to establish positive relationships, to feel and show empathy and helps kids learn to make responsible decisions.

7 Social Emotional Learning Skills: Quick and Easy

  1. Self-Awareness: A realistic understanding of strengths and limitations and consistent desire for self-improvement.
  2. Self-Management: Controlling behaviors to complete a task or succeed in a new situation.
  3. Social Awareness: Interacting with others that shows respect for themselves and others.  
  4. Relationship Skills: Being able to maintain positive connections with others. 
  5. Goal-Directed Behavior:  Persistence in completing tasks.  
  6. Personal Responsibility: Responsible for actions and contributing to group efforts.
  7. Decision Making: Learning to make good choices and accept responsibility for decisions.
  8. Optimistic Thinking: Positive thinking about oneself and life situations.

Better Late Than Never, I Guess

Although I’m cautious about its effectiveness, I am happy to see an abundance of SEL information being distributed to support the initiative.  New York State Education Department has created a very good guidance and resource document to support classroom teachers. I invite classroom teachers, anywhere, to look at the resources and see MY New York State tax dollars at work!

Children will be more “ready to learn” if we all work together to help them manage their social and emotional needs. Please share this information with anyone that has children in their lives so SEL can start today. 

Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids? 

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Online Resources for Preschoolers

Online resources can support a preschooler’s literacy journey.

Online resources can support a preschooler's literacy journey.
Online resources can support a preschooler’s literacy journey.

There are many resources online to support a preschooler’s literacy journey, but which ones are good? Over the last few months, I’ve been on a search to find great resources that parents can use that are easy to use and can engage kids. Over the last few months, I’ve tried each of the sites with one of my grandchildren 1 year to 5 years old.  So here is my “GG approved” literacy websites.  But more importantly it comes with a “grandchild approved” rating. Have fun!

Top 10 Online Resources (alphabetical)

  • Between the Lions– This website associated with the PBS show features games, activities, and resources for emerging readers.
  • Children’s Storybooks Online– This collection of online stories is perfect for beginning readers through young adults.
  • Starfall– Starfall guides students from learning the alphabet to early reading and beyond. The four sections include videos, guided stories, and a selection of stories featuring comics, plays, folk tales, and more!
  • Reading is Fundamental – This children’s literacy organization has activity ideas for parents, articles for educators and stories and games for kids. Be sure to check out the reading activity calendars!
  • Storyline Online – Screen Actors Guild members read children’s books aloud, accompanied by the book illustrations.
  • StoryPlace: The Children’s Digital Library – Thank you to the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County for creating a great interactive website for kids.  On this site your child can listen to interactive children’s stories and play on-line activities and more.
  • Starfall– Starfall guides students from learning the alphabet to early reading and beyond. The four sections include videos, guided stories, and a selection of stories featuring comics, plays, folk tales, and more!
  • PBS Kids – Kids can explore their favorite PBS shows such as Curious George, Caillou, and Arthur while playing educational games.
  • National Geographic Kids – Play games, watch videos, learn about animals, and places, and get fun facts on the National Geographic Kids website.
  • San Diego Zoo Kids – ALL FREE.  Great resource for “one stop activities”. Includes games, craft ideas, science experiments and videos about animals.
  • StoryPlace: The Children’s Digital Library – At this children’s website by the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County, kids can listen to interactive children’s stories, play with on-line activities, print out take-home activities, reading list and more.

Online Resources Recently Discovered: Worth a Look!

  • H.I.P. Pocket Change – The United States Mint has a website just for kids! Here kids can learn about money through games and activities.
  • Toy Theater – At the Toy Theater you can compose music, make art, play Tic Tac Toe, and explore the interactive playset.
  • Literacy Center Education Network – The Play & Learn center has lots of online activities for learning to read.  Site includes activities in English, French, Spanish and German.
  • Chateau Meddybumps – Site has a FEE but there are many FREE activities.  Check out the Parent Guide on how to support your child in language, reading and social skills.

“GG suggested… grandchild approved.” 

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Historical Dates and Learning: May & June 2019

May & June Historical Dates in lessons gives relevance to learning.

Including Historical Dates in lessons gives relevance to learning.

For kids in school, knowing historical dates helps them relate to history and builds their general knowledge. Knowing these dates can help teachers engage students in conversations and students may even be impressed  by their teachers historical knowledge!

May

National Bike Month

May 1         Mother Goose Day

May 4         Kentucky Derby Day

May 5         Cinco de Mayo

May 5         First Day of Ramadan

May 6         National Nurses Day

May 7         National Teacher’s Day

May 8         School Nurses Day

May 12       Mother’s Day

May 26       Sally Ride’s Birthday (1951) First USA Woman in Space

May 27 Memorial Day (Day to honor service men and women who gave their lives for freedom and country)

June

National Safety Month

June 1 Oscar the Grouch’s Birthday

June 3 First U.S. Space Walk (1965)

June 4 First Hot Air Balloon Flight (1783)

June 7                Donut Day

June 15th Fathers’s Day

June 18 International Picnic Day

June 21 First Day of Summer

June 25 Eric Carle Birthday

Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

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Power of Play and Young Kids

Play looks simple, but it is incredibly complex. Years of research has shown that play affects a child’s development in deep and meaningful ways.

Play looks simple, but it is incredibly complex.
Play looks simple, but it is incredibly complex

As I sit on the floor and play with my granddaughters, I’m amazed at how quickly they are growing and learning.  What was too hard for them last week, they now accomplish without hesitation. Where does the time go?   

As a principal of a K-2 building, you didn’t go far without hearing about the importance of play in child development. Often, we discovered that children who struggled transitioning into kindergarten lacked early learning experiences.  Parents and caregivers simply weren’t aware of the power of play to help children learn.  

Play looks simple, but it is incredibly complex.  Years of research has shown that play affects a child’s development in deep and meaningful ways.  Although it’s important for school readiness skills it has many other benefits that are just as important.

5 Reasons Why Play Matters

  • Builds Independence– Kids learn a great deal when they can explore.  Figuring out how something works without adult supervision allows kids to try something new. Often kids will repeat the same activity over and over to solve their problem or practice a new skill.
  • Develops Gross Motor Skills – Enjoying different activities helps develop physical coordination and confidence.  This allows them to develop self- awareness.
  • Builds Social Skills – Generally toddlers are centered on their own needs.  However, giving kids opportunities to play with others is important to build their social skills.  Don’t worry if you see them playing next to another child (parallel play).  They will start to be more social as they get older and have more experiences playing WITH other kids.
  • Stimulates the Senses – Your child’s ability to learn about the world depends on their senses.  So, when planning play opportunities try to include as many senses as you can.  THINK see, hear, touch, taste and smell. 
  • Language Skills – Play gives your child opportunities to tell you about their play.  Help them by narrating their play and repeating words many times. As they play, point to the items and name them. Occasionally ask your child questions about their play.

As parents and grandparents, we should do our best to encourage play. It’s time for us to sit back and watch the amazing power of play.

Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

ThreeRingsConnections’ Newsletter: April 2019

Monthly newsletter archives front Threeringsconnections.org gives parents, teachers and administrators resources to support kids.

Education is the means of developing our greatest abilities.
Education is the means of developing our greatest abilities.

Four months down in 2019, how are you doing on those New Years Resolutions? If you are still working on catching up on professional development, take a look at this month’s newsletter. All 11 April posts are below, as well as ALL the posts since I started the blog in September 2018. My New Year’s Resolution to get the Threeringsconnections’ newsletter out on a timely, consistent schedule is accomplished: 4 down and 8 more to go! Have a great month!

April’s 2019 Archives

April’s Most Popular Posts:

My Favorite April Posts:

  • Power of Play and Young Kids
  • STEM and STEAM for Preschool Students

Science = School Success for Young Children

Science = School Success for Young Children. Take a look around our world!

Science is all around us!

Young children are natural born scientists.  How many times have we heard our child ask “WHY”?  From questioning rules to natural curiosity, their questioning is a result of them trying to figure things out.  Observing, experimenting and questioning are all key skills for school and life.

Simple Science Everyday

Without expensive equipment or science expertise, you can provide great science opportunities for your child. The experiments can also be done multiple times with minor adjustments to see new results. That doesn’t happen when you put together a puzzle!  Here are some easy science ideas.

  • Observe everyday activities and talk with your child about how they work.
  • Observe outdoor animals such as birds, squirrels and insects.  Talk about their body parts, where they live and what they eat.
  • Look at the sky in the daytime and watch the clouds.  Build your child’s vocabulary by describing how they look.
  • At night, look at the stars and the moon.  Watch it over a period of a week and see if it looks different.  Your child can even ask them to draw pictures of what they see.
  • Try some science experiments with everyday items.  Play with water both in the house and outside.  Watch it evaporate outside or experiment with sinking and floating items.
  • Try baking with your child and talk about what happens when you mix and bake.  Talk about the materials and how it bakes

Throughout your science time together, continue to ask your child questions.  If you don’t know what to ask, think back to your basic 5 +1 writing questions (who, what, when, where, why and how). Science experiments will have many “why” and “how” questions, but don’t forget the others also. For example:

  • What happens when _________
  • Where do you think the water goes when you don’t see it in the puddle anymore?
  • Who would be the best person in our family that could run as fast as the cheetah?

I Don’t Know Questions

It’s OK not to know an answer when your child asks a question.  But how do you tell your child that you don’t know? The following responses will help you move from “I don’t know” to “let’s learn it together”.  

  • I don’t know, what do you think?
  • I don’t know, how can we find out?
  • I don’t know, I wonder if _______ is the answer?
  • I don’t know, I wonder if it has anything to do with ________
  • I don’t know, how about if we try?
  • I don’t know how can we figure this out?
  • I don’t know, is there anyone else you think would know the answer?
  • I don’t know, where can we look to find the answer?
  • I don’t know, let’s think about this.
  • I don’t know, maybe that will work, can you think of anything else that might work? 
  • I don’t know, I’m not sure if that will work.
  • I don’t know but I don’t think so because _________.  Does that make sense?  What do you think now?
  • I don’t know, maybe we should look it up.  Where could we look?
  • I don’t know, let’s give it a try!

Studies show that children’s natural curiosity about science can be a path to a variety of career opportunities in their future.  In today’s world, there are more and more jobs that include technology skills.  These changes have even created a new look at science by describing the subject as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and adding an A for Art to make it STEAM.  Whatever term you use, Science is important for children to develop critical thinking skills they will need throughout their lives.

Coming Next Month: STEM and STEAM for young kids

Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

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Children’s Book Week 2019

Children’s Book Week celebrations will be held at bookstores, libraries, and schools across the country April 29-May 5.

Children's Book Week in 2019 is  April 29-May 5
Celebrate April 29-May 5

Children’s Book Week (CBW) is the annual celebration of books for young people and the joy of reading. It originated in the belief that children’s books and literacy are life-changers. 2019 marks the 100th anniversary of CBW. The 100th Anniversary theme — Read Now ∙ Read Forever – looks to the past, present, and most important, the future of children’s books.

Teachers and parents are encouraged to celebrate this week with their own events and self-made projects to help boost the pleasure in reading among young readers. Learn more about this year’s celebration and see what events will be held nationwide and happening in your area.

Children's Book Week celebrations last all year long!
CBW celebrations last all year long!

The celebration lasts all year long. 
Look for another dedicated week in the fall, November 4-10!

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DayByDayNY: Kindergarten Readiness Calendar

DayByDayNY Family Literacy Calendar is an early literacy calendar that features daily activities to foster kindergarten readiness skills.

DayByDayNY Family Literacy Calendar is an early literacy calendar that features daily activities to foster kindergarten readiness skills.
Daily Calendar to support Kindergarten Readiness

DayByDayNY Family Literacy Calendar is a great resource for young kids. This site has so much information posted that I plan to highlight some additional components in the next few months. Parents or guardians in ANY state or ANY country will find information to help their children learn. Great resource. Take a look!

DayByDayNY Family Literacy Calendar is an early literacy calendar developed by the New York State Library Association. The calendar features daily activities to foster kindergarten readiness skills. It also contains wellness information and resources to encourage daily reading.

The homepage is updated daily and includes songs, videos, crafts and an eBook that reads the text aloud. The pages can even be set to turn automatically. Parents can download the One More Story app to have it available on their mobile devices too. Daily links also include health and literacy information.  

If families spend a few minutes together a day on these activities your time will be well spent. However, if you still aren’t sure if it’s worth a look check out the DayByDayNY link.

Please share this site with others.  They will Thank you for it!

Audience Etiquette for Kids

Parents can help their child learn what is expected of them as audience members.
Parents can help their child learn what is expected of them as audience members.

Attending a live presentation or performance is fun. It is also a great opportunity to teach kids what is expected of them in terms of audience etiquette. 

Audience Etiquette Can Be Different

When we give kids new opportunities, we sometimes forget to prepare them on what to expect in the new situation.  Lost in our excitement we tend to give an overview but not a lot of details.   Audience behavior changes depending on the situation.  For example, at a basketball game a spectator is expected to cheer for a basket but at the ballet we don’t cheer at a beautiful pirouette. At some theater events, audience participation is encouraged and at others it’s important to wait until the end to show your appreciation. A little preparation can go a long way.

Audience Etiquette at the Theater

Now that I’m retired, I have time to give my grandkids different experiences.  Research studies show that the arts are an important part of boosting performance in all areas of life.  Art helps to create well- rounded, confident and creative people. In live theater the audience is an essential part of the performance process. Reviewing audience etiquette prior to the show along with some gentle reminders during the show may be helpful.

Important Points to Highlight

The success of a presentation depends in part on the audience members. You can show your support for the actors by remembering 3 important things: 

  • Paying Attention and Listening – The most important element of being a great audience member is paying attention and listening to the actors.  Not only does it help to understand the show it also shows respect for the actors that are working hard to entertain you.  
  • Sitting still/Eyes on stage– The actors can see and hear you so avoid activities that will distract them from their roles.  Help them by not talking, eating or drinking during the presentation.
  • Appropriate Response – If you enjoyed yourself, please feel free to clap at the end of the presentation to show your appreciation.

By attending theater events children are engaged in learning.  Along with the lifelong benefits of engagement in the arts is the fun that your child will have today. So, sit back and enjoy the show!

Coming Soon: The Positives of Theater Education on Kids

Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

Easter Eggs: The Day After

Creative ways to re-purpose all those Easter eggs this year!
Creative ways to re-purpose all those Easter eggs this year!

This Easter we will be celebrating with 5 of our 8 grandkids (all under the age of 6) with 4 of them participating in an Easter Egg Hunt.  Now, mathematically, for each of them to “find” 20 Easter eggs; we will need 80 plastic eggs.  Now that’s “eggstravagant”. 

I’ve always been about recycling or re-purposing items.  Maybe it’s the teacher in me that was always looking for something FREE or to use something that I had in another way. Today, upcycling is the popular term and plastic Easter eggs are the perfect material to get your creativity flowing. 

Plastic Egg Uses All Year Long

  • Spring Garland – String some wire (fishing wire works great) through the eggs to make some fancy garland.
  • Portion control – great size for a little treat that can fit in a lunchbox or handbag.
  • Maracas– Fill with anything that will make noise.  Let  your music flow.  Depending on the filler, your little musician will be either play loudly or softly.  Be sure to put tape around the egg after filling.  Your young artists can also decorate their Maracas.  
  • Bird Feeders– Who doesn’t love homemade bird feeders?  Put the string through the eggs (many eggs have a hole in the end), put peanut butter or icing all over egg and roll in bird seed. Simple quick and kids love it.
  • Make a wreath– Glue the eggs on a wire frame.  To make a large wreath glue the eggs onto a pool noodle. Frames and pool noodles are only $1 at your local dollar store.
  • Bathtub toys– They are colorful, float and can be filled with water.  A perfect bathtub toys.
  • Craft storage – Perfect holder for small craft supplies such as googly eyes, and beads. For some crafts you can even color code your eggs.
  • Learning numbers and letters– A permanent marker can be used to match upper and lower letters, and numbers or letters.  You can also spell out words and letter sounds.  Save those “real” egg cartons for perfect storage.   
  • Money holders– Holds loose change in your handbag or car.
  • Storage– Good size for play dough, or slime.
  • Color identification – ½ and ½ – Good way to demonstrate ½ and whole by showing how an egg is composed of 2 halves.  Helps when you demonstrate using 2 different colors.
  • Containers for Sensory Items- Perfect size to scoop items such as; rice, flakes, beans, noodles, sand etc.
  • Picture frame decorations – Glue the egg halves around a plain picture frame to create a colorful frame.
  • Shake & Guess– Fill the eggs with items for kids to guess their contents (e.g. coins, rice, rocks, pebbles)
  • Mismatch Eggs– Have kids “fix” the eggs to be all one color.
  • Sand Toy – Perfect or shoveling sand at the beach.  Small to fit in your suitcase and cheap so you can throw out when done.
  • Egg Race – Balance a plastic egg on a spoon and compete against others in a race.  Plastic eggs can be filled with water or dirt to give them weight.
  • Small Storage- Perfect for buttons, sewing kits, cotton balls, band-aids, jewelry, screws.

Happy Easter Folks!  Hope you have an Eggcelent Day!
(Sorry, I couldn’t resist!)

Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

Readiness and Kindergarten Screening

Is your child ready for kindergarten. Check out a list of readiness skills.

Ready or not for Kindergarten
Readiness for Kindergarten is learned over time.

I’ve been struggling to write this post for some time. My struggle has been how to balance giving parents information about readiness skills without causing fear about Kindergarten Screening. So, to get in front of this, this post is meant to be a simple check up to see how your child is progressing.  All the skills below can be learned by spending time with your child doing activities and are learned over time. Many of them can be done through simple play.  

As a principal of a primary school I’ve talked to many parents about their child’s kindergarten screening results.   Kindergarten screening tools are intended to see if your child is “ready” for kindergarten.  In other words, is your child socially, emotionally and academically “ready to learn”.  For some parents their goal is to “ace the kindergarten screening”.  For those parents I give them 100% on enthusiasm.  However, please remember that children develop at different rates and perfection on kindergarten screening should NOT be the goal.  Real results help teachers plan appropriate programming for your child.

It’s important to remember that kindergarten screening results give an overview of how a child performed on “that particular test, on that particular day”. Therefore, it may not be an 100% accurate on your child’s abilities. It is for this reason that your child’s kindergarten screening SHOULD NOT be the only thing that a school looks at when assessing your child’s school readiness. Your knowledge along with preschool teacher evaluations are also important.  Although your child’s school may have done thousands of screenings, they have only done 1 screening on your child. Don’t be shy to share your observations about your child with the school.

Kindergarten Ready or Not?

So, if you are wondering if your child is ready for kindergarten take a look at the list below. The items below help you to look at your 4 or 5 year old’s physical, social, emotional and academic development.

You may find that some younger kids can do some of the items on the list. That is perfectly fine since learning occurs over time. However, the list, in its entirety is not intended to be used for children younger than three. For my enthusiastic friends, consider it as “Coming Attractions”.

Readiness: Letters and Words

  • Identifies and names at least 10 letters of the alphabet.
  • Matches a letter with the beginning sound of a word: for example, matches the letter “h” with a picture of a house.
  • Recognizes rhyming words such as mouse and house.
  • Begins to write some of the letters in his or her own first name.
  • Recognizes his or her own first name in print and some of the letters.
  • Understands words such as top, bottom, big, little.
  • Identifies words or signs he or she sees often, for example: McDonalds, Wal-Mart, stop signs.
  • Draws pictures to express ideas and tell stories.
  • Can recognize and name at least five colors.    

Readiness and Speaking

  • Answers simple questions: who, what, when, where?
  • Shares and talks about his/her own experiences in a way that can be understood by most listeners.
  • Follows directions with at least two steps, for example: “Pick up the book and put it on the shelf, please.”
  • Initiates and joins in conversations with adults and children.
  • Asks questions about how things work in the world around him, for example: “Why do babies cry?”
  • Says and/or sings familiar nursery rhymes.    

Book Readiness

  • Shows growing interest in reading and being read to.
  • Holds and looks at books correctly: for example, holds the book right side up and turns the pages one at a time from front to back.
  • Tells a story from the picture on the cover or in the book.    
  • Retells a simple story after listening to it while looking at the pictures in the book.
  • Makes simple predictions and comments about a story being read.      

Math Readiness (Numbers and Shapes)

  • Recognizes and names 4 shapes: circle, square, rectangle and triangle.
  • Counts out loud from 1 to 10 in correct order.
  • Identifies written numbers from one to ten.  
  • Puts written numerals in order from 1 to 10: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.
  • Counts at least 5 objects such as 5 pennies.     
  • Sees the numeral 3 and understands this means 3 objects, such as 3 cookies.    
  • Adds and subtracts familiar objects such as stickers.  
  • Uses familiar objects, such as chips, to show concepts of more and less.    
  • Draws a line, circle, rectangle, triangle, X and + .

Same, Different and Patterns

  • Matches two pictures that are alike.  
  • Looks at groups of objects and says which are the same shape, color or size.  
  • Tells things that go together, for example: a spoon and fork are for eating and a fish and a boat go in the water.
  • Repeats a pattern you start, for example: blue, blue, green – blue, blue, green.   
  • Puts three pictures in order, for example: 1. Child puts on boots 2. Child point to a puddle 3. Child jumps in puddle while laughing.

Growing Up: Are They Ready?

  • Takes care of own needs such as toileting, washing hands, dressing and trying to tie his or her own shoes.  
  • Tells full name, address and telephone number.
  • Uses pencils, crayons and markers for drawing and writing.
  • Cuts safely with scissors.
  • Tells if he or she is a boy or a girl.
  • Tells how old he or she is.
  • Adjusts to new situations without parents being there.
  • Runs, jumps, hops, throws, catches and bounces a ball.
  • Rides a tricycle.
  • Goes up and down stairs using both feet (Left, Right, Left)
  • Attempts and completes tasks, understands it’s okay to make mistakes.  
  • Remembers to say “please” and “thank you”.
  • Resolves conflicts with playmates and others appropriately.
  • Responds appropriately to his feelings and the feelings of others.
  • Uses words to express feelings, “I’m angry”, “I’m sad”.  
  • Takes turns, shares and plays with other children.
  • Initiates positive interaction with peers.  
  • Puts puzzles together.

Health & Safety Readiness

  • Asks for adult help when needed.  
  • Follows a set routine and schedule for preparing for bed, personal hygiene and eating meals. 
  • Uses good habits, for example uses a spoon to eat, closed mouth when chewing, covers nose and mouth to sneeze and washes hands after using the toilet and before eating.  
  • Is aware of and follows simple safety rules.  
  • Recognizes potentially dangerous or harmful objects, substances, situations and activities.  
  • Participates in vigorous physical activity daily.
  • Remember that your child will grow tremendously in kindergarten. Take some time to enjoy the journey!

Math Enrichment Problems: April Grades 2-3

Monthly Math Enrichment problems will give your child an opportunity to practice challenging math problems by trying problem solving strategies.

Math Enrichment Problems

Welcome to the 4th month of threeringsconnections.orgMonthly Math Enrichment Problems post, Each month I post some Math Enrichment problems for grades 2-3.  I hope you will find them useful with your students in class or your kids at home.

Don’t forget to use 1 of your 6 problem solving strategies: 

  • Draw a picture 
  • Guess and Check 
  • Guess and Check 
  • Use a table or list 
  • Find a pattern 
  • Logical reasoning 
  • Working backwards (try a simpler version first)

Problem Solving – Here we go! 

  1. Abby has 60 cents in pennies, nickels and dimes.  She has at least one of each coin.  What is the difference between the largest number of coins that she could have and the smallest number of coins that she could have?
  2. There are 18 children in Room A and 6 children in Room B.  If ____ children move from Room A to Room B, there will be twice as many children in Room B as in Room A.
  3. Amy and Ann were playing tic-tac-toe.  Amy won 4 games and Ann won 4 more games than Amy.  If there were 9 ties, how many games of tic-tac-toe did they play?
  4. A parking meter gives 30 minutes of parking for a quarter and 10 minutes for a dime.  Mrs. Jaynor feels she will need 2 hours and 15 minutes on the meter.  What is the least amount of money she should put in the meter?
  5. Brooklyn added up all the single-digit odd numbers and all the single-digit even numbers.  What was her sum?
  6. There were 9 coins on a table totaling $1.20, consisting of nickels, dimes and quarters.  Al, Ben and Casey each pick up 3 coins.  Al has 3 times as much money as Casey.  Al has as much money as Ben and Casey together.  What 3 coins did Al pick up?
  7. Find 2 two numbers that multiply to 9 and add to 10?

Answers

  1. (36) Most coins: 1D, 1N, 45P = 47 coins Least: 5D, 1N, 5P = 11 coins                             47-11 = 36
  2. (10) There are 24 total children (18 +6).  The result must be 8 children in Room A and 16 in Room B.  This can be done by moving 10 children from Room A to Room B.
  3. (21) Amy won 4 games, Ann won 8 games, (4 more than Amy) and 9 ties. 4 + 8 + 9 = 21.
  4. ($1.20) Four quarters (2 hours) and two dimes (20 minutes) would be the least expensive way to cover the time period.
  5. (45) 1 + 3 + 5 + 7 + 9 + 0 + 2 + 4 + 6 + 8 = 45
  6. (2Q, 1D) Al has 60cents, Ben has 40 cents and Casey has 20 cents. Al’s 3 coins are 2 quarters and 1 dime.
  7. (9 and 1) 9 X 1 = 9 and 9+1 =10

Other posts related to this topic

Transitions Are Helped by Lineup Strategies

Fun techniques to get kids to line up quickly and quietly will help transitions.
Getting kids to line up quietly without disruption helps transitions.

Transitions are important to maintain a positive learning environment in the classroom. Getting kids to line up quietly without disruption can sometimes be difficult. Therefore, it’s beneficial for teachers to have a variety of techniques in their toolbox to manage transitions in an efficient way. These techniques will also help build your students listening skills, vocabulary skills, and problem-solving ability.

8 strategies to line up to help student transitions

  • Create additional line jobs- Making other jobs as important as line leader can make more kids feel special (e.g. caboose, door holder, line leader, important paper holder).
  • Assign each student a number – Have each student choose a number from a deck of numbers and line up in that order. Be sure to explain the idea of randomness.
  • Alphabetical order – By last name or first name.
  • Various categories – Some suggestions include hair color, shirt color, eye color, pets, siblings, birth order, favorite sport, favorite ice cream flavor, birthday other, types of shoes etc.
  • Make it a listening game – Ex. “I’m thinking of a person that ______”. The more specific you get the faster it is to line up. Kids love it!
  • Draw Daily Numbers – Use popsicle sticks, poker chips, or a deck of cards to determine order.
  • Treat additional positions in line as important – Yeay, you’re 3rd in line today. Who is 6th? This helps diminish the spotlight on being “first”. Event experienced – Give examples of experiences e.g. rode in a car today, rode on a bus, or having hot lunch today Be careful not to choose a topic that creates a competitive scenario. (e.g. Have gone to Disney World)

Try some of these fun ideas with your students and see which ones work best for your class.  You’ll soon be lining them up quickly and quietly and creating learning opportunities.   

Try some of these fun ideas with your students and see which ones work best for your class.  You’ll soon be lining them up quickly and quietly and creating learning opportunities.   

Isn't education all about reaching the kids?

Check for Understanding: Are Kids Learning?

Checking for Understanding (CFU) is an important step in the teaching and learning process. When teachers check for understanding they identify learning goals, assess learning, provide feedback, and plan instruction based on student needs.

Using hand gestures is a good strategy to check for understanding.
Using hand gestures is a good strategy to check for understanding.

Teaching is NOT about teaching but about LEARNING

Checking for Understanding (CFU) is an important step in the teaching and learning process. Throughout the lesson, teachers check that students are learning. This allows a teacher to identify a child’s learning needs and adjust their teaching.  When teachers check for understanding they identify learning goals, assess learning, provide feedback, and plan instruction based on student needs.

How Do I Know They Are REALLY Learning?

There are hundreds of variations of classroom assessment techniques.  A useful ratio of work time to checking for understanding is seven minutes of work time, followed by two minutes of teacher- directed clarifications.  Here are suggestions for how you can add some variety to informal assessments.

Check for Understanding 7 Quick Ideas

  • 3-2-1- Students write 3 ideas about topic, 2 uses or examples and 1 question or idea that might be unclear
  • Response Color Items (cards, poker chips, popsicle sticks) -Students display items: (Red = Stop-I need help, Green = Keep going, -I understand, Yellow = I’m a little confused.
  • Muddiest Point – Students write down the most difficult or confusing part of a lesson on post-its or individual whiteboards.
  • Use gestures – Hand/thumb up/down signals, fingers up (5=understand, 3=a little confused, 1-don’t get it!
  • Glass, Bugs, Mud – Students identify their understanding or readiness for application using the windshield metaphor for clear vision.  Glass: totally clear; bugs: a little fuzzy; mud: I can barely see.
  • Table Tags– Students sit in areas that are designated (e.g. color, symbols) by their level of understanding. They move to a new area when relevant.   
  •  Exit Slips -At the end of a lesson students write down a few main ideas from the lesson or ask any questions that are unclear. This information is used to modify the next lesson.


Check for Understanding: Extended Ideas

  • One Minute Paper– Students write a response to a prompt or question. Papers can be collected or used for discussion.
  • Think-Pair-Share (Turn and Talk)- Students share their knowledge with another student. During sharing the teacher circulates to listen to discussions.
  • Concept Maps– Student use drawings or diagrams to organize information.
  • Quiz Show Format– A great review strategy to reinforce information.  (e.g. Jeopardy or Who Wants to Be a Millionaire)
  • Use “graphic organizers” (KWL), Anticipation Guides, outlines, concept maps) to account for learning.
  • Summarize the main idea – Students write one or two sentences, and share it with a neighbor.

Checking for understanding is NOT a lesson extension. Checking for Understanding is an integral part of every lesson. Using it often will teach kids that learning involves sharing both what they know and don’t.  

Next Post:  Part II: Check for Understanding: Implementation and Teacher Effectiveness

Earth Day is April 22, 2019

A collection of lesson plans and resources will help teachers and students prepare for Earth Day on April 22nd. Take a look and please share with others.

Earth Day started in 1970 as a day to gather national support for environmental issues.  On that day millions of people participated and the day continues to be widely celebrated on April 22ndToday, common activities include planting trees, cleaning up litter or simply enjoying nature through hiking, gardening, or taking a stroll in a park. 

Top 5 Earth Day Resources

This collection of lesson plans and resources will help teachers and students prepare for the celebration on April 22nd. Take a look and please share with others.

Earth Day Network

The site offers a comprehensive listing of activities that includes discussions of environmental issues and educational resources for parents and teachers.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Check out the Classroom Resources link. There are many activities specifically for the exhibits BUT they can also be used without a fieldtrip to the museum.  Curriculum videos and Games and Activities links are excellent.  Lessons for PreK-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12 cover marine life, ocean environments, and plastic pollution.

Celebrate Earth Day (Scholastic)

Lessons and activities (including printables) for grades 5-8 that promote environmental awareness.  In general, Scholastic does a great job in posting classroom resources. 

Environmental Protection Coloring Book!  

Love this site for its simplicity.  Easy downloadable coloring sheets to celebrate Earth Day.  The site I used with the grandkids this year.

Earth Day History (K-12)

There are 13 brief videos showing the green movement since the first Earth Day in 1970. Be sure to check this site out throughout the year since it includes a link to “This Day in History”.

Whatever you do in the classroom be sure to take a few minutes to go outside and enjoy our world!

Other posts related to this topic:

April is Young Child Month

Years of research have shown that the early years are important in shaping how children grow and learn. Therefore, whether children are learning at home or in school, learning needs to be high quality.

April is the "Month of the Young Child".
April is the “Month of the Young Child”.

Years of research have shown that the early years are important in shaping how a young child will grow and learn. Therefore, learning has to be high quality both at school and home. Along with basic academic skills, social and emotional development are important. A child’s ability to control emotions and develop relationships have been found to be a strong predictor of academic success.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) sponsors the Week of the Young Child (WOYC) each year to promote the awareness about the needs of young children.  This year the week is April 8th -12th. This is a good time for parents and teachers to take an inventory of their child’s abilities. Let’s take the entire month of April to see how our kids are doing.Let’s make April the “Month of the Young Child”.  

Emotional Learning

  • Young children need to learn about their emotions so encourage them to express them verbally.
  • Model appropriate emotions at home
  • Give your child choices
  • Use feeling words to help kids understand how they are feeling.

Social Learning

  • What do you do in your family to promote positive relationships?
  • Teach and model empathy and caring.
  • Use children’s books to teach kindness.
  • Teach your child the steps on problem solving.

Academic (Cognitive) Learning i

  • Point out words and letters in the environment
  • Talk, Talk and Talk some more!
  • Encourage writing, coloring and drawing with a variety of materials.  
  • Read to your child everyday
  • Children learn best through hands-on experiences
  • Limit the use of electronic media.
  • Practice problem solving

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) works to promote high-quality early learning for all young children, birth through age 8. It helps connect early childhood practice, policy, and research. Although membership is available, there are many FREE resources to support early learning. Check out the resources to help support young children in school and at home.