First Grade Math — Secret Numbers

This week in first grade math, we worked on using clues to locate a “secret number” on a hundreds chart.  I gave the kids four clues for each number.  As they received the clues, they used dry erase markers to eliminate numbers on the chart that could not be the secret number.  For example, if the clue was “the number is odd,” then the kids crossed off all of the even numbers.  This is a bit more confusing than perhaps it sounds, because one has to be careful to be sure to mark off the inverse of the clue (if it say even, mark the odds).  Most of the kids got the idea quickly.  Of course, then the clues got harder (“if you add the digits, you get 12,” for example.  They worked hard (for some of them, it was almost equally difficult not to shout out the number as soon as they found it).photo 2

Homework is to create a set of four clues that lead to a secret number.  All of the clues should be necessary to find the number, and they should lead to only one number.  I sent home a hundreds chart to help.  Please do not cut out the clue cards — keep them as a whole sheet, turn them in and let me check them, and then we will use them in class the next time we play “Secret Number.”

I was taking pictures today and these two of the long sides of the big table made me laugh.  I felt like I was seeing double… twice!

photo 1I hope the kids have fun writing their clues!


First Grade Reading — Portmanteau Animals

This week in reading, we discussed portmanteau words.  (A debt of gratitude to my kindergarten pal, Miles Walters, who gave me the inspiration for this lesson when he pointed out that “cloffice” is a portmanteau).

First, we discussed what a portmanteau is — two words (and their meanings) combined into a new word.  The kids were determined to convince me that compound words and portmanteau words are one and the same, but in the end, we agreed:  compound words are different because the words (like cup and cake) remain unchanged after they are combined.  Words combined to form a portmanteau do not.

We listed some examples of portmanteaus, starting with brunch.  All of the kids were able to identify brunch as a combination of breakfast and lunch.  When I asked the girls if they could name a kind of pants with a portmanteau name, they chimed right in with jeggings.  We also identified the combined words in smog, coopetition, and ginormous.

Next, we read Stardines Swim High Across the Sky by Jack Prelutsky.

This book, beautifully illustrated by Carin Berger, is a series of poems describing portmanteau animals whose names are a combination of the kind of animal they are and their most defining characteristic.  For example, Slobsters are lobsters who are slobs, the Gloose is a Goose who sticks to everything, and the Tattlesnake is a rattlesnake who is constantly tattling on everyone.

Homework this week is to create portmanteau animals of our own.  The animals must be a combination of animal type + defining characteristic.  Although we discussed the portmanteau food/animal creatures in Cloudy with Meatballs 2, those types of animals don’t meet the criteria for this particular assignment (though those hippotatoes are pretty darn cute, no?).

 The students need to draw their animal and explain the characteristic(s) that gave rise to its name.  As I told them in class, one sentence is not sufficient.  The kids need to be creative and descriptive!  Just for inspiration, here is a student’s “Callphin,” a dolphin who is always on the phone.

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Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy, but invent your animal and… call me, maybe?

Kindergarten Reading — Palindromes

This  week, we read Mom and Dad are Palindromes by Mark Shulman and Adam McCauley.

The book is about a boy named Bob who discovers that his life is made up of tons of palindromes.  He finally decides to stop the madness by going by his full name — Robert Trebor.  (Not such a helpful strategy, it turns out).  We talked about how palindromes are words (or phrases or numbers) that read the same forwards and backwards.  We counted the palindromes in the book and came up with some of our own.  WOW, was it fun!

This week’s homework is a spread from the book featuring Bob’s teacher, Miss Sim.  The kids need to fill in the background of the picture with palindromes — either words or phrases.  This shouldn’t be too taxing, so no one should worry about getting “too hot to hoot.”

Kindergarten Math — I Value Xylophones Like Cows Do Milk

How ’bout that title?  Did your child come home saying that crazy sentence?  (If not, please say it yourself and see how your child reacts!)  Can your kindergarten student tell you what that sentence means/what the letters stand for?

I wrote the sentence on the board at the start of class and read it to the kids.  I wrote each of the capital letters in red ink and the rest of the letters in black.  The kids were easily able to figure out that the red letters were important for some reason, but they were stumped as to why.  Gradually, we made our way to the conclusion that the letters are the Roman Numerals.  We then wrote down the letters and their values:

  • I = one
  • V = five
  • X = ten
  • L = fifty
  • C = one hundred
  • D = five hundred
  • M = one thousand

We talked about how to write and read Roman numerals.  We didn’t watch Brain Pop in class, but if your student needs a refresher, Brain Pop has a great movie about Roman numerals (here).  Most of your children should be familiar with Brain Pop (and Brain Pop Jr.) from school.  The mini-movies on the site are chock full of great information. You need a login to access them — our login name is tjelem and the password is tiger.  This only works during school hours (or so I’m told).

Subtractive notation isn’t easy.  We practiced finding numbers where a lower number was written to the left of a higher one, and reminded ourselves that the numbers need to be read as a pair and the one on the left needs to be subtracted from the one on the right (ex. IV = 4).  This is probably the easiest way to do the homework — group the numbers that require subtractive notation and circle them, then subtract and add as necessary.

The homework is a double-sided sheet of problems — writing Hindu-Arabic numerals as Roman numerals and vice versa.  It is difficult!  Please help your child work to/through frustration, but if s/he  reaches the breaking point (or you do), pause or skip.  I also sent home a completely optional crossword puzzle.  This is not a typical crossword puzzle, as all of the answers are in Roman numerals.  There is no need to complete the crossword if your child isn’t interested; I just thought it was fun and different.

I hope you know that I understand that this stuff is not typical kindergarten fare.  From the homework coming back, it seems like you do — the kids are taking their best shot at things and leaving off when they reach frustration level.  That’s what they should be doing.  I don’t expect all of the kids to get these higher-level concepts all of the time.  A lot of it may go over your child’s head.  That’s okay!  Exposure is important, and while they may not remember (or understand) all of what we talk about, they’ll each take away their own pieces of information.

Keep valuing those xylophones!