First Grade Math — ShapeOmetry

First grade math students actually  played ShapeOmetry before the kindergarten students did.  I purchased the game (using funds from a PTA grant — yes, again — thank you, PTA!) to use with first graders.  They did a great job with it and had so much fun that I decided to try it with kindergarten students, too.

The first grade students made it to the Intermediate level.  They encountered some difficulty as they progressed but not enough to make them want to give up.  We did glance at the hardest problems and found them almost laughably complex.  Of course, that just made most of the kids want to conquer those challenges even more.  It’s fascinating to watch the kids play and to observe the different strategies they use.  Often one set of colored pieces was definitely easier to start with, but that changed from card to card.  Some kids were able to figure this out and some stuck to the strategy of always starting with a particular color.  We will definitely play this game again to build those strategic thinking skills!

There is no math homework over Spring Break.  Maybe after last week’s challenge, your kids will be anxious to pay the pizza guy?

First Grade Reading — Inventions and Chapter Books

Last week in first grade reading we continued our inventions unit by talking about brand recognition, focusing on logos.  We talked about what a logo is (a symbol of some kind to represent a business, team or product) and then I showed the kids some logos and we discussed them.  First we talked about pictures embedded or hidden in logos.  For example, you probably recognize the Washington Capitals logo:

Have you noticed the outline of the U.S. Capitol building that is “hidden” at the bottom of the eagle.  If you haven’t, you sure will now.  It’s one of those things you can’t un-see!

How about the arrow in the FedEx logo?

Or the arrow in the logo, signifying both that they have everything from A to Z and that their products will make you smile (or, if you’re like me, that the ability to obtain virtually anything in two days via Amazon prime will make you smile)?

To illustrate the power of brand recognition, I then showed the kids just small slices of a series of logos (a technique I cribbed from intellectual property attorney and Falls Church City parent Erik Pelton, who was kind enough to give a presentation on this subject to my students last year).

With only a tiny sliver, the kids were immediately able to identify the logos for McDonald’s, Starbucks, Star Wars, Lego, XBox, Minecraft, American Girl and Nike.  It was scarily impressive.

The kids will be developing logos for their inventions after Spring Break.  Remember, inventions are due the week after Spring Break.  The simpler the better!

First grade reading groups all also have chapter books that they are actively reading — Monday kids are reading The Chocolate Touch, Wednesday kids are reading The Time Warp Trio, and Friday kids are reading Mrs. Piggle Wiggle.  All of these books were purchased specifically for the first grade enrichment readers using funds from a PTA grant.  I am so grateful to the PTA for the their support and so excited to share many of my favorite chapter books with the first graders.

Enjoy your Spring Break!

Kindergarten Math — Tangrams and Shapeometry

Most kindergarten math students (except the Friday group) received a set of tangrams and an activity packet last week.  The yellow tangram pieces were to be cut out and then used to make the bigger shapes in the packet.  We talked about this in class and practiced with plastic tangram pieces, but I know the instructions are not always conveyed clearly when they come from a five- or six-year-old.  Manipulating shapes and figuring out whether to flip or turn is a really useful skill for kids.  Being able to picture how the shapes go together is a great test of visual spatial thinking and reasoning.

We put this to the test in the Wednesday group today when we played ShapeOmetry.  ShapeOmetry can be played solo or as a team.  Kids stack green puzzle pieces on top of blue pieces to create identical shapes.  It’s a fun way to develop spatial, abstract, and quantitative reasoning skills. It also builds on those part-to-whole skills we’ve been developing with our study of fractions.


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There is no math homework over Spring Break.  Enjoy the time with your families!


Please Help Return Kindergarten Reading Books!

This week the Monday kindergarten readers brought home Frog and Toad All Year along with a double-sided question sheet.  This book is one of my favorites.  I love the friendship between the curmudgeonly toad and the affable frog.  The questions on the sheet require some thinking and I talked about this with the kids.  I am looking forward to hearing their insights about the story.

I wanted to do Abe Lincoln’s Hat with them, but I still have not received all of my copies back.  Please check your child’s backpack, Danny folder, desk, under their bed, etc. to see if they have a copy of this book hanging around.  I have eight copies and eight kindergarten readers in each group, so unless I receive all of the copies back, I can no longer use that book.  The same goes with Best Friends for Frances, which I hoped to send home with the Thursday readers tomorrow.  I only have five copies, so I am missing three.  Help!  I know this sounds kind of pathetic, but with a total yearly budget of $100, buying new copies of books adds up fast.  I love to send them home since I have such limited time with the kids during the week, but that means I have to be vigilant (and annoying) about having them returned.

Anyway… this week in kindergarten reading we played the word card game My Word! (thanks to Mateo and the Snyder family, who purchased this game for us at the book fair!).  The dealer sets out cards that have either one or two letters on them and the players need to make words with three or more cards.  The game is pitched at just the right level for the kindergarten and first grade readers and they did a great job with it. We will definitely play this again.  It’s great for travel, too — just a deck of cards in a small tin (No, I am not receiving kickbacks from the company!  Spring Break is fast approaching and good travel games are priceless!).

I wish you all a wonderful Spring Break!  Keep those kiddos reading!