Money Activities for Kindergarten and 1st Grade!

Confession: This is the first time in 4 years that I have actually taught a money unit to my 1st graders.


My old school was a Common Core only school. Common Core... ONLY! Money isn't in the 1st grade Common Core, so it was cut from our yearly schedule. We would show coins during our morning calendar routine and sporadically here and there for exposure, but we never taught an entire unit or even a lesson surrounding money. To be honest, we rocked our test scores so we didn't have any regrets about cutting the unit.

*My first year teaching, I did use my Penny Pockets behavior management program which allowed us to practice money in a fun way*

Alas, it is a whole new year, in a whole new school and things are different! My new team sat down and we discussed cutting back our money unit to 2 weeks and we decided to focus on the mastery of coin recognition and counting same sets of coins (all pennies, all nickels, etc.) up to $1.00. After the first week, it was easy to see who had already mastered these skills and those students were challenged with counting mixed coin sets.

All that being said, I wanted to create a small money unit that didn't have as much exchanging coins and buying items, but more focused on an introduction to coins! I think this unit would be appropriate for grades K-1!

Here are some pics of the unit in action:
 Race to $1! Fun partner game to challenge your higher students. 
There is also a race to $2 and a race to _______ option!

 Match 'em up! For each item there is a same-coin tag and a mixed-coin tag for differentiation.

 One of my littles practicing counting same-coin sets!

 Sort and graph! One of my intervention groups practicing their coin identification.

  A resourceful sweetie checking our reference posters!

 Heads or tails? One of 3 different money games to help students practice counting coins! 

Another group doing the sort and graph activity!

The unit contains:
reference posters
4 differentiated activities
3 partner games
practice pages

It is also on SALE just until the end of tonight!!

Click the cover above to check it out :)

Other first grade teachers, do you teach a money unit even though it isn't in the Common Core?!?

Five for Friday! 1-19-2014

I haven't linked up with 5 for Friday in a lonngggg time, but here we go!

 We have been cookin' lots here in my little apartment. I found THIS easy recipe and tried it out... it was a smashing success and the big casserole lasted us quite awhile!

Show me the MONEY!
My students have been identifying coins and their values all week long:
I will have more to come on this later - we have lotssss of activities to share!

Close reading!!
I wrote a whole post about this topic in my classroom, HERE, but we continued this whole group with a non-fiction passage on Emperor Penguins:
This is just one of the 10 passages in my Close Reading for 1st grade winter unit:

I also got this question that I thought was a great question that many are probably wondering about my close reading in 1st grade post:

This text looks so so difficult for my firsties-I have students ranging from reading beginning kindergarten levels to end of first grade levels and I worry that most of them will be really lost with a text this long. How do you find this goes for the lowest, struggling readers? I guess I need some reassurance =)
My Answer:
Hi -----!

The MLK passage is a bit more difficult than the ones in my close reading pack. That being said, the process and passages ARE difficult for my firsties... that's kind of the point. It is not supposed to frustrate them and when I teach it, I do not expect them to read it on their own. I try to teach them the process of close reading. My high group can read it on their own and I most 2nd graders could read these passages on their own. In first grade, I read it aloud to them as they echo read and follow along. We also read the passages MANY times, so words they were unfamiliar with, become much more familiar as they keep reading. I am a happy teacher when I read one of the comprehension questions aloud and my students go back into the story looking for the answer without me asking them to do so!

The first time you do this with your first graders, it may be very discouraging, but keep going! The first few times are all about modeling, modeling, modeling. Showing them what to do. By the end of the year, many of your students will understand the process of close reading and readily provide their answers with text support.

When they get to the older grades and as their reading level gets higher and higher, they can attack the text on their own and use the close reading skills they learned to do it on their own.

I hope this helps!!

I shared this on my Instagram, but I am SO excited because next week we are starting my ALL-TIME FAVORITE WRITING UNIT!!!!!! All About Books!

Deirdre over at A Burst of First has planned a New England Blogger meet up next weekend that I am so excited to attend!!
Are any other New England bloggers coming out?!

Happy Long Weekend!

PS - GO PATS!!!!!!!!!

Close Reading in 1st Grade & A Freebie

Close reading.

Ya heard of it?! My old district and new district have been all about it since adopting the Common Core. 

When I was first trained in close reading, I thought, HA! Nice try, in my most sarcastic voice. I didn't see how this could possibly apply to my little first graders. I was very skeptical, but the more trainings I went to, the more I started to pick it apart. I wanted to figure out a way to apply this to my first grade class. Especially since there was a huge emphasis on this skill in the upper grades.

I thought I would break the strategy down and see how I could explain it to my students. This is what I came up with:
Those three steps above are what we focus on in our first grade classroom and I have to say I am VERY pleased! I have been doing close reading in my classroom for about a year and it has been a challenge, but I am thrilled with the responses my students are giving me. 

We have a common phrase in my classroom: 
Prove it!

We use it all time and in every subject, but especially during a close reading. They must provide evidence for ALL their answers during a close read. They can highlight, underline, circle, write down the page number... I don't care, as long as they let me know how they came to their answer and what text support they have to back their answer.

Text choice in 1st grade can be very difficult when doing a close read. The text needs to be difficult enough to have meaning and yet easy enough for 1st graders to pick up that meaning with a little guidance. I complete most of my close readings whole group in first grade. I believe that these primary years are about building that foundation and I need to show my students exactly how to do that. I also have a small group of students who are able to use this strategy during guided reading groups. 
It goes a little something like this:

Day 1:
We receive our passage and read it through once. My students write down "tricky" words they don't understand in their reading journals. I then read the text aloud once as they follow along. We talk about the words they wrote down and see if we can figure out their meaning using context clues.

Day 2: 
We take out our passage and re-read it. I review the vocabulary terms we learned yesterday and students receive the vocabulary sheet to complete.  Students circle the words in the passage and we go over it together.

Day 3: 
We read the passage again and receive the comprehension page. We go through each question together and answer them while highlighting the evidence from the text to support each answer. I let my students in this group talk through these on their own and I only guide them when necessary. I keep re-directing them towards the text and remind them I need them to prove their answers.
*when completing these with the entire class, I will provide a lot more prompting and guidance and have my higher group work together on the other side of the room*

Here is a sneak peek of my students who have been working on this MLK Jr. close read for the past few school days:

Again, the text is difficult and the rest of my class wouldn't be able to read this on their own, but it has a lot of depth to it. We are able to infer and gather evidence for our inferences. There are also plenty of vocabulary words for students to learn.

I thought I would offer this close read for free below.
It is appropriate for 1st-2nd grade:

If you are interested in trying close reading in your classroom, I created the following resource:

The bundled unit includes a more in-depth look at close reading in a 1st grade classroom as well as seasonal passages with a focus on vocabulary and evidence-based questioning.

There are 10 age-appropriate passages in each season: 5 fiction and 5 non-fiction.

You can click any image above to check it out, or just click [HERE!]

*Just as a final note.... I am in no way pretending to be an expert on close reading. I continue to make adjustments as I learn more about the subject. This is just how I have broken down the strategy to work for my younger students. It has been successful for me and I hope it works for you!*

Winter Activities for First Grade!

BRRRRR... it's cold in here...
(there must be some Torros in the atmosphere - tell me I'm not the only one that thought of that right away!)

We are back at it in room 102. It sure is cold out and we are just having fun, working away! It was hard to go back, don't get me wrong, but I just love seeing their little, smiling faces after such a long break.

In math, we have been learning all about fact families. We used these two excellent freebies from two of my blogging friends:
Ummm.... yeah that is Frankenstein... and I know it's January, but Katie King's freebie is too dang good not to use. So, we called it "monster math" and went about our day!
Grab it HERE!

Then, sticking with the season, we used this cute freebie from Michelle Oakes! My students loved the little penguins.
Grab it HERE!

In writing, we went right back into writing how-to stories. I picked up these two books over break and I was so excited to put them to good use:

After we read both books, I had my students practice their how-to writing using the prompt, "This is how I stay warm in the cold!" We have plenty of winter prompts that we are using from my Writing through the Seasons {Winter} unit.
First, get a blanket and snuggle in it. Next, stand next to the heater. Watch out! Not that close. Last, put on mittens, a coat, and a scarf. I feel warm.

First, you make a fire out of sticks. Next, get some winter clothes like a hat and coat and mittens. Last, you drink hot cocoa and you get a blanket.

In reading, we have been practicing close reading in small groups - is your district all about it too?! Thankfully, I had some training on close reading in Vegas before I left so I was pretty familiar with the process before I moved back to MA. We are using both fiction and non-fiction passages from my Close Reading Winter pack - which will be done SOON!

Here is a sneak peek:

Hope everyone is back in the swing of things!
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