April 24, 2016


So, we are rounding that final bend and "home plate" is in sight. With this said, y'all know that keeping engagement high, while still targeting those standards gets a tad trickier.  Well, I have two little words for you . . . WEARABLE WORK. Yep. It's that simple.  If primary kiddos can put an activity some place on their little bodies (head, arms, back, face, etc.), I promise that they will be "all in."

Okay, so let's be honest here. Paper hats and flip book arm bands are not new concepts. However, these simple ideas are the gateway to oodles of NEW and oh so FUN ways to get our kiddos interacting with standards.  We just have to step out of the box a little bit when it comes to all of those grade-level concepts. It also helps if we simultaneously slip ourselves into the shoes of our babes. I said it before and I'll say it again.  If a kid can wear it, engagement goes through the roof. Case in point . . . take a quick moment and think about all of the projects that we do that are NOT wearable. Yet, somehow our little sweeties figure out a way to "put it on."

Here are a few ideas for you today . . . most are very little prep and can be used with any standard under the sun.  

So this activity is ALWAYS a hit with students. Heck, I even like making one every year and tossing it on as we walk out to the pick up line.  

This simple idea can be used for just about any standard.  I typically use them for short e words as I dig the connection (vEst . . . hehehe).  However, I have used these for fact families and I see them working oh so well for vocabulary definitions and/or a story retell.  

I typed up the directions to this one and made a handful of templates for you to take with you today. (((FIST PUMP))) Grab these HERE.  

**Please note that I typically make the vests on a day with a parent helper or during a big buddy session.  However, my mommy cancelled on me this year and I ran with it anyway . . . SOLO (GULP).  I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome.  My first graders were able to cut the bag on their own with me modeling and assisting every step of the way.  However, we had to break up the cutting and actual vest making into two sessions as it took a little longer than it normally would.  Don't let this scare you though . . . the kids were so delighted with the idea making their own vest that I had them eating out of the palm of my hand :)    

Hats are one of my all time favorite types of wearable work because the possibilities are endless. You can use these in so many different ways and they NEVER get old. 

Here are just a few of the hats I have used in the past.  

  • Main Idea will never be the same now that you can slap it all over your noggin - it's one of my favorite activities all year. The kids get SO into pulling a main idea card and developing supporting details. This also can be used in conjunction with any literature piece. You simply need a space for the main idea, three supporting detail cards, and a sentence strip.  If you want all the pieces and parts, this hat is part of my Main Idea Packet
  • 100th Day hats are not new, but how about if we toss in ten frames and facts to ten?  I ran with this one the year I taught kinder.  They were all about it.  See it in action, HERE.
  • Pronoun Power Bands are my latest idea. Students are asked to come up with corresponding nouns for some of the top pronouns (he, she, it, they, and we). This is in the plan for an upcoming week.  You can bet that we will take the time to cruise the room and read each other's creations. You can read more about them, HERE.    
**Before I move on, let me post a quick disclaimer as seeing a photo collage of me is somewhat unnerving. I do not make a habit of taking photos of myself in silly hats.  Actually, I am utterly selfie challenged and I have to ask my hubs to snap shots for me (which I never live down).  However, when I come out with new ideas or "wearable work," I want to show the piece in action and I don't have children.  Therefore, you always tend to get my ugly mug making some sort of dippy face. Reason 4,245 as to why I need to get on the kid thing . . . if not solely for silly hat wearing purposes ;)  

The hat making fun doesn't stop there in my classroom.  Check out BIG Silly Wigs.  This phonics based "wearable work" lets the kids rock out a particular spelling sound, while unleashing mounds of their creativity.  In year's past, I have had kids come up with everything from pigtails and ponies to mohawks. (All complete with short i words.)  You know it's a winner when the kiddo who NEVER dances, sings, or draws attention to himself slaps on his new hairpiece and proudly marches out to the bus :)  You can use these wigs for all sorts of things.  I like the short i connection, but this can be morphed to fit what you are currently serving up in class.  

Speaking on word family and phonics work, the one and only Susan Jones from T.G.I.F has a great hat freebie. I know my class loved being KINGS of ING :) Check out her mini phonics pack, HERE.

I have used wearable capes for a variety of different standards, but my favorite is detailed sentence writing. The kids always go above and beyond, because of the super hero angle.  And, yes . . . I know you are thinking it . . . I let them fly around the room before we go home.  BUT, I definitely make them read each other's sentences :)

To roll with this one, all you need is a large piece of construction paper, markers, and lined sentence writing templates. I like to have kiddos choose noun and verb cards so that all of the capes are different, but you could post a whole class topic on the board or provide a menu of subjects and predicates. If you follow me, you know I encourage silly sentences with stellar details as they buy-in even more. However, you could have your students roll with more straightforward sentences that encompass a non-fiction topic or vocabulary words that you happen to be targeting.  

If you want all the templates and word cards that are specific to my super sentence capes, they are part of my Super Sentence Writing Packet. (This collection is filled with out of the box ideas that work to foster a love of writing in our primary kiddos.) 

Alright, so there you have it.  A little post dedicated to "wearable work."  I am sure I will be back for a second installment down the road as I am a HUGE proponent of slappin' standards on kids bodies.  If you have any questions or want to share an idea you roll with in your classroom, post a comment below.  

Thanks for taking the time to visit me today.  I will be back with some end of the year fun in the near future.  

April 1, 2016


I am hosting a TBT post on a Friday . . . I guess you can say I am into breaking all of the rules these days. However, this one seemed pretty dang fitting right about NOW, so I am pressin' on with my plan :)*************

A handful of you have already started, so I am behind the eight ball a bit for some folks. However, with my campus beginning state testing in a few short weeks, I figured I would toss some ideas out just the same.  

Let me back up and give you the back story on my ideas surrounding testing. (Heaven knows I love to frontload just about everything.)  It only took one year of being a "testing" teacher to grasp the stress involved with the whole process. I didn't sleep for a week and I will NEVER forget the moment when one of my little 2nd grader babes looked up at me with his lower lip quivering and tears welling in his eyes -- "I can't read this, Miss B." I squeezed his hand with as much love as I had in me, but I had to reply, "I'm sorry sweetie, I can't help you. Just do your best."  This dang near killed me.  Needless to say, this event was burned into my brain.  That next year admin dropped me down to first grade. Yes, I was cheering to be away from the heat of testing. However, I couldn't quite get that moment from the year before out of my mind.  So, when testing rolled around for the rest of the campus, I knew that I wanted to do everything I could to boost student and teacher moral during this tough time. That's when Adopt-A-Class and a few other ideas were born. 

Adopt-A-Class is a fun project where all of the non-testing classrooms adopt a testing class.  Prior to testing and throughout the week, "parent" or non-testing classes go out of their way to brighten a class full of test takers :)  It doesn't have to be anything major . . . friendly letters delivered the day before the test, a surprise snack after the first day of testing, motivational classroom murals and posters made by the little kids on campus . . . anything to show these students that they are supported.  

A campus generally needs about a week to get this one going.  However, I have put it together in less than 5 days.  You just need a teacher or small group of teachers who are willing to step up and man the process.  

With this said, I have made a packet with everything ready to go (plus lots of other fun and easy ideas for surviving testing).  I broke all the rules and made a LARGE freebie a few years back and it just received a much needed facelift. In my heart of hearts, I just couldn't charge for this then . . . and I can't charge for it now. Moral boostin' and feel-good ideas and activities should be free in my book. Also, just for the record, I do want to state that I posted this packet in it's original form in 2012 prior to the 10 page freebie rule - just sayin' :) (Can you tell I don't like to break rules??!!)

If you haven't started testing yet, you're all set with this one.  If you have, download it for next year!  What do you have to loose . . . it's free??!!  

This fun little tune from Ron Brown's Intelli-Tunes is all about doing your best on the test.  If you are running with Adopt-A-Class, and you have time, you can get you babes to learn this one and perform it for your testing class.  If you aren't, share it with your music teacher or admins.  They can play it for the testing grades :)  The best part about this one . . . it's FREE too :)  Click the image below and find the freebie called Best On the Test.  

The night before the first day of testing hits, I like to sneak out to school and decorate. I make a bunch of butcher paper signs to hang in the hallways. I also like to decorate the sidewalks with inspirational messages in chalk. Finally, I have a collection of funny/motivational posters to hang on all of doors of those classrooms that will be testing (these are in the free packet).  I know that I won't be able to get up early enough to pull all of this off in the AM, so I just make an extra little trip.  All I will have to do in the morning is hang the balloons at the school entrances. 

This one is my favorite. The walk of winners is a cheer line that takes place on the first morning of testing -- it kicks off the day.  For this stunt, the non-testing students line a hallway and all of the testing kiddos walk through it while you blast fun upbeat music.  

All of the notes you need to get this one going are in the freebie packet from above.  It outlines the process and contains an editable note template (as well as some sample notes).  I think I made this pretty easy on ya.  You just need access to a powerful radio or speaker system, some fun tunes loaded on your iPod or iPhone, and teachers who are willing to mess with their morning schedules for about 15 minutes.  This event ALWAYS makes me cry (I have to wear my dark sunglasses) and this year will not be any different.  It's a moment that kids (testing and non-testing) will NEVER forget.  

You see all of your old students roll through with big old grins on their faces.
It just seems to lighten the mood for everyone - students and teachers.
I am crying just writing about this experience.
I am in big trouble tomorrow! #passthetissues
I will be cheering my heart out for these sweeties tomorrow.
They are big 4th graders now. 

Yes, I'm still crying a little.
Hootin' and hollerin' with grins from ear to ear :)
The love and support oozes from our cheer line.
Alright, there you have it . . . just a few ideas to help your school survive a run of testing.  My FREEBIE packet contains oodles of other ideas to toss into the mix -- breakfast of champions, ready-made badges, smart snack ideas, etc. CLICK HERE to check it out.  My goal is to ease kids into the testing process and make them believe that they are control of the test.  Sure, all of our kids are not going to ace the big bad test.  AND . . . let's be honest . . . these stunts aren't really going to change many scores (if any). However, if we can keep lower lips from quivering, ward off unnecessary tears, and put a few smiles on some faces, I have done my job with this collection :)  

Thanks for visiting me today!  I hope this next week is stellar.  I will see you in the near future :)  Big hugs!

March 13, 2016


Hey gang, I have a bit of a potpourri post today.  (That's just a nice way of saying that I am all over the place at the moment!) Taking this all into account, I figured that I'd just toss this one up as a list of sorts today.  

Last weekend I spent time presenting at the SCKC 2016. The SoCal Kinder Conference is always a great time. The crowd is awesome and I love hanging with my bloggy friends. On a side note, if you were in my pre-conference math games session, I emailed out the slides, the activities promised, and a few other goodies. A handful of emails bounced back to me. If you're reading this and you didn't get an email, shoot me a quick note and I'll hook you up within 24 hours (kelleydolling@gmail.com). Some of the emails were difficult to read and I may have incorrectly guessed on a letter/digit. #eyeproblems

Love me some SoCal gals.  See you next year my friends!  
We just finished up our time unit.  Don't tell, but when I heard that we were adopting a new math program next year, I went a bit rogue and marched off the curriculum and toward the clocks. The kids ate it up and my little firsties ALL know time to the 5-minute now. I am running back to the curriculum before I get too caught up in my own thing and get busted, but this was a much needed and fun standards-based break :)  Check out just a few of the activities we found ourselves mixed up in . . . 
Licorice clocks are a great way to hook those kids into tellin' time!
Can't use candy . . . roll with pretzel rods instead :)
We did a little graphing game to keep the engagement high!
Students roll the dice and match it to the correct clock.
Amy Lemons' flip book was a huge hit.
Check it out in her awesome time packet >>> HERE

I was honored to receive an email from Scholastic asking to feature one of my crafts in their recent Teacher Magazine issue. They shouted out one of my very first crafts (Flying Fact Families) and offered it up as a fun spring freebie . . . let's just say it quickly received a much needed face lift before it went into their mag :) Don't want to use it for fact families? No problem . . . roll with same sum, word families, pronouns, or just about any other concept under the sun :)

I will chat more about this whole idea in an upcoming post. However, I wanted to toss it out a bit earlier this year as this idea requires a bit of planning. With all that fun testing looming, why not leverage it to pump up our kids? I created a packet years ago called Operation Ego Boost and it also received a little face lift this past spring. It highlights oodles of ideas to help pump our kids up before, during, and after all those high-stakes tests. Oh, I should mention that this pack breaks all the TPT size rules for freebies. What can I say? I just couldn't charge for a feel good packet like this . . . it seemed tacky. So, this 30+ page collection is FREE in my shop. CLICK HERE to check out this packet in full detail. It has everything from editable signage and adopt a class activities to breakfast name changes, treat tags, and cheer line instructions.  

I didn't get too many quality pictures from last year's festivities.
Take a second and check out the packet. It's worth a little look-see :)
I don't really like chatting about my health issues, but my cruddy post record and flaky response to emails these days deserves a little clarification. Here goes nothin' . . . some of you know that I was diagnosed with stage 5 endometriosis in 2009. This disease is actually how I got into blogging - I was out on my second surgery leave. Well, every few years it surges back and takes me out. I have the best doctor a girl could ask for (at Stanford no less) and he takes such good care of me. However, to help "fix" the problem at least for a year or two, I get to have surgery.  I am slated for my fourth date with the knife in a little over a month. 

So, if I fail to promptly respond to an email, forget to send you a revision on something, or leave the blog/social media silent for weeks on end, it's not that I hate you or that I am giving up on The Factory. It's just that I have to pick teaching and just surviving at the moment. This has all made me rather forgetful right now too . . . please just email me again if I miss something. You're not a bother and reminders are good for me :) 

As a added bonus, my district can't find me a quality long term sub and I am working a brand new school this year. GULP :( I am trying like hell to hold on as long as possible as I love my students and just can't abandon them yet. Call me stubborn, but this isn't the first time this mama bear worked with ungodly pelvic pain :)

Alright . . . so there you have it . . . a deeply personal number five. Now that I have finished typing, I can feel my face contorting and my blood pressure just shot up quite a bit.  BLARG!!!!  Please know that I am not trying to complain or make you feel sorry for me . . . this is why I tend to keep quiet about it. I just felt the need to be honest as to why I have suddenly vanished. 

With all this dirty laundry now aired, please know that I will hopefully be back in action in early summer. The blog and product creation have simply taken a back burner until I get cleaned out. Thank you for understanding and sitting through all that jazz.

On a final note, Endo indeed sucks @$$ and it makes me cry from time to time, but everything these days has been put into perspective. I know there are quite a few other secret battles that many of you are be fighting out there. My heart goes out to you as it's no easy feat to have "issues" when you are attempting to manage a classroom and life in general. Big hugs to you and your families . . . stay strong my friends.  

With that, I am FINALLY O-U-T and off to finish up report card comments :P Thanks for sticking with me. I will be back during my Spring Break with something useful. Our little week vacay is so close . . . I can smell it :)  


February 21, 2016


As I sat down to finalize the rest of the themes for the year, I realized that April Fools Day falls during our Spring Break (((insert super sad face))).  Over the years I have come to L-O-V-E this "holiday" in the classroom.  You must think I am nuts after reading that line.  Let me explain.  In the beginning, April 1st simply signified a day filled with countless jokes that lacked a punchline and/or lame tricks that would earn the best phony giggle I could muster :)  

Well, after a few years I decided to leverage the power of all this "SILLY" and incorporate it into our writing block. Since making this shift, my joke angle works like a charm every year and keeps the kids beggin' for more writing time. With all this said, I just couldn't miss out on this week of jokes and other shenanigans. SO, I am pluggin' this mighty theme into the mix in early March. I see this aligning oh so well with all of the Dr. Seuss fun :)  Now, if you are lucky enough to have already had your Spring Break . . . hit 'em with this during April Fools.  It's classic.  Or, I see this theme would also work well during the dog days of the year -- anytime during that long stretch from the final vacation window until the last day together.   

On that note, here are a few easy ideas to help you and your babes embrace the "silly" this spring. Leverage it for all the WRITING AND READING work it's worth, folks!

These are the easiest jokes for kids to deliver and they NEVER seem to get old for our kiddies.  With this said, stock a center with knock knock jokes - you can snag countless ditties via a simple Google search.  Your students will be reading and recording for days.  You can even have them pick their favorite joke to "house" in a cute little knock knock display . . . did ya catch the sly pun I slid in there on ya?? 

With this out on the table, why stop here?  You can even have your students draft their own Knock Knock jokes.  Most of them won't really make all that much sense or will be a rip off of another old version. However, this station is worth its weight in gold as your students will write and write . . . and write some more. I suggest that you host a quick brainstorm session to get the juices flowing and some subject matter out on the table. Then, provide a simple little template and model the process.  Finally, let 'em fly.  I guarantee that the giggles that erupt from this station will be absolutely contagious.

As a little home to school connection, I have the kids turn in a joke that they research with their parents at home.  My only rule is that they must be school appropriate -- yes I put this in the note home (no blood/guts or toilet humor PLEASE).  A few days later, we practice our jokes and host a little Comedy Stand Up Session. Oh, and to add a little extra spice, we invite the neighbor Kinder class to watch the performance. (NOTE: Younger students always seem to be a better audience choice as they laugh at EVERYTHING.)  Three kids are placed in the "hot seat" and each one is called to deliver their joke to the crew. I may or may not break out the karaoke microphone unit for this event ;)  A few kids also add some side acts to the shindig via some crazy improv and a fully-stocked prop box . . . the photo below says it all. (No, I did not ask for those teeth back after his "sesh" . . . call it a little gift for being brave.)

These are kinda dippy, but the kids get OH SO creative when writing animal jokes.  This one requires very little prep too!  Fill a center table with non-fiction animal books.  Introduce the kids to the simple animal joke template (see below) and model a few critter sillies of your own.  

A _____ can __________.
A _____ can __________.
A _____ can __________.
But, a ______ cannot _____________!

As you can see, the outline is simple.  The kids come up with three true facts and one false fact in connection with an animal they select.  Now, an "in the box" false fact will do . . . But, a elephant cannot run faster than a cheetah. However, I strongly urge my kids to get a little WILD and very detailed . . . But, an elephant cannot swing from a long green vine while eating 100 rotten bananas. These make for the BEST author's chair session and I always hang these in the window.  You'll be dishin' out countless smiles to all who stop to take a little look-see :)

Take any read the room or word hunt activity that you may be doing for the week and add a little "Groucho" flavor.  Snag the mustache/glasses disguises at any Dollar Store (I just so happened to stumble across some that light up a few years back) and stock a center with 'em.  You would think that this extra silliness would jack them all up.  However, it actually produces the exact opposite. The kiddos WANT to wear the glasses, so they work to keep things in check. A little front-loading and you're golden with this one.  

Alright, so there you have it.  A few ideas on ways to host a joke week into your writing/reading block.  These are all ideas that you can easily implement with your crew.  However, if you are looking for a handy dandy collection that is ready to go, check out my No Foolin' Packet >>> HERE.  It has all the above and more!

Have a wonderful week my friends.  I'll be back to see you again soon :)

February 15, 2016


It's time when I get to test out a product by our good friends over at Carson-Dellosa.  This month, they sent me a grade level specific Interactive Science Notebook guide to test and report back.

When the package arrived at my door and I perused those pages for the first time, I liked what I saw.  It is broken down by science strand - life, physical, and earth/space.  The book also has a generic reproducibles section that caught my eye immediately.  This contains everything from flap books and puzzle pieces to a KWL chart. CD must know that this teacher loves options . . . this additional element definitely won may heart over.

The Interactive Science Notebook guide provides a great introduction on starting, organizing, and managing this process in your classroom.  In addition it contains a suggested grading rubric.  This is such a cool element.  Although you may not follow it to a T, it helps to have an outline to get you started.

The lessons and pages Carson-Dellosa has included are well thought out.  Each lesson has an introduction, a sample page, and ideas on ways to have your students reflect on their learning.  

**I need to come clean on something.  Before I get to much deeper into my final thoughts on this book, I must admit that I do not use interactive notebooks in my classroom and I wasn't about to start them up on a whim just to review a product. I know that you must be thinking I am crazy at this moment. I didn't have a choice on the item I was sent this go around.  I have always pondered starting up some sort of interactive notebook in my classroom and I even have a classroom set of composition books sitting in a pile on my office floor waiting for me to pull the trigger . . . such a Dolling move.  Alright, so now that this disclaimer out of the way, I feel much better about this post - it's all about transparency over here at THE FACTORY.  Despite this lack of notebook use, I still feel like I can look at this product and give valid input on its overall classroom/teacher appeal.** 

Science is definitely not something that you just plug into the mix at random (well, at least not in my planning process . . . it's just not how I roll).  Instead, it has been carefully folded into my long-range plan for the year.  With this said, I would love to have seen this book in August.  I think it would have enticed me to fold these lessons into my long-range calendar and get those comp books off of my floor and into the hands of my kids.  Looking at the content of the book now, I can count at least 12-15 pages that I would have been interested in using with my kids.  The habitat/animal and physical science pages are particularly useful and SO many of them align with lessons that I already have in place throughout the year.  

So, in a nutshell, I feel comfortable stating that this is a good product and worth a little look-see.  If you currently use Interactive Notebooks with your kids, various lessons within this book could easily slip in and supplement whatever you have cookin'.  If you don't use Interactive Notebooks for science at this time, but have thought about starting them up, take a look at this book for next year.  It may be what you need to get the process rollin' :)  To check out this resource a little closer, CLICK HERE.

Thanks for taking the time to visit me.  I will be back again very soon with something timely and fun for your kids . . . it's in the works as I type :)

*Review Disclaimer: I participate in the Brand Ambassador Program for Carson-Dellosa and have received this product for free to review.  

February 7, 2016


Valentine's Day is hands down my FAVORITE day in the classroom.  The little guys are able to decode most of their cards at this point and the look of pure joy that takes over their faces after reading each note absolutely melts my heart.  

With this said, let's just say that I milk this week for ALL that it's worth. Sure, the kids love it, but it's for me too. Over the years, I have come up with a handful of fun ideas/activities that you might be interested in checking out. 

This higher-level thinking greater than/less than game always my kids giggling and working hard for the whole math rotation. Here's the quick rundown . . . Students draw cards and build the largest number possible (tens or hundreds versions included). The kicker here is that the kids get throw one card away every hand. However, the decision to "keep" or "toss it down the rabbit hole" must be made when the card is drawn.  And, for a little more added fun, if a student draws the Queen of Hearts, he/she automatically wins the hand. 

The Queen of Hearts is sure to steal your students' hearts during math center rotations! The best part . . . it's FREE . . . snag it HERE :)  

We played this one on Friday and the kids were all about it.  I usually play it with convo hearts or Valentine's Day M&Ms, but if you can't do candy at your school, use paper hearts, a healthy treat (raisins or cereal), or just pull out your colored math chips/disks.

This can be played one of two ways - counting on from any number OR skip counting by 10s.  The best part is, you can have half your class playing one way, while the remainder plays the other version . . . they don't even know.  

Here's how to play . . . each kid gets a spinner (you can use dice or cards if you please), a hundreds chart, a recording sheet, and a treat of some sort to mark his/her chart. For sake of keeping thins clear, I am going to explain this in spinner terms. 

Kids spin the spinner to create a two-digit number.  He/she marks this number on their hundreds chart with the little treat. Then, he/she completes the counting task.  Counting on from this number by ones, or counting on this number by tens.  I typically have them use four hearts or M&Ms to count on with on their chart (enough to get the counting sequence going in their noggins, but not too many to make it tedious.)  This work is then recorded on their activity sheet and the process is restarted.  There is just something about this game . . . the kids always love it.  

**Food for thought here . . . this could ask be doctored to work on multiples of number and/or other skip counting tasks.**

This game can easily be created in your classroom, or you can snag a ready to go version HERE.  

Before you jet, I do have one other fun freebie that you might be interested in trying.  If you follow me, you may or may not have seen my Sweet Story Holiday Freebie that ties in with Christmas.  Well, it was so popular that I reworked it with a Valentine's Day theme a few years back.  

This adjective game is a Mad Lib with a twist.  Kids drop conversation hearts onto an adjective mat (sweet and wild versions included). The kids then write the words they "land on" in the blank lines on the story template.  These create the silliest little stories . . . I guarantee they will read 'em to as many friends as they can! #bigclassroomwin Snag this packet HERE.

**DISCLAIMER - This packet needs a little update as I hate the font and I can do way better in the design department.  However, time just got away from me this year (my life story). The content is there . . . I PROMISE!!! And, next year you will be able to pick up a pretty update.**

Alright, I am out of here.  Thanks so much for visiting me today.  Hopefully, you found a little something you can use during this next run with your crew. Happy Heart Week to you!

January 24, 2016


Over the years, my math block has grown considerably.  While I think this is a totally valid and necessary maneuver, it has made for a gigantic math stretch. This change, combined with our new-ish Common Core math program, is not all that conducive to long-term learning (IMO). Let's be honest here . . . my particular curriculum's lecture-style format and pixellated black and white graphics doesn't give kids the opportunity to really "experience" math.  And, it makes the math block feel like it's twice as long.  (((SIGH)))  With this said, I quickly adjusted my style after the curriculum adoption in an effort to combat this issue. I have always added various math elements and games to my daily line-up. However, I have had to get a bit crafty as of late when it comes to creating meaningful math instruction that is engaging, standards-based, and fun for kids.  

Now, I am not saying to toss out your curriculum.  Admin would TOSS US out on our ears.  However, I am saying that while we add our own spin the the "Kool-Aide" that we must drink, tossing in some fun supplemental activities can be just the ticket to breaking up our math blocks.  I know what you are thinking, "Come on, Dolling.  We already do this in our small group math rotations."  I love me small groups and we do this too.  But, wait . . . that's not my topic today. Have you thought about a DAILY whole class game as well? I'm talking a quick in and out activity that creates a healthy buzz in the room, while tackling a related standard.  There is just something about a whole group ditty that generates a whole new level of excitement and learning.

On that note, I can't have you listen to me preach about this topic and not give you a couple of things to try!  Below I have outlined three kid-tested games that absolutely delighted my first grade crews.  All of the activities are low-prep, require less than 15 minutes of your day, and generate oodles of giggles.  

This one came to me the other day as I was trying figure out ways to squeak in more skip counting activites. I also love me a good team game . . . nothin' gets me grinnin' like seeing kids working together.  Needless to say, this is how COUNTING RACES came to be.

**Before I begin, this game can be used for COUNTLESS activities - counting on from any number, fact families, same sum, greater than/less than, alphabet, word families, etc. (I am going to explain this in skip counting terms, but you will get the idea and can morph it into whatever standard you wish to target.)**

All you need is some adding machine tape, markers, some tape, and a little frontloading.  Decide how many teams you want (I used groups of 3-4). However, this game can be played in pairs or in two large teams.  Next, come up with a standards-based task and cut lengths of adding machine tape that are conducive to the objective (each team will need one strip).  Be sure to target the teamwork aspect before you launch into the game.  A little "working together" and good sportsmanship talk was all my crew needed to have a flawless experience with this one.  

Once your kiddos have been placed into teams, tape one of the strips of adding machine tape to your floor in front of each group.  Have the kids determine an "order" and give Teammate One a marker.  On your signal, call out a counting task (skip count by 10s, skip count backward by 5s, start counting from the number 86, etc).  Teammate One writes the first number in the series and passes the pen.  Teammate Two writes the next number in the series.  Play continues until all the teams have finished the counting task!  

Have tape leftover?  Don't waste it!!!  Play again.  Have your kids draw a line and give them a new counting task.  (See the photo above . . . tens and then fives, baby!)

This was one of the best ideas I have pulled out of my bum in a while.  The kids beg to play and it comes out about once a week in the afternoon when I notice they need a little break. Little do they know that their perceived "break" is jam-packed with learning and team building.  {{{{FIST PUMP}}}}

Raise your hand if you have heard of Kim Sutton?  She is the math mastermind behind the company Creative Mathematics.  Her ideas are nothing short of genius and they always make for a wonderful transition into, out of, or during your math block!  

Kim's math books are absolutely wonderful . . . Drills that Thrill, Place Value with Pizzaz, and Dazzling Dominoes are just a few of my favorites.  They offer up so many amazing supplemental opportunities that never disappoint both students and teachers.  However, she also offers up lots of fun FREE games on her site that are so worth grabbing.  

Case in point . . . DOUBLE THE SNOWFLAKES.  This game is a new freebie on her Web site.  It's brilliant and my babes were absolutely beside themselves yesterday as we played this one.  You know you have a winner when you hear at least three children spout out, "Mrs. Dolling, I LOOOOOVE this game!"

I chose to play this one whole class as a transition out of our daily word problem warm up.  It proved to be just the ticket before jumping into the introduction of a new standard.  I modeled it under the document camera and we were good to go.  The kids enjoyed the "bumping" element the most (you know, that moment when a player gets an answer that is already covered and they boot their friend off of the board.) My darlin' cuties were such good sports and the giggles were absolutely contagious. (Love the corner photo showcasing the emotions involved with a "bump." Don't worry . . . the little one in front got her back . . . hehehehe.)  

The thing I loved most about this game is that it worked on basic fact fluency to 12 and DOUBLES!  Yep. The kids roll the dice, add them, and then DOUBLE IT! This hits two birds with one LARGE stone when it comes to first grade. We definitely will be playing this one off and on throughout winter as it delights students and helps kiddos make connections with those addition facts.  

BUT WAIT . . . is addition too easy for you?  This free game can be used for multiplication too.  I told you it was worth a look-see :) CLICK HERE to read all about this fun freebie from Kim Sutton's Creative Mathematics. **Fill out the form . . . it's so worth it for the goods you have access too.  I promise she won't spam you with oodles of dumb emails :)*** 

Santa was kind enough to bless me with a bingo set last year.  Let's just say that "Santa" was a retired teacher in a previous life ;)  Anyway, I finally pulled it out this year.  When I was thinking about tossing it into the mix, I didn't want to just play bingo with my firsties (although it is a great number recognition ditty). So, I thought outside of the box and decided to pose questions about the numbers I called instead of giving them outright.  For example, I would ask . . . "Put your finger on the O column.  Find a number with 6 tens and 2 ones."  Or, I would ask, "Find a number in the I row that has a 4 in the tens column and the sum of its digits is 6." In the B row, I had to break away from PV and I would ask addition questions.  It would go a little somethin' like this, "When you add 6 and 4, this number is the sum."

After calling out the question, you can easily see who "gets" what you are dishing. It's a super informal assessment for sure :)  When we play, I give them a few minutes to process before writing it on a white board under our doc cam. This gave those kids who are still struggling with number sense the opportunity to locate the number.  

Let's just say that this one was an absolute winner and they beg to play it.  It is perfect for those LONG rainy days where they have been trapped inside for the bulk of the day.  The best part is that you only need a bingo game and some chips to play. #easypeasy

Alright, there you have it. A couple fun standards-based games that work oh so well when it comes to breaking up that math block . . . especially in a whole class setting.  Give one of these a try this week or pull out one of your beloved math games and give it a go whole group. The vibe is awesome :) 

Interested in more of math ideas?  CLICK HERE to check out more out of the box ideas from little ol' me :)
Thanks for popping in for a little visit today.  I will be back soon with a little somethin' - somethin' :)

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