Saturday, August 4, 2018

What was the First Gift 
you ever received?

 The Story of My Name

It was..............


Your name was specially chosen for you.
Do you know the story of HOW your beautiful name was chosen for you?

Well, now we want you to go home and ask your family and caregivers and loved ones to tell you the story of how your very special name was chosen for you.

Ask to hear the Story
Listen Carefully
Write your story
Add a Baby Picture if you have one
Or Draw a picture of You when you were a baby

Bring your Story Poster to School
Share your special Story of Your Name

Then Posters will be part of a special 
Bulletin Board Display to...


This is how our beautiful lesson begins.

What comes next is special Family/Caregiver Time,
when some students are hearing the story for the first time, about how their name was chosen for them.

Then the Listening & Speaking skills are abundant! 
Retelling and Writing 
the story that they have heard.

The Share Session in class, is one of the most profound ways to bond with your students and to have them bond with each other.

Learning the history, the stories, the languages and countries of origin, the faiths, the personal meanings, the historical meanings and most of all...

How each student pronounces their 



We practice pronunciations.

We also discuss how some names come from other languages, with some different sounds, and it may take us some practice to get it just right.

But, to please be patient with us, because we want to say your name the same way that YOU do.
So, if we are not quite right, please help us say it correctly.

Ask parents to help you with pronunciation when you meet them. Sometimes, actually many times a student has not wanted to point out a mispronunciation, and I and the class have been saying it wrong, because they are so polite and considerate. We want them to know it is alright to correct us, and help us.

Parents and Caregivers often have a little trick to help with pronunciation. Then, we always have a class discussion to teach and correct ourselves, and to get it right.

The very first connection to a student, I believe, 
is to let them feel 
how important it is to you...

to say their name,
the way They say it.

It shows respect and honor and how special they are to you.

When a student has a name that is a first for me, I always let them know how happy I am to have that name for the first time. 

We also discuss how we help others to learn the correct pronunciation as well. Whether it is a Substitute, a student from another class, another Teacher, or Parent, we politely say our friend's name correctly. It does help too, when the student themselves are not always the "correctors". This actually happens very naturally when we experience this lesson. Students understand that our names are an honor, and we want to show our respect and help others, too, to get it right.

After this lesson, one of the most common things you will hear me say in class is...

What is the most important WORD that you WRITE every day?

You guessed it...


So, that should be the NEATEST
most proudly written word that you write.

No rushing, because you write it so often.

You need to show honor and respect for your name as well.
You need to write it proudly.
Each time.

So, here is how we work on this beautiful Caring Classroom Activity.

We start out with the question about the first gift that you received.

Then, the poster page is sent home with the instructions page.

A wonderful Teacher asked me if these pages were editable for her Spanish speaking families. Adaptations were added to provide Spanish versions and an Editable format, so that text boxes may be over laid to change the text to meet your classroom needs.

Share the sweet stories and the adorable baby pictures, photos and drawings.

I promise you, this day will be memorable for you and your class.

You may develop private jokes from these experiences that mean something special to your caring students, because they are sharing such personal stories.

Last year one of my firstie girls, could not help her spontaneous response as she uttered,
at how cute one of the boy's baby picture was.

It became a connection between 2 students that had had no connection before.

It meant a lot to him, that immediate reaction, that he didn't expect.

You know that little smile in the corner of their mouth, that they are trying so hard not to leak out. 

Yeah, he had that.

Then comes the Bulletin Board Display. We had our on the side of our door, not on the corkboard bulletin board that gets changed monthly.

That way it could stay up all year.

It was Proudly displayed for Back to School Night, Conferences, Class Parties and every other day when we could find students soaking up Baby Pictures and personal stories.

Everyone in our school knew...

that those are our Special Stories...

and these are our Special Names...

and we are so Proud of them.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Manatees! A Wonderful Unit to Explore!



Inspire your students and add excitement to reviewing skills. Research and explore all about Manatees!

Join the Save the Manatee Club and have your students read about Manatees.

Adopt a Manatee and receive a photograph with the story and history of your adoptee!

Have students review and practice skills with the Manatee Unit Bundle.

*Research and Write an All About Manatees Book to share all that you have learned.

*Practice Math and Language Arts Skills

*Create a Watercolor Art Project to display on a bulletin board

*Even extra Manatee Writing sheets to just keep on sharing your excitement!

Students love learning about these amazing creatures and learning how they can make a difference in protecting them!

This is a wonderful unit for any time, for Life Science, Ocean Animals, Earth Day, or even as an extra review unit at the End of the Year or for over the Summer!

Some wonderful children's books about Manatees!
Image result for j rooker manatee

J. Rooker, manatee

Mary Manatee: A Tale of Sea Cows by Suzanne Tate - Used (Good) - 0961634499

Mary Manatee


Your students will love exploring these incredible sea animals!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Color-Code Technique: Help Students SEE and Understand Tricky Concepts

Color-Coding has been a major theme in my career as a Teacher right from the beginning.

When working with students that were struggling with difficult concepts in Tutoring, I was always trying to find a way to explain things,
or show them in and easier way.


was the best way I could find to show the subtle differences.

It worked.
And worked.

Today, I still use Color-Coding to teach tricky concepts.
Not just to struggling students, but to all of my students.
If Color-Coding could help struggling learners get a handle on tricky concepts...

maybe all students would benefit.


Here are a few ways to use Color-Coding to help explain some tricky concepts to your students.

Color-Coded Contractions

Use 2 colors for the 2 words.
Copy the Whole First Word.
Then add an apostrophe instead of the vowel (or letters).

So, they have = they've

Color-Coded 120 Chart
One More-One Less
Ten More-Ten Less

Start with the Black Box #
Then Follow the color codes

One More = RED BOX
One Less = BLUE BOX
Ten Less = GREEN BOX


Students can create their own or copy color-coded sentences.

They write in pencil and then use markers or crayons to trace over the 


This technique, we practice each month with seasonal or holiday vocabulary. Students become so solid on parts of speech when they color-code their Nouns, Verbs & Adjectives! 

They even ask if they can color code parts of speech in their journals and other writing too!

Color-Coded Mental Math Fact Families

Use color-coding to demonstrate the Fact Families for each of the Mental Math Strategies!

We show each equation with Cube-a-Links to show for example that 1 RED + 9 BLUE = 10

So, the 1, 9, 10 Family House would go like this...


We actually say Red + Blue = Black

You can find more ideas for 
Color-Coding in the Custom Category section in my TpT Store: Silly Sam Productions.

Here is a FREEBIE Sampler with some pages to try out the technique.

I am joining some of my friends with a 

  • Visit each blog and enter each rafflecopter.
  • A different winner will be chosen from each rafflecopter.
  • Enter between May 1-5, 2017.
  • Each of my friends will choose a winner.
  • Winners will be emailed.
  • Winners will also be announced on our FB pages. Make sure you follow our FB pages.
PLEASE NOTE: Winners will have 48 hours to respond to our email. If no response, we will choose a new winner.

To enter my giveaway: 
*Follow My Blog & Leave Your email in the Comment Section so that I can notify you if you win.

*It will also help to Follow my FaceBook Page to see the announcements.

My prize is 3 Sets (36) Flair Markers for great COLOR-CODING ahead!

You can win the following:

Sunday, April 2, 2017

*Ways to Make Ten *Part-Part-Whole *Missing Parts Made Easy with VIDEO!

*Ways to Make Ten 


*Finding Missing Parts

 Made Easy with VIDEO!

These are such tricky concepts for our youngest Mathematicians. I have been teaching for about 30 years and have spent many of those years individually tutoring and leading small group Basic Skills lessons for those students that are really struggling with understanding these concepts.

Teaching Math is so different now, compared to when I entered the Teaching profession. The main focus used to be on solving equations and performing steps correctly. We were still teaching the "Why" and "How" part of mathematical concepts, however, they were not tested on this part and understanding these ideas was not essential in passing the assessments for the unit.

Now, students actually solving problems and simply providing the correct number as the answer is only one third of the assessment question. Students need to show, draw, identify and often express in writing the steps that they used to solve a problem. 


This technique has helped so many students to visualize the steps and see the concept come to life with clarity and understanding. We use Color-Coding with Verbal and Visual cues to map out the steps to understanding *Part *Part *Whole, *Missing Parts and *Ways to Make 10. 

Ways to Make 10. 

Start with these templates and fill in the left side of the chart starting with 0 and counting up to 10 going down the chart. 
Next, fill in the right side of the chart starting with 10 and counting down to 0 going down the chart.
What forms on each row will be the "Partners to 10".


Color-Coding the Left Side Yellow for "Lemon Left" and the Right Side Red for "Raspberry Right" helps students to clearly see the difference.

It also helps with the doubles fact, 5 and 5. 5 Yellow Chips + 5 Red Chips = 10 Chips all together.

Here is your *Part *Part *Whole Model

As long as you know 2 parts of the equation, you will always be able to find the missing part.

In this example the Sum or Top # is provided.

That means that the...

This little trick will really help Young Mathematicians with this skill.

We can see that there are 4 chips on the "Lemon-Left" side of the mat.

Count and write the number of chips that we can see on the blank that says

Part I Know

That would be 4 in this example.

Now we are going to count all the way to 10, The STOP #.

Start with the yellow chips and count 1, 2, 3, 4,

Then add red chips to the "Raspberry Right" side until you get to the number 10.

Next, count just the RED CHIPS.

That is your ANSWER.

You have found the MISSING PART!

I hope that this method is successful for you and your Mathematicians as well!

One more little story before you go...

I had a student that was trying hard, listening carefully and then practicing carefully...

Then he shouted out with excitement...




I love my job.

Here are some resources to help you teach this concept from Silly Sam Productions.

Part Part Whole & Ways to Make a Number MATH KIDS