Fantastic Fractions!

Hey all! Guess what we are learning about in third grade??

You guessed it...fractions!

Ok, ok. I know I sound way more excited that any one person should be about fractions. In fact, fractions are frustrating (for me and the kiddos) and they often lead me to feel like I should find an empty space on the brick wall and bang my head on it a few times.

However, I have found a few things that help make fractions a little more fun tolerable.

First off, have you seen this adorable book?

It does a great job of introducing fractional ideas, and I think it was fun to use at the beginning of our unit. The kids liked it and it's so cute! You can click the picture to snag a copy on Amazon.

We are using a Math Workshop model for the first time this year, so I've been looking for activities to help the kids practice fractions independently.

I found this amazing freebie by Michelle Walker that they can use in a small group to practice matching the fraction, the word and the picture. It is fun and cute! And FREE!

Spring fraction matching cards FREEBIE!

They have been using them to practice matching and using them as a memory-style game. They love it!

Last, but not least, I found a few online games that groups can use on laptops or the Smartboard.

This is a fun Angry Birds style game. It shows the kids a representation of a fraction and they have to line up the rock and fling it at the correct fraction! It's a big fave right now.

Fraction Booster has a few different levels. They have everything from splitting pizza into equal pieces to identifying fractions to putting fractions on a number line!

Dolphin Racing lets the kids race their dolphin by choosing the fraction with the highest value. You should hear the shouts when their dolphin is winning!

That's just a few of the games I found by Googling that my kiddos love! If you want a few more ideas, click {here}!

What great ideas do you have for teaching fractions??

Have a great week all!

The Craft of Teaching

The Craft of Teaching

Free Stuff?? How about 37 free products?

Who doesn’t love free stuff?  Especially free stuff for your classroom!  Tara at 180 Days and Counting is celebrating her 37th birthday by hosting a big giveaway this week.  This giveaway includes 37 items perfect for a first or second grade classroom.  Included in the giveaway are 10 winner’s choice, 7 ELA items, 16 math items and 4 other products.  The activities are at varying levels so they could be used for grade level activities, interventions and acceleration/extention activities. 

I am one of the donors of a winner’s choice item, so if you win this awesome giveaway, you get to pick an item from my store.  The giveaway goes from the 26th until the 2nd (Tara’s birthday) when a winner will be chosen. 

If you would like a chance to win this giveaway and add to your bag of teacher tricks, use the rafflecopter below or head over to Tara’s facebook page for more information: 

You might also want to hop over to Tara’s TpT store.  She has some awesome stuff especially for second grade.  It makes me miss being in my second grade classroom but I loved looking through the items she has created.  She has a lot of great math activities that would be perfect for centers.  Everything is Common Core aligned, user friendly and visually appealing.  I’m definitely her newest follower.  I love how the TpT community helps you to find other teachers with awesome ideas.

Hopefully one of our readers will be the big winner!  Good luck!

Happy Teaching,

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I Heart Task Cards - An ode to my latest obsession

Since finding TeachersPayTeachers, I’ve become obsessed with task cards.  I saw them all over the site and had to do some research to figure out just what a task card was and how you use them.  A few blogs I used to help with my research were and and once I read these, I was sold.  Where were task cards when I was in the classroom?  These would have been awesome to use during math workshop.  We created different activities that were similar, but I had never heard the term task cards.

A task card is basically an individual card (sizes vary) that has one problem on it.  Task cards can be used for any subject but thinking about math task cards, it would have one problem related to the subject being taught.  They can be used in a variety of ways.  Here are just a few ideas:

-Replace Worksheets - Task cards could replace worksheets in your classroom.  Instead of completing a lengthy worksheet, students work on one card at a time to show their understanding.  This makes it less overwhelming and cuts down on paper.

-Math Centers – You could put a stack of task cards at a center and students work to complete as many as possible in the given amount of time.

-Whole Class Activity – Task cards could be used by the whole class at the same time.  Usually the games or ideas for this have to do with getting the class up and moving around the room.  One idea is to place cards all around the room.  Students need to wander the room and solve the problems on the cards.  Another game is called Scoot.  In this game, there is a card on each student’s desk.  Each student solves their card and then after a given amount of time, they all move to the next seat and solve that problem.  They continue this until they have solved all the problems. 

-Preassessment – Use in a whole group or small group setting to see what students know before you have taught the concept.  This data would be helpful to group students with common needs for small group work during the rest of the unit.

-Assessment – Again, this could be done as a center or as a whole class activity but use the task cards to determine what the students learned during the unit you just finished teaching.

-Review – A great way to review before the end of a unit or an assessment is to use task cards to review the concepts covered.

-Problem of the day – Hand out a task card as students enter the classroom.  Have them glue them into a math notebook and solve.  Discuss as a class strategies used to solve the problems.

-Early Finishers – Keep early finishers on task (haha) by having them work on task cards while other students are still working.

-Partner activity – Give each student a card.  Have them pair up and solve their partner’s card.  Once they finish, have them find a different partner and solve that card.  Continue pairing up until all cards have been solved.

The great part about task cards is that it is easy to differentiate for each student.  For example, have a high student solve the entire stack of task cards.  A struggling student can have the goal to solve five cards.  Making it just one problem at a time makes it less overwhelming for those struggling students. 

I’ve been busy making task cards for my TpT store ever since I fell in love with the concept.  When I head back into the classroom, I plan on using these in all subject areas but especially in math.  So far I’ve created place value task cards for second grade, telling time task cards for first and second grade and Halloween math and literacy cards.  These can all be found in my store.  I also have a freebie for you.  A set of place value task cards for second graders.  Enjoy!

Do you use task cards in your classroom?  What ideas do you have for using them in the classroom?

Happy Teaching,

Delicious Data and Great Graphs!

Hello again from sunny Sydney, Australia! It's Kelly from Little Green here, and today I want to talk delicious data and great graphs with you! When I teach data and graphing, I find that there are a couple of areas in which students consistently struggle: asking questions that can be answered by the data in a graph and graphing conventions.

Asking Questions

There are two different points at which we have students ask questions with graphing. Firstly, our students ask questions in order to collect data that they can then turn into a graph. While it may seem obvious to us that only some questions will lead to valid data for a graph, it isn't so obvious to our students. While we certainly don't want to crush their natural curiosity, students need to know that when it comes to graphs, only some questions are useful.

Common mistakes at this point of the graphing journey include:

  • Asking too many questions
  • Asking open-ended questions
  • Asking questions that are too complex
  • Giving too many options
  • Not giving enough options
  • Not giving the right options

Secondly, our students ask questions about graphs at the other end of the graphing journey, in order to analyse the information they contain. The kinds of questions they might ask could include:

  • What is most popular?
  • What is least popular?
  • Combining questions (e.g. Which two options have the same value?)
  • Pattern questions (e.g. looking for trends)
  • Comparison questions (e.g. How many more people chose 'x' than 'y'?)

Let's look at a simple graph about pet ownership.

Where do our students go wrong in analysing a graph like this?

  • They ask questions to find information that cannot be known for sure (e.g. The question 'How many students are in the class?' cannot be answered by this graph. We would be making an assumption that each student has only one pet if we said 32. We also don't know whether everyone in the class has a pet - were the non-pet owners excluded from this graph?)
  • They ask philosophical questions (e.g. Why are there more rats and mice than any other pet? Although we could make an educated guess that people usually have more than one of these pets at a time or that they reproduce at a fast rate, we cannot honestly say that this information is stated in the graph itself.)
  • They forget about what has been excluded from the graph (e.g. Looking at this graph, one might say that rats and mice are the most owned pet in the class, but if 12 people have horses, horses would be the most owned pet. They just weren't included as an option.)

We need our students to understand that graphs are limited in their scope. This is an important critical literacy skill to develop, as graphs are part of our everyday experience. Advertisers use graphs and data to sell us things, and if we don't have the critical literacy skills to not only read the information in a graph, but also to consider its source and what has been excluded, the proverbial wool may be pulled over our eyes. Giving our students real examples of graphs (including poorly-constructed and biased graphs) from different sources will help them to develop this vital skill.

Graphing Conventions

The other aspect of graphing that can cause some trouble is in graphing conventions. I must admit, I'm a bit of a stickler for neat, ordered work in Math, as I find that sloppy work often leads to errors. When it comes to graphs in particular, there are some non-negotiable inclusions that add to our understanding of the graphs we read. These are:

  • a title (How can we know what the graph is about without a title?)
  • labels on each axis (Labels let us know what is being measured in a graph.)
  • a key (A key lets us know what is being graphed and, in the case of some graphs, lets us know the value of each segment.)

If any of these elements are missing, it is impossible to determine exactly what has been graphed. And, let's face it, precision is important in Math!

A Freebie!

Help is at hand if your students are struggling with their graphing conventions (or if you wish to reinforce their understanding of these conventions). I have designed a little poster to remind students of what they need to do when they create their own graphs. You can get it here.

You might also be interested in my 'Roll, Tally Graph' game, which allows students to collect data in a fun way, then graph up a storm! I'll be marking the price of this resource down for the next few days, so be sure to check it out!

That's it from me for now. I'll be back next month to talk Math with you once more. In the meantime, drop by the Little Green blog for more ideas and resources.

October Facebook Frenzy Weekend! (quick - grab your freebies now!)

A group of teacher/authors from Teachers Pay Teachers have collaborated to create various free fall themed downloads available via their Facebook pages.  Unfortunately I have not been able to participate this time around as I've not managed to find the time to create a business Facebook account, however it is near the top of my to do list!

My favourite resource in this frenzy is by Chrystine of Tweet Music.  Chrystine is an amazingly talented music and performance arts teacher.  She has recorded the song "Five Little Pumpkins" AND created a mini Halloween Math and Literacy Interactive Notebook resource (did I mention for free?)

photo courtesy of Tweet Music 

My two year old monster LOVES Chrystine's 5 Little Pumpkins song (which is perfect for teaching number concept) and has been bopping away to it all day!   The interactive notebook resources are beautifully made and well worth downloading if you are an early years teacher.  

If you wish to download Chrystine's frenzy resources (and many more from other teacher/authors!) simply click on the link below and find the "FB Frenzy" box located at the top right hand side of the page:

After downloading Chrystine's resource you will be directed to a link to the next frenzy item.

Happy downloading!

OkinawanGirl Lisa

"Owl" Sorts of Fun!

I am so excited to be able to share one of my favorite fall/Halloween themed ideas with you today. Even though it's not really math related, it's still something I love to do!

This fun craft can also be tied into reading and writing, so you're safe if anyone (you know, ANYONE) pops in while you are crafting away. I may have ranted a little lot about kids being kids on my other blog {here} if you are interested....

This activity is super easy and the kids love it!

For read aloud on Owl Fun Day, I pick Owls by Gail Gibbons. She's a great nonfiction author...I love her books!

Owls by Gail Gibbons
Click the picture to get yourself a copy!
We usually use a few sticky notes to write down a few facts we already know about owls. This is especially great when you are working on activating schema or background knowledge!

As we read, they wrtte down facts they learn about owls from the book. They use small stickies again. I use the Sharing Board from Laura Candler's Graphic Organizers for Reading to help them organize and keep track of their sticky notes.

Graphic Organizers for Reading 
This is a great book! Check it out!

After we read and write facts on our sticky notes, we use this awesome graphic organizer to collect the facts! Christina from Bunting, Books and Bainbridge made this awesome organizer.

The first part asks them to write what they already know, and the second part asks them to write what they learned. The very last part asks them to write a question they still have. It is perfect to go with our owl fact sticky notes from earlier!

These are amazing graphic organizers...go get yourself a copy!
If you are interested in the graphic organizers, check out this great product from Christina!

After we get all the research and reading strategies out of the way, the really fun part can begin. (Although who can argue that reading strategies with awesome graphic organizers aren't fun?)

We make walnut owls! :-)

They are so fun and easy! We just attach the graphic organizer to the bottom and then hang them up for a cute bulletin board.

We always have fun making this cute owl craft! It's great for Halloween, fall or just for a quick fun Friday activity.

If you are interested in another fun fall activity, check out my post about making crockpot applesauce and writing apple poems with my third graders! There's a fun freebie! Click the picture below to take you to the blog post...

If you make Walnut Owls, I'd love to see how they turn out! Have a great week!


The Craft of Teaching

Using Technology to Help Teach Math

After Nicole’s post a few weeks ago about technology in the classroom, it got me thinking about how I used technology in my classroom especially during math. 

For most of my time in the classroom, I was fortunate to have a document camera.  The brand must have been ELMO because we always called it “The Elmo.”  This was a modern version of the overhead projector.  It would project an image onto a screen but now there was no need to create a transparency.  You could set any document under the camera and it would project the image for the whole class to see.  I used this ALL the time.  I would put books under the camera, especially when I wanted the class to focus on something in particular that they may not have been able to see if I just read it to them and they sat on the carpet.  I would also put any worksheets/assignments under it to go over directions.  That way they could clearly see what was expected of them.  I loved to use the document camera for teaching games.  Before the ELMO, I would have the students sit in a circle on the carpet and try to show them how to play a game that way.   This always resulted in someone getting excited and kneeling, or moving closer and someone else in the circle not being able to see.  With the document camera, this problem was solved.  I could play the game under the camera and all the students could see what I was doing.  It was awesome!!!  My teacher computer was also connected to this, so with an additional cord, I could project images from my computer onto the screen.  This came in handy when I was teaching my students about games and websites.  I could model how to use them and they could all see on the big screen what I was clicking on and what they would need to do in order to play the game. 

Our classrooms had three student computers and that was about the extent of the technology.  We had a tv and dvd player in the room but no Ipads or tablets or anything fun like I read about in other classrooms.  We tried to make the most of the student computers.  During math workshop, I always included a computer station.  Each group would have a chance to spend one rotation on the computers (which equals once a week.)  This meant they had to partner up because my groups were usually 5-7 students.  Each week, I would try to find a game on a website that taught, reinforced or previewed concepts being covered during that week of workshop.  Some games I found could be differentiated for each group, all from the same website.  Some weeks, I would have different groups use different websites in order to make the games more applicable to that group’s needs. 

There are some strategies I found useful to help manage the computer use in the classroom.  First, I had a file that was saved on a shared district drive where I would add the website links as I would find them.  I put this file on the shared drive so that I could access the file from the student computers as well as my teacher computer.  This saved me from having to type in long website addresses – just click on the link and I was there.  Once the computers were booted up, I would open the file, click the link and then bookmark the site for the week onto the student computers.  Second, I spent time teaching the class how to open the browser, find their bookmarks and click on the game for the week.  This was helpful because every week someone would click out of the game or need to restart and now they could solve the problem by themselves, without interrupting me and the group I was working with at the back table.  Third, I would show them the game for the week and how to play it before math workshop started.  That way they knew what to expect and we could answer the one million what if questions ahead of time.  It also helped that I would spend some time playing the games before I taught the class so I could help answer questions and troubleshoot.  We also learned the hard way that it was important for me to play a game from beginning to end before allowing the students to try.  One week, I didn’t do this and the students started to play the game.  After just a few rounds the game stopped and required the students to sign up and have an account to continue playing.  Lesson learned – take the time to play the game.

I’ve compiled a list of math websites that include games for a variety of math topics at all different levels (preK-high school.)  Some of these were websites I used in my classroom or had friends that used them in their classrooms.  The rest came from fellow teachers on TeachersPayTeachers who graciously shared their favorite math websites with me.  I briefly checked out each website and attempted to add if it cost money or needed an account.  As mentioned above, sometimes the requirement for creating an account doesn't pop up until after you've spent some time on the site, so be aware that this is a possibility with some of these sites.  I also added the grade level and topics covered to the best of my ability.  Obviously, this is just a small sampling of all the math websites that are available on the internet.  Hopefully, this will be a good starting resource for you and maybe you will find a few new sites to try out in your classroom.  You can find this FREE Excel file here:

Happy Teaching,
Graphics from

Preschool and Kinder Hallowe'en Playdough Activities

A Little History....

Many of my Japanese friends have been astonished to learn that Hallowe'en is not originally from the US.  The Americans embraced it, embellished it with "jack-o'-lanterns" (I learned that word here in Japan) and the phrase "Trick or Treat!", however it has western European roots.  It is thought to have been primarily influenced by the Celtic Samhain (a Gaelic festival celebrating the end of the harvest season).   

The actual phrase is a contraction of "All Hallows' Evening" and I therefore spell it "Hallowe'en" - this is something all of my primary school and high school teachers were very particular about and it stuck!   However, I've noticed that the inclusion of the apostrophe has been dropped by Americans.  That said, I can't bring myself to spell it "Halloween" in my TpT store, even though it's an American website, it just seems so wrong to me.  Can you tell I was really influenced by my teachers? :-)  


Playdough is fun and includes many benefits:

- it's therapeutic, there is definitely something calming about squishing and moulding
- it develops finger muscles which are important for pencil control and scissor skills
- it can be used to support math and literacy concepts
- it develops creativity, the possibilities of a lump of dough are endless! 

This week, monster baby and I have been working on playdough skills; specifically rolling dough into snakes and then placing it on Hallowe'en themed mats to make faces, numbers and letters.  

Meanwhile, I decided to have a go too....

Back to monster boy...


The Freaky Faces Hallowe'en mats are available for FREE by clicking here.

The differentiated number formation, number concept, 2D shapes and vocabulary cards are available for sale by clicking here.


I'd love to hear your ideas for Hallowe'en with preschoolers and kinders.  Particularly because the local mother/toddler group have asked me to do a Hallowe'en Circle Time in English as part of their anniversary celebrations at the end of this month!  (eeek!)  

Best wishes,

OkinawanGirl Lisa


The pumpkin frame graphic in the post header was made by Hugs Designs and the cute ladybird girl is by Laura at MyCuteGraphics.  

Halloween Is Coming...

In the time leading up to Halloween, we will be sharing ideas for celebrating fall/Halloween in the classroom and showcasing some of our products that are perfect for this time of year.

Halloween in the classroom doesn’t bring me a lot of fond memories.  Crazy out of control kids, getting a classroom full of kids changed into costumes with one bathroom, parents all over the place, parties with craziness and sugar, the year we had a lice outbreak and the kids had costumes with wigs and hats, whole school costume parades…ugh.  It is no wonder I dreaded Halloween as a teacher.  I always fought an internal battle of whether or not to include and incorporate Halloween into my curriculum to feed my students’ excitement or to down play it and try to keep them as calm as possible that time of year.  I always tried to find a way to include curriculum related Halloween ideas so I could justify what we were doing in class.  Here are a few ideas I used:

-Picture Books – I set out my Halloween books for my students to look at during the day.  I also tried to read some of these during our mini lessons depending on what subjects we were currently working on in reading workshop.  If I couldn’t get it to fit, I would read some during my read aloud time instead of a chapter book.

-Make My Pumpkin – I set out construction paper and every student made a pumpkin/jack-o-lantern.  When they were finished, I would pair them up and they would spend time writing a letter to their partner describing how to make their pumpkin.  We usually had just finished our letter writing unit so it was good practice for their writing skills.  Some years, I had them write more of a how to instead of a letter.  The partners read the letters (without seeing the pumpkin) and tried to recreate the pumpkin. At the end they showed each other their pumpkins to see how well they followed directions. 

-Task cards – Task cards can be used in a variety of ways.  They can be a center during math workshop, daily/morning work, an entry in a math journal, a whole class game, assessments, preassessments, reviews and more.  Make it a little more fun by using a Halloween set of task cards.  These are two sets that I’ve made.  The math one includes addition, subtraction, telling time, story problems and place value problems and would be ideal for second or third grade.  The other set is for language arts and includes parts of speech, punctuation, contractions and correcting common errors in sentences. 

Hope some of these ideas are helpful to you in your classroom.  Enjoy the craziness that the holiday brings into the classroom.  Can't wait to read what some of my blogging partners do for Halloween in the classroom.

Happy Teaching,

Graphics courtesy of
Font courtesy of

Introducing Money to Preschoolers

Money is one of my favourite math topics.  It is easy to relate to real life contexts in the childrens' lives such as excursion fees, trips to the shops and visits from the tooth fairy.


I particularly enjoy introducing money through exploring pirates.

My two year old son loves, "I'd like to be a Pirate" book.  It's a bit uneventful in my opinion, but who am I to judge?  Anyways, it features treasure!  Therefore reading it leads nicely into pirate treasure hunting......

treasure hunting on the beach

Treasure hunting is easy to set up.  All you need is some gold coins (I got a supply from the local 100 yen shop) and the beach / sand box / sensory table.  We're luckily enough to live opposite the beach so we tend to go there a lot.  

Depending on the level of your students, you can have a lot of great math discussions following treasure hunts:

"Where did you find the coins?" (focusing on prepositional language)
"How many coins do you think X found?" (look and estimate)
"Who found the most coins, Y or Z?" (look and compare)

Shopping Event

We attend a local mother/toddler group most mornings which is located on the second floor of a daycare facility.  Last week the daycare staff invited us to attend their special shopping event.   

We managed to bag all of the above for a handful of notes and coins!  Bargain!  

Each child at the daycare was allocated a "stall" in the classroom "supermarket".  The stalls simply consisted of tables, signs and goods.  Goods included food, mobile phones and jewellery.  I pulled out my camera to take pictures (the children looked super cute in their little shop uniforms) only to discover that I'd left the memory card in my laptop at home!  ARGH! Sorry about that.  As customers we were allocated shopping bags and toy money.  

The daycare children loved working in their shops and as customers we got to keep our purchases!  A definite win win situation!  

Here are some close up photos of our purchases....

This mobile phone is simply made from a milk carton.  My son loves playing with this and pointing out the individual numbers on the keypad.  The picture is of Currypan Man (curry bread man) a famous character here in Japan.

our food purchases

jewellery purchases - bracelets, rings and a necklace.

The teachers and children worked hard all week making their goods for sale.  In the process they did a LOT of fine motor work (placing stickers, twisting pipe cleaners and wool, tying knots....).   I think they did an awesome job!  

The children definitely got a lot out of the event.  Being a typical teacher I made a point of observing everyone (even though I don't work there!) and even the tiniest of preschoolers understood what was going on - exchanging money for goods.  It was funny to note that children often received more change than the money they tendered in the first place - but that was all part of the fun!


Please share your ideas for introducing money in the comments section below.

Best wishes,

OkinawanGirl Lisa