December 2016 - Down River Resources | Your Elementary Math Guide

Teaching is an adventure or nothing. I choose adventure over nothing any day, and I think most teachers would too! An adventure wouldn't be complete without a detour. How many times in your day do you end up exactly where you wanted, but you had to take a different path to get there? That summarizes most days in the classroom for me personally. Kindergarten Down River will be taking a detour in the next few weeks as I expand my vision for the future in the new year of 2017.

The first few weeks of January will be full of changes. I started sharing resources with my friends across the state of Texas and the globe over the internet with the name Kindergarten Down River, which described path I was cascading at the time. The waters have changed and so has my knowledge and expertise, thus a name change has been in order for some time now. Quite frankly, I have been intimidated by change. Representative of my namesake though, I must take the plunge and continue "down river." In 2017 and beyond, with God's abundant grace, I look forward to new adventures as I embody the name Down River Resources.

I look forward to the new opportunities that this name change will provide and as my mission to serve others expands. Please continue to follow me through the current channels of social media. Beginning soon, my name will change on social media and my TpT store. If you are currently following me on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, or TpT, all you should notice is the name change...and soon my profile pic, etc. My blog name and address will change soon as well. I will announce that information as it becomes available and the changes are made.

I greatly appreciate you trusting me to provide you and your students with quality standards-based resources. Thank you for your patience as I plunge into the river and journey forward to serve you better.

Happy Following!

What changes are in store for you in 2017?

Since I started teaching kindergarten, I have been disappointed with the resources that have been provided to teach math. Most math resources lacked depth and were not truly 100 percent "standards-based." I rolled around the idea for quite some time about creating my own resources for kindergarten math units. This past summer, I decided to take the plunge and have not regretted my decision since! I have many sleepless nights refining activities and researching the teaching topics, but it has become a valuable asset in my classroom and others' who have used it!

Munch Through Math: Kinder Math Units for TEKS and CCSS

How do you munch through the math standards for kindergarten? You use MUNCH THROUGH MATH, of course! It is my new kindergarten math series! It provides students with hands-on, engaging practice while meeting the specificity of the standards. These units were primarily designed to meet the Texas Kindergarten Math TEKS (adopted 2012), but also are correlated to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The great thing about this series is that it can be used to supplement ANY math program that you use. It allows the teacher to use the materials flexibly, but gives guidance on how to teach the concepts. There are many great components that you will find in each Munch Through Math Unit.

Each unit provides the teacher with the academic vocabulary necessary to teach the math unit. You will notice that there are some words that are more difficult and are uncommon to use. In these instances, I have created anchor charts that illustrate these words to help you and your students master this academic vocabulary.

Interactive math notebooks are becoming more popular each year. Each unit comes with a few folds and flaps to use as you teach the vocabulary and/or concepts to your students. At a minimum, your students should be using their notebooks to anchor their learning each week. 

Several hands-on, engaging activities are included in Munch Through Math. They activities will need to be prepared in advance, but can be used in so many different settings in your classroom including: introducing and practicing concepts with the entire classroom, practicing and refining skills within guided math, small group intervention, or tutoring, or they can be placed within a center for independent or partner practice. 

Every unit contains a variety of printables* to use for modeling, guided practice, and independent practice. If you do not want to print class copies, you could put them in a dry erase sleeve or pocket for students to write on with a dry-erase marker! While I realize that many teachers and schools are moving away from the "worksheet" or "printable," it is essential in many classrooms. For some, a gradable item that can be used in student portfolios or as evidence of learning is a must. I often use these pages as supportive documentation when getting students assistance through the Response-to-Intervention process and to provide evidence of intervention to the committee.

The piece that I spend the most time creating in these units are the checkpoints. Checkpoints are the formative assessments that teachers use to monitor students' progress working through the standards being taught. In my classroom, I use these checkpoints for formative assessment and the district-mandated assessments for our summative data collection. If you do not have any type of final unit assessments, these can be used as such too! 

*Many of the printable pages are broken up and are sold separately, if you are just looking for a small supplement for your classroom. The academic vocabulary and checkpoints are exclusive to the Munch Through Math Units. 

I hope this inspires you to create engaging math sessions for your students to munch through the standards and if you would like to use my math units they are in my TpT store.

Check out these Munch Through Math Units AVAILABLE NOW!


How do you munch through math?

Teaching wants and needs can be a complicated business, especially for younger children. Kindergarten students are expected to distinguish wants and needs as a skill of personal financial literacy. What not a better way than to connect this learning to something that is magical, like Christmas?!

Wants and Needs Christmas Craftivity 

As the Christmas wish books multiply in length, so does our children's lists of desired items. These lists are filled with top toys, which are difficult to find, and costly electronics. As I was teaching kindergarten, I realized that even five-year-olds were aware of the most expensive items that were much better quality than anything I possessed. (Talk about embarrassing! I had a flip phone while my five-year-old students were receiving iPhones for Christmas!)

It was after that year teaching that I became aware of the materialism at such a young age, so I began teaching wants and needs through Christmas. (Lightbulb moment!)

I usually begin my mini-unit on wants and needs by describing the wants and needs of my dog. I talk about her a lot with my students so they connect to her very easily. Jedi, my sweet puppy, NEEDS dog food, water, and a dog house. Jedi WANTS a squeaky toy, jerky treats, and a rawhide. It is a great way to get students thinking about wants and needs and it coincides with the basic needs of organisms also. Connecting math and science...awesome!

Next, I connect this to birthdays and the holiday season, when we receive gifts from others. We distinguish between needs and wants and generate a list of these items, organized in a T-chart. This is a great anchor for the culminating activity, a Christmas Craftivity. It makes a great holiday bulletin board too. (Two for one!)

The great thing about the craftivity is that all students, regardless of age or religion, can participate. I always find it difficult to do seasonal activities with diverse learners, but this craftivity lends itself well for this, which was my goal when I created it.

First, students choose a topper for their craftivity. They can choose between a happy snowman or a jolly St. Nick. I have found that it is usually an even split in the classroom between the two options. I let the students choose!

By allowing the students to choose, they are more involved and the activity has more meaning for them!

The snowman is a great option for those who do not participate in the holiday of Christmas. I have not had any difficulty using the snowman version of this for them and their families were supportive of the idea and were happy that I was considerate of their beliefs.

The snowman topper makes great with the snowballs where students will actually write down or draw pictures of the items that they need and want. The presents match with the Santa topper.

It is up to you if you would like coordinating craftivities or if you allow students to mix and match. Personally, my OCD and Type A personality can not condone interchanging the pieces. 

Another feature to support diverse learners is the primary lines or blank spaces options. Younger students may find more flexibility in the blank spaces. Older students, who have spatial reasoning, might like this as they get creative in their writing styles.

If your goal is to improve handwriting or support students in this way, you may find the primary lined option best for your students' needs.

Also, you can mix it up if there are students who could benefit from each of these options in your classroom! Judgement-free zone here! 

The final option allows you to provide support for students who are gaining fine motor skills. For my kinders, cutting around the wiggly snowball is quite difficult, so cutting around a thick black rectangular border makes this more manageable.

You can choose to include the boxes if your students need additional support cutting around shapes. If not, let the students cut around the shapes without support.

If you need to, you can mix and match based on student need.

Teachers love the flexibility of this craftivity!

Here are some examples from a second grade classroom showing varying skill levels:

What teachers are saying about this:

"So cute and a nice way to have children think about what's important...needs and wants...not usually the same thing...but not often thought about!"

"This is a great way to touch back on wants and needs and really express to my students the importance of being grateful and thankful!" 

"Love the choices of how students can create this!"

I hope this post inspired you to teach wants and needs in a meaningful way, and if you want to use my Christmas Craftivity in your classroom, you can find it in my TpT store!

I hope your students enjoy this craftivity as much as my students have in the past few years! May your wants and needs be fulfilled this holiday season and always.

Happy Crafting!

How do you teach wants and needs in your classroom?

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