2022 - Down River Resources | Your Elementary Math Guide
Have you noticed that learning teen numbers is difficult for students? There are good reasons teen numbers are so difficult! Teen numbers do not follow the typical number naming system in English. As a result, teen numbers have been dubbed "tricky teens" by teachers of yesteryear. Eleven, twelve, and thirteen are, by far, the most difficult teen numbers to master. Find out the reasons why teen numbers are tricky and read about how you can help your young mathematicians learn teen numbers with ease.

Tricky Teens are Hard for Kindergarten and First Grade Students

Here's just a few reasons why learning teen numbers in kindergarten and first grades is so challenging for young mathematicians.

1. Teen numbers are an anomaly. Their digits are not written in the order of other two-digit numbers.

The word structure does not correlate with the numerical parts. 

In contrast, in some East Asian languages, the word for 18, for example, translates into "ten eight," and 38 translates into "three ten, eight."  
In the English system, teen and two-digit numbers look like two single-digit numbers written beside each other; nothing shows the 10 value for the number on the left. Young mathematicians need verbal and visual supports for understanding these number words and written numbers.


2. Young mathematicians may have some difficulty with transitions, such as through the teen numbers and between decades.

Often times, young mathematicians say something like “twoteen” for “twelve” or “oneteen” for “eleven”. Such mistakes are attributable to the nature of the English teen-number words, which look, for example, like 10 and 1 or 10 and 2 but do not follow that pattern when spoken. 

Young mathematicians often have less difficulty with numbers beyond 20, but can still struggle through the transitions between decades. For instance, the transition between 19 and 20, 29 and 30, and so forth. 

3. The written position of the numerals are the reverse of the oral representation. 

The written position of the numerals and the oral representation of the teen numbers do not match, which causes quite the confusion for young mathematicians. 

For example, if asked to write 17, they might write the 7 first and then put the digit 1 to the left of the 7. They write the correct numerals, but they give evidence of having difficulty in matching the sound of the number with its appearance (the word “seventeen” begins with the word and sound of “seven”, so intuitively it might seem to them that the 7 should be written first). Some students will reverse digits. For example, when identifying two-digit numbers, they will write 37 as 73. 

4. The names of the teen numbers do not correspond with their values.

When young mathematicians hear thirteen, it does not elicit them to think "1 ten, 3 ones." The teen numbers represent a particular challenge for English language learners because the difference between thirteen and thirty is not easy to hear. 

One common misconception is that teen numbers relates more to place value. Learning the numbers 11 to 19 is more about composing and decomposing numbers. 

Young mathematicians need to learn that teen numbers are composed of one group of 10 and some more, or loose, ones. 

Here's three simple ways to help your mathematicians learn teen numbers:

1. Use mathematical language interchangeably. 

When working with teen and two-digit numbers, we say 13 as "thirteen" and as "1 ten, 3 ones" and say 38 as "thirty-eight" and as "3 tens, 8 ones." 

This is especially important for teen numbers as they are exceptions to the patterns for number words. These linked words are used interchangeably and help reinforce the composition of the numbers. 

2. Provide visuals of teen numbers in both written and numeral forms and give a visual cue.

Scaffold the lesson for young mathematicians by providing them with visuals of the teen numbers in both written form and the numeral form. 

Mathematicians also need practice hearing (stress the teen of the number by putting a finger near the mouth) and saying thirteen and fourteen so that they can hear the stress on the teen part of the number.

3. Use Hiding Zero cards. 

Our visual supports for these written numbers include cards that show the decade number, or 10, and cards that are half as wide that show the single digits 1 through 9. 

The single-digit cards fit on top of the 0 on the decade-number cards to enable children to build numbers in such a way that they can still see both parts of the number they are making by flipping up the single-digit card.

Are you looking for more support for your young mathematicians mastering teen numbers?

You might be interested in using these research-based teen number toolkit that contains 10 lesson ideas, activities, printables, and much more!

The Teen Number Toolkit contains lots of printables that facilitators can use during guided math, math intervention, or tutoring. The large cards can be used for whole group lessons too!

The research-based lesson ideas from the Teen Number Toolkit can be used for guided math, math intervention, or tutoring. The Hiding Zero cards are included that were featured in this post too! 

The printable pages from the Teen Number Toolkit can be used for independent practice, in math centers or math stations, or sent home as practice. 

This post on teen numbers focuses on following standards:

TEKS K.2B Read, write, and represent whole numbers from 0 to at least 20 with and without objects or pictures. 

→ TEKS 1.2B Use concrete and pictorial models to compose and decompose numbers up to 120 in more than one way as so many hundreds, so many tens, and so many ones;

→ CCSS K.NBT.A.1 Compose and decompose numbers from 11 to 19 into ten ones and some further ones, e.g., by using objects or drawings, and record each composition or decomposition by a
drawing or equation (such as 18 = 10 + 8); understand that these numbers are composed
of ten ones and one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, or nine ones.

I hope this post inspires you to help your young mathematics learn teen numbers with ease!

What has helped your mathematicians learn teen numbers?

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Texas symbols, Texas Independence Day, Texas Week, and Texas-themed picture books! Texas history is not second nature to me, since I moved to the Lone Star state from New Mexico. One thing I quickly learned is that Texas people are proud, y'all. I can't complain about that. We do live in a pretty amazing state! The second thing I learned is that Texans are called to celebrate our state during the week that March Second falls in. Why March Second ? It's Texas Independence Day! <waving the Texas flag> Grab your favorite Texas-themed picture book to celebrate Texas Week! 

Celebrate Texas Week in Style at Your Elementary School

Did you know that teachers and pupils in every school in Texas need to observe this week?!

Texas Civil Statues (1932) say: "The spirit of Texas Week is that every citizen of our great state to exalt and extol the highest and the best cultural and spiritual value of Texas throughout Texas Week."

One great way to celebrate Texas Week is to educate your students about our state!

Here are some ways to exalt and exolt Texas for its special week:
  • Play the state anthem, "Texas, Our Texas"
  • Explain the symbols that represent our state
  • Make a list of ways we can show "friendship" our state's motto
  • Read Texas-themed books

Here are some of the best Texas-themed picture books to exalt and extol our Lone Star State:

Scroll through this post and find a new title to add to your Texas-themed collection!

Armadillo Rodeo by Jan Brett

When Bo spots what he thinks is a "rip-roarin', rootin'-tootin', shiny red armadillo," he knows what he has to do. Follow that armadillo! 

Bo leaves his mother and three brothers behind and takes off for a two-stepping, bronco-bucking adventure. Jan Brett turns her considerable talents toward the Texas countryside in this amusing story of an armadillo on his own. See more here.

I Spy in the Texas Sky by Deborah K. Thomas

In this Texas twist on the popular child's game, I Spy, the narrator spies some of the state's most famous features, such as the bluebonnet, mockingbird, Mexican free-tailed bat, prickly pear cactus, and Lone Star. Once each item is identified, a brief informational page is provided. See more here.

The Legend of the Bluebonnet by Tomie dePaola

When a killing drought threatens the existence of the tribe, a courageous little Comanche girl sacrifices her most beloved possession--and the Great Spirit's answer results not only in much needed rain but a very special gift in return. 

This old Texas tale tells the legend of the bluebonnet. It is the perfect book if you want to honor Texas' history with Native American See more here.

Indelible Ann: The Larger-Life Story of Governor Ann Richards by Meghan P. Browne & Carlynn Whitt 

This book is a new addition to my Texas picture book section! Dorothy Ann Willis hailed from a small Texas town, but early on she found her voice and the guts to use it.

During her childhood, Ann discovered a spark and passion for civic duty. It led her all the way to Washington, DC, where she, along with other girls from around the country, learned about the business of politics. Fast forward to Ann taking on the political boys' club: she became county commissioner, then state treasurer, and finally governor of Texas. Learn about the stunning life of the legendary "big mouth, big hair" governor of Texas, a woman who was inspired by Eleanor Roosevelt, and in turn became an inspiration to countless others. Maybe even a student in your class will be inspired by this story! See more here.

A Picture Book of Davy Crockett by David A. Adler

Legends say Davy Crockett weighed two hundred pounds when he was born, and leapt right out of his cradle ready to fight. Though those stories are an exaggeration, Crockett's life was anything but boring.  

Farmer, soldier, sharp-shooter and politician, he was a well-known figure in the early 1800s—and even after his death, his reputation as an American folk hero grew and grew.  Adler retells the true story of David Crockett's life—from his birth in Tennessee to his death at the Alamo, separating fact from fiction. A timeline of important dates is included. See more here.

L is for Lone Star: A Texas Alphabet by Carol Crane

There are enough special people, wildlife, and natural wonders in the Lone Star State to fill several alphabet books, but this picture book has the finest to represent Texas. With poems to engage younger readers and text to give further details for older students, this book is a fantastic tool for sharing Texan pride with the ones you love. See more here.

Susanna of the Alamo: A True Story by John Jakes

“Remember the Alamo!” is one of the most familiar battle cries in American history, yet few know about the brave woman who inspired it. Susanna Dickinson’s story reveals the crucial role she played during that turbulent period in Texas-American history. 

This well-researched story, which we read as a family this past fall, inspired us to take a trip to the Alamo. Our young daughter's face lit up when she saw the statue of Susanna. Her role in Texas will forever be remembered through this text. See more here.

Ima & the Great Texas Ostrich Race by Margaret McManis

In 1892, ten-year-old Ima Hogg rides her pet ostrich in a race against her brothers who are on horseback on a Texas ranch. This fun picture book contains lots of facts about the real Ima, daughter of Texas Governor James Stephen Hogg.

While this might be a lesser known Texas-themed picture book, but I had the best time listening to McManis, when she came for an author's visit at a New Mexico elementary school. I remember sitting in the cafeteria, full of eager children, and thinking, "Wow! I have got to get to Texas!" McManis has the best Texas twang. We just don't have accents like that here in El Paso. See more here.

West Texas Chili Monster by Judy Cox 

Mama makes a huge pot of award-winning chili for the Texas Chili Cook-Off, but a lean, green, chili-swiggin' space alien smells the chili and heads straight for Texas, gulping down the entire entry. Read this picture book to find out what happens. See more here. 

Need some fun, standards-based Texas activities to celebrate Texas Week?

The most popular Texas-themed resource is the lapbook bundle featured on the left side of the photograph above. This bundle is loaded with an interactive lapbook, Texas symbols matching puzzles (center photograph), student printables, posters, and more!

Texas Symbols are fun to study to Texas Week! These engaging two-piece matching puzzles, featured in the center of the photograph above, will keep your sanity with simple cuts for preparation. These are available individually or in the bundle mentioned above.

Texas Emergent Readers featured on the right side of the photograph above. These unique emergent readers combine sight words and Texas history.

I hope this post inspires you to read a fun Texas-themed picture book during Texas Week!

What's your favorite Texas-themed picture book?

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Valentine's Day is one of my favorite holidays to celebrate in the classroom. It is such a happy time to celebrate friendship. While I do enjoy celebrating holidays, there are a few things I do NOT like about celebrating the holidays: crafts are often messy, expensive, or too complicated. After my first couple of years of teaching, I hated celebrating the holidays. I bit off more than I could chew in the name of the celebration. I took a step back and decided to make things simple. I don't do glitter, paint, or more than six-step crafts! If the craft is simple and meaningful, I'm here for it. Here's a collection of my favorite crafts to use in my classroom that are SIMPLE! 

Top 3 Valentine's Day Crafts for the Classroom

Cupcakes, hearts, and love... oh my! There's so many fun, favorites in this post. Each of them is simple to create and contain several options for differentiation. 

1. Differentiated Math Cupcake Craftivity 

Your mathematicians will LOVE creating and designing these fun Valentine's Day math cupcakes!

Depending on your grade level, your mathematicians can use their scrumptious cupcake to show how they compose and decompose numbers, use addition or subtraction, or represent numbers using place value, including standard form, expanded form, and using base-ten blocks. Mathematicians can also draw pictorial models too!

There's so many ways to use this sweet cupcake for students to show their understanding of math concepts and more!

There are three suggested uses (see photograph below) for this project, but it is open-ended and can be differentiated to fit your math curricular or students' needs!

2. Love Writing Craftivity 

One thing I love about this writing craft is that it can be used for a variety of celebrations, including Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, or Grandparents' Day. 

It can be placed adoringly on a bulletin board to display standards-based writing activity which students will create comparisons for their love for someone special. This activity has lots of options for younger students and older students! It makes a unique gift for a someone special.

There's an English version OR a Spanish version too!

3. Valentine's Craftivity

This is by-far the most used craftivity out of the set. 

Create a Valentine's Day bulletin board and display this standards-based writing activity to display the top three things that your students love! This February bulletin board craft has options for younger students and older students!

One teacher just left some feedback that they are putting this together as a mobile and hanging them from the ceiling in the classroom. 

There is so many options with each of these fun crafts to celebrate friendship for Valentine's Day! 

I hope this post inspires you to simplify crafting for Valentine's Day!

Which craft is your favorite in this set?

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Ready or not? The 100th Day of School is coming. I have quite an unpopular opinion about celebrating the 100th Day of School. It has been a tradition in schools to dress up and bring things into the classroom. Here's a few ways that the 100th Day has traditionally been celebrated: dress up as a 100-year-old, decorate a shirt with 100 objects, gathering a collection of 100. All of these ideas are surely fun, but they do place a burden on families, both with time and financially. Another common practice is teachers purchasing 10 different snacks and giving each student 10 pieces of each of the 10 snacks. Again, this is surely fun but places a financial burden on the classroom teacher. Snacks can also be problematic with allergies, etc. too! I recommend reading a fun picture book about the 100th Day {you can use the list below} and use a few fun activities that can be used throughout the school year, not just exclusively for the 100th  Day of School. 

The Best Collection of Picture Books to Celebrate the 100th Day of School

Get ready for the 100th Day of School with the best collection of picture books to celebrate with your eager learners! You'll see a common problem in many of the stories... the main character has to find 100 objects for a collection for their 100th Day of School! 

I saved my favorite picture book for the end of the list, so don't stop your scroll. Keep reading to find your favorite! 

* Please note: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites, at no extra cost to you. I only recommend items that I use regularly and know you will love! 

The Night Before the 100th Day of School by Natasha Wing

The 100th Day of School is almost here and one student is desperate to find 100 of anything to bring to class. Then all of sudden inspiration strikes, and he comes up with a surprise that makes the 100th day celebration one to remember! 

This hilarious story reminds me of the anxiety that comes with assigning the gathering of a collection of 100 objects to your students! See more here.

Miss Bindergarten Celebrates the 100th Day of Kindergarten by Joseph Slate

Kindergarten teacher? This is THE book is for your class! 

Miss Bindergarten, the world's best kindergarten teacher, is getting ready for another classroom milestone. Tomorrow, she and her class will have been together for 100 days. To celebrate, each student must bring "100 of some wonderful, one-hundred-full thing!" 

At night, while the students go to work assembling their projects, Miss Bindergarten is working, too, making special surprises for the class. The 100th day of kindergarten is bound to be unforgettable! See more here.

Jake's 100th Day of School by Lester L. Laminack  

What will Jake do when he forgets to bring the special collection he’s going to share for the 100th day of school? Jake and his fellow students are getting ready for a celebration. Tomorrow is the 100th day of school and everyone is going to share their collections of 100 things. 

The day of the celebration arrives, but Jake forgets the 100 family pictures he has glued into a special memory book at home. Disaster! But thanks to Jake’s ingenuity and the sensitivity of his principal, Jake does have a collection to display that day… and something special to share with the class on the 101st day of school.

There is lots of diversity in the school community throughout the beautiful illustrations of this book! See more here.

100 Days of School by Trudy Harris

The funny rhymes in this book will show you some different ways to count to 100 using a clown's nose, piggy toes, and other groups of things. It all adds up to a fun way to learn about 100!

Your young mathematicians will see how fascinating the world of number can be with the fun illustrations and storylines in this text! See more here.

Miss Mingo and the 100th Day of School by Jamie Harper

This is the newest published book on the 100th Day of School, so if you haven't seen this one yet, I recommend it! It might even inspire some fun activities in your classroom! 

It’s the 100th Day of School and Miss Mingo the Flamingo has quite a day planned for her diverse class of animals. 

First, the students share projects that celebrate the number one hundred: Centipede does one hundred jumping jacks, Panda shows off two bundles of fifty bamboo stalks, and other students share five sets of twenty footprints and other combos to get to the magic number. 

Later, the class works together to create sculptures out of one hundred paper cups (Octopus is particularly helpful), and the day becomes as much about self-expression as it is a number—especially when Miss Mingo has the whole class make silly faces for one hundred seconds! 

You'll love that this text integrates fascinating facts about the animals with humorously detailed illustrations that capture the young mathematicians’ excited energy. See more here.

100th Day Worries by by Margery Cuyler

Okay, here it is! This is my favorite book to use for the 100th Day of School. Perhaps, it is because I can relate to the main character, Jessica.

When the teacher tells everyone in class to find 100 things to bring to school for their 100th day, Jessica starts to worry. She wants to bring something really good. but what?

100 marshmallows? No, too sticky.
100 yo-yos? Nah, that's silly.

When Jessica reaches the 99th day, she really starts to worry. She still doesn't know what to bring! Could the best collection of 100 things be right under her eyes? See more here.

If you like 100th Day Worries, you'll love using this companion Book Bud!

If the text, 100th Day Worries sounds like a good-fit for your classroom, you will love this Book Bud, a text companion activity set, loaded with many printable math and literacy centers!

This Book Bud is jam-packed with activities to celebrate the 100th Day of School. It includes:

  • 6 Interactive Math Activities & Math Printables
  • 4 Interactive Literacy Activities & Literacy Printables
  • 1 Bulletin Board Craftivity (100th Day of School Writing + Party Hat Craft)
  • 4 Writing Prompts with Various Printable Paper Options (box for picture, primary lined & lined)

Focus Skills Included in this 100th Day Worries Book Bud:

Math: Count by Tens, Count by Fives, Groups of Ten, Count to 100, Write Numbers up to 100, Identify 2-D Shapes

Literacy: Syllables, Spelling, Verbs, Adjectives, Plot, Setting, Characters, Writing, and more!

I hope this post inspires you to read a fun 100th Day of School picture book to your class!

When is your 100th Day of School?

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Your young mathematicians and engineers will LOVE designing and constructing fun robots composed of two-dimensional shapes, or 2-D shapes! Depending on the grade level, your mathematicians and engineers can use their shape robots to show how many circles, triangles, squares, rectangles, rhombuses, and hexagons, and how many sides and vertices they used! This activity is bound to get your mathematicians and engineers critically thinking about the role robots play in our society. 

Top Way to Excite Young Students with Geometry and Engineering Using Robots

Students love ending a unit with a fun, culminating project. This two-dimensional robot craftivity is perfect for the end of a geometry unit OR engineering design unit. While I designed this project for kindergarten, first, and second grades, it could be throughout elementary school. There are several options that can be used for differentiation or a mix of these grade levels!

* Please note: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites, at no extra cost to you. I only recommend items that I use regularly and know you will love! 

Build Excitement Using Literature

First, I love using literature for interdisciplinary connections. I read Love, Z or Robot in Love to get engineers interested in robots. I usually teach two-dimensional shapes in January or February, so these are my favorite robot titles for this time of year!

Then, I read a short informational text that I wrote, The Most Important Thing about Robots. This text is patterned after the published book, The Important Book, by Margaret Wise Brown. By reading the informational text about robots aloud, I create shared knowledge with the class about some robot basics. 

Engineers learn about how robots help humans, the two main reasons robots are constructed with examples, and the two types of robots through the text. This robot knowledge will come in handy for the next part of the activity.

Designing a Two-Dimensional Robot 

The engineers use the knowledge they gained from the texts read aloud to design their robots. If you are interested in moving through the entire engineering design process, you can first have your students design or sketch their robot. Depending on your grade level, you might want your engineers to think about the limitations, or constraints, for their design. 

For example:
  • When using this activity with kindergarten engineers, they are limited to ONLY using circles, triangles, squares, and rectangles. 
  • When using this with first grades and above, engineers are limited to ONLY using circles, triangles, squares, rectangles, rhombuses, and hexagons.
  • These limitations above were generated based on the grade level standards.
  • You could create additional limitations, such as: "You can only use 12 shapes total." OR "You can only use 4 rectangles."

Engineers should think about the purpose of their robot. ASK: How does your robot help humans?

After engineers decide how their robot will help humans, they should plan the tasks that the robot should be able to do to carry out its purpose. This will determine what type of pieces, or parts, they will use.

Constructing a Two-Dimensional Robot 

After engineers design their robots, they can use the pre-printed templates to cut out the two-dimensional shapes to construct their robots. 

PRO TIP: I printed one full set of two-dimensional shapes in each color of cardstock. I placed the copies in the center of the group and engineers shared the pages. There are so many shapes included that one set of shapes per student is too much! 

You can also have engineers compose their own shapes using the attributes of two-dimensional shapes. This directly hits grade level standards but can be more challenging! You can use the pre-printed templates for tracing though to make this easier for engineers. I recommend using colored construction paper if using this option. This is also a good challenge for upper elementary engineers.

Engineers will need to glue the two-dimensional shapes together to construct their robots.

Once completed, engineers can use a half-sheet of paper to count the two-dimensional shapes included in their design. There are two different headings included: "My Robot Has..." or "I Like Shapes a Bot!" The shapes included on these printables are grade level specific, so there's three options.

Finally, engineers can use a recording sheet to name their robot and describe how their robot helps humans by doing three tasks.

In this photograph below, this kindergartener was challenged to use all of the shapes included to differentiate. The half-sheet of paper for counting the shapes was created for first grade engineers, but this kindergartener used it successfully. 

If you look at the engineering design report, this robot called Musicbot helps humans by making music when a band member is sick. Musicbot is able to play polka music, dance on stage, and walk on stage. {This kindergarten work sample amazes me!}

After looking at all of these work samples, I can't wait to see what your engineers design! 

Extending the Learning about Geometry and Engineering Design

Included in this set, there are 12 constraints cards. (See the orange set of cards in the lower left-hand corner of the photograph below.) If you need to differentiate the craft portion of the activity, you could assign a constraint card to an engineer. 

PRO TIP: I recommend cutting and placing all of the two-dimensional shapes that are left over from constructing robots in a plastic storage bag. Place the 12 constraints cards on a binder ring and slip into the bag. This becomes an instant station!

This can be used in a math station, science station, or engineering station to extend the learning.

There is an additional recording sheet for accountability if desiring to use the materials within a station. 

If mixing two-dimensional shapes and engineering design is a good-fit for your classroom, you can snag it right here in my TpT shop. 

I'm looking forward to seeing what your engineers design! Tag me on social media. 

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