Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Math in Focus Activities for First Grade


One of my goals this year was to place an increased emphasis on math in my curriculum.  This is difficult coming from a very very very literacy-oriented teacher.  I like books and words and writing, and I know how to do books and words and writing.  Doing math – not so much.  I just don’t think like a mathematician.  I think more in brightly colored Sharpies and/or Flair Pens that like to draw pictures and write stories and words.   

But this year, my friends, with the adoption of Math in Focus (Singapore Math), I am changing my tune and trying to make our math block  just as engaging as I make our literacy block. 

So, here’s some “math things” we’ve done so far this year to support math in our classroom…


I couldn’t tell you who this idea was from, but someone out there in the the www made a chart similar to this that inspired me.  We’ll be adding more strategies throughout the year.

We’re using Cara’s Calendar Companion this year and, *omiword* if you don’t own it, buy it!  A great resource to help me connect writing to math, organize my calendar time, and add a little pizazz to my least favorite part of the day (sorry, calendar time drives me cah-razy).  Anyway, to help ease my kiddos into the routine, I made a large laminated poster that I fill out as the kids are filling theirs’ out.  We are not doing every component of this just yet.  I just filled it out for the sake of the picture :)


This space on my whiteboard contains a number-writing poem I borrowed from Debbie Diller’s Math Work Stations book (*love*) and our math vocabulary terms.  Let me just tell you, that poem has really helped my kiddos remember how to write their numbers!  A parent even commented that her little girl was saying it while she was doing her homework. 


I’ve just started introducing math work station activities.  I used to get all bent out of shape over centers because they seemed sooooo time-intensive to come up with and create.  However, now I just kind of go with what manipulatives I have on hand, and keep them simple. { I’m sure someone else in the wide world of teaching has come up with similar activities, so please know I don’t think I’m being innovative here!}  The kids love the deviation from whole group activities, and they get 12 kinds of excited when they get to use – stop the world – buttons!  connecting cubes! post-it notes! playing cards!  This is why I love my firsties so – genuine excitement about the small things:)

Since we’ve worked a lot on identifying numbers 1-10, writing the words 1-10, and representing numbers 1-10, the first activity is very “kindergarten.”  However, Math in Focus starts out with a big ol’ number review and I really appreciated the refresher for my kiddos.

Activity #1

This is a super quick activity that could also be used as a formative assessment, and will give you a good idea who’s still struggling with number identification/representation. 

Give each child 10 sticky notes and a pile of manipulatives (we used buttons).  Students should then label each note with a number 1-10.  Then, beneath or on the note, have the student show that many objects.


Activity #2 & 3: More is Better & Less is Best

We’re also working on identifying more/less.  So, I created a recording sheet that corresponds to a fun card game that my kids love.  I feel like this might be an Everyday Math game, too, but I honestly don’t remember! 

For this game, take a deck of cards (pkg of 2 for a $1 at Dollar Tree) and remove all the cards except 1-10.  Students will then work in pairs to play a war-like game using the altered deck.  Each student draws a card and records what they drew on the response sheet.  The winner, depending on what skill you want to focus on, is the student whose card is “more” or “less.”  The winner of the turn circles the number.  Students play for 10 turns and then determine the winner as the student with the most circles (i.e. drew the larger or smaller number the majority of the turns). 


You can download a copy of these  recording sheet HERE

Are you using Math in Focus?  What do you think?  We’re onto number bonds starting on Friday and I’m a wee little bit nervous! 

Have a great day, friends :)

PS.  If there are a gobzillion typos/errors/something that doesn’t make sense in this post, I’m going to blame it on the fact that I can’t keep my eyes open after 7:30pm.  School is wearing me right out!  Ha!


Kinderpond said...

Ahhh.... maybe today is the day I get to be first to comment on your awesome blog.

I love your math anchor chart!


Jordon, The Messy One said...

We use a different math series, but I noticed you blogged about using Treasures! My school just adopted the program this year and it's a LOT to handle. Any suggestions?! I would love to hear them. Even though I'm in 5th grade, I still appreciate the help!


First Grade and Fancy Free said...

WOW! Loved this post! I'm feeling a little hum-drum in the math department and you have provided some great inspiration! I am making your to anchor charts (the ways to solve and writing numbers) this week!! LOVE THEM! Thanks!

Mrs. Mody said...

I totally agree about calendar time. It makes me crazy too. I used to do it right away during morning routine, but I thought that was wasting time for more important tasks. Now I changed it to after recess, before Math. It's okay, but I am still not totally feeling it. How much time do you allot to calendar time? how long does it take for your students to complete their portion of the calendar book? I am trying to figure out if I should be having them do a calendar book to make it better or if it would just make it longer and not necessarily better. Aahhh! Love your blog, and I would appreciate your thoughts!

tmarie said...

Love your chart! I wish I had thought of making that anchor chart! - I am so stealing yours! :) Where did you say you got your markers?


Ms. Simoneaux said...

I love Deb too! I created a few workstations so far based upon her workstation suggestions in her book and my kids love them! They are simplistic yet so meaningful!
You can see them here:


Sandy said...

Our district doesn't use Math in Focus, but I did take an introductory class this summer on Singapore Math. One of the ideas I got from that was using beads/pipe cleaners to help students create different ways to make a number. I have a set for each student each number is a different color. Here's a link to my blog if you are interested.


Love your ideas!

Sandra said...

I LOVE the number-writing poem!!! I will def make one for my classroom! Thank you soooo much for the more/less sheet. I have had my kiddos play war and the page will be a great assessment!!! :):):) I love your blog!

Deborah said...

I like your more and less game because it is so simple. The meaningful center game makes kids THINK.

Mrs. Nunley said...

Thank you so much for your ideas! I am going to use activity 1 today!

Jodi said...

I love the chart you made for Cara's Calendar Companion. I have just been filling one out on my Elmo projector each day with the students, but this is a visual that would be up all day :)
And, surprisingly, I have been doing every section of it with my firsties and I'm amazed at what they are picking up on already.
Love, love, love your Math strategy anchor chart. Thanks for sharing!
Fun In First

Brandy said...

My daughter makes up rhymes for her little brothers on how to remember to write numbers...the one she made up today for the number 5 was, "Across the pier, take a dive, swim around to make a five."

I have a number packet (found online free somewhere) that uses some of these same rhymes...and some are different.

Michelle said...

I'm starting the calendar companion next month. I wasn't sure what kind of kiddos I'd get, but they are so flippin' sweet and smart, I can't wait. Michelle
Fabulous in FIrst

Michaela said...

aahhhh! You are saving me!! I love all of your ideas.
I can't wait to make a Calendar poster like yours. I've been trying to do it together with my class on my "smartboard" devise and it's just not going so smooth like.
and I second all of those who are loving your Math strategy anchor chart.
Thanks again!!


Mrs. Bleeker's Kindergarten Class said...

how do you write so neatly on those poster boards? My handwriting is AW-FUL when trying to write! Any tip/trick would be appreciated.

-The Unrefined Cook said...

First of all, LOVE your blog.

My school is on the second year of Math in Focus (Singapore Math). Since it's year two I was more familiar with the content I wanted to jazz it up.

We just finished number bonds last week and I had the kiddos make number bonds out of construction paper. Each part was blue and the whole was yellow. Color coding helped. We used linking cubes to move things around on our number bond.

Hope to see more great ideas! Thanks.

Ms. Durning said...

ahhhhhhh I too hatttte teaching math!


Miss Foote said...

You are my favorite blog to stalk! I love your more is better/less is best game. I made another sheet (although not as cute at yours) for students who needed an extra challenge. I altered the directions so 2 or 3 cards would have to be added together for the total.


mbcialini said...

Thank you so much for the freebie! I love plying games with my firsties in math. Then I send them for homework to get the families involved. I really appreciate the game mat!


Anonymous said...

My school is in the second year of using Math in Focus, and we are just feeling comforatable with using materials other than those straight from the series. I, along with my team, would LOVE anything you create to supplement and/or enrich. Thanks for all your hard work!

Erica Bohrer said...

I love Touch Math and borrow it from the special ed. teachers at my school. Our district just started Go Math because it aligns to the common core standards. I have always done math centers in my classroom and will continue to do so. I have a few free math centers on my blog if you want to check them out.
Erica Bohrer's First Grade

Kelly said...

I teach third grade and I LOVE this idea! I am going to make some higher number cards for some of my kids that need to just look at numbers. For others..addition...and others multiplication when we get there! THANKS!

mtompkins said...

Love the anchor chart! I use Cara's math notebook too!!

WILD About First Grade!

Mrs. Lochridge said...

Your anchor chart is crazy amazing!! It's the embodiment of the teaching craft. Keep inspiring!!

First Grade Factory

Kreative in Kinder said...

I love love love your charts. I had to pin them because everyone needs to see them. Thanks for sharing!
<>< Crystal

Bree said...

I loved the strategies for solving math problems poster soooo much! I stayed late at school yesterday just so I could make it! They are all things me students use with the math program we use. Thanks so much for the inspiration, girl! Love your stuff!!


PJ said...

Ha! I saw that strategies chart somewhere on Pinterest and started adding strategies as I teach them this week. I'm 2nd, so mine is more like, Counting on, making 10, doubles, etc. But I LOVED the idea of having the ideas on an anchor chart for them to refer to, and to remind me to remind them!

However, yours is RIDICULOUSLY cute and puts mine to shame! You have some chart-making mojo!

And yep. That Debbie Diller Math book is amazing. :)

Dee said...

Love the math game recording sheets! They dovetail nicely with our EveryDay Math game called Top-It. Thank you so much!

First Impressions

Krista said...

Great game Abby! We played this today in class and my kids really enjoyed it! I love any game you can play with cards!!! Thanks for sharing! It was a hit! :)

Jess said...

Your blog is so amazing! I just nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award! Check it out:


Love all your math ideas! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Ever tried EDC Calendar Math? http://www.edconline.net/
Makes really good use of calendar time, and goes well with MIF.

Alyssa said...

Love the anchor chart!!! I may have to make one :)

Alyssa said...

Love your math ideas and anchor chart!!! !

Hadar said...

I see SpaceMan! heehhe!

Pam said...

Hi Abby-
Thanks for all of your wonderful creative ideas - love them!

A couple of questions: Are you able to whip out your super attractive anchor charts right in front of the kids, or do you do quick ones and then redo them for your photos? Just curious - b/c they look awesome!Also, where did you get the font and border on this recording sheet?


Nicola said...

I love your amazing blog and ideas! Everything is so focused and fun for the kiddos! I have a question- what is the cute font you used at the top of the better is best game? It looks like wish I were taller, but I can;t get it to be outlined. Thanks for your great blog! :)

http://coolmathgames2k.com/ said...

Admiring the time and effort you put into your blog and detailed information you offer! I will bookmark your blog and have my children check up here often.

FirstyearinFirstgrade! said...

Random question for you....our school district is just starting the math in focus series....What chapter do you start teaching and practicing math fact tests( Achieving Facts Fluency)

Jojo P. said...

Colorful instructional materials can help children interested in learning all this math equations. It is important to young children to find interesting in this lessons.

Jojo @ kindergarten math worksheets

Mrs. Friedman said...

Thanks for all your great ideas! My first graders are switching to Math in Focus this august as well. Did you continue to post on your blog past chapter 1? I would love to hear more feedback on how the program went. Thanks so much!

Maricar Gomez said...

This are amazing ideas.. It helps me a lot..

write my book

Katie Foley said...

I made that anchor chart almost 5 years ago when I taught K. I laminated and still use it today....in fourth grade! Singapore Math is a fantastic program!!!

The Pawsitive Pencil