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The following article comes from our friends at The Preschool Toolbox. Co-founder, Darla Hutson, shares the step-by-step process on how to make make fun springtime math activities with your preschoolers and kindergarteners.

Pony Beads Kite Games for Math
Pony Bead Kites are a fun way for preschool and kindergarten children to learn basic math concepts in a hands-on way!

Pony Bead Kites

Materials needed: 2 blank foam, wood, or plastic cubes, permanent marker (for labeling the cubes), Wikki Stix or pipe cleaners (one per student playing), tape (if using pipe cleaners), assorted pony beads, small cups (cupcake liners work great), white paper, scissors, and crayons/markers.

Prior to the game: Label one blank cube with dots to represent the numbers 1-6 on each of the six sides (a game die can also be used). Label the second blank cube with either a (-1) or a (+1 ) on each side. Have each child draw a kite shape on a piece of paper, color the kite, and cut it out (the Kites Template linked below can also be used). The children can then tape the kite shape to the top of a pipe cleaner (if using Wikki Stix, no tape will be necessary). Set out small cups with assorted colors of pony beads for the children to use as counters.
*Note:  Supervise younger children closely when using small objects as they present a choking hazard.

To play the game: Introduce the game as a large group activity. After the introduction, the game can be played with partners or in small groups.

The children should take turns rolling both of the labeled cubes. The children must count the number of dots rolled on one cube and either ADD 1 or SUBTRACT 1 (as indicated by the 2nd labeled cube) from the number of dots shown on cube #1 (see photo above).

When the children have the sum of the problem (number of dots +1 or – 1), they must count that number of pony beads and place them on the kites. As the children gain confidence in rolling the cubes, counting the dots, and adding or subtracting one, ask the children to verbally explain the problem as they place the beads on their kites (for ex:  6 + 1 = 7, so 7 beads must be placed on the kite).

The game is over when the children reach a pre-determined number of beads on their kites or when one pipe cleaner/Wikki Stix is filled with beads.

Numbers 1-10

There are many variations of this game that can be played with your students. Five suggestions to enhance math skills are:

1) Label the kites with any numbers the children have had introduced. Ask the children to place the corresponding number of pony beads on the pipe cleaners (see photo above).

2) Label 10 kites with the numbers 1-10. Have the children work as a group to place their kites in the correct order – 1-10. Variation: Label the kites with the numbers 5-15 and have the children work to place the kites in the correct number order (starting at a number OTHER than 1).

3) Label 10 kites with the number 10. Have the children place 10 pony beads on each of the kites. The kites make great “10 bars” for counting to 100 by 10’s. For younger children, label the kites with various numbers for practice with skip counting by 2’s and 5’s. Hint: Print the Kite Templates below and laminate before cutting out. Dry erase markers can then be used to change the numbers/activities as required.


4) Write number WORDS on the kites. Have the children place the corresponding number of beads on their kites. It helps the children understand that the number name refers to a specific quantity of beads.

5) Write any basic pattern on the kites. Have the children create those patterns with the pony beads. For older children: Let the children use assorted pony bead colors to create more complex patterns.

Diamond Patterns to download and print for use with any of the suggestions above.

Kite Templates

Kites Roll, Count, and Color

Kites_Roll_Count_Color Kites Roll and Count

Materials needed: One file (linked above) per student, 2 dice per student, and crayons/markers.

Print the Kites Roll, Count, and Color file (linked above) for each of the children. Have the children roll 2 dice, count the total number of dots, and color the kite with the corresponding number. The children should continue taking turns until all of the kites are colored.

Variation for two players: The 2 players should choose to be either EVEN or ODD numbers. Have one child color kites for the EVEN numbered rolls and the second child color the kites for the ODD numbered rolls. If the EVEN player rolls an ODD number, no kite is colored on that roll. The ODD player would then attempt to roll an ODD number. If he does not, no kite can be colored in. Play would continue until all the kites are colored.

Whether your children are learning at home or in the classroom this spring, we hope the activities above will offer some creative inspiration! If you have additional suggestions for pony bead math activities, we’d love to hear about them. Leave a comment below to share with others!

Darla Hutson is co-founder of The Preschool Toolbox and has owned a licensed group childcare/preschool home for the past 28 years. Darla has a passion for creating environments and activities that help facilitate play and learning for young children. She writes primarily at The Preschool Toolbox but you will also find activities for kids, teachers, and families with young children at: Squidoo and Sixty Second Parent.

mathappimageWelcome back, April! The start of each new month means the start of a new Eye on Curriculum blog series. Each year, the Joint Policy Board for Mathematics (JPBM) deems April as Mathematics Awareness Month (MAM), so in its honor, our blog focus this month will be on math.

The 2013 MAM theme is the Mathematics of Sustainability (a fitting choice, as April is also considered Earth Month). According the JPBM site, “Humanity continually faces the task of how to balance human needs against the world’s resources… Mathematics helps us better understand these complex issues and is used by mathematicians and practitioners in a wide range of fields to seek creative solutions for a sustainable way of life.”

Your abcteach Eye on Curriculum posts will highlight math from a number of different audience angles, including preschool, home school, and special needs. We’ll share colorful how-to tips, great resources on abcteach, as well effective ideas for your class and home learning environment.

First off, here are a few key math sections and abcteach features to check out:

• Math – Browse our general math category for the skills and exercises that you need. You’ll find everything from basic addition and number concepts to time, measurement, problem solving and more.

• abctools Math Generators – Our abctools worksheet generators – including addition, fractions, patterns, and place value – allow you to personalize exercises based on your students needs. Each tool provides an answer sheet, formatting and clip art options, and the ability to create an infinite amount of like-skilled problem sets. There are over 50 free and member tools available.

• Interactive Math Files – Interactive files help liven up your math lessons while reinforcing your students’ learning. They come in variety of themes and skills, for students preK and up. No white board? No problem. Interactive files can all be accessed using your standard classroom computer.

• Common Core Math – The Common Core Math section addresses necessary elements and required math skills for students K – 6th grade. It reviews core domains, such as Geometry, Measurement & Data, Operations & Algebraic Thinking, and more. Also, don’t forget to check out our Common Core, Math Skills blog from veteran teacher, Kathy Butler.

• Math Magician App – Our Math Magician app is a fun and interactive way for your student or child to learn Common Core curriculum mathematics (1st – 6th grade). You and the magician will learn counting, addition, subtraction, greater than/less than values, multiplication, and division in a magical way…

We hope that these sections and the upcoming blogs provide support and inspiration to your April lesson planning. As always, please let us know what you think or what you need to make your classroom even more successful. Happy Math Awareness Month!

Posted by Lindsey Elton, abcteach Team

girl readingWhat do you feel when you hear the word ‘read?’ Are you an avid bookworm or an occasional browser? Have you always been this way? What are your favorite childhood memories about reading?

Reading Awareness Month is a wonderful time for children to create lasting memories and develop a lifelong love of reading. It’s also a great opportunity to involve family, siblings, and loved ones to share in the process (and perhaps rekindle a literary spark of their own).

The following highlights are group activities to do with your class, or school as a whole. They are a handful of favorite ideas from Nancy Elton and Sandy Kemsley: abcteach staff member, abcteach Founder, and both retired elementary teachers.

Family Read In
Family Read Ins were activity nights where students and their families came together to read. They usually took place in a gym, cafeteria, or any large room where everyone could comfortably sit and spread out.

The nights typically started off with our principal reading to the kids (we had a stage in the gym, so students could sit around her in the rocking chair). After she was done, students broke off with their families and began reading stories. Everyone was encouraged to bring blankets, pillows, or stuffed animals for the younger children. Whatever would make it cozy was invited. We also had food, juice, or hot chocolate so families could take snack breaks at their leisure.

At the end of the night, families received books to take home. Prior to the event, our library did a review of items that they were going to be replacing. These were then given to each family for their home book collection.

Book Fair/Special people
Each year we held a book fair that included a unique lunch activity. Students invited special people in their lives – parents, grandparents, siblings, etc. – to join them for lunch in the cafeteria. After eating, they would peruse the book fair, usually purchasing a story to have at home.

Feature Author
Some years we would dedicate months, a semester, or the entire year on a specific author. (This was usually a school-wide event, but individual classes could do it as well.) Beatrix Potter was a favorite of ours, so we reviewed The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Mr. Benjamin Bunny, Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, and others. Class time was dedicated to free reading, and students were encouraged to continue at home. Other activities included:

• Lapbooks – Kids would decorate the cover with drawings, coloring pages, or a simple title. Inside materials included story diagrams and book reviews, or writing prompts covering the beginning, middle, and end of the story. You could also use materials from our Beatrix Potter book section.

• Reading Logs – This was a journal of the books that they read. They could write or use drawings for their review, then we would discuss the lessons that they learned. Shapebooks were perfect for these exercises.

• Buddy program – Staff discussed which student pairings would work best, and then team up older and younger students. The older child could read the book, or help the younger one do it and offer clarity with certain words or concepts.

Developing a Classroom Library
We developed a program for parents to donate books to the class. (This isn’t as much of a classroom activity, as it is an opportunity for parents and caretakers to help increase access to books and show their kids the importance of reading.) This process not only developed our library, but it also produced a sense of pride for both adult and student, knowing that their family had done such a good thing for the class.

Book clubs (like Scholastic’s Arrow and Lucky program) would visit our school, and parents could donate money to purchase new books for our classrooms. We also made book labels (i.e. special notes that were adhered to the inside pages) to send positive messages to current students and future readers.

Read Around the World
Our Read Around the World project involved multiple classrooms and grades. Each teacher chose a specific country and would read traditional or popular children’s books that were customary to that place. Other lesson plans incorporated themes from that country, so math, science, and social studies curriculum had exercises that uniquely pertained to a specific culture.

Parents also joined in the fun by attending classroom parties. They brought in traditional food, clothing, drinks, etc. so that children could literally/figuratively have a taste of different cultures.

Dr Seuss
Dr. Seuss was just an amazing author to cover. It was as much fun for the staff as it was for the students, and the activities were plentiful.

• Cat in Hat Day – Staff dressed up as the story’s characters (including our male principal as the Cat in the Hat).

• Green Eggs and Ham – After reading the story, students made the meal with the help of parents. This was usually a party activity. Other learning stations were set up around the room with word puzzles, shapebooks, etc. to entertain them while being able to practice their spelling, reading comprehension, and brainstorming skills.

• Oh, the Places We’ll Go… Students would create a passport and a suitcase out of construction paper. When they read a book, they would write a title and paste it on the suitcase. We would then put a sticker on their passport. The end products were a colorful document of their literary adventure.

• Key Ring Book Reports – Students were given a ring along with strips of paper that we cut out for them. On one side of the paper, they would write the author and title of the book they read. On the other side, they would write about their favorite part or character. Twice a week the students would divide into groups and share the paper strips on their ring. By the end of the month, they had a great collection of books on their ring. Suggestion: Have different colored strips for different genres; fiction, non-fiction, joke books, fairy tales, realistic fiction, etc.

• Dr. Seuss materials on abcteach

• NEA activities, promotions, and Read Across America program

Reading Awareness Month is important not only for it’s educational and future benefits, but also for the amazing journey that takes place in a child’s mind. The creativity, stories, and freedom to dream… Once that seed is planted, the blossoms can last a lifetime.

Posted by Lindsey Elton, Nancy Elton, and Sandy Kemsley; abcteach Team and abcteach Founder

The following article comes from abcteach friend and colleague, Shara Lawrence-Weiss. An educator, business owner, and dedicated mom, Shara provides us tangible examples on how parents can develop language skills throughout early childhood.

Shara: family readingWe know from countless research studies: language affects reading. Language is at the very core of everything we do. A language-rich home generally produces successful readers. So, in honor of Reading Month, I’ve listed out a few ways that you can help your child(ren) develop strong language skills.

Making Statements and Asking Questions
Kids love to hear you talk, right from birth. “Good morning, my love. How did you sleep?” “Let’s go for a walk now. I’ll put you into the stroller and we’ll go visit the park.” “Look at the bird!” “Do you see the kids playing and swinging? They are having so much fun!” Everything you say to your child is being taken in and pondered.

Research clearly indicates that music and literacy go hand in hand. In our home we sing, dance, memorize lyrics, sing in the car and at home and more. We love music and we play songs every single day. We move around to the music and we hold the baby (while singing and dancing) so she can enjoy the experience, too. All four of my kids love, love, love music.

Grocery Shopping
Talk while grocery shopping. “Let’s go to ________ today for some groceries.” “What shall we buy? Let’s look over our list.” “The eggs are on sale. Oh good!” “What fruit should we get today?” Point out store signs, as well, clearly speaking the words that you see.

Make Up Songs
Write your own songs. Kids really get a kick out of this and you don’t have to be great at it. I often make up songs while we are cooking, walking, or driving. Even at night, before sleeping, I make up silly songs that encourage my kids to laugh. I might make up a song about their pajamas, shoes, bed spread, school or pet dog – whatever!

Make Up Stories
A while back I began making up stories with my daughter. She said, “I don’t feel like reading a book tonight so can you just tell me your own story?” I made up a story about a princess who had many lovely dresses – who didn’t want to share. A kind friend helped her locate the dresses after they were stolen and that helped to change the cold heart of the princess (social emotional twist mixed with language development). Whatever your story is about, your kids will like the effort you made!

Make a point to read with your child(ren) every day, based on the family schedule. Kids love to know they can count on a book at night before heading off to dreamland. However, if your work schedule doesn’t allow for this, read in the morning or in the afternoon. Here’s an interesting side note: some prisons run a reading program for their inmates where they have the inmate read books from inside the cell. They tape record the reading and send that to the inmate’s child. Now that’s dedication!

Name Those Toys
When playing with your child you can say, “Oh look at the red ball!” Or, “Let’s play with those colorful Legos now.” Or, “Did you enjoy playing with that yellow truck?” Labeling items is one helpful way to foster language development. Take it a step further and build on your child’s Emotional Intelligence as well: “It made me feel happy to see you playing with that red ball.” Or, “Your sister loves that green frog, too. She likes to snuggle the frog when she is sad.” You may not always think your child is paying attention but I assure you – it’s true. Here is an example: I have four kids. Our youngest is 11 months old. She is already saying quite a few words, in her own way. We can understand the words, though, and we know precisely what she is saying. Every night my son runs over to hug me and I pat his head and say, “Love you!” It’s our ‘little thing.’ Last night he ran over to hug my leg while I was holding the baby. The baby looked down, patted his head and said, “Lub you!” She is paying attention to everything we say and do.

Leave Notes Around
I sometimes leave little notes around our house for my kids. In the bathroom we have a notepad attached to the mirror. I might write, “Good morning!” or “I love you!” I leave notes for my husband by the coffee pot and my kids see that. He leaves notes for me by the computer and the kids see that, as well. The term “littering the environment with print” applies here. Litter words and books around your home so your kids will see, often, that words matter to you.

A Second Language
Whether you choose Spanish, ASL, or Japanese, teaching your child another language is a fantastic way to build language skills. Speak a few words each day or week – make it fun! Use a CD or DVD to assist with the learning process, if needed.

Remember that articulation is a key factor in language development. If you want your child to speak clearly she/he needs to hear clear speech. Talk slowly and precisely and try your best not to mumble your words. When choosing children’s CD’s to listen to, articulation is a must. If your child cannot decipher the words being sung, inarticulate speech will follow.

If you suspect a speech delay or hearing loss issue, have your child assessed as soon as possible.

About the Author:
Shara Lawrence-Weiss has a background in education, early childhood, freelance, marketing and small business ownership. She is currently working as a Special Education Paraprofessional (K-5). Shara has four children of her own and is married to her best friend, Rick. They love collecting books, going for walks, spending time in nature, fishing, and playing.

Reading Awareness MonthWelcome to the latest segment in our Eye on Curriculum series. In honor of Reading Awareness Month, the March topic is Language Arts. As we did with our Common Core posts, this month’s articles will focus on curriculum discussion and classroom activities, as well as creative teaching extras, supporting sections on the site, and guest posts from abcteach staff and colleagues.

To start you off, let’s take a look at a few of our key language arts sections:

• Language Arts – When exploring this section, you’ll find a number of supporting sub-categories for students of all ages. They provide you with a variety of topics and activity types, and include core basics such as grammar, spelling, and writing. To find to the specific topic or worksheet you’re looking for, use our filter tool to search within each category.

• Reading – The Reading category is one of the largest sections found within Language Arts. Here you’ll see a broad selection of supporting items, including book report forms, first sentence prompts, phonics, reading logs, and more to pair with classroom reading, homework text, and other literature exercises.

• Book Units – Find your favorite! We’ve got everything from Amelia Bedelia to Beatrix Potter, Dr. Seuss, Berenstain Bears, Clifford the Red Dog, and other great classics. Each series has a compilation of puzzles, posters, report forms, vocabulary games and other activities to reinforce key skills and details.

• Reading Comprehension – Our Reading Comprehension section is broken down by grade clusters for easier navigation. The clusters contain fictional, informational, and holiday/seasonal stories, along with corresponding study questions to aid with comprehension. You’ll also find a functional text category full of recipes and crafts to do in class or at home.

• Common Core English Language Arts (ELA) – Our ELA section provides grade-specific worksheets, activities, and instructional posters that match the requirements for each skill domain. This is one of our newest sections, so check back for new additions. We are also working to classify materials across the side to align with their correct section number strand. Take a look at our last Eye on Curriculum blogs for a review and activity ideas for literature and informational text.

These are just a few of the many sections to support your language arts lessons during the month and throughout the year. Stay tuned for more great ideas as we explore other abcteach categories and classroom creatives. Happy Reading Awareness Month!

Posted by Lindsey Elton, abcteach Team

Our last Eye on Curriculum blogs reviewed a few of the domains in the Common Core Standards’ English Language Arts (ELA) Reading section. Our first post dealt with concepts covered under the Literature category, while the last addressed activities for Informational Texts.

The other focus of the Common Core Initiative tackles math and defining the scope of comprehension needed for students. “One hallmark of mathematical understanding,” states the Initiative, “is the ability to justify, in a way appropriate to the student’s mathematical maturity, why a particular mathematical
statement is true or where a mathematical rule comes from. Mathematical understanding and procedural skill are equally important, and both are assessable using mathematical tasks of sufficient richness.”

abcteach’s Common Core: Math section helps you build lesson plans that achieve the level of math enrichment that the standards require. This is one of our newest sections, so additional exercises will be available to you in the future. We are also reviewing activities across the site to help you build a more creative, diversified assortment of lesson plans.

We’ll next discuss two core domains that are found within the math standards: Operations & Algebraic Thinking, and Number & Operations in Base Ten. These are key components, building upon students’ skills each year, for early to upper elementary grade students.

1. Operations and Algebraic Thinking – Students must demonstrate mastery in representing, interpreting and solving problems, applying properties and using strategies.
2. Number and Operations in Base Ten – Students compose and decompose numbers, understand and use place value to complete operations.

Related Skills:
• Count in sequence
• Fluently solve operations in addition, subtraction, multiplication and division
• Understand and apply properties of operations
• Compose and decompose numbers
• Understand factors and multiples
• Write and interpret numerical expressions
• Analyze patterns and relationships
• Use place value to solve problems

Classroom Activities
Although the standard requirements are fairly straightforward and rigorous, there is still room for creativity. The following materials are a sample of activities to use however fits best with your class. Whether it’s simple curriculum practice, a learning center station, or part of a special math night event, these materials all help your students get their skills on par with their peers nationwide.

• Poster Packets: Poster packets identify the Standards in student-friendly language, and are found in most all of our Math and ELA concept domains. Most poster packets also include checklists of each standard that can be used by students to demonstrate their mastery or by teachers at conferences (with students or parents).

Member Site:
Common Core: Math Standards Poster Set – Grade 1
Common Core: Math Standards Poster Set – Grade 3
Common Core: Math Standards Poster Set – Grade 5

• Classroom Activities

Member site:
Addition: Add and Draw 2 – Kindergarten - Great activity with K-1 students, have them draw pictures to create story problems.
Booklet: It’s time to add! (prek-primary) – Have students create this book which has them adding as they go!
Math Game: Place Value (set 1) – One of several games that teach place value.
Morning Math: Place Values 1 – Morning math activities are great for elementary students to review place value.
Board Game: Math Stars (b/w) – Addition and subtraction board game children will love!
Bookmarks: Multiplication (x 4) – One of several sets of bookmarks students can use to review multiplication facts.
Math: Commutative Property Addition Packet
Math Rules: Properties
Math: Comparing Numbers
Math: Properties – Addition & Multiplication (upper elem/middle)
Multiplication: Circle Groups to Find Products (elem)
Worksheet: Function Chart (5)
Math Puzzle: Algebra Picture Puzzle (elementary)

Free site:
Math: Multiplication Chart
Math: Multiplication Grid: 10×10 fill-in (elem/upper elem)

This wraps up our Eye on Curriculum: Common Core series for the month. Stayed tuned for more math activities in April, Common Core included, when we will explore mathematics on a broader scale.

Our Eye on Curriculum March series starts soon with Language Arts activities in honor of National Reading Month. We hope you enjoy it!

Posted by Kathy Butler and Lindsey Elton, abcteach Team

Girl ReadingOur Eye on Curriculum: Common Core series delves further into the English Language Arts (ELA) standards with Reading: Informational Text (this is a link for the general ‘Informational Text’ section; click on the left-hand navigation bar for a dropdown of grades). As we did in our previous CC Reading: Literature blog, we will soon discuss specific classroom activities, along with paired abcteach materials, that your students can do to fulfill state requirements.

There are three main concept umbrellas for ‘Reading: Informational Text,’ which is similar to what was seen with the Literature section. As can be expected, different skill sets will be addressed here. There are other concepts that the Standards Initiative highlights, however, it is the following three that command the most attention.

1. Key Ideas and Details – Students demonstrate understanding of texts by learning skills such as questioning, identifying the main idea and supporting details, and understanding relationships and interactions between people, events, or ideas.

2. Craft and Structure – Students deepen their understanding of texts through the use of text structures, by identifying points of view, and the author’s purpose.

3. Integration of Knowledge and Ideas – Skills include analysis of illustrations, maps, diagrams, etc. to deepen comprehension. Students must also demonstrate the ability to compare and contrast as well as to understand cause and effect.

Related Skills:
These skills are interwoven within the themes above:
• Ask and answer questions
• Identify main topic and ideas
• Retell key details
• Identify author’s purpose
• Identify text features
• Use pictures and diagrams to facilitate comprehension
• Identify reasons and evidence to support the text.
• Explain relationships and interactions between ideas or events
• Define domain-specific vocabulary
• Compare/Contrast
• Explain cause/effect

Activities in the Class

reading bookmarksThe start of Reading Month and Women’s History Month is but a few days away, which means you that can cover both mandatory ELA standards and seasonal activities in one fell swoop.

The following highlights contain Common Core materials for early through upper elementary school students. Use them in conjunction with other abcteach word games, theme units, and interactive activities to create a more comprehensive lesson plan that fits the character of your class.

• Poster Packets – These packets include posters that identify the Common Core standards in student-friendly language. Use them in mini-lessons, PPT presentations, or as handouts. Included checklists can also be used by students to show their adeptness regarding a topic, or by teachers for classroom conferences.

Member Site:
Common Core: Reading Standards Poster Set – Kindergarten Informational Text
Common Core: Reading Standards Poster Set – 3rd Grade Informational Text
Common Core: Reading Standards Poster Set – 5th Grade Informational Text

• Generic Templates and Graphic Organizers – Use these templates with non-fiction texts. Students can also use the organizers with other creative projects, such as being a TV reporter, conducting a group interview, or performing a monologue.

Member site:
Common Core: ELA: Informational Text Template (1st grade)
Common Core: Reading: Integration of Knowledge and Ideas Template (2nd grade)
Common Core: Reading: Informational Craft and Structure Template (5th grade)
ELA: Compare and Contrast News (middle school 6-8) - This is classified for use with older students, but can be used in younger grades as well.

Free site:
Venn Diagram (Blank Form)

• Informational activities – Pair these activities with social studies, history, or language arts lessons and enhance with Clip Art images or special media. These contain non-fictional text as well as questions and common core-related activities.
Member site:
Booklet: Biography of Alexander Graham Bell (K-1)
Reading Comprehension: Reading Informational Text: Cruising the Caribbean: Port of Call – Cozumel – Part 1
Reading Comprehension: The Sport of Tennis (upper elem)

Our last Common Core blog will introduce and discuss math standards for the elementary classroom. Follow up articles will be posted in April, when we highlight activities and ideas to celebrate Math Awareness Month.

Posted by Kathy Butler and Lindsey Elton, abcteach Team

Time to Read!This next article in our Eye on Curriculum: Common Core series dives into English Language Arts (ELA) activities. There are a number of sections within the ELA guidelines, however, we’re going to focus on one category, Reading: Literature, and provide you with specific discussion and activity ideas instead of an overall combination. We hope, with March Reading Month coming up soon, that this aids in your classroom planning and curriculum achievement goals.

As a starter, literature guidelines all contain the following sub-sects and skills, regardless of grade. The guidelines are the agreed-upon foundation that students need to learn in order to achieve a true understanding of what they read each year. As students advance, skill requirements evolve from concepts covered in previous years.

1. Key Ideas and Details – comprehension, understanding tone, understanding details in text and characters, noting story grammar, etc.

2. Craft and Structure – observing how stories are presented and organized, realizing the language that’s used, recognizing structural elements, comparing and contrasting different versions of stories, etc.

3. Integration of Knowledge and Ideas – really understanding detail, inferences and meaning. This section takes ‘Craft and Structure’ to a higher level, requiring students to move beyond a rudimentary application of their skills to thoroughly understand and apply them.

Related Skills
These are the skills that are found within the themes above:

• Comprehension
• Questioning
• Understanding Character Descriptions
• Understanding Point of View
• Comparisone/Contrast
• Understanding Theme
• Understanding Inference
• Sequencing of Events

Activities in the Class
Boy readingThe Common Core Initiative site breaks down each grade and standard, leaving the application up to you. So how do you teach these skills in the class? And most of all, how do you make it enjoyable for your students, and for yourself?

Let’s go to abcteach’s Common Core: ELA page. As we mentioned in the first blog, we’ve created the Common Core section to provide you specific activities that address the guidelines. We’re also working to classify materials sitewide under their appropriate sections. You’ll find a diversity of topics and worksheet types so that you can creatively tackle each standard without lesson plans becoming monotonous. Variety is the spice of (classroom) life!

The following is a handful of literature activity ideas for early to upper elementary students. For additional materials, peruse the site for items that fit your class. If you can’t find a specific report form, writing prompt, or word wall, don’t forget that you can use Clip Art and abctools to create your own customized worksheets.

• Poster Packets – Posters that identify the Common Core standards in student-friendly language. Most poster packets also include checklists of each standard that can be used by students to demonstrate their mastery or by teachers at conferences (with students or parents).

Member Site:

Common Core: Reading Standards Poster Set – 1st Grade Literature
Common Core: Reading Standards Poster Set – 3rd Grade Literature
Common Core: Reading Standards Poster Set – 5th Grade Literature

Free Site:
Common Core Reading Standards: Poster 5th Grade-Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

• Generic Templates and Graphic Organizers – Use with stories, books, dramas, and poems.

Member site:

Common Core: ELA: Reading – Literature Study (1st grade)
Common Core: ELA: Reading – Fiction Book Report (3rd grade)
Common Core: Literature Comprehension Template (5th grade)

Free site:
Book Summary Form (any book)

• Comprehension Materials – Pieces which contain text as well as questions and common core-related activities.

Member site:

Biography: Michael Phelps, Olympic Swimmer (Grades 1 & 2)
Biography: Michael Phelps, Olympic Swimmer (upper elem/middle)
Comparing Stories: Playing Sports (elem/ upper elem)

• Book and Story Templates and Units

Member site:

Book: A-Z Mysteries; The Absent Author (elem)
Book: Maniac Magee (upper elem/middle)

Free site:
Book Summary Form: Charlotte’s Web

As always, please let us know if you have any questions or comments. Our next Eye on Curriculum blog will tackle more ELA-related activities to have you amply prepared for the fun of March Reading Month.

Posted by Kathy Butler and Lindsey Elton, abcteach Team

Eye on Curriculum: Common Core

February 6th, 2013
Common Core on abcteach


Welcome to abcteach’s new blog series: Eye on Curriculum. Each month we will be highlighting a different subject or section, along with supporting categories, materials, and teaching ideas from the abcteach staff.

February’s focus is Common Core Standards. The Common Core Standards Initiative, which has been adopted by 45 U.S. states, four territories, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense Education Activity, was created to “provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. They are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college, careers, and the global economy.”

abcteach realizes the classroom shift and your need to access materials that fit within the Common Core parameters. We’ve created a Common Core Section, individualized ELA and Math categories, and are classifying cross-site materials to reflect the required age and skill-based concepts.

Example: Grade 3 Standards
The following is an example of what you will find when searching for Common Core materials for Grade 3. Click on the ELA section, and locate activities that are assigned as Informational Text, Language, Reading, or Writing. Your Math materials are structured in very much the same fashion. Sub-categories for Geometry, Measurement & Data, and Operations & Algebraic Thinking provide worksheets that address those skills at the nationally recognized 3rd grade level. You will find additional items, including an ELA Middle School (6-8) category, on the abcteach Member Site.

Common Core Reading - Grade 3


Common Core Math - Grade 3


Over the next month, we will be highlighting new materials, classroom activity ideas,
and ways that abcteach can support your class in achieving these standards. Please let
us know your thoughts and comments; we’re here to help.

Posted by Lindsey Elton, abcteach Team

Winter Learning Activities

January 30th, 2013

Although winter’s bitter presence has only reared it’s head a few times this year, our cold weather season isn’t leaving anytime soon. For those of us in the north, that means dark days, multiple layers, and oftentimes, more hours spent inside. (Let’s keep our fingers crossed that Punxsutawney Phil doesn’t see his shadow!)

To help make the most of your students’ or child’s time indoors, abcteach has a variety of learning activities for all ages. Take a look at the listing below and adapt it how you see fit. The items are categorized according to age groups, and can be used in class or at home.

Family Activity Planners
"My Neighborhood" Activity Planner

abcteach’s Family Activity Planners are designed to turn everyday moments into learning opportunities. Activities contain related abcteach materials, and are grouped under specific ages and subjects to make it easy for the adults in charge. There are twelve in total, including “At the Restaurant,” “My Family and I,” and “Fun at Home.”


My Neighborhood Theme

Pre-K and K

• Write down your first and last name, address, and phone number. Practice this aloud to your parents or caregiver.
• Name community helpers from your neighborhood and create paper bag puppets to tell their story. Related abcteach Activity


• Read about neighborhood buildings. Related abcteach Activity
• Discuss “stranger danger” and what to do when strangers approach.

Upper Elementary

• Take a walk around your neighborhood and list all that you see. Then, using your list, map it out. Related abcteach Activity
• Using a cardboard box or poster paper, construct a model of your neighborhood. Include trees, buildings, cars – get creative!

Winter Activities

Snow Decoding Pre-K -1st

• Snowman Pattern Recognition
• Booklet: Play in the Snow
• Early Reader: Mittens
• I Can Make a Snowman: Early Reader Booklet and Activity Pages


• Snowman Glyphs
• Frostie’s Line Graph
Frostie's Line Graph
• Book Activity: The Snowy Day
• Book Activity: Stella, Queen of the Snow
• Decoding: Winter Snowflakes

Middle/Upper Elem

• Unit: Winter Precipitation
• Comprehension: Types of Snowflakes
• Snowman Word Search
• Snowman Glyphs
• Interactive: The Iditarod
• Snowflake Formation

Snowman Pattern

All Ages

• Snowman Grids
• Snowman Paper Bag – For younger kids, paper bag is used to read personal stories; Older students can use as a prop while reading stories to younger children
• Snowman Venn Diagram
• Snowflake Pattern – Can be used for collages, as a word wheel, color practice, etc.
• Winter Activity Chart – Useful as a homeschool activity, or an organizational tool by parents
• Snowflake Shapebook – Displays final drafts of writing projects,
coloring practice, observation journals, etc.

Posted by Lindsey Elton and Nancy Elton, abcteach Team

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