# Having SOMA Fun with Math!

I live in a home of math nerds. As such we like to spend time doing puzzles and math games. I came across some soma cubesÂ that I used with my students and thought it would be fun to do it with my family! Soma cubes are a puzzle consisting of 7 different shaped pieces that when placed together in the correct way make a cube. And there is not just one right way of completing the puzzle- there are over 200 different ways these pieces fit together to make a cube! Isn’t that crazy?!?
I had some old direction cards that allowed you to use the 7 pieces to create different shapes. (not shown because I already threw them away) These cards were worn out- and well, I’ll just say it- they weren’t cute. Some of you might understand the effect cuteness has on learning even if it’s only to bring the teacher joy haha. I got to work making new, updated cards using Open Office (shout out to free software!) and am so pleased with how they turned out!

You can easily make your own Soma pieces by gluing little cubes found at the craft store together and then painting them (or you could leave them the natural wood color). OR you can take the easy route and buy them.

I made two sets of cards- a black and white set that is more challenging, and a colored set that went with the blocks we purchased. The colored set makes solving the puzzles way easier, since you can see where each block is placed. Side note: the colored cards match the blocks I painted.

Soma cubes are a great activity for kids to do when they are finished with their work! They are fun and with both the black/white and colored sets of cards you can easily differentiate this for a center. To ensure accountability, you could have students take a pic of their finished puzzle with a class iPad or tablet. And then post on your class blog for parents to admire! đź™‚

And as always- happy TEACHing!

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# Tutoring Ideas: CARNIVAL theme

The past 5 months I have had the extreme pleasure to tutor a couple kids in reading and math. I had so much fun planning our hands on learning activities that I thought I would share them with you! Learning CAN be fun, after all!

I based our themes on the Read Naturally Story we were working on that day. The first post I am sharing is a carnival themed tutoring session. This was SO much fun!

Before I get into our activities, I do have to note that we had all of our tutoring sessions on the floor. Why? Simply because my student was tired of sitting at a desk all day. Listen to your students- sometimes they need a break from the typical classroom learning environment and will actually respond better in a different situation.

CARNIVAL TUTORING DAY

-Use Clown gloves to demonstrate the trick when multiplying by 9s.

The nice thing about this is that we could use the trick with the gloves on or off. I also wrote the numbers 1-10 on the fingertips to help with the counting.

For those unfamiliar with this “hand”y trick (haha): First, look at the equation- particularly to the number that you are multiplying with 9.  Then hold up both hands. Starting on the left pinky, count that number of fingers over. When you land on that number, put the finger down. The number of fingers to the left of the finger that’s down represents the number of tens in the answer. The number of fingers to the right represents the number of ones in the answer. Put those together and you have the answer!

For example, if my equation was 9 X 5, I would start by holding up both hands and count five fingers over starting at my left pinky. The number five would land on my  left thumb, which I would put down. To the left of my thumb I have four fingers, so I know that I have 4 tens in my answer. To the right of my thumb I have 5 fingers, so I know that I have 5 ones in my answer. 4 tens plus 5 ones equals 45! Easy peasy!

-Clown face ar/er/or words.

I would read a word that had the ar/er/or r-controlled vowel sound. My student had to choose the clown face with the correct vowel, hold it up to her face, and then spell the word.

And of course look absolutely adorable while doing it. đź™‚

-Prefix and suffix balloons. This was by far my student’s favorite activity. Prior to our tutoring session, I placed a variety of prefixes and suffixes in balloons before blowing them up.

During tutoring, I placed a word on the floor which we read together. My student used a bent paper clip as our popping tool and I instructed her to pop the balloon of her choice. She loved this!

We both screamed when the balloon popped and then laughed so hard. Who knew learning prefixes and suffixes could be so fun? Once we calmed down a bit, we opened up the little piece of paper that was inside the balloon and read the affix.

My student had to determine if it was a prefix or suffix and then place it at the beginning or ending of the word. We then read the “new” word and discussed the definition.

-Multisyllabic words with popcorn bags.

I LOVED doing this activity! I bought popcorn bags at the dollar tree (can I say that’s my favorite store ever?!). I put really long multisyllabic words that I knew would be tricky to read on the outside of the bags. I told my cute student that she was going to read those very long words today! We looked at the word on the outside of the bag first, opened up the popcorn bag, and dumped out the kernels. The kernels contained the word parts, broken into syllables, of the long word. My student placed the kernels in order- checking the word on the outside of the bag to make sure she got them in the correct order.

We placed the kernels under these really cute touch lights I found at the dollar tree (of course!).

As my student read the word parts, she would touch the lights. This was a great way to integrate some kinesthetic activity  into reading. After reading all the word parts, we blended the word and got excited that we could read it! đź™‚

After awhile my cute student was able to look at some of the words and mentally break them into syllables without dumping out the kernels. It made my teacher heart so happy! đź™‚

Happy TEACHing!

# Enriching Your Summer with STEAM Learning

Looking for some ways to keep your kids learningÂ while having a fun time this summer? Check out these ideas to STEAM up your summer!

1. Periodic Table Battleship. So this is number one on my list for a reason. I think this is SUCH a great idea to get kids learning about their elements! I used a different table in our battleship game that included pictures. So perfect!!
2. Science Headband Game. This one from Oriental Trading is cheap, but you could easily make your own.
3. Make Ice Cream (by hand!)Â This looks like fun for the kids. Surprisingly I am not a fan of ice cream, so this doesn’t appeal to me. But I know my daughter would love it!
4. Glow in the Dark Party. While this site has a gazillion things you could for a glow in the dark party, I am perfectly content grabbing a container of glow sticks at the dollar store and having my daughter put on a show with them in our dark basement. Fun and super simple! Just make sure to squeeze some science into the activity. If you are feeling especially ambitious teach your kiddo about chemiluminescence.
5. Make Bird Feeders. There are tons of different ways you could make one (including having your child design and build their own invention). Birds are fascinating- tie in some extra ornithology activities by watching live bird cameras or dissect an owl pellet (GROSS).
6. Make S’mores using a homemadeÂ Solar Oven. Delicious and a good tie-in to emergency preparedness. Not only because of the importance of having a way to cook food during a power outage….but because, let’s face it, in an emergency we will want to eat chocolate.
7. Make a Straw Rocket (free printable HERE)
8. Design and Build a Pom Pom dropÂ This looks super easy- you just need paper towel rolls, tape, and pom poms!
9. Build a homopolar motorÂ dancer. Can I just say this looks AWESOME! I wonder if I could change the dancer into a spinning dragon or dinosaur…
10. Learn the science behind yeast with a little balloon experiment. And then make bread knowing in your science heart why it rises. đź™‚
11. Apply your knowledge of conductors and insulators with some circuit testing. (I would also check out Snap Circuit boards for kids– they are fun for our entire family!)
12. Use programming apps such as Hopscotch or Lightbot (our current favorite) to expand your child’s technology learning. And so they can be super cool and learn how to code.
13. Make a sundial. I think I will enrich this activity with some discussion on the earth’s orbit and how it affects the sun’s position in the sky. And maybe watch some Neil Degrasse Tyson Cosmos movies.
14. Fizzy Explosion bags. We have done this in the past and had a lot of fun! Just be prepared for your child to want to do this over and over and over….
15. Make an Inventor’s Box.Â I think it would be fascinating to open up an old piece of electronics and see what’s inside.
16. Teach your child binary and have them code their name with beads. Geeky enough?
17. Make a compass. Then learn about WHY we have North and South poles and the Earth’s magnetic field. And then make a clay model of the Earth’s layers using a metal bead inside the center to show the magnetic core.
18. Demonstrate the chemical reaction of citric acid and baking soda by making a lemon volcano.
19. Teach nutrition using sites such as ChooseMyPlate.gov.
20. Grow a lima bean seed. I especially like the use of a clearÂ CD case to label the different parts of a plant.
21. Something dinosaurish– not sure yet… but I need to keep my little paleontologist busy!

Some of you may be wondering if I am going to be doing all of these activities. The answer of course is NO! I hope to get to many of them (except the owl pellet dissecting). But we just got approved to be foster parents so I know our life is going to drastically change. I can’t wait. đź™‚

Happy STEAMing!

# Our Lego Day PLUS free Lego book template

A couple months ago my daughter and some fun playing and learning with Legos. I thought I would share with you some of our engaging educational activities!

1. Add with legos. Count the circles on top of two 2×2 lego bricks. The answer will fit on top of a flat 2×4 brick! Good hands on addition fun PLUS its easy for kids to visualize that there are multiple ways of getting one sum by just using different sizes of bricks.

2.Alphabatize lego blocks. I put little alphabet stickers on 26 legos and had my daughter make an ABC stick placing the blocks in alphabetical order.

3. Create with legos. We just had fun building dinosaur caves. This was strictly a play activity :).

4. Measure with legos! Make a “ruler” out of lego blocks and run around the house measuring in legos instead of inches.

5. And our last- and my personal favorite- activity was making our own Lego book. I scoured the web for a cute lego template and couldn’t find any. So I made my own :). And I have to say that I kinda like it!

Download the template for our printable book and have fun creating a lego book!

I hope this helps you have fun learning with legos! Happy Teaching!

# 10 Ways to Share Charlottes Web With Your Preschooler

So I came up with my own plan.
It’s nothing fancy, but it worked. My daughter was captivated from start to finish. Maybe some of these ideas will inspire you as you read this classic with your young child.

1- Find a stuffed pig (or spider). We found this beauty at a local book store for \$2.99. Having a little Wilbur to snuggle with while reading gave my daughter something tactile to hold while soaking in this classic piece of literature.

 feeding Wilbur became a nightly job

2- Act it out! This is a great story with so many different scenes to reenact with your child… don’t wait until the end of the book to do it either- you can start acting a section or chapter at a time. After reading the first chapter, I told my daughter that daddy was outside on his way to kill a baby pig. At first she looked at me like I was from another planet, but then she caught on and was outside screaming at daddy to save the pig. Daddy then gave her a shoebox with the stuffed pig inside…. quoting lines from the story. It was a wonderful retelling activity. We had a great time acting out other scenes- like Lurvy chasing Wilbur to put him back into his pigpen.

3. During the first chapter you are introduced to the vocaublary word “runt”. After explaining it to my daughter, we went to the store and bought a box of Runts candy and talked about why they are called that (because they are super small fruit). During some of the chapters I would pull out the box of Runts and everytime I would read the word “Wilbur” (or another word) she would get to eat one candy. She had to hear me say the word though… it kept her listening!

4. Make stick puppets. I did a quick google search for barnyard animals and easily able to find pictures of the characters. During some of the chapters I would pull out the stick puppets. They came in handy during the barnyard scenes when there was a lot of character conversation.

5. Take advantage of Youtube! We were able to see little videos of baby pigs, spiders spinning webs and making egg sacs, baby spiders hatching… kind of gross but it strengthened our mental images of the story.

6. Crafts! There are so many different preschool craft ideas that would go perfectly with this book. (think pigs, spiders,…any farm craft!) My daughter prefers acting over making, so we didn’t make any crafts… we are sticking with her interests!

7. In one of the chapters the author tells us Wilbur’s schedule for the day. After reading about his schedule, my daughter and I sat down and wrote our schedule. From the pic you can probably tell where I got input from her. đź™‚

8. Make snacks! There are plenty of farm-related treats out there that you can snack on while reading. Due to time constraints we opted out of doing this…but it would be a fun, yummy activity!

9. Go to the play or watch the movie. We were fortunate enough to go see a live performance of Charlottes Web by a local childrens theatre company. It was SPECTACULAR. On the way home we talked about our favorite parts of the play, and any differences we noticed between the play and the book.

10. Play it. Pull out your old Little People barn and let your child recreate the magic of Wilbur and Charlotte. This was an activity my daughter requested again and again. And you don’t have to stick to the script- have fun with the characters and try and predict how they would act in different scenarios.

I absolutely love this children’s classic. Take the time to read it to your little ones!
Happy Teaching!

# Letter E Candy

Boo and I recently had a Silent E day! I introduced her to this crazy letter and we started our learning adventure with a hunt for CVC and CVCV words. This was also the perfect time to introduce the sight word “like”. Â

I found these ADORABLE printables from Tales of a Teacherista. Â We printed them on card stock but instead of using the cutout letter e to turn those short vowels into long vowels- I decided we should make our own e.

I scrambled around our kitchen looking for something to use when I saw our Peach Rings (we have way too much candy on hand at our house). They worked PERFECTLY.

To make the lowercase letter e, you simply break the circle apart and bring the top loose end inside to make the loop. Super easy!

Boo had a riot making her own sugar “e”s, and the best part was that after she read a list of words with her candy e she got to eat it! An educational tool and a treat! This also helped her with writing the lowercase letter e.

Happy Teaching!

# Heart Rock Collections

Save those Valentine Heart boxes…. they make super cute rock collection boxes. Because we LOVE rocks!!!

Boo loved examining my rock collection, especially since I let her keep a few. Â By the way that entire crate on the rightÂ is full of rocks.

Now she is looking over her own collection. These Valentine boxes are the perfect size for those small specimens!

So for all you that love rocks like we do, then this is the project for you! đź™‚
Happy Teaching!

# Mommy & Me Book: "I Can Do Many Things"

I have been HORRIBLE about blogging. Just busy being a mom :). I thought I would share a quick and easy Mommy & Me homemade book that we did a while ago. It showcases some simple things that my daughter can do to keep up her sweet little confident self. It would be fun to take pics of your kiddo doing different activities, like “I can play soccer”, or “I can swim”, etc… I just thought it would be fun to make it more an activity/learning scrapbook this time- next we will try it with photos! I want my Boo to know how amazing I think she is!

Happy Teaching!

# Little People Nativity Scavenger Hunt

I bought this darling Little People Nativity on sale last October (as in over a year ago) and completely forgot about it. So of course when I pulled it out this year I knew I had to do something special with it. This is what I came up with:
Little People Nativity Scavenger Hunt

We started our FHE by recalling prior knowledge about why we celebrate Christmas. My daughter’s response was along the lines of “so we don’t get bored”. Yes, we needed a nativity lesson!!! After talking about why we celebrate Christmas, I told her we were going to go on a scavenger hunt to find different things that will tell us more about the story of Jesus’ birth. I had her captivated. Mission accomplished.

Each object had a corresponding scripture, song, or poem on a strip of paper. On the back of the paper I wrote where to go to find the next object.

We used the piano bench as our “base”- each time we found a piece to the Nativity we ran it there so we could act out that part in the story.

The objects were hidden in the order they appear in the story of the birth of Christ or where I thought they would appear. I loved the idea of starting at the beginning and acting out the story with the Little People.

don’t forget to have your kiddos have Mary, Joseph, and the donkey walking to Bethlehem before finding the next clue!

the Little People nativity is perfect for this- if you press on the stable it plays Away in a Manger- then you can just sing along!

so our nativity didn’t come with a shepherd, hence the cowboy playing the part. do i get points for creativity?

it just so happened that we ended our story with an animal my daughter has always wanted. it was perfect!

My daughter is absolutely, without a doubt, is IN LOVE with the Nativity story. Sure, a big part of that is because animals were involved.

She calls Bethlehem her “world” and had to take it to bed with her. I knew it was a victory when she later told me she wanted to play with her nativity instead of going to the dinosaur park ( a place that she loves very much).

I hope this helps you make the story of the nativity come alive for your kids! And of course, if you don’t have a Little People nativity, you could use one that you already have…. or print the pics on this post.

Happy Teaching and Merry Christmas!

# DIY Telephone Number Bracelets

I saw this idea on Pinterest and fell in love! While my daughter has her phone number memorized, I wanted her to correlate the memorized numbers with the written digits. We have a ton of pony beads- and while I would have much rather used beads with pre-stamped numbers, I grabbed what I had and Boo and I started creating!

Materials needed:
beads (we used plastic beads- if you have number beads then this project will turn out much cuter!)
string or pipe cleaner
sharpie (in case you don’t have number beads)

 Super easy telephone number bracelets (blurred out the number- sorry, I don’t want prank phone calls đź™‚

On each bead, write one digit of your phone number. Then let your kids put their phone number in order on the string (or pipe cleaner). And voila! You are done! Of course you could do several extension activities- such as add the area code, see how many 2 or 3 digit numbers they can create using the digits in their phone number, using aÂ separateÂ phone allow kids to practice dialing their number, and of course listen to this fun song: (This is actually how my daughterÂ initiallyÂ memorized her phone number!)

squidoo: free worksheets for kids to learn to write their telephone number
bright hub education: fabulous list of ways to help preschoolers learn their phone number

Teaching your little ones their phone number is SO important for safety reasons- hopefully some of these resources will help you accomplish this task!! These bracelets would be great to take anywhere your kids might get lost- amusement park, fair, zoo, airport, beach, etc!

Happy Teaching!