Bear Tracks – a fun unit to start the year!

I LOVE bears. I think it would be fun to do a little research project on Bears to kick off the year. Kids love learning about animals and I think Grizzly, Brown, Panda, and Polar Bears are all very interesting topics for kids to research. And there are so many neat books out there to start us off. I have so many bear books that I filled a magazine box up with them; everything from brown bears, grizzly bears to polar bears and just fun bear stories. We will start by doing a little list of facts on the bear of our choice. Then we will find out where he lives and what he eats. Little mini reports are always interesting for kids to write.

I have a fun activity I purchased last year. It is a pawprint paper mache set of molds of many furry animals of the forest. Bear paw is one of the prints we will make. The kids will love it. Above is also an animal tracks picture matching to cards game. It looks like a lot of fun.

I found a fun interactive website the students can go to and see lots of different animal tracks. The link for the Bear Tracker website is HERE.  The author shows many different diagrams of animal tracks from forests, desserts, you name it! Just have kids click on the animal of their choice for some interesting facts.

A cute art project for the grizzly bear can be found at Art Projects for Kids. It is a tutorial on how to draw a grizzly bear. It looks pretty easy too. This website is THE BEST so go check it out!  I know my students will do a great job on it.  Here’s a picture from her cool website!

 Everyday Teaching has this hinged bear 
Link to the Bear art is HERE.


 This Panda Math book I bought has subtraction word problems written into the text on the reading page.  It is a fun “braniac” activity for the kids in my gifted class to try to figure out the story problems. 

You could also use the counting colored bear counters to do addition and subtraction problems in the classroom to go along with the bears you are studying.

The students could also make up their own subtraction word problems using  bear rubber stamps I have. They could call the bears grizzly, panda or polar bear or just the color of bear they want to use. I’ve also got strips of clip art bears they could color, cut out and past onto paper to make their word problems.

A link to a set I bought for less that $8.00 is HERE on Ebay.

Have fun with YOUR bear unit!


I really like my 5 Favorites Weekly Graph. I think it has helped the kids learn the ins and outs of reading a graph or a table really well.

 We use all of the graphing vocabulary (greater than, less than, equal, 3 more than, 2 less than, greatest, least, same etc.) The manipulating of the words to describe the graph has made ALL THE DIFFERENCE in their ability to talk about graphs, in my opinion. That is the piece that is missing when we study graphs and tables and looking at data.  They don’t know what table, survey, pie chart, bar graph, and tally marks mean, UNTIL you do lots of activities with them and TALK about them.

One thing that helped me was putting up a graphing pocket chart in my room with the Weekly Graph listed on top and a bulletin board decorated nearby that listed the question of the week.  I then put together a binder of about 20 cute scrapbook paper ideas typed out on the different papers; what is your favorite ______. I knew I wouldn’t have time during the year so I worked on it in the summer.

  I looked up a great website called Little Giraffes. She is a Kindergarten teacher who I think has retired since, but she had done a graph a day. I think that is insane because I personally could never keep that up. But she inspired me. So I took on graph a week and I must confess that we never got to it every single week. But maybe 3 times out of the month (or like in December only one time) but we did revisit graphing enough to get it down.

I found recently a great blog where the teacher listed graphs ideas for all year and lots of integration of subjects. It would be a great place to start to form your own graph of the week binder.  Mind consists of page protectors and inside I place the page of scrapbook paper with, for example, Halloween paper with “What is your favorite Halloween Candy?” Typed on it.  A list of tons of stuff to graph can be found at this Link to Forsythe County Schools website.  Another link I found that has graph a day topics is HERE at Kinderpond.

Then inside the page protector I also have the 5 choices. This year I cut off wrappers of Halloween candy like a Skittles wrapper, a Snickers bar wrapper, etc. Then I place those 5 things (or 5 things listed on red apple cut outs) which I will use for the graphing pocket chart.

Here are some pictures of my Weekly Graph.  And here is a fantastic blog that gives a gazillion graphing ideas over the course of a year of planning  HERE.  Another thing that helps kids is actually collecting data from a survey. It is really and truly easy and the kids love going around collecting tally marks on kid’s favorites in the class. A post I did a while back on how I did class surveys and bar graphs is Surveys and Graphs blogpost HERE. I hope you can do a weekly graph too! It is fun.

Chore Charts for Kids


Sutton Grace: chore chart: I found  a link to this chore chart for kids. I liked the idea of chore charts for my own kids. They had charts for everything from how to clean a toilet to folding laudry and setting the table.  And summer is a GREAT time to get kids into a routine to help get the house cleaned through and through.  And hey…you’ve got a little bit of built in slave labor! 😀  The Free Printables website has a lot more HERE.


My daughter had a house cleaning business when she was at BYU. People would ask her how she learned to clean so well. She told everybody (and I’m just relaying the story) that her mom taught her with little charts taped to the insides of cabinets in the bathroom. (How to clean the bathroom. Step 1…) So there your are. My success at chore charts is right there for all to see and admire 😀 I think chore charts make working a lot more fun for kids….and they teach responsibility and pride in a job well done too! It’s a win-win situation with a chore chart! mmmmhmmm….


Finding Ways to Differentiate in Math

 I’ve found that a cool way to differentiate in all subjects is to give open ended assignments or ones where they do a project. Those who are at a higher level will most often want to do a little more, add creative embellishments to it, or else go deeper into a subject.  Those with less ability will write less, do smaller projects, and go into a little less depth. These are natural diffentiating assignments. I will give examples of what I mean.

You can buy this math menu at a great center for money adding that is naturally very differentiated…high kids will choose challenging amounts….low kids will add up easy combinations…

 I give lots of choices  in my classroom. They get their choice of from several  options depending on if it is spelling menu of 21 options to do at night, 6 reading centers to choose from all week, writing prompts, book reports, or math games.  So they always have some sort of choice, and there is always a harder and an easier option. That is the key to differentiate without having to make 3 separate lessons for everything you do.  Game choice is easy. If you teach a new game a week in math that is a good start. By the end of a unit they have learned 2 or 3 games on that topic. And they can choose which one to play. I keep the adding and subtracting games out all year and just add to the pile using gallon baggies layered easy (in front) to hard (in back).

And don’t forget about your classroom computers as differentiation tools. They are a cool center for kids to use. There are many online and cd games kids can play in math.

You can get this book of Math projects and games at Scholastic

These handpanited lima bean counters idea is from Little a fabulous website for ideas!!!

Now a few years back when I was getting my gifted and talented endorsement to be able to teach gifted kids, I met up with a few teachers who all wanted to learn how to better differentiate math. I think we came up with a really good and easy way to do it.  We take a strand of math such as measurement. We do a short, quick and dirty 12 question assessment sheet and score them and then place them in 3 groups; high medium and low ability. Then for that particular unit they are taught differently, but these groups are never set in stone and are always fluid.

Then we teach the regular lesson to everyone. Those who were in The high group do the regular seatwork assignment and I meet with them first, in a small group, to give them either a more challenging optional assignment or some challenge games to do with partners or in groups. I meet with this group once a week after the regular math directed lesson. And hopefully the math challenge assignments and games will last the week in interest level. Very occasionally I gave them a higher grade level “packet”.  This was not the norm though, but sometimes I stooped to a packet.

The medium group does the regular math seatwork after lessons and then goes to math centers. All the math centers can have differentiation in them built right in. Some medium kids will learn the games from the high kids and play their games too. An example of centers in measurement might be rulers and a tote tray full of measure worms, and some paper with 1 to 12 listed for answers. Kids could measure in centimeters and inches or choose one or the other.  Another center could be using tape measures to measure each others elbows to fingers, head circumference, feet and body length. The cut outs could be gingerbread men they write the answers on the body part they measured.

The  low group I meet with daily right after the regular lesson and kids have started independent seatwork. They meet at a table with me in groups of 3. As soon as we see they are doing it well on their own they go back to do work independently. Then we have a little time to call a few of the medium kids a day to work and reteach if necessary to be sure each is “getting it”. 

This way you are covering your low kids on a math topic every day, your medium as you can manage meets, and your high you are challenging even if it is only once a week in a meet and with the extra games, problem solvings, or more challenging seatwork. You’ve met with all 3 groups independently over the course of a week or two.  The challenge is being prepared for those high kids with an extra activity once a week. That takes more organization on the teacher’s part. But it is highly doable. Sometimes it would be a problem solving from a brain teaser book. Sometimes things like Sodoku, magic squares, a game from the math series I quickly teach that is too high for the mainstream class or a few word problem ideas for them to write and share with the class. Sometimes it would be a file folder game brand new to the class, or I used cards, dominos and dice a lot.

I have several of these fraction circles I’ve purchased for centers.  They are fun and easy!

Sometimes I would just peruse the monthly teacher IDEA books like the one to the left. They would have art projects and cute writing paper and I’d come up with a math prompt or word problem and cute art and writing to go with it.  That helped me to really flesh out my strands of math too. And the kids love to mesh art and math. And it would take multiple days to finish. This June book has frogs, turtles, whales and goldfish pages. The kids could do a “Whale of a Word Problem” or a “Goldfish cracker subtraction set of 4 problems” they write themselves, maybe even double digit. I always had the kids put a yellow sticky paper over the answers and we would pick a few a week to read the problems to each other aloud and do them on our individual white boards. The first 3 kids with the correct answers got a gummy bear. And you can have some “authentic assessment” in seeing who can’t do word problems, am I right?

Graphing mats to use with all kinds of manipulatives is a great cooperative learning center

Every other Friday I give tests and then  finishers have math games and centers when they are done, so even some of your low kids will get to go have free choice if they didn’t have it during the week.  That is the goal anyway.  Then a few weeks later when you change math topics….BE SURE…to give a new pretest to see who is high medium and low on this strand or topic. (Don’t lock kids into the same 3 groups all year) And it begins again.

A great website for math is called FUNBRAIN. The link is
I struggle with preparation most weeks. So in a pinch I’ll have my high kids work together on computer games in pairs on my classroom computers.  Some weeks I’m more prepared with cool games and activities and writing prompts for math or math journal problem solvings and it’s all smooth sailing. Some weeks I feel like I’m dragging the whole class along, you know how it is.  I’ll post more tomorrow on some of my games.

Are you Ready to implement the Common Core?

Jenn at Finally in First posed this question and it made me think. So I am adding it to my blog too. Are you ready to implement the common core in your state? We went through our new Envisions Math this year and alligned it to the core and saw how many changes it made. It seems to me that it kind of watered down first grade.  They took out money and it is one of the most challenging things for kids to learn. They are not going to get it in just one year. I told my whole team that I would recommend they still introduce money and the value of all the coins. It will be tough for those 2nd grade teachers to get those kids to memorize the coins and count money with enough skill to do word problems. EEK! I think that part should have been left in 1st.

Will a national common core help us to be more competitive in the world of the future?


The Common Core mathematics standards succeed in being both mathematically coherent and grade level appropriate. Overall, they are the best standards that I have seen in the past twenty years. If we can design a professional development program of the same caliber to go with these standards, then our nation will be making a substantial first step towards educational excellence in mathematics.
– Dr. Hung-Hsi Wu, Professor of Mathematics, University of California at Berkeley

I liked this quote.  I think there are many websites out there that will help us implement the core. I have found so many resources in teacher blogs and stuff on youtube. I think it is actually the professional development of the future. A cool website that spells the core out nicely I found HERE at Common core maps.

National common core…


How will we implement the common core?

What do you think about the new common core spreading across the U.S.? Are you happy with it in your state, does it allign with what you’ve always done or is it a drastic change? Is your district adopting it and how many of you are getting district help implementing it? 

Brown Bear, Brown Bear

Recently I found a lot of fun things to do for next year using the book Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Bill Martin, Jr. It has so many jumping off points for doing language arts activities, puppets, beginning sounds, digraphs, colors, you name it. The format of the book is so inviting for kids to chant it along with you too.

This cute art project was from a blogger in Maryland. Her link is HERE.

LINK HERE at 2Care2Teach for a copy of the characters in the story to color.

I think some fun innovations on the story could be done by first graders. Most of them love animals and could use the phrases in the book in a different way to make their own story. You could do the same book only with geometrical shapes and different colors to learn the vocabulary and spelling of these shapes and colors.

Vocabulary could be added below each picture and these could also be used to retell the story.
Link HERE at docstoc

You could also use kids’ names in the class and add the animals onto the ends of sentences to recreate the students’ own individual books.  This could teach color words and also animal spellings. A link to the animal patterns can be found HERE at Virtual Vine.

This cute art project can be found at Little Giraffes the link is HERE.
“Brown Turkey, Brown Turkey, what do YOU see?”

Or a fun idea would be to use a holiday like Halloween or Thanksgiving and use all the icons shapes of the holiday to remake a holiday version of the book. An example could be “Orange pumpkin, orange pumpkin, what do you see? I see a White Ghost looking at me”.  Or Brown Turkey, Brown Turkey, what do you see?  Same thing for Christmas or Easter….the ideas are endless. If you brainstorm the character words and color words on the board and write out the sentence pattern for kids to copy they can come up with their own unique Halloween or Thanksgiving books.
A link to a cute one is HERE. This Halloween one was made up by Bobbie Jaeger.

The official Eric Carle website also has many ideas for ways to use this versatile book. The link is HERE for Eric Carle classroom ideas.

HERE at Mrs. May’s blog there are other activities you can do. I’d have my kids graph
the amount of M and Ms in their bag making their own bar graph after the sort using the
original animal papers above.  But these are even cuter, but you need to buy them from her TPT  Store. 

A pocket chart center activity I found as a freebie printable HERE at Owen’s Family Blog. It would be cute backed in colored construction paper to go with the animal and laminated for your pocket chart. I just wish I had a good way to STORE all my pocket chart stuff. It makes me not want to make any more!

This would be a cute pocket chart to use with the different colors of animals. It is $16.99 at Oriental Trading. 

Now I recently found DLTKs website and they did a lot of other things with Brown Bear too. And they also have the puppets that you can copy in black and white or color to use to make your own big book, puppets or minibooks for your students.  I love their website HERE at DLTK. had this cute polar bear art project.

I also do some fun activities with Polar Bear, Polar Bear also by Bill Martin, in the wintertime. Using the same kind of pattern we could do our own books using a theme of Eskimos and characters from Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner, which I like to read in the wintertime. A link for a brad-hinged polar bear is HERE at Everyday

Last Day of School

Well another school year is about to come to a close. My last day of school is tomorrow. WOO HOO

 We had a visit from our nice principal, Mr. Schofield, a few days ago to give our class their Prestigious Student Awards.  My whole class earned them! 
Too bad I can’t take everybody’s picture.

Andrew won a Perfect Attendance award that was handed out today…but guess what? He’s on vacation! 😀

Vera got a perfect attendance  award too! Woo Hoo!


Nova shook hands with Mr. Schofield…

Trace also won the “Moving Forward” principal’s award for super effort and progress all year….


Peter and Mr. Schofield…..

Matt with our Principal….

Addie with Mr. Schofield…

Joe won the SOAR Behavior award for his example of a very nice, kind student who is a great example of all those SOAR skills.  Safe inside school and outside, On Time and On Task, Accepts Responsibility for actions,  and Respects others and their property. Congrats Joe! 


I’ll be busy reading…..down at the beach……or at my Bear Lake Cabin…..see ya next year!    MRS. MOSS

Flat Stanley has Come Home!

Cutest Book Flat Stanley!

We’ve had Flat Stanley up in our classroom this past month. I forgot to put some pictures up about all the places he was able to go!

Flat Stanley in Hawaii….Aloha!

Can’t forget Las Vegas…go Stanley! Don’t miss the Bellagio!

President Bush likes Flat Stanley!
Flat Stanley can’t forget to go to California of course!

And Flat Stanley is here the Zoo in Philly! 

Flat Stanley and President Obama
Back to Hawaii Flat Stanley goes…..

And back to Las Vegas!

Even Clint Eastwood likes Flat Stanley!

Howdy Partner….Ride em cowboy Flat Stanley!!

We loved having Flat Stanley come back from such a variety of fun places. Thanks for all our relatives who participating in our exchange!  We really appreciate it!

Our Classroom Aquariums

In my classroom we have 2 types of living things to view in their natural habitat. One is a frog aquarium. We have 2 male frogs and 1 female frog (that both males fight over!)
One male has actually had his whole hand bitten off,  little by little, by the mean, and bigger, Alpha-male frog. I think this is the handless one in picture. 🙁

Froggies! Joe, Mo and Flo…..

The other living habitat is our blue-gel ant farm.  The ants are doing well in our classroom. My husband just found some field ants in a park near our home and they are doing just swell making tunnels and working together. I wonder if they don’t need a queen ant eventually though. We’ve only got a week of school left so they should last that long at least. We put a wet cotton ball in the farm in case they need more moisture.

We haven’t named any yet but we’ve got about a dozen ants and 4 tunnels now!

We made a third kind of habitat for art on Friday. We painted fish aquariums. We chose between goldfish, Nemo clown fish, and several others.  I drew the fish by hand using pictures from a poster I have, and I added some seaweed and coral sketches. Then we colored them and cut them out.  We painted white paper plates aqua blue for the water and added some strips of crepe paper to represent waves and motion. 



1. Ten Little Fish by Audrey Wood. This is SUCH a cute book and story. I bought it as soon as I saw it!
2. Commotion in the Ocean by Andrease Giles – Here is another beautiful book in rhyme. My kids love it.
3. Rainbow Fish Finds His Way by Marcus Pfister – One of the special books in my library. Pfister always gives a great message to kids in his books. Rainbow fish ignores warnings of others and gets lost.
4. Over in the Ocean by Marianne Berkes Another beautiful book filled with sea life.

They turned out really pretty. Too bad we didn’t have any crushed rock used in aquariums. I might try to find some at Walmart this weekend. That would add a lot.  I got the idea from a post by First Pallette and it’s a post called 3D Goldfish Bowl.

Clown fish

It would look even a lot brighter with the crushed aquarium rocks in the bottom.  Next time we’ll add that for sure. It was a really easy, and fun art project. The kids have already named their fishies!  Maybe a fish story is next. …glub glub…..

By the sea…by the sea…by the beautiful sea….