5 Tips for Teaching Number Sense & Number Talks that Impact Learning & Engagement

Around the back on the railroad track, you made a 2 just like that! Solid foundations in number sense are prerequisites for any math learning! We sometimes think they have it when they come to us because they can count a little, but when we get to know them a little better we learn that they don’t understand that a 2 = 🍎🍎 (Am I right??!!)


We can’t assume they have it, so skipping over deliberate instruction and practice of number sense is not an option! I start at the very beginning of the year with math talks at calendar, and math workshops, using my Number Sense Anchor Charts to support instruction & scaffold at labs. They offer multiple representations and pneumonic rhymes for writing the numerals.


Here are some tips for teaching number sense to your littles!

1. Start at the beginning. Even if kids come to school and can count, it doesn't mean that they have
a solid foundation in number sense. Sometimes they can fool ya, but it doesn't take long to see the gaps. When I say start at the beginning I mean assume nothing. Assume they don't know that a
a 2 = 🍎🍎 ... even if they do, it won't hurt them to hear how you talk about numbers and make sense of the numerals and quantities. Starting out on the same page is SO important. Using the same language and them hearing you articulate math talk is key - from the first day of school.

2. Use TPR ... all day long! TPR (total physical response) makes ALL the difference in solidifying number sense. They REALLY need to show those numbers on fingers. I even show them how I use my thumb to hold down fingers I don't need when I'm showing how many.  For some of them it's a new skill just to learn how to manipulate their fingers!

3. Talk numbers all day long, not just during math instruction. Make a point to mention numbers during every content area in some way. "Here I  have 3 books that we are going to read today! Let's count them! 1, 2, 3! Show me three fingers!" .... etc. Inserting it naturally in LOTS of conversations will make a huge difference!

4. Build in a Number Talk time into your calendar time EVERYDAY. Starting on the very first day of school and everyday there after, we talk about a number, until we make it all the way to 10. Then we begin to talk about operations beginning with addition. I use my number sense anchor charts and we talk about each thing on the chart. We count each representation, we say the pneumonic rhyme to learn how to write the numeral, we draw it big in the air small in the air, and on our hand. They turn to their partner and tell a sentence about the number.... so they have to use that number in their sentence. (At my house we have 2 dogs.) Then their partner has to give them an "I heard you say sentence. (At your house you have two dogs) As they grow and begin to learn more numbers, I add
little questions or challenges. I encourage TPR between the partners when they are talking numbers as an added way to solidify number sense.

I do not post my number anchor charts on our calendar math talk board until we have learned them. Our "number of the day" is something we do together, so they become a partners in the reason the numbers are posted on the board (very impactful!) vs. having them already there and they just become another piece of text around the room. Even after we get to 10, i still do a number of the day.
I do almost a drum roll approach to see what it's going to be (extra copy of the anchor chart turned upside down)... they get sooo excited! I usually do it in a riddle kind of way. "I'm thinking of a number that we have 4 of in our classroom, they are long and tall, shaped like rectangles and we go
in and out of them"... I tell them they cannot shout out, they must hold their thinking in their brain, and then they turn and whisper to their partner their predictions. Capturing their engagement and attention for our number of the day is so much fun and really starts our day out right, not to mention all of the schema we are building! (Find our Number Sense Anchor Charts here)


5. Invitations to count and practice number sense. There are soooo many ways to do this! Math workshops, labs, centers, small groups, etc. Whatever works for you in your classroom, just make sure you provide opportunity everyday. Practice is essential. Using any hands-on manipulatives you have. Using theme related objects is a fun way to integrate and make it new and fun each week.
As you  observe them at their workshops watch to see if they are beginning to count with accuracy, touching one object and saying one number. If not this is the time to model for them and provide a hand over hand to scaffold for them.


Number sense is essential to any and all future math learning, so starting out with solid instruction and hands-on practice to provide a concrete foundation will be an invaluable building block in their math schema! Find our Number Sense Anchor Charts for Little Learners in the shop to help you guide your young mathematicians!


Inspiring Kindness

We hear it all the time. Be kind. Kindness matters. Pay it forward. It's on posters and social media and hashtags and t-shirts. Good! Thank goodness it's being talked about! How, though, do we get our kids to DO IT?? Kindness can be a personality trait, an adjective, but for our kids to do it, we must teach them that it's a verb. Kindness is displayed in action. That can mean words or it can mean an act, but it should be an action word.

Conversations everyday with our students are imperative. To teach, to provide context and example.
Shining a light on what is good, and kind, and what we want to see repeated. Anything, really, can set the stage. It might be something that happened in class, the playground, or in the cafeteria. Anecdotes that provide a connection and some schema for what we are talking about. Characters from books we read make great talking points for teaching about character. What was their point of view? How do you think the other characters felt about that? So powerful.

I love using quotes too. They can be fantastic conversation starters. "What do  you think _____
meant when they said that? What could that mean for us in our classroom? For you at home?".

I have created a set of Farmhouse Growth Mindset/Kindness Posters that can be used as charming decor, but also serve as terrific talking points and reminders for classroom culture! If you pick these up and display them in your classroom, please send me a photo so I can share it on Facebook and Instagram! littlebirdkindergarten@gmail.com













FARM Round Up



Somehow, for some reason, some things just get old after teaching them a few times! If I ever get to feeling this way I usually will try to perk it up a bit with a new resource or a new approach! At any rate, when I do it always seems to come out on the great end for kids anyway since they love the activities and it makes it a deeper learning experience for them!

There are SO many great classroom titles to  use when teaching about Farm... and by the way, honestly teaching the farm theme never gets old for me! I love it. Maybe it's my farm girl roots, or my love for Fixer Upper or anything chippy, cute or born on a farm!  It lends itself to so many fun classroom activities and centers!
I love getting out the farm animals and putting  them in the block center, and seeing all of the creative ways the littles build their pens, etc. Creating a sensory lab or station with corn, beans, some little farm animals and craft sticks makes for some wonderful imaginative play!

I always try to use natural ways to get kids talking and "putting miles on their tongues" as we learn about a new topic. I use this little reader during the entire unit as something to do when finished, as
a small group activity or a time filler to take out and read together when we have a minute or two to fill! They love being able to read it, and I love giving them lots of opportunities to practice reading behaviors and oral language! At the end of the unit they LOVE taking their books home to read to their families! It's so fun to ask them the next day what mom and dad thought of their reading... sweetest smiles! So proud! 



Another fun activity for a farm unit is Write the Room! There are sooo many amazing reasons to write the room! Do you do it in your classroom?
Write the Room is one of my go to centers for each theme! I love how they get so good at it and when the theme changes they go to town on the new cards! I also love how they use the words in their everyday writing! They remember where in the room the cards are and love recalling them to use!
It's so quick and easy to print the cards, cut and place them around the room. All you need is clip boards, pencils and copies of the response pages!

If you've used  any of my close reading resources you  might like this fun 
learning a little more in depth about the farm animals. The facts they pick up and
are able to write and report about are pretty impressive. The passages, as with all
of my other close reading resources, are original and especially written for little learners.
They are packed with vocabulary and literacy skills that build thinkers!


Check back often, I have more farm activities in the works and can't wait to share them with you soon!


If You Give A Pig A Pancake



BIG FAN of Laura Numeroff & Felicia Bond! I mean really big! I LOVE their books so much! SO much that I decided we need more of them in our lives!! Designing and creating companion activities to go with books is how I got my start and what I most love to do!

Making the book go further, extending it and squeezing out every possible opportunity of learning and fun in the classroom is my goal! I LOVE that when you do book extensions the books become part of your classroom in a way that just reading them can't. I LOVE that the books become like old friends... our experiences with them beg to be remembered later on... "Remember when we..."

Integrating so many parts of our day using the activities in different contexts and content areas just makes for a much more rich and engaging experience! I have LOVED working on this resource!
I love taking a book that I've had for a long, long time, and breathing new life into interacting with it!

If you have this book and you are looking for a companion, I bet you and your kids will LOVE it too!
















3 Reasons to Write the Room

Why Write the Room??



It might just seem like a fun and easy way to insert your theme into centers, but it is SO much more!
Underneath those cute cards taped up around the room, and that clipboard in tow are the makings of
a powerful punch of academics and fine motor skills wrapped up into one neat little package!
Here's why:


1. Writing/Reading

For obvious reasons...

Writing: practicing writing letters and words in orders that don't happen in everyday class work
(cvc etc.) name writing, numbers etc.

Reading: Looking around the room for the cards, then visually discriminating the letters they see
is more challenging for a little learner than you might think! Imagine yourself doing the same thing,
looking around the room for a card so that you can write the word, only your characters are in 
Chinese (Mandarin).... would you have to look hard? Would you have to study the characters to 
see how to make them? I would presume it's much like that for many of our littles! 

2. Oral Language

Not an obvious one, but important nonetheless. As they are walking around working to find cards
and then set to work writing... they are talking! Magical academic language at it's best! I LOVE to sneak up behind and eavesdrop a bit on the conversations! So good! Asking questions, taking turns
speaking and listening. Ya, I like it.

3. Fine motor skills/dexterity/hand and wrist strength


Whoa!! The power of what happens during Write the Room in the area of motor skills is mind-blowing! Think of all they are doing by holding a clipboard at a slant and holding a pencil to
write at a slant....

hand and wrist strength
dexterity
strong control of finger muscles (fine motor)

Play has changed a LOT in the last few years. Kids are tableting more and writing less, dexterity has
suffered! They need LOTS of opportunities to practice fine motor skills in productive ways that
can provide academic perks as well! 

I have always loved providing write the room opportunities and I include write the room in nearly all of my resources, even my close reading resources have write the room included for each passage! I have had lots of requests to make more stand alone write the rooms, so I've been adding a few here and there! If you've never tried it with your class, I hope you will! Let me know how it goes!

If you need help getting started, here are some simple resources to get you going!
Click on the pictures for the links!
























Organizing Your Time Freebie


With Spring Break coming to an end, (boo!) it's time to start thinking about getting back to school.
I am a list person. Always have been. When I am looking ahead to the school week ahead  I like to have a single page calendar that I can lay out my week on. I use one color pen for home stuff, and another color for school. It really helps me organize my thoughts and keep track of everything going on. I refer back to it during the week and usually keep it in my purse or school bag so that I can cross off or add to. I created a new one to use and thought you might like it too! It's Rae Dunn inspired for all you Rae Dunn fans out there! Hope your first week back is a good one!!

Here's a quick link to my shop, so you can grab the
Week-at-a-Glance Printable Calendar FREEBIE!




Parenting Literacy




Parenting Literacy. . . . what is it?  My definition of parenting literacy is:


Parents who possess the awareness and skills to thoughtfully 
and intentionally raise their children to be:


• Aware of themselves and the world around them
• Emotionally intelligent, and physically healthy
• Of a happy disposition ready to learn, grow and thrive

Sounds so simple, doesn't it? Any of us who are parents know it is not. Parenting is the best, hardest job there is. So much to do. So much to think about. All. The. Time. It never ends, but as some would say, that's what we signed up for, right? As teachers we know what we see. We see it all, the great, the good, the mediocre, and the downright ugly. We have such a unique perspective. Many of us are parents, so we truly know the struggle. But... since many of us are parents, we know that it takes self-discipline, selflessness, patience and self introspection to try and get it right most of the time.
 So many things we would like to share and instill in parents of our students, but there is no way we have the time to do it.



After many years of seeing examples of amazing parents and just as many examples of not-so-amazing parents, I wrote a school-year-long series of articles for teachers to send home each week with their students. With the hope that every now and then parents who might need a dose of parenting literacy will open up a back pack to find some parenting inspiration! I know you can't force it, but with the weekly consistency they might just look forward to knowing that their shot of parenting literacy is coming each week!

I have heard from hundreds of teachers and several administrators that their parents are pleased to be given some support and the struggles they face. I love to think of these articles as "Close Reading for Parents"! The articles are not progressive - send them home out of order if you need to in order to address certain issues as they arrive. It's never too late to start! Parents would appreciate getting them any time you start sending them home!