Tuesday, March 12, 2013

My Math Block Mini-Series {Part 1}

So I changed the "Calendar Mini-Series" I teased about to "My Math Block Mini-Series" because there is so much more about math that I want to share! Now, we all know that my favorite subject has and always will be MATH! Teaching 1st grade math has been such a great experience so far, particularly because the students aren't so defeated (drained, damaged, mislead, behind, etc.) when they come to me (as they had been in 4th). In this first part of this mini-series, I will give you a breakdown of our math block and calendar activities. In subsequent parts of this mini-series, I will go over each activity in much more detail.

Number of the Day
Our math block is from 12:40-2:10 every day. My students come back from P.E./Music at that time, so a bathroom break is a must. I have a "Number of the Day" ready to go as soon as they walk in (just a random number I pick between 1 and 100). I display the number by using base-ten blocks or ten-frame cards:

The kids take out their math notebooks and dry erase markers and get started as I send one table at a time to the restroom (just right outside our hall door). The NotD papers are kept in a sheet protector that we write directly on with a dry erase marker (best idea EVER). Easy erasing, saves paper, and readily accessible to students!

Here is the paper that we use for NotD (click on it to snag a copy):

I plan on moving to this step next (this is available to download as well):

The following pages are kept behind our NotD page in our notebooks. We use the following pages to help us write those number words we have trouble sounding out:

You can snag a copy by clicking on the picture of the page! The pages we use just go up to 100 so I added an extension page to 120 for my common core friends.

Anyway, after they complete the NotD, they grab a number board and practice counting writing numerals and number words until we have all gone to the bathroom and are ready to go over the number.
I purchased two sets from Really Good Stuff for really cheap! The kids love them and I love how they are an easy time filler. 

Calendar Time

One of my favorite things about 1st grade math is definitely calendar time! What an incredibly POWERFUL time to learn new math concepts, discuss patterns, reinforce learning, and explore numbers! My students are always excited to do it and always come with something new and exciting to say (seriously...I have to cut them off or our calendar time could easily last an hour). The kids are so engaged that they actually run it with very little assistance from me. The main thing I do is facilitate discussions and pick the next helper! I treat calendar time with the same importance as I would an actual math lesson because to me, it is a math lesson. As previously stated, it is such a powerful time because so many skills are covered in such a short period of time. Now, calendar time in March looks quite different than calendar time at the beginning of the year. We have added many new things, taken some things out, and extended several things that already existed. That, I will share with you later. 

NotD and bathroom break takes about 15 minutes. After that, we sing our mystery number song as we put math notebooks away and head to the carpet for calendar. The mystery number song is such a GREAT transition song for us! I saw the idea on Miss Kindergarten and adapted it for my classroom. Our song is pretty much the same, as is the process.

During Mystery Number (or right before) I very casually choose a student as my calendar helper and that student gets to pick a pointer out of the pointer bucket (highlight of their day, let me tell ya). After we finish mystery number, here is our current calendar routine:

1. Months of the Year/Days of the Week songs
2. Count to the date, recite the date (MDY)
3. Read the pattern, decide what is next
4. Count by days and/or weeks to special days and birthdays
5. Days in school tally marks, straws, and stickers/odd and even
6. Money
7. Build the hundreds chart
8. Weather

As you can see, our routine includes quite a bit. In fact, each number has at least a few subcategories! As stated at the beginning of this post, I will go over each activity in more detail in a later post.

Math Lesson
At the conclusion of calendar time, half of my class goes to stations and the other half goes to the mat with me for the day's lesson.

The station kids have a sequence of activities laid out for them so there is no question as to what to do. We switch after 30 or so minutes. We usually conclude the day's math work with Lone Star Math on the Promethean board.

Whew, long post! Well, I hope you enjoyed the post and maybe picked up an idea or two. I hope to prepare post part 2 of this series tonight so it is ready to post tomorrow! Thanks for stopping by! :)

You can also grab copies of the above pages by visiting my shops.

Number Words:

Number of the Day:


  1. YAY!! Thank you so much for taking the time to write all of this out!! Quick question about your number of the day page: have you been using the same one all year--even before some of the concepts were learned? Just wondering what it looked like at the beginning of first grade. I love the idea of using a dry erase marker!! Thanks again, Janaye! Looking forward to the next post. :)

    Little Miss Primary

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Erin!!! I appreciate your feedback! I actually haven't been using the same sheet all year. (Thanks for reminding me of that detail because I intended to say that in the post.) We started doing NotD around October or November. The previous page basically has the same components with just a few differences. There was a single box to write the number in standard form in instead of the box at the top. We also had a lines to write one more and one less instead of in the boxes. And, finally, the expanded form box had lines to write the expression on: ___ + ___.

  2. That is such an awesome idea to only teach whole group to HALF THE CLASS! Why didn't I think of that??? I AM SOOOO DOING THAT NEXT YEAR! :)

  3. I really like a couple of things you described!

    First: The number of the day is a GREAT idea. I have been doing it as a whole class on a graphic organizer on the wall for a while and I was trying to put it on paper for independent work and just have not found a format I like. So thanks!

    I also love that you split your group for the math lesson. This is a great way to differentiate instruction and let the group you are not working with practice their independent work skills.

    The Math Maniac

  4. Oh my goodness! I'm so glad Beth at Thinking of Teaching bragged about you! I love your calendar routine! I've been worried that mine was a little lacking but you have reassured me that I'm not doing too much less than you. Not so much that I have to completely revamp what I'm doing. I'm now your newest follower as I'm a fellow first grade teacher. Thank you so much for sharing what you do!
    Mrs. Landry’s Land of Learning

  5. Just found your blog! I am your newest follower! I love calendar time! You are right, you can get so much covered in that little snippet of your day! Love you pointer storage! Why didn't I think of that?

  6. Great ideas - even as a middle school teacher. One question - what do you have pictured on the end of the dry erase marker to "erase" with?

    1. It's a pom pom hot glued to the end of the marker cap--perfect for erasing! :)

  7. I LOVE this! I read that you choose a number between 1-100. Is there a reason that you don't go beyond 100, since first grade CCSS is up to 120? If you did go 100 and up would you update the awesome NotD form?

    Searching for Teacher Balance

    1. We do not follow CCSS, we follow the TEKS. That is why I didn't initially make the page go past 100. However, 1st grade in Texas will include numbers up to 120 next year, so, with a little motivation from you, I now have it available to the hundreds place! Just posted it! :) Thanks for coming by!