Thursday, April 21, 2011

Rain Sticks

The Great Kapok Tree
After exploring the rainforest, students learn it rains almost every day there. Then, I share a "real" rain stick with my students. When tilted slowly, you can hear the rain trickling down from the sky. We discussed what materials could possibly be used to acquire that sound. Once this background knowledge is built, the students will be ready to create a rain stick of their own.

Materials Needed:
  • paper towel tubes
  • masking tape
  • straight pins
  • rice
  • white construction paper
Photo of a kid holding a stick
Tucan and snake images
  • Tape one end of the paper towel tube with masking tape
  • Assign one bowl of straight pins per group (five students).
  • Cut white construction paper to cover the tube.
  • Trace and cut out two circles per student (to cover the ends of the paper towel tube)
  • Discuss: How to slowly remove pins from the bowl so students do not prick their fingers. The teacher will model how to remove pins from the bowl and how to insert them into the tube.
Tucan and snake images
Give each student a paper towel tube. Tell them to begin inserting the straight pins. Remind students to scatter them around the tube. When there are enough pins, the teacher will place a small cup of rice in the tube. She will seal the other side of the tube with masking tape. Students will listen to the sound of their rain stick. If it does not sound like the original rain stick, they will need to add more pins. The straight pins slow the speed of the rice from dropping to the bottom so rapidly. Once the sound is imitated, give them a white piece of construction paper. The students will create a design on one side of the paper. The teacher will use Scotch tape to secure the paper onto the paper towel tube. Finally, the students will color two circles. The teacher will attach them using masking tape.

***While the students are working, put on "rainforest" music so they can feel the experience of walking through a rainforest.***

Miss Sterczek
Rain Forest

Monday, April 11, 2011

Counting Coins

Piggy bank and money
Counting coins is a challenging skill for first graders. Once they master pennies, nickels, and dimes... a quarter comes along. Sound familiar? Here is a little trick to help your students along the way.

What do you need? large U.S. coin cut-outs and a marker or dot stickers

By this time of the year, first graders should be very comfortable counting by 5s. Display a nickel and represent it with one dot. Each dot on the coin is equivalent to the value of five. A dime would receive two dots and a quarter has five dots. Since a penny is worth one cent, no dots (count on by ones).

Once you model this strategy to your students, allow them to work in pairs using slates and dry-erase markers to practice the application of this skill. Draw a series of coins. Ask the pairs to work as a team to create the dots and find the sum of these coins. Remind the teams to count each dot as five and count on by 1s for any pennies.

After reinforcing this activity several times, the students will begin to build the confidence needed to create the dots and count individually. They will become more enthusiastic about counting money. Satisfactory guaranteed! This framework is also known as the "Gradual Release of Responsibility".

Show Me the Money!

Miss Sterczek
I Love Math