The Joy of Teaching – An Evan-Moor Blog

Sharing creative ideas and lessons to help children learn

January 31, 2017
by Evan-Moor
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How to Use Math Fundamentals in Homeschooling

As homeschoolers, teaching our children math fundamentals is a priority, but it can be overwhelming.

And even though I taught elementary school for 11 years before I started homeschooling, I still wanted a checklist of math fundamental skills to cover for each of my children each year. Wouldn’t you know, Evan-Moor just released a new publication specifically for teaching math fundamentals that is specific to each grade level, and it is terrific!

Let me share why the Math Fundamentals series works perfectly for homeschoolers! Be sure to download the free sampler and try it with your children.

Math Fundamentals Is Kid-Approved

To quote my fourth grader, “I really like this new math book, Mom! I understand math better, and the pages don’t overwhelm me. Math is fun now!”

Isn’t that what every homeschooling parent wants to hear? She even asked if she could work ahead in her Math Fundamentals book this week! What a compliment to this series!

The Layout of Math Fundamentals

Math Fundamentals divides each set of skills into units. This helps you and your child focus on specific math skills.

Each unit begins with a teaching page. This teaching page can be used by both the parent and child to understand the fundamental math skill the child will learn. It is very helpful to have the skill explained with examples, with all of the teaching points all together on a single page.

Each of the skills showcases simple teaching points. You can work through them one at a time as your child is ready for each step of the math fundamental skill.

Here is an example:

In this unit, the math fundamental skill is telling time by the half-hour for grade 1. There are two teaching points listed: the analog (face) clock and the digital clock.

See how everything is labeled and easy to understand?

Another thing that I really like is the “Think” question at the bottom of the page.

Here is another example for teaching fractions for grade 4. My child and I both found it easy to focus on one skill at a time.

The Practice

There are typically 4–5 pages for each unit. I really like how the pages are arranged. The first page is the foundational math fundamental skill. Then, the next page invites the child to build on that first skill and use the next skill taught on the teaching page.

You can CLICK HERE to select and preview each grade level.

The practice pages are key to helping me to see if my child truly understands the skill.

These pages feature a combination of basic math fundamental skill practice and story problems, which shows me if my child understands the skill outside of a formula. It is a perfect opportunity to see if your child can apply these math fundamental skills to real-life situations!

How to Use Math Fundamentals in Your Homeschooling

Math Fundamentals is a complete math curriculum, so we can simply focus on one unit at a time. You also have the flexibility to work at your child’s pace, slowing down when he or she needs more time or speeding up if it is easy.
For example, if my child breezes through the skill pages, then we can leave the remaining practice pages as workbox review in a few weeks.

If my child is struggling, then it is easy to just slow down and do a few problems together. I also like that the number of math problems doesn’t overwhelm my child. It is focused and purposeful practice – not just “busy” work.

Want Access to All Grade Levels of Math Fundamentals?

Another feature that Evan-Moor offers homeschoolers is including all six grade levels of Math Fundamentals in their TeacherFileBox subscription. TeacherFileBox has all of the Math Fundamentals titles in their digital lesson library!

This is the best value, because you can easily skip ahead to the next grade level if your child is ready without buying another level of curriculum! Likewise, if your child is struggling, you can also go back a grade level to review skills he or she has forgotten.

I don’t know of any other publisher that offers all grade levels of a series to homeschoolers. This is just another reason that I am a fan of Evan-Moor!

Math Fundamentals is a big hit at our house. It helps both my child and me focus on each set of skills for the week. It has made teaching math much simpler. I also have peace of mind knowing that the math fundamental skills are covered for each grade level.

Be sure and CLICK HERE for sample pages and to learn more about the new Math Fundamentals and TeacherFileBox! Once you try it, be sure and leave me a comment to let me know how it is working for you!


Amy Michaels is a certified teacher with 11 years of elementary classroom experience who is actively homeschooling her own children. Her mission is share the best teaching methods and resources with all homeschoolers. Amy supports parents through her podcasts, webinars, and online training for homeschoolers on her website www.thrivehomeschooling.com.

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January 20, 2017
by Evan-Moor
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3 Simple Steps to Create a Unit on Antarctica: Grades 4–6

Take your students on an exciting journey to the remote continent of Antarctica and uncover its mysterious past and uncertain future. With its dramatic topography and fascinating wildlife, this study unit has something for every student.

Step 1: Exploration

Although the human exploration of Antarctica is relatively new compared to the rest of the world, it has been filled with adventure.

  • Introduce the early explorers and their role in Antarctic exploration to your students. Have students create a timeline. Don’t forget the voyage of Belgica!
  • Discuss current exploration and international research stations.

Free download: Use this timeline of early exploration of Antarctica to help you get started.

Step 2: Features

Study the climate, landscape, and oceans surrounding Antarctica.

  • Discuss temperature variations within Antarctica and its geographic regions.
  • Study the current and changing climate conditions.
  • Ice experiment: Record the temperature of ice in three stages.
    • Introduce the purpose and use of a thermometer.
    • Measure temperature of water before, while, and after it freezes. Record the results and graph them.

Free download: Antarctica: Physical Features: Climate. This article from The 7 Continents: Antarctica presents information about the three distinct climate regions on the continent.

Step 3: Research

Instruct students to build their own research report on a topic of Antarctica that interests them, such as: exploration, weather, wildlife, research stations, or ice.

  • Create your own cyber hunt for students online with symbaloo. This site allows teachers to create an online research page using multiple sources and limits students in their research to specific websites (approved by the teacher). You may also search for educational sites related to your research that others have posted.


For an in-depth study of Antarctica and its history, features, and wildlife, check out The 7 Continents: Antarctica, grades 4–6.

 

 

 

 


Heather Foudy is a certified elementary teacher with over 7 years’ experience as an educator and volunteer in the classroom. She enjoys creating lessons that are meaningful and creative for students. She is currently working for Evan-Moor’s marketing and communications team and enjoys building learning opportunities that are both meaningful and creative for students and teachers alike.

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January 20, 2017
by Evan-Moor
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3 Simple Activities to Increase Your Child’s Vocabulary

Reading Aloud

Reading aloud to your child is one of the simplest ways to help expand his or her vocabulary. Authors include word choices that aren’t used in everyday conversations. When children read alone, they are often left on their own to comprehend the meaning of the text. Without guidance, children can easily misinterpret the meaning of a story. By reading aloud and discussing the text with your child, you are providing them with new information to be used during their independent reading.

I am currently reading aloud to my daughters the book Brady by Jean Fritz. Throughout the book, the term “abolition” is used. Without defining and discussing the meaning of abolition, my daughters would have missed one of the most important concepts within the novel.

Weekly Vocabulary

In addition to reading aloud, teaching weekly vocabulary will help your child learn and practice new words. This year we are using Evan Moor’s A Word a Day. Each day there is a new word introduced. The words are varied, and the lessons include nouns, adjectives, and verbs. We use the word in sentences and discuss whether they’ve heard it before or not. We also add it to our vocabulary bank.

Visuals and Games

If your child is a visual learner, incorporating word/picture match-up games is a great option to introduce new vocabulary. All you need is a stack of index cards and a pair of scissors. Cut the cards in half. On one side write a word and on the other have your child illustrate a picture of what that word might mean. Shuffle the cards and practice matching the picture to the correct word. Increase the fun element by cutting the cards into different shapes. Each word and picture match should fit together like a puzzle piece.

Do you teach vocabulary in your homeschool? What is your favorite method?


Latonya Moore is the creator of Joy in the Ordinary, a site where she focuses on seeking joy in everyday moments. She enjoys spending time with her husband and home educating her daughters.

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January 13, 2017
by Evan-Moor
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Steps to Create a Penguin Unit for Grades 1–4

Penguins are a favorite among students and teachers alike; those cute waddling figures are adorable and fascinating. Create your own unit with a few simple lessons and activities. Incorporate life science, geography, and writing for a cross-curricular unit that will WOW your students!

Idea Web: Introduce penguins with an idea web. Discover what students already know about the birds and their habitats. (Video clips are also great for building excitement!)

Information: Explore different types of penguins, their behavior, habitats, reproduction, diets, eating habits, and predators. Some great informational books are:

  • National Geographic Readers: Penguins
  • Fun Facts About Penguins: Part of the Fun Facts Series

Simple Student Journal

Watch this short video to see how to make a DIY penguin journal!

Resources from Evan-Moor

The Theme Pockets: January, Grades 1–4 e-book includes the following penguin activities:

  • Life Cycle Wheel
  • Penguin Mini Book
  • Penguin Picture Cards
  • Penguin Information Book
  • Map Activity

Penguin Activities

  • Emperor Penguin egg transfer:
    • Two students transfer a ball using only their feet.
  • Experience the warming effects of penguin blubber.
    • Step 1: Students place hand in a bowl of ice water
    • Step 2: Covering their hand in a plastic bag, students place hand into a bag filled with Crisco (zip lock it carefully so it doesn’t leak out) and dip it into the icy water again. (This time they should feel the warming effects of fat.)

Writing Prompts

  • Write a sentence describing a penguin you studied. What does it look like? Where does it live?
  • Pretend you are a baby penguin. Write a story about your life. (Include your habitat, diet, parents, and predators.)
  • Compare and contrast two species of penguins. How are they the same and how are they different?
  • Research and informational writing: Students research their favorite penguin and write about it.

Movie

March of the Penguins by National Geographic


Heather Foudy is a certified elementary teacher with over 7 years’ experience as an educator and volunteer in the classroom. She enjoys creating lessons that are meaningful and creative for students. She is currently working for Evan-Moor’s marketing and communications team and enjoys building learning opportunities that are both meaningful and creative for students and teachers alike.

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January 3, 2017
by Evan-Moor
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3 Math Hacks Every Teacher Will Love

With just a few changes, you can boost students’ understanding and reduce transition times within your classroom. Here are a few of my favorite math hacks:

Math Toolkit: If you’re like me, you cringe every time you pull out the manipulatives. Those time eaters take up most of your math period and cause disruptions throughout the lesson. Assign a box to each student at the beginning of the year with every math manipulative he or she will need. (You may need two boxes to cover the entire year.) 

    • Number each box.
    • Assign each student a number.
    • Before each lesson, have students pick up their math toolkit and remove only the manipulatives for that lesson.
    • Warning: Once students have removed the tools they need from the box, they must close it and put it under their desks.

Math Journal: These are perfect for teaching new concepts and reminding students of forgotten strategies. They also double as an at-home math tutor.

  • Composition journals (Home Depot will cut in half).
  • Record key vocabulary, strategies, and visuals.
  • Solve multi-step word problems and write out solutions.

Evan-Moor’s Math Fundamentals pairs perfectly with student journals. Cut and paste visual math model pages into students’ journals. Download your free sample of the new Math Fundamentals series (grades 1–6.)

Math Wall: Most of us have the obligatory writing wall display in our classrooms, but what about math? With wall space at a premium, what we put on our walls is a reflection of what we consider important. Encourage students to embrace mathematics by displaying new math terminology, strategies, and student work.

  • Include key vocabulary and strategies.
  • Display anchor charts that support students’ reasoning.
  • Incorporate student work into your display.

What are your favorite math hacks?


heather-foudy-blog-imageHeather Foudy is a certified elementary teacher with over 7 years’ experience as an educator and volunteer in the classroom. She enjoys creating lessons that are meaningful and creative for students. She is currently working for Evan-Moor’s marketing and communications team and enjoys building learning opportunities that are both meaningful and creative for students and teachers alike.

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December 15, 2016
by Evan-Moor
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Teacher Tips: Lose Weight and Gain Energy in the New Year!

If you struggle with teacher bulge September–May, don’t wait for summer to start living healthier; small changes can make the difference! Get tips from certified personal trainer and rehab specialist, Chris Foudy.

1. Calories in verses calories out.

  • 80% of the battle is fought with nutrition. Plan healthy, balanced meals and snacks ahead of time to ensure a calorie deficit.
  • 40/40/20. A good rule of thumb for planning meals is 40% protein, 40% carbs, and 20% healthy fats.
  • Eat 6 small meals a day. It’s important to keep your metabolism burning calories throughout the day.

2. Move!

  • Sit down and stand up off a small chair 20 times.
  • Push-ups off your desk. Have your class join in!
  • Walk on your lunch break. Walk around the playground. Get out and run with your class!
  • Choose active brain breaks and do them with your students!

3. Avoid traps.

  • Don’t go to the teachers’ lounge when you are hungry. If you must indulge, eat a smaller portion.
  • Don’t eat when you are stressed; rather, find a quiet spot and take three deep breaths.
  • Drink water. Many people get dehydrated and think they are hungry. (Drink water 20–30 minutes before recess and lunch.)

Even if you do not see physical changes right away, living a healthy lifestyle will help you sleep better, manage stress, and have more energy! What teacher couldn’t use more energy?


heather-foudy-blog-image

Heather Foudy is a certified elementary teacher with over 7 years’ experience as an educator and volunteer in the classroom. She enjoys creating lessons that are meaningful and creative for students. She is currently working for Evan-Moor’s marketing and communications team and enjoys building learning opportunities that are both meaningful and creative for students and teachers alike.

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November 29, 2016
by Evan-Moor
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Holiday Books and Simple Activities for Grades 3–6

Embrace the spirit of the holidays with these classic Christmas books. The figurative language and beautiful illustrations will inspire your students’ writing and teach them the gift of giving.

how-the-grinch-stole-christmasAlthough entertaining and funny, this well-loved children’s book, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, teaches students to look past the trappings of Christmas and discover the meaning behind the spirit of giving.

  • Writing prompt: Why did the Grinch dislike Christmas so much? (Discuss what motivates individuals to act in unkind ways.)
  • Summarize: Identify the characters, setting, problem, and solution.
  • Vocabulary: Use context clues to have students determine what ramshackle, slunk, sneer, and other words mean.
  • Activity ideas:
    • Picture ornaments: On green construction paper, cut out circles and glue on a small red heart. In the center of the heart put students’ pictures. Hole punch and hang with a red ribbon. (Other option: Glass ornament balls filled with green tissue paper instead of construction paper.)
    • Create Whoville trees with ice cream cones, green and white frosting, and candies.
    • Grinch STEM activities

the-polar-expressThis timeless story, The Polar Express, and Caldecott Medal winner will captivate your students with its beautiful illustrations and magical journey.

  • Sequencing and retelling the story (younger grades).
  • Similes and metaphor comparisons (older grades): Teach students to recognize descriptive and plain writing by identifying metaphors within the story (“hot cocoa as thick and rich as melted chocolate bars”).
  • Pajama party for students with hot chocolate (read book aloud).
  • Show and share: Students bring one object from home that holds similar meaning for them to the bell in the story. (Can be extended into a writing activity.)
  • STEM: Students build a model train out of graham crackers, frosting, Oreos, and other decorations.

heather-foudy-blog-imageHeather Foudy is a certified elementary teacher with over 7 years’ experience as an educator and volunteer in the classroom. She enjoys creating lessons that are meaningful and creative for students. She is currently working for Evan-Moor’s marketing and communications team and enjoys building learning opportunities that are both meaningful and creative for students and teachers alike.

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November 29, 2016
by Evan-Moor
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Holiday Books and Activities for Grades K–3

Don’t let the season overwhelm you this year. With these fun lesson ideas, you are well on your way to planning your classroom holiday activities. A trip to your school library and a little creativity are all you need to build your classroom’s holiday traditions.

the-gingerbread-manThis classic book, The Gingerbread Man, is a great crowd pleaser. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Rewrite your own ending to the story.
  • Decorate your own gingerbread man puppet and write as many adjectives as you can to describe him. Get the free printable here.
  • Build your own gingerbread house with graham crackers, frosting, and decorations. (Great for small groups.)

snowmen-at-nightThis creative book, Snowmen at Night, tells the story of snowmen coming to life at night and encourages students to stretch their imaginations.

  • Students draw their own snowmen. (Use blue construction paper and white crayons.)
  • Folded paper snowman. Get the free printable here.
  • Write out the steps to build a snowman (first, next, then, last).
  • Writing prompt: Write a story about what your snowman does at night (these are hilarious).

 


heather-foudy-blog-imageHeather Foudy is a certified elementary teacher with over 7 years’ experience as an educator and volunteer in the classroom. She enjoys creating lessons that are meaningful and creative for students. She is currently working for Evan-Moor’s marketing and communications team and enjoys building learning opportunities that are both meaningful and creative for students and teachers alike.

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November 22, 2016
by Evan-Moor
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Veteran Teachers: Help a New Teacher Today

pay-it-forward-post-it-2We can all remember the very first day we started teaching. Those jittery memories are floating somewhere in the back of your mind. When I first started teaching, I worked in a low-income school with a class consisting mostly of English language learners. Needless to say, I was overwhelmed by the inadequate resources of my school and the high needs of my students.

I can still remember my angel of grace walking through my classroom after the first day of school. She was a veteran teacher with a heart of gold and a willingness to share the accumulated knowledge and resources of her 30 years in the classroom.

She offered me emotional support and opened her files of resources to me. One of the most treasured items she gave me was a brand-new copy of Daily Language Review from Evan-Moor, which became the first of many Evan-Moor resources that I used in my classroom. That kind gesture, as well as her willingness to listen and sympathize, created a special work partnership—and a treasured friendship.

So, in this season of giving, find a newbie and offer them your advice, support, and sympathy. Remember how hard those first few years were. Share for favorite resources and strategies that work for you. That new teacher down the hall is watching you, mindfully jealous of your seamless classroom management and organized lessons.

Lend a hand and pay it forward. You never know when you might need their help…


Heather FoudyHeather Foudy is a certified elementary teacher with over 7 years’ experience as an educator and volunteer in the classroom. She enjoys creating lessons that are meaningful and creative for students. She is currently working for Evan-Moor’s marketing and communications team and enjoys building learning opportunities that are both meaningful and creative for students and teachers alike.

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November 15, 2016
by Evan-Moor
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Turkey Craft and Activities for Thanksgiving

Get a new twist on turkeys this year with this 3D wall art. The colorful feathers, simple materials, and easy instructions will have your students creating display-worthy Thanksgiving art. Incorporate some fun turkey facts and writing activities to craft your own thematic unit for the season.

Duration: 20 minutes

Grades 1–4; Age range: 6–10 years

Instructions:

Follow the steps below or print the instructions with visuals.

Step 1: Measure blue construction paper (11.5″ square) and paste onto yellow construction paper (12″ square). (FYI, inch and feet marks are straight quotes, not curly quotes)

Step 2: Using circle template, (4″cardboard circle) trace the outline of the turkey’s body onto the blue construction paper 2″ from the bottom of the page.

Step 3: Measure and cut strips of assorted colors of construction paper for the feathers (1″ x 6″).

Step 4: Curl tips of the feathers around a pencil and glue onto blue construction paper (before turkey body).

Step 5: Using circle template (4″ cardboard), trace and cut turkey body out of brown construction paper. Cut out two smaller circles for wings.

Step 6: Cut out freeform of turkey head on red construction paper and cut and glue yellow beak. Draw on the eyes with a black marker. Paste head onto turkey body.

Step 7: (Not shown on video) Cut out two brown construction paper strips for spacers (1″ x 3″). Fold them in half twice and glue them to the turkey body. Then glue the other side to the brown construction paper. (These give the turkey body a 3D-impression by making the body pop out from the background.)turkey-correct

Step 8: Fold wings in half and glue to the backside of the turkey body.

Step 9: Draw or glue sticks or pretzels for legs.

Lesson Tips and Ideas

Life science: Pair this art activity with a study of food webs/predator prey relationships as well as turkey facts. Younger students may label the parts of a turkey.

Vocabulary: Discuss the meanings of turkey-related words such as poult, wattle, tom, and hen.

Writing prompts: Use the turkey craft as a gateway to a writing assignment. A few writing suggestions are: Write a creative story about your turkey. If you could have a special guest for Thanksgiving, who would it be and why? Describe your family’s Thanksgiving traditions. What are your favorite fall desserts? Explain five things you are thankful for and why.


Heather FoudyHeather Foudy is a certified elementary teacher with over 7 years’ experience as an educator and volunteer in the classroom. She enjoys creating lessons that are meaningful and creative for students. She is currently working for Evan-Moor’s marketing and communications team and enjoys building learning opportunities that are both meaningful and creative for students and teachers alike.

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