Monday, August 20, 2018


This activity has been rattling around in my brain for months. And thanks to a rather lengthy hiatus from blogging, that's where it stayed. Until now.

Help kids review place value with this download, a little glue, and some crayons. Kids can play by themselves, with a friend/sibling/classmate, or as part of a whole classroom of buddies.

Cut and assemble the die. (It's sturdiest when printed on card stock; a glue gun makes assembly easier.) Print the game cards. The PDF has one page of cards where the columns are labeled (best for kids that are developing the skill or need a refresher) and another where the labels are absent for a greater challenge. Print whichever is most appropriate for your child(ren).

How to Play
Each child gets a game card. (Yes, the numbers on both cards are the same. It doesn't matter so print as many copies as you need.)

Roll the die and color the entire circle surrounding the number in the place value indicated face up on the die (e.g. Millions, Hundred Thousands, Ten Thousands, Thousands, etc.). If you roll COLOR THE LARGEST NUMBER or COLOR THE SMALLEST NUMBER and there are two of that number in the row, select one of your choosing.

The next roll, color the number you rolled on the next row down. You'll only color one circle per row.

The hope is to color numbers that connect to make a Place Value (cater)'Pillar! See how many you can make and how long they are; any two connected numbers make a 'pillar.

This was a great refresher for our 9-year-old son, who was thrilled to make a caterpillar longer than mine.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Spelling Hints: Making Memorization Easier

Our youngest son struggles with spelling. He's finally figured out the b and d, but frequently still writes words with random capital letters. This year has been a struggle. Some of the typical memorization games I designed for our oldest son haven't seemed to improve the outcome of his weekly tests. It just wasn't sticking.

No two kids are alike. 

To make it easier, I've been giving him tricks - sometimes visualizations, sometimes jingles, and sometimes a silly sentence. Guess what? Test scores are rising!

Here's a few examples of what we've done the last few weeks.

My son kept leaving the u out of young. I told him to remember: U are young!

I knew this was going to be a gargantuan challenge. I divided the list. Once I had all the -ee words, I made a sentence for him to remember: "Free wheel for sheep that sneeze between their teeth." To make it more memorable, we sang it. Any other words he's tested that are not in this sentence are -ea words. This trick helped him during our first few nights practicing. Eventually, he didn't have to sing the jingle sentence. He had memorized which words were -ea (beach, eat, teach, reason, etc.) and which were -ee!

Every time my son spelled birthday, he said the second letter was an a. I told him to look at the word. Do you see the birthday candle in the word? YES! This visualization really did the trick (pun intended)!

There's no z in raisin, but try telling that to my son two weeks ago. I told him to remember, "snakes (drawing an s with my hand) like raisins."

That c sure sounds like an s, doesn't it? To help my son remember, we came up with the hint: Do you "c" fences?

Sometimes I point out words within words to help my son. When he spelled train initially, he left out the r. I showed him train is really t-rain. BOOM! No more missing letter!

A few hints, a simple song, or a silly sentence have made all the difference for us. I hope some of these tips help you and your kids!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

A-MAZE-ING Spelling Practice

Our 2nd grade son has been doing activities I made for our now 12-year-old son. It's been fun to rediscover so many of the activities I created years ago. Since our two boys are very different, it's still fun to create customized activities for him. And since he loves mazes and needs to practice spelling, this is one such activity.

I made four mazes. One for a 7-letter word, 6-letter word, 5-letter word, and 4-letter word.

Imagine the bottom boxes filled in with the letters in your child's spelling word. Follow the lines up to the shape above and add the respective letters there. Download a PDF of the four mazes from Google Drive here (remember, teachers, to use your personal email address if you need to request access as your school probably limits messages from outside their domain). 

This is quick, simple, and fun. Spelling practice doesn't have to be boring. Just make it a-MAZE-ing!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Addition Math Fact Dash {printable board game}

It's no secret. I hate flash cards. They're so ... not fun. To give my 1st grade son a little practice with simple addition and turn repetition into memorization (hopefully), I made a simple board game.

What You Need
Free two-page download of game board and spinner (download here)
Two pieces heavyweight cardstock
Printer & ink
Brad (to make the spinner spin)
Small game pieces (different for each player)

How to Play
Game pieces are placed on the start square. The youngest player spins first. He/she solves the addition problem and moves their game piece to the nearest square with the answer. Turns alternate between players until a player gets the math problem where the answer is 5, the final square on the board.


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Number Grid Puzzles (free printable)

Our youngest son had a "fill in the missing numbers in the number grid" math assignment. I thought it would be a snap for him, but as he sometimes transposes numbers, it became a source of major frustration. Oy!

To familiarize him a little more with number grids and some of the quick addition and subtraction you can do with them, I made a few activities. These were inspired by Playdough to Plato's peek-a-boo chart and Mrs. T's First Grade Class number puzzles.

You can download this 100 number grid activity for free from Google Drive here. It's a 3-page PDF. 

NOTE: If you are a teacher, use your personal gmail account if it requires you to request permission. Most school districts restrict emails from outside their domain, and therefore I can't grant access and let you know it's available.

Activity #1: 10 more, 10 less, 1 more, 1 less
I printed the number grid on white card stock. I printed page two of the free printable PDF on colored card stock. I cut the center plus-sign out. Then I added white gift wrap tissue squares to the plus signs "arms" making those squares translucent (vellum would work well too), and left the center empty. For the sake of durability, I ran this sheet through my laminator.

With the 10 more, 10 less, 1 more, 1 less page laminated, I wrote some simple math problems on it in the blank area (e.g. 13+10= , 47-10=, 91+1=, 74+1=) with a dry-erase marker. My son placed the laminated page over the number grid so the first number in the equation was in the center. Then he could easily see in the translucent squares which was his answer (i.e. 10 less was directly above, 10 more directly below, 1 more to the right, and 1 less to the left). This made solving the math problems easy!

Activity #2: Number Grid Puzzles
Now I printed the number grid on colored card stock and printed an empty grid on white card stock. I cut the colored grid apart into a variety of puzzles that were about 10-11 squares each. 

Once done, I cut the number squares apart and handed him a few piles of puzzles. He arranged them wherever on the blank grid, remembering 10 less is above, 10 more is below, 1 more is on the right, 1 less is on the left. When he completed this puzzle, he moved on to the next. You can make approximately 7-8 puzzles per grid.