Teaching with Monkeys

One of my favourite ways to teach combinations of five begins with the story, Five Little Monkeys Jumping On The Bed (bear in mind, I teach Kindergarten but this could easily be adapted to other grades as well). After reading the story, initially exploring rhymes, patterns, and chants, I like to use it as a tool for teaching math facts to five.

As I go through the story again (generally over the span of a few days), I take a moment after each verse to introduce a math fact or draw a composition of the monkeys in relation to the bed (i.e., 5 monkeys on the bed and 0 on the ground; 5 + 0 = 5). By the end of the story, we cover all the combinations of five. While we review the math facts, I draw their attention to the pattern that emerges (i.e., when the number of monkeys on the bed decreases the number of monkeys on the ground increases).  For the rest of the week, I invite 5 different students each day to come up and re-enact the poem while we sing to it.  We continue to review the math facts as we go along.

As an extension, and one that students really enjoy, I have students re-enact the story/song using stick puppets.  They begin by colouring and cutting out a template of the bed and the 5 monkeys.  Then they glue a popsicle stick to the back of each monkey and take turns re-enacting the story/song to a partner.  By the end of the week, the stick puppets get sent home with a letter to parents.

Here is a class chart we made using the templates from above (photocopied on construction paper). It outlines the various ways Five can be made and serves as a great visual around the math centre.

A great way to gage students’ understanding of the concept and evaluate their learning is to have them repeat this activity with bingo dabbers (one colour representing the monkeys on the bed, and another representing the ones on the ground). Each student gets 6 bed templates and uses two colour dabbers to show the various combinations the monkeys could be arranged (i.e., 3 dabs on the bed, 2 on the ground).

Here is a card game I made to help students practice their facts to five and sharpen their memory skills while they’re at it. After introducing it as a whole class activity, I left it at the math station for students to play with during Centre time. I will be sending home a template of the game for families to assemble and enjoy during the March break as well.

To download a Teaching with Monkeys resource kit, including the poem, Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed, stick puppet templates (bed and monkeys), bingo dabber assessment sheets, Gimme Five card game and instruction sheets, click on the monkey.

Now for some more fun with monkeys … enjoy!

Happy teaching everyone.

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Have a fabulous March break!

Lora

Brrrr … it’s cold outside!

Winter Dress-Up

The first snowfall of the year came with much surprise  last week. My kindergarten students were thrilled at the prospect of going out and playing in the snow.

Not so fast though – seems we needed to cover some basic ground rules about dressing (and undressing) if this was going to be a stress-free snow season.

Snow pants stuck at ankles, blocked by clunky boots, scarves wrapped around heads, unyielding to hoods asking to be removed, coats unzipped, mittens on too soon…

Arrrrgh!

This year, to make it more fun, I decided to teach the dressing sequence through a song I wrote.

I started by reading Robert Munsch’s somewhat befitting story,
I have to go, and after a few good laughs, introduced my new song, Let’s Go Out and Play.

Now we were grooving!

LET’S GO OUT AND PLAY

Written by Lora Rozler (tune: The Hokey Pokey)

You put your snow pants on.
You put your boots on too.
Before you know it, you’ll be ready,
But now there’s more to do.

You zip your coat right on,
And you put your hat on too.
Woohoo – we’re almost through!

You put your cozy scarf on,
And those furry mittens too.
You thought you’d never finish,
Somehow you managed to.

Can’t wait to go and play now,
So much to see and do.
Woohoo, we’re done – we’re through!

As a follow-up activity, I had students cut and paste winter dress-up clothes on a template of themselves.  While students enjoyed crafting their mini-me’s, my ECE and I walked around and observed whether students followed the correct sequence we had discussed (this can be a great assessment piece and a good time to exercise and check on students’ cutting skills).

You may want to photocopy the templates on different colour construction paper and let students mix and match the articles, or else plain white paper and have students create patterns and designs on their clothing.  Add some yarn for hair and googly eyes and you’ve got a masterpiece parents will surely cherish.

For a more formal assessment piece, you may want to use the activity below, where students cut and paste clothing cut-outs into a sequencing table.

Happy snow season everyone!

Lora

Shhh, don’t tell them, but it was me!

Here is a fun and tasty idea for the first week back to school …

Print and cut-out enough cookie templates so that each student has one with their name written on the back (you may want to invite students who are able to write their name independently, to do so prior to beginning). Place all the cookies in a jar and with all the students sitting in a circle, introduce the song, Who Took the Cookies from the Cookie Jar.  While singing, pull out one cookie at a time and hold it up for the class to read. You may want to help by encouraging students to look at the letters for clues. For example, “This person’s name begins with the letter B, which makes a bbb sound.  I wonder whose name this could be?” If you like having your students wear name tags during the first few weeks of school, you may want to invite them to take off their tags at this point and look closely at the letters in their name. Throughout the day, continue to pull out more cookies from the jar until each child’s name has been called (if you have a small class, one sitting may do).

You might also want to revisit this activity with a small group of students or else with a different focus in mind (i.e., sorting: girls and boys, long names and short names; counting: number of letters in each name, number of students; graphing: organizing the information, etc.).  I like to repeat this activity several times during the first couple of weeks of school. Students are quite amused by it and it is a great way to learn each other’s names while learning important skills at the same time. As an extension, I prepared a follow-up writing piece where students are invited to write their name and draw a picture of themselves eating cookies (a great time for an art lesson).  While some students may be able to write their name independently, others may need to copy or trace the letters from their name tag (tracing over a highlighted name works well too).

The jar can then be put to further use by placing it somewhere in the room for students to access during Centre/Play time. Depending on the various skills you introduced with the activity, students may want to explore some of them independently or in a small group (i.e., counting, sorting, etc.).