Monday, March 14, 2011

Zoo Part 2

These giraffes and zebras turned out adorable... if I do say so myself!  :)

I've had a lot of questions about my Chit-Chat charts.  This is how I do my Morning Message.  The idea originated with the Buzz Book from the K-Crew.  I needed it to have a little bit more "meat" to it and I wanted it to be a way to not only cover the important skills such as phonics, sentence structure and grammar but also serve as a review for what we had learned the previous day. 
Another component of my Morning Message routine is Oral Language and manners.  My message always ends with a question.  So when we finish the written part I read them the question and the tell them to turn to their partner and "Chit-Chat". 
They learn how to take turns listening and speaking.  Once they've had a few minutes to chat about the question I ask them who wants to share.  They never know when I might say, "Who wants to share what their PARTNER said?"  This keeps them accountable for listening. 

Think Math is a GREAT math warm-up that I do before math time two or three times a week.  The kids LOVE it!  (I shared how to do this in my Spring Math Journal Resource).  Think Math always starts with: The answer is _______________________.  What is the question? 
The kids raise their hands and tell me their equation.  We always work it together to see if it equals the sum we are looking for before we write it on the chart.  One reason I love this activity so much is because ALL kids can participate.  Some of my kids give very basic answers like 8+1 and some can give 3 digit equations, and then a few of my sweeties who can't do it on their own know that they can say, "Give me a hint".  Because they need a little extra help I will give them the first number in an equation and they have to figure out what to add to it.  (I usually give them a number that is very close to the sum that we are working on so that they can be successful).    After we've come up with several equations we write a word problem to go with our answer. 
I was in Wal-Mart and I saw these Cheese Balls and I had to have them!  Not for the cheese balls (they taste awful BTW....but Kinder kids will eat anything LOL!)  I wanted the container!  It reminded me of the Barrel of Monkeys game I used to have.  So, I took this.....

and turned it into this......
This adorable Math game will be part of my Zoo unit resource.  The kids have to put the monkeys into their correct "troops" by matching the equations with their sum.  This is the recording sheet for round 1.  Next week they will have a different recording sheet that will require them to write the equations and their "turn around" facts.  I have a lot more ideas for literacy and math games that use the Barrel of Monkeys theme.  The monkeys took a little bit of time to cut out...but that's the beauty of having teenagers who want gas money!  :)


  1. Growing up in your house must have been a blast!

    Primary Graffiti

  2. Oh my goodness, Deanna! This is absolutely adorable! I love the barrel of monkeys!

  3. Love the Barrel. I may have to get some cheese balls, too.
    Your ideas are so inspiring.

  4. I loved your chit-chat messages so much that I decided to try it myself. My kids LOVE it. I am so glad I read this though. I can't wait to have them actually turn to an elbow buddy and chat about my question! You are so creative. I can't wait to see your zoo unit on TPT.

    I really need to update my blog. I plan on doing that soon...once report cards are done...

  5. Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful ideas! I love Think Math. It's so simple to implement but it really packs a punch! I can think of all kinds of ways to expand it with my first graders. Thanks so much for always sharing your wonderful ideas. BTW...I love the dino and farm units.
    Ms. A
    Oceans of First Grade Fun

  6. I am running to walmart tomorrow! I love the barrel full of monkeys!!! You are so clever!!!
    Curls and a Smile

  7. Absolutely love the barrel of monkeys! I need to make one for my kindergarteners. My own child (a kindergartener) loves those cheese balls. ugh!


  8. Okay! So I have to have a Barrel of Monkeys! Too adorable! Love this idea and might even take it a step further and do a literacy one with digraphs and blends or rhyming! Thanks for the idea and incentive!

  9. I just love all your ideas. Thanks for sharing them.

  10. I adore the Zebra's & Giraffe's!

    Ms. M

  11. I love giraffes so this dear to my heart and I will be picking up those cheese balls and sharing with my kinders! My kinders are even called Mrs. Gaither's Monkeys--PERFECT!! Thanks for all the wonderful ideas--I can't wait to do the Think Math activity tomorrow.


  12. Thank you for sharing your Think Math ideas. I'm always looking for new ways to spice up my math time. I think I'll try this tomorrow!

    Katie :)

  13. Awesome as Always!!! I think my favorite part is that you make your kids cut for gas money. I'll have to keep that in mind!! No really...adorable. Is Think Math one of your own creations or is it a type of program your school uses? Curious!

  14. I love the Monkeys in a Barrel idea! They are precious! Thanks so much for sharing!
    ~ Mrs. Mc

  15. I like you Think Math! I'm going to try it tomorrow with my First Graders. THANKS for sharing!

    First Grade a la Carte

  16. I just found you and I can't get away from this computer now!

  17. LOVE those Zoo animals! ADORABLE! Thank you for your awesome ideas!

  18. I LOVE your Barrell of Monkey's idea . . . My classroom already has a jungle theme so this would be the perfect addition to my end of the year animal unit.

    Thanks for sharing another one of your super ideas!!!


  19. Love your "chit chat". I've tried morning messages before and I can only keep it going for a few weeks. So do you do one everyday?

    If I could just train myself to write one every afternoon so it's ready the next morning I might be able to do it!

    Thanks for sharing, very inspiring!
    F is For First Grade

  20. Do you have it available at TPT? LOVE it...thanks for sharing. you have made me the talk of my school!!!

  21. Will your zoo unit be available on TPT soon? I'm eagerly waiting!! We are takin a zoo field trip soon and I can't wait to begin the activities!! :)

  22. I feel like a blog stalker! I can't wait for you to post your zoo unit... too cute! :)

  23. I changed barrel full of monkeys to a file folder activity, as no one in my class writes. I have sent it to be laminated. Am looking forward to seeing how it works after spring break. Thanks so much for this great resource!

  24. I like your ideas and am wondering where you got the monkeys in the barrel. I am going to start the math question. Do you have these posted somewhere?
    Great idea!

  25. I have an empty jar just waiting for monkeys. I think I will also make a literacy center out of it using short vowels and matching words. I am just starting my blog I will post hopefully Friday when I finish it. Thanks for all the wonderful ideas.

  26. I am stopping by to let you know how much I enjoy your blog and to present you with a Versatile Blogger Award! Check it out at



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