Author: fnicholas (Page 1 of 5)

Literacy Games At Home

Literacy games are a bit more tricky at home than math games because there are so many literacy concepts to be covered. Some students will practice letter sounds, some will practice sight words, and some will practice vowel patterns. These concepts are much more specific to a child than just practicing numbers. Therefore, it is important to connect with your child’s teacher on what concept they’re working on or you can always refer to sight words. Sight words are words that are very common when reading. Here are some games that can be worked on at home that are engaging and fun.

I Have Who Has…

This game is one that can be used for LOTS of different concepts. Primary Playground has a resource for rhyming words. Rhyming words seems very simple but it can sometimes be tricky. Rhyming is generally focused on in Kindergarten and grade 1 but it can always be practiced to reinforce beginning and end sounds.

Find this printable resource at:

Four in a Row

Four in a row is a great game that has been used for many concepts. This resource from The Measured Mom has varied levels of sight words to pick from. You can go to which grade your child is an print off a few sheets. (Tip: use a sheet protector and whiteboard markers to colour in the circles to be able to reuse this resource).

Find this printable resource at:

Sight Word Spin and Cover

A quick and effective game for practicing sight words is a spin and cover game. I found this great resource from What I have Learned where she provides a wide variety of spin and cover games. These games are easy to print out and can be reused.

Find the resource to spin and cover here:

Easy Math Games For Fluency At Home

When working at home with students, we want the kids to be engaged and not feel like they are being forced to do “extra work”. Games are a great way to spend time with your child, help them practice their skills and they generally really enjoy playing the games. One of way to decrease stress and still practice concepts is to play a game that is simple enough that they can do the work on their own. You don’t want it to be too simple or they will get bored. Also, when working at home the less equipment required, the better the chances are that you will actually be able to play the game with your child. Here are some simple, yet fun and effective ways to practice math facts for fluency.

Double Down – Addition

This game focuses on being able to find near double facts. The reason we use near double facts or double facts is for quicker mental math. When students are able to determine near or double facts they are able to add larger numbers quicker in their head. Try this game from Tech Turtle Teacher to practice this concept.

Get the resource here:


This game is a must have at home. It is super easy to make, easy to store, and you can use it for any concept. Jillian Starr Teaching has done a fantastic job in explaining how the game works. All you’ll need is popsicle sticks and a sharpie.

Go to to see how the game works and how to create it for various types of content.

Multiplication Squares

As a teacher, I have found that multiplication is one of the easiest concepts for student to learn but one of the hardest to remember. Quick multiplication skills require memorization. This is not necessarily something that students enjoy but it is necessary as they continue through their schooling. In order to practice memorization, this Multiplication Squares version from games4gains is a perfect way to have fun at home. (Tip: use a sheet protector and whiteboard markers in order to reuse the same game board.)

To download their free game version go to:

Farkle – Subtraction With Regrouping

It can be difficult to find games that have regrouping in them. This is one game that I love because it gives the various options of regrouping. It also works on subtracting from 1000. I have found that subtraction games are less common than addition games. In grade 2, we work on subtraction concepts from 100 but I have found that once students understand the concept of regrouping 1000’s aren’t much different. You can adapt this game so that they start from a lower number and subtraction smaller numbers if needed. This game is also great because it requires very few materials.  Just a pencil, paper and some dice. In the classroom I often let students use whiteboard markers so they can quickly erase the equations after. 

This game was taken from:

B.C. Canada Curriculum Grade 2 Math:

Subtraction Games

Basic Subtraction Games To Focus On Fluency:

At the beginning of the year I always like to focus on basic fluency facts through games. I do this because it gives me a window into students abilities. I am always observing students behaviour in the first couple of weeks. So while my students are playing games for math, I am walking around, taking notes, looking at problem solving skills and assessing them in my mind based on what I am seeing. This is not necessarily my only assessment but it does give me an idea of where my students are at. This year I took my students back to basics when doing subtraction because I have found that subtraction can be a difficult concept for students. I want them to have the basics and the building blocks first before I move on and challenge them. It is also very interesting to watch your students play math games at the beginning as you see what strategies they have, which ones they need and how they generally react when they are unsure about a concept. You can tell quickly, which ones are anxious about not knowing the answers and which ones are solid in their strategies.

I chose to use the Bump game because it was a game I had already taught before. I used a different version of Bump for addition. I like to use similar games when teaching a new concept because then the students only have to focus on learning and remembering the mathematical concept versus trying to remember both the concept and how to play the game. The saying I always use is that when learning something new, their should only be one new new. This means that either the game is the same and the content is different or the game is different but the content is the same. Too much new, is overwhelming and often results in kids being confused or frustrated.

The games that I used to start, they are from Games for Learning. I printed them in black and white but put the on bright coloured paper. I only taught one game per week so these two games lasted me for two weeks. When playing the Take from 13 Bump game I didn’t use a differentiation and here’s why. Sometimes I find that even when students know how to do something well the practice doesn’t hurt them. I watched my students and just let them use this game to have fun even if they were super solid in the concept. I also took this opportunity to teach these students about empathy, in that if they were working with a student who didn’t have solid skills yet, they would be able to learn from the students who did.

When Introducing A New Concept: Differentiation

Challenge: During the first week of a new concept in that year (the kids may already know it or have seen it before but since they’ve had the summer off, I want to make sure I review the skills so they have the proper understanding), I always start simple as I have previously said. For those kids who need a challenge I challenge them in the second week. To adapt the Take From 13 Bump I had student think of other equations that would result in the answers. For example, instead of 13 – 3 = 10, they had to think of what other equations could equal to 10. Such as this, 20-6=13-3=10. Essentially I had them continue to add addends to make the equation two steps instead of one. With the Robot Bump, to make it more challenging I had the student switch the numbers around. For example, instead of just finding the equation they would answer the question and then switch the number such as 18-6 and then they had to solve 81-6. This just gives them a bit more of a challenge and a second step.

Support / Simplify: In order to support those students who may struggle with this concept I taught them several strategies. These are strategies that they would’ve practice using with addition and ones that I would work on them with when they are doing their math with me. I teach them the strategies of using base-ten blocks, hundreds charts and ten frames. I choose these ones because they are easy to use, the kids can do them independently (after they’re taught) and they are kinesthetic. Anytime I can have students using manipulatives such as base-ten blocks or double-sided counters I will because it provides the physical movement and visual aspects that some kids need. When simplifying, I always think about what strategies I can teach the kids for them to be able to work through these games. If they still need even further assistance I will play the game with them, set them up to play with a partner who can help them or have an EA work with the group.

That Was Easy Game

A Literacy Game For Engaged Practice

This game was taught to me by one of our staff members who teaches Reading Recovery. Reading Recovery in our district is when one specialized teacher takes students from grade 1 and spends 20 -30 minutes a day with them targeting their reading skills. Sometimes groups are taken and sometimes they work with students one on one. I had the pleasure of working with this teacher this year for reading as my class was in need of directed teachings around reading. One of the ways she taught me to incorporate sight words into my literacy centers is through the use of this game called That Was Easy. The game is honestly so simple and SO effective. The kids would continue to ask me to play it every time we had literacy centers.

How To Play

You will need a button from Staples that looks like this: Staples Talking EASY BUTTON - Complete Red/Silver: Office  Products

You can purchase them at you can also buy them on Amazon. They are cheap and when you’re students learn this game they will want to play constantly. You will also need flash cards. These cards should be words that your students have already learned and preferably sight words is they are for better word recognition.

You will separate the cards out across a rainbow table or wherever you’re working. There should be a few separate piles with the words facing up. The game is an accuracy and speed game. Tell the students to practice the words they see in front of them in their mind, so that if someone takes the word they wanted they know other words. A student picks a card from the pile, says it out loud and then clicks the button. It is then the next persons turn. The idea is to go quickly, so students must always be practicing reading all the words in front of them so when it’s their turn they can take any word. This game is so much fun for them and the button says “that was easy”. Students who struggle with sight words love this because it boosts their confidence because every time they get a word right, they’re reminded by the button that the word is now easy versus what it used to be. I continue to add words into the piles as the weeks go by. Whenever we learn new sight words, they are added to the piles. Eventually I take out words that students know by heart. This keeps the content fresh but also allows them to feel comfortable playing.

IPad Games In The Classroom

IPad Website For Math

This year I have been using Splash Learn website and the Splash Math section for our math stations. IPad’s is a great way to give some extra support and practice for students. Plus, all students love the IPad’s so it ends up being an incentive. Based on what I have learned through my research in games is that there are several different features that make games appealing to students. They are the rewards, feedback, graphics and difficulty. I have really enjoyed use Splash Math this year because it allows for me to send out differentiated lessons to each student. I can have students working on different things while on the IPad’s and they are doing this independently.

Within the Splash Learn website there are hundreds of different games for students to play. A teacher would set it up with a class list and provide the grade level of the class. After that kids will learn their log in information and simply log in to play. It is really handy because it is free and it is online so it doesn’t require you to download it. It also doesn’t require any specific information about your students which keeps your students privacy safe. You simply click sign in and it will take you to the sign in screen for students or adults.

From here the students click student, enter their class code that is given to you when you sign up and they select their name then enter their password. The passwords are auto generated I print out the list and staple it beside the IPads incase the students forget.

This is what the dashboard looks like. On the left it shows you what the teacher has sent you and then you can go through and play other games. You also collect coins for different games and there are various rewards as you go. Splash Learn will also send you updates as a teacher as to whether your students have completed the assignments sent and how well they did on it. This is very helpful information to see what they’re able to do in a different way and on their own.

How To Get Kids Interested In Reading At Home

Thoughts For Parents

Now, I want to start this post by saying that I am not a parent myself. Although, it often feels like I am a parent to 19 kids. However, there have been many times that parents have approached me and asked me what my thoughts were about how to get their kid to engage in reading at home.

Step 1: Interest In The Book

Often times parents think that their kids need to read a certain type of book or that they will want to read the books that you read as a child. This is neither right nor wrong. Reading honestly comes down to strategies and personal preference. As a child, my mum read to me every night and to her dismay I was never an avid reader. I had a very hard time focusing and I just couldn’t seem to get into any books. When I was in school I was equally as distracted. Now, this isn’t to say that I never got into reading but I am a type of person who can only read a book when there is nothing else going on. Some of your kids are going to be like this and that is absolutely okay. What can help though, is reading along side them or reading shorter books to give them quick interest. Many kids who struggle with distractions actually do a lot better when there are illustrations. Sometimes what the kids are struggling with is really their inability to visualize. So, the most important part of reading, for kids, especially when they’re at home is having them read something they’re interested in. This doesn’t have to come in the form of novels, it certainly can, but it doesn’t have to. When reading at home, the students job is to simply practice and continually be exposed to words. Plain and simple.

Step Two: Routines 

Daily scheduled reading time is a MUST. Similar to when kids are in school, if your child knows that the daily routine is to brush teeth, get ready for bed and then sit and read with either you or on their own then hopefully, it’s not as big of a push back. This goes back to my personal belief of negotiables and non-negotiables. Now if your child is struggling with reading then making this time the quality time you spend together is imperative. Students who struggle with reading will often avoid it because it’s really hard for them. When something is really hard for kids, they’re amazing in finding ways around it. Unfortunately, as kids go through school reading is an essential part. Almost every subject as kids progress through their schooling will rely on reading. This isn’t to say that if a kid is struggling as a reader that they won’t succeed. However, bare in mind that there’s a chance it will just be that much harder.

Jordan Ridenour on Twitter: "I can't express the importance of reading 20 minutes a day. This chart shows the impact this crucial time has on our students. Just read. Grab a book

Step Three: Support

This is for the parents who need to support their child at home and have absolutely no idea what to do. Please do not be ashamed of this because honestly teaching reading is not as straight forward as one might think. However, as a parent, there are 3 simple strategies that I recommend to the parents of my students. Reading at home can look a lot different depending on your child’s teacher and whether they have set up home reading for you. If they have, fabulous, you’re job just got simpler. If your child’s teacher is sending home books with them then these are generally the books that you are going to want to read with them first. You can even them, whether they want to read them on their own first and then with you. There’s lots of options here. However, when a child is learning to read or struggling to read it is imperative that they have someone beside them to help them through. Sometimes this roll is more for reassurance than anything. Kids who struggle with reading often have very low self-esteem when reading so by having a support system with them it generally makes things easier if you know what strategies to use.

Here are the three that I recommend to parents:

Tales From Outside the Classroom provides a great breakdown and some posters to help understand these strategies. The strategies can be found here:

How To Use These Strategies:

Let me take you through a simple version of how a parent would use these strategies when reading with their child. Please keep in mind that the golden rule for picking books that are at an appropriate level is that the child should know all but 5 words on each page. The following scenario is for when you are reading a book that fits into this rule.

Scenario 1:

Child is reading a book. They start reading, the parent is listening and looking at the book with them. The child reads the following sentence “The lion is happy.” However, instead of saying happy, the child has said excited. You would then refer to the list. (This does take some practice). When a child replaces a word like this you would ask them “Does that look right?” Then you can repeat the word for them “does that look like excited?” This is cuing the child to look at the way the word is actually spelt. If they say no, then praise them by saying “you’re right!” then you can ask “what does this word start with? and repeat the sound for h”.

If the child says yes. Then you can ask “what letter does this word start with? Then point out that excited starts with a different letter.” Hopefully they recognize that these words, although the same meaning, are not the same word when spelt. If the child, after this prompting doesn’t know what the word is then you simply tell them. Then you reread the sentence. We don’t want to just give kids the words because we want them to learn how to correct themselves and recognize words on their own. In case you’re wondering, the reasons we didn’t use the other two strategies of does it sound right? does it make sense? is because your child has used their prior knowledge to insert a word into the context of the sentence. So by them saying excited instead of happy, they are actually achieving the other two strategies.

Scenario 2:

Child is reading a book. They start reading, the parent is listening and looking at the book with them. The child reads the following sentence “The lion is walking in the grass.” However, instead of saying walking, the child has said water. You would then ask them, “does that sound right? (and repeat what they said) the lion is water in the grass?” Most likely, the child will then say no, that is does not make sense. So we ask them “what does make sense here, the lion is ____in the grass” and see if they can guess based on the context or on the beginning letter of the word what the word might be. This scenario is exactly why we don’t ask kids to always just sound it out because walking is not a word that would be easy to sound out. This is also another place that you could say to the child after they’ve read it incorrectly to look at the picture. Again, this is why struggling readers like pictures, because it gives them clues to the story without relying solely on the words.

Scenario 3:

Child is reading a book. They start reading, the parent is listening and looking at the book with them. The child reads the following sentence “The lion is walking in the grass towards his friends.” However, instead of saying friends, the child has said fire. You then ask the child “does that make sense? and repeat what the child said the lion is walking in the grass towards his fire”. We always want to repeat what the child said because sometimes they are just guessing and don’t remember what they said. After you’ve asked whether it makes sense. They may say no, and you can then proceed to ask them what the word looks like and what would make sense. Again, you can prompt them towards the picture or if the word is more common or simple you could attempt to sound the word out. If the child says, yes that made sense then you just correct them by saying no, a lion wouldn’t walk towards his fire that doesn’t make sense. Let’s try again and see what would make sense.


Children who are learning to read and those who are struggling to read need praise. But good job isn’t specific enough. Saying things like “good job at using the does it make sense strategy” or “hey, you figured that word out all by yourself tell me how you did it” are praises that will provide more feedback to the child. We are not praising them for being better at reading, we’re praising them for finding their mistakes and correcting them because that’s what good readers do. It is not something that they should be ashamed of because mistakes are natural and they’re okay. We just go back and fix it.

Classroom Management

In this section I will going over all my classroom management thoughts and strategies, as well as going over how to implement various things such as stations into my classroom. These stations consist of using games.

Negotiable vs. Non-Negotiable

What is Negotiable and Non-Negotiable?

When I talk to other teachers and parents about this concept it is actually very simple. What are the things that you are willing to let go of and what are the things you’re not. The reason we have expectations and rules within a classroom is so that students are able to learn, they feel respected, they know the guidelines and they are able to be safe while learning to make good choices. So for example, during math stations a negotiable is that when students are finished an activity they can then make the choice to move to another one. A non-negotiable is that if students are not completing the math activity then they may miss out on IPads. Now, this obviously comes with some factors, in that you have to know why a student isn’t completing work. Could it be that they’re distracted? Or that they are unsure of what to do? In this case, we are not providing consequences but instead we are finding a way to support them to finish their station. This can come in many forms such as you help them,  an EA helps them, or even another student helps them. Similarly, when a student is completing their work earlier than the time you’ve allotted you need to ask yourself whether the work is challenging enough for them?  The premise is that students should be able to be independent in this work but this isn’t filler work, it needs to have a specific purpose. Another negotiable is having students work together.  Although this time is technically independent time (unless they’re playing games), I think that it is important for students to learn from one another and to work together. So my negotiable is that students can absolutely work together but my non-negotiable is that they have to have their own representation of their learning. This would come in the form of a morning math sheet where they have worked in their group to complete the sheet but each has filled out their own sheet with the information.

The reason I choose to think of rules and expectations as negotiables and non-negotiables is because I know as a teacher and as a person what I am willing to let go of and things I am not. For example, one thing that I am very particular about is students noise levels. When I have a group of students who are working with me, I expect and will not negotiate on the other students noise level within the classroom. My rule is that we keep low volumes and you get 2 warnings about volume. I explain that this is not because I am trying to be mean but it is a form of respect. When students are working with me, this is their time to get personalized help with their skills. So as much fun as it may be to be laughing loudly etc. it is important for students to learn that they are not the only ones in the classroom. This is a key factor in building respect within our classroom. I will often let students know that I am doing an interview with a student which is a hint to them, that they need to be mindful of their voices because eventually it will be their turn. When you think about classroom management and stations in a negotiable vs. non-negotiable way it outlines for you and your students what your expectations are. A negotiable can even sometimes be that students who are at a lower level in math or a higher level in math, they can adapt a game to make is more difficult or simple. That is teaching them to advocate for themselves, to make good choices and to have their own autonomy.
Negotiables vs. Non-Negotiables With Classroom Management

I am of the very firm belief that students need to understand that their are consequences for their actions. Now, many people may disagree with me and that’s okay. However, in my 5 years of teaching and helping in other classrooms, I have learned that when you teach students that consequences are a natural thing in life it actually makes them more understanding of the world around them. This is not a form of punishment but it is a fact of reality. Again, consequences come down to your negotiables vs. non-negotiables. When your students are clear what your expectations are and what you are not willing to negotiate with they will, most of the time, respect those boundaries. It is very important to set boundaries for your students and thus, they should set boundaries with you. This is part of building healthy relationships. An example is students who like to hug you and student who don’t. You never force a student to hug you, you can ask if they want a hug, they can ask you if they can have a hug and if it never comes up, then you assume that they don’t want one. This is them demonstrating for you, their negotiables and non-negotiables.

In terms of classroom management, when you have your negotiables and non-negotiables solidified in your mind and you have shared them with your class (preferably in a rules anchor chart or some type of visual reminder) you will also need to determine the consequences when boundaries are crossed or non-negotiables are broken. Now, there needs to be some wiggle room here. For example, depending on the time, if my students voices are slightly louder than I’d like, I would give them a reminder but I am also looking to see if this noise is on task noise or not on task noise. Again, reminders always come first, then consequences follow. A consequence during stations could simply go like this.

A student is at a literacy center and they are choosing to talk instead of completing the task. I provide a reminder, possibly provide one more but given that the stations have shorter time limits I generally give them only one. Then there are several routes I could take. One could simply be, asking the student to take their stuff to another table. This gets the student away from the other student. Another one could be “you chose not to do your work even after I reminded you. Is there a reason you didn’t finish it? (given students respond determines your action) Often times students might say, I was distracted or I don’t know. With this answer I would respond with “I understand that you were distracted, but you didn’t get your work done. So please put on some noise cancelling headphones to help you focus. I need you to complete your work first and then you may move to your next station when you’re done.” I like this consequence because although my non-negotiable is finishing their work because there’s a purpose to it, I am providing the student with a fair consequence that meets both our needs. It’s simple, when they’ve done that work that was expected of them then they can move on to the next one. I am not punishing them or demeaning them, I am simply giving them a way to meet the expectations I have set. Other things might be a bit more harsh in that you take away a station that they simply cannot handle.

I think the key when it comes to consequences is that it needs to be fair, it should reflect the severity of the students actions and it should be something simple enough that you can enforce on your own. It is also important that when we provide consequences that we remind the students that they are not bad people for making a bad decision but that next time to avoid the consequence they need to be mindful and strategic about getting their work done.  I hope that this is all making sense. The basic structure of this is to show them the black and white outlines of what you’re expectations are and things that you’re simply not willing to accept. One of my biggest pet peeves and my students know this, is talking over someone else or calling out. Although this may not be something that other teachers care about, I think that it is extremely rude to talk while another person is talking and I simply can’t handle it when students are constantly calling out. I always take the approach of talking to my students as humans not just kids. They are capable of amazing things so when I talk about students calling out of turn or talking over top of people, I tell them how much it annoys me. I tell them that I grew up with four other siblings that that when they would talk over top of me not only did it make me angry but it hurt my feelings because I had something important to say and by them talking over me, they were essentially telling me that they didn’t care how I felt. I always think that when you explain your reasoning for your non-negotiables it allows the kids to get to know you as a person and it gives them some background information on why this bothers you. Now, this doesn’t mean we have to take hours and explain everything. We walk in a classroom because it’s a safety issue. I tell them I simply don’t want them to crack their head open or break any bones so we walk, simple as that.

How To Get Your Students To Meet Your Expectations Or Non-Negotiables

It is very important that after you’ve explained your non-negotiables or expectations that you actually provide your students with ways to meet them. Again, this seems like common sense however, the most common two reasons that I have seen when students aren’t meeting these expectations is either because you, as the teacher, haven’t been consistent or you haven’t provided them with the tools in order to meet your expectations. This might sound daunting but it will save you tons of time and tons of irritation. Majority of students want to make you happy so give them the ways in which to do this. This can come in a few ways and it’s going to depend on your students.

Possible Reasons:

  • You’re not being consistent.
  • They don’t have the tools.
  • They need more scaffolding.

Or you’re not clear on what you’re doing. This is not to put anyone down but sometimes we as teachers don’t like to admit that we may not know what we’re doing. The thing to remember here is to ask yourself what’s the purpose of your expectations or you need to ask for help.

If you’re not being consistent then you either need to choose to be more consistent or it could be that what you assumed was a non-negotiable actually is a negotiable. If your students don’t have the tools then you need to break it down for them. We will go with the raising hands example again. If you’re students aren’t raising their hands then you need to remind them before you start your activity that they must raise their hand. Do not allow someone who didn’t meet this expectation to call out and then use their answer. You can give them non-verbal cues such as putting your finger to your closed lips and raise your hand. IF the student then corrects themselves and raises their hand to speak, you then can call on them and say “thank you for raising your hand”. You’ve now given them the tools by reminding them at the beginning, non-verbally communicating how to meet your expectation and you’ve rewarded them because they’ve corrected themselves on their own. A note I want to make here, is that we do not reward students for meeting expectations because they are in and of themselves expectations we. However, praise them and celebrate when they meet these expectations verbally by saying “thank you for _____”. But, I am not going to give out a lollipop because they raised their hand.

When you’re doing something such as stations or a whole group activity you have to remember that students have to learn routines first. This means that you have to break it down for them. If you’re doing stations then you need to teach each station to the whole class and practice first before you start to add in any others or even learn how to rotate between them. Yes, this takes time but if you’re clear and you’ve set your expectations and allowed them to practice, then this will go quicker. If you’ve got a group of student who really struggle to meet your expectations then you need to go slower because eventually majority of the group will fall into routine because it easier and more rewarding than going against the routine. A phrase I like to use when scaffolding is “If you know, then show me.” This is referring to the fact that I have gone over the rules and expectations so many times and we have practiced so many times that if they know what to do, then show me that you know what to do. Side note: sometimes students will ask me why do we have to keep going over the rules? My response is because until you all show that you know what to do, we have to keep repeating them. This is their way out, when majority of the class can do it on their own then you will only have a few outliers and those are the students that you will need to scaffold more for and provide more tools to.

This is probably the least favorite of most teachers.  Many people believe that teachers come out of their PDP programs and know everything and are ready to take on any class. This is the most false myth I have encountered. This isn’t to say that no teachers are ready, it’s honestly different between everyone. But most of teachers I have mentored, struggle in their first year or two. Please understand that this is so common and nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, use this as you’re way of being a sponge to other teachers. It sounds silly, but we really have to be life long learners because classes always change, curriculum changes, assessment changes, our profession is one that is always changing so you either keep up and be a sponge or you continue to struggle. So, if you are struggling, reach out to someone in your school and ask them if they can come in and observe you. Or ask them, “what do you do when ____ happens?” You may not agree with what they do but you now have an idea of where to start. When you have a teacher observe you, they will pick up on many things and this is not to bring you down but it could very well be the fact that your not being consistent or that your kids don’t actually know what to do during stations. This is a great way of figuring out why (if you don’t know) you’re kids aren’t able to be independent. If possible you could also go into another teachers classroom and observe them and see how they implement the skill that you’re struggling with.
Final Thoughts:

If you’ve stuck through this post with me I appreciate and I hope that it helps. Classroom management is not easy, but the more you practice the better you’ll get. I understand that at the beginning of your career, it’s hard. I am still at the beginning and still learning every day. I always ask for help and I always see what others are doing. This doesn’t mean that I do what everyone else does and you don’t have to do what I do. However, I do think that when it comes to classroom management many people feel overwhelmed so the simpler you can make it hopefully the more successful you will be. In my first year, I went over rules so many times, not just for the kids, but for myself because there are SO many things to remember.

Starter Math Games

Here are some games that I have previously used in my grade 2 class this year. These are printable games in which I have student slide the paper game into whiteboard sleeves. I only print out 5 or 6 copies because these are partner games. These games are also played based on their groups. Therefore, I do not need to print one copy per student. I also choose to print them on card stock and different colours of paper. This way when I file them, it is easy to see the different games and it makes it more fun for the students.  Side note: students respond well to coloured organization so if a student is confused which game they are playing you can respond by “what colour is your group?” This also helps for differentiation.

Place Value:

Here are some place value games that I love. These games are from Games4Learning. I used these at the beginning of the year to evaluate which of my students knew their place value and which ones didn’t. My students loved these because they love the graphics on them and they love dinosaurs. Now, one key factor we know about engagement with games is the graphics. A game without graphics will generally not be as appealing as a game with some graphics. This is not fool proof but especially in younger grades, graphics are one way that provides immediate buy in.

These games are found at:

Addition with adding multiple numbers:

The games I chose at the beginning of the year for addition strategies are called Pig and Going to Boston. I found them at Susan Jones Teaching These games focus on the addition of multiple numbers and allows you to differentiate easily.  Susan Jones does a Sunday Spotlight on Youtube where she demonstrates various math games. She has lots and lots of great ideas, so I encourage you to check it out.

Here is the link:

I found this resource at:

Shake and Spill:

Another great way of knowing students fact fluency is by using this shake and spill sheet. It is a kinesthetic opportunity for students to subitize and explain their thinking.  I enjoy this because although it is not a two player game it gives insight into students thinking. If students can’t determine what combinations make 10 and 20 then they are not ready to move onto higher numbers. This is a foundational skill.  We use a cup and red and yellow double sided counters to show the combinations. We have also used 6 or 9 sided dice as a small interview. After students have rolled a number I will say build that number which counters, then explain to me how many more you need to make 10 or 20, tell me how you know that.

Here is where I got this resource from:

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