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Math fact fluency is the ability to quickly recall 
the answers to basic math facts automatically - 
without hesitation.



So WHY do we need to help our students become fluent in basic math facts?

"Math facts fluency leads to higher order mathematics.  Through automaticity students free up their working memory and can devoted it to problem solving and learning new concepts and skills 
(Geary, 1994).

Quite simply, a lack of fluency in basic math facts will significantly hinder a child's subsequent progress in problem-solving, algebra, and higher order math concepts.  Math fact fluency not only affects our students' future success in math, but also in science and geography.
For these, and probably a zillion more, the Common Core Standards require us to insure that our students are fluent in their math facts.

Math fact automaticity affect performance in later elementary grades as students have longer and more complicated computations to complete.  At this stage, if a student does not have his/her math facts committed to memory, he/she will spend a lot of time and energy figuring out smaller calculations and risk not having time (or energy) to complete the assignment.

Their performance in math class is not the only academic area that may be negatively affected.  Other subjects such as science and geography may be hindered.


Math fact fluency is developed through lots of practice with effective tools and strategies.  I have found, and research confirms that Derived Fact Strategies (DFS) are highly effective in increasing math fact fluency.

Derived facts are math facts that are derived from known facts.  For example, if we know the doubles fact, 3+3=6, then we can derive the answer to 3+4 by using the 3+3 fact and adding 1 to it.  So a derived fact strategy is the mental process of deriving a new fact from a known fact. 
These posters have a motivating Super Hero theme! Each of the 11 posters defines and gives an example of the strategy. They are great on your math wall for the students to use a reference when needed. I have also included a smaller version to use in centers and small group or individual practice.
 These strategies are also called 'mental math strategies' and 'thinking strategies'.  They all refer to the cognitive process of deriving new understanding by using known information - higher level thinking!
Math fact fluency is developed through lots of practice with effective tools and strategies.  I have found, and research confirms that Derived Fact Strategies (DFS) are highly effective in increasing math fact fluency.
Math fact fluency is developed through lots of practice with effective tools and strategies.  I have found, and research confirms that Derived Fact Strategies (DFS) are highly effective in increasing math fact fluency.
I have seen the use of these strategies - with lots of practice using these strategies will transform students into confident learners!  Enjoying math!
I have also seen the flip side.  Teachers clinging to the use of timed tests, traditional flash cards, and pushing the responsibility of math fact fluency onto the parents (much to their frustration) - resulting in frustrated students - even tears - and negative experiences in math for years.

Knowing that lots of practice is crucial for students to become 'automatic' in their recall of basic facts, I have invested hundreds of hours creating engaging resources to provide students (and teachers) with effective activities that make practice fun!

Here is a game that provides repeated experience with the 
DFS (derived fact strategy):  "Plus 2".  
It is free in my TpT store.  
Just click on the picture to download your copy.
FREEBIE  Your students will enjoy playing this engaging Super Hero game with their friends and becoming more fluent in their addition math facts in the process!  Learning Games provide a fun, not-threatening opportunity for students to get needed practice to become fluent in their math facts.
Click on the pictures below to see more resources 
to help your students flourish 
in their math fact fluency.
 These Math Fact Fluency packs are designed using the mental math strategies. Research confirms that students learn the basic math facts if they learn them in the context of the mental math strategies. This not only helps them increase their math fact fluency, but they are understanding number sense and how the numbers are related to each other.
If you have not tried teaching the DFS with your students, 
I hope you will!
If you do - keep on, keeping on!
Be sure to enter our Giveaway for the opportunity to win one of three 
Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card.



 I am so delighted to be teaming up with some great bloggers to bring you our favorite books for the month of June!

My book for you is .....
'The Raft' the perfect May read aloud with free book companion.
This is a beautiful story of a boy's summer with his grandmother...on a river...on a raft.  The story opens with Nicky and his father leaving the city with Nicky complaining about having to spend the summer with his grandmother, who "doesn't even have a TV".

This is such a rich story!  My main purpose in reading it to students this time of year is to help them connect with Nicky and be inspired to make choices for their summer that will get them outside - away from technology.
Before I even open the book, I invite the students to enjoy looking at the cover and making observations. This is the perfect time to encourage children to make predictions about the story.

A prediction is a smart guess about what might happen after looking at clues.
Ask leading questions:
What do you predict the story will be about?  
What clues on the cover make you think that?
Why do you think the author titled it 'The Raft'?

Next, access your students' prior knowledge - schema.  
Prior Knowledge (schema) is what we already know about a topic.
What do you know about rafts?
You might want to use the 'Predictions & Schema' page from the (free) book companion.
'The Raft' the perfect May read aloud with free book companion.
'The Raft' the perfect May read aloud with free book companion.

While reading the story, pause and ask your students how they are like Nicky, and how are they different from Nicky.

I like to use this 'Compare and Contrast' Venn diagram with my students as we read the book.  Students could also fill this out after they read the story.
'The Raft' the perfect May read aloud with free book companion.
'The Raft' the perfect May read aloud with free book companion.
As the story continues, Nicky begins to change.  Encourage discussion with your students' about what changes they notice in him as the summer progresses.  I have included a t-chart for you to record the students observations on.  This chart will be used later when the students form opinions on why they think Nicky changed through the summer.
'The Raft' the perfect May read aloud with free book companion.
'The Raft' the perfect May read aloud with free book companion.

Beginning of Summer:

Nicky doesn't want to spend the summer with his grandma. 
He wants to watch TV all summer.
He is upset about doing chores.

End of Summer:

He enjoys being with his grandma.
Enjoys nature and the outdoors.
He learns to draw.
He becomes a 'river rat'.
He is sad to leave.

Students love to make and share their opinions, don't they?  Well then, so do I . :)  Pose the question: "Why do you think Nicky changed?"  As students give reasons, ask them to support those reasons with evidence from the text.
'The Raft' the perfect May read aloud with free book companion.
'The Raft' the perfect May read aloud with free book companion.
As a final activity (and the most important) the kids are going to make plans for their summers, reflecting on what they want to do less' of, and what they would like to do 'more' of.  I created this fun flap book so your students will have a place to record their goals.
'The Raft' the perfect May read aloud with free book companion.
I love to send my students off to their summers, hoping that they will apply what they learned from Nicky - unplug from technology and get outside and enjoy nature!
'The Raft' the perfect May read aloud with free book companion.
Pin for later:
Books Bloggers Love - 12 great read alouds for the month of June. Grab lesson ideas, freebies, and more for each book!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Hatching chicks in the classroom is probably my favorite activity every year! Not only is it a wonderful hands-on life science lesson, hatching chicks in the classroom also creates the perfect stage for you to teach concepts across the curriculum because your students are so engaged!  

This is a beautiful, heart-warming story of a girl who rescues a caterpillar and how she and her grandfather build a butterfly house to care for it.  This is one of those rare treasures (like so many of Eve Bunting's books) that I read every. single. year!

I use this story during my butterfly unit.  It has the perfect blend of a narrative as well as facts about the painted lady butterflies.
Before I even open the book, I like to invite the students to enjoy looking at the cover and making observations. This is the perfect time to encourage children to make predictions about the story.

A prediction is a smart guess about what 
may happen after looking at clues.

Ask leading questions:
What do you predict the story will be about?  
What on the cover makes you think that?

Next, access your students' prior knowledge - schema.  

Prior Knowledge (schema) is what we already know about a topic.

What do they already know about butterflies?
You might want to use the 'Predictions & Schema' page from the (free) book companion.


While reading the story, pause and invite your students to make inferences about the story.

An inference is the reasonable guess we make about the meaning when we take clues from a text and add what we already know about a topic (background knowledge).

Some questions to encourage inferencing:
What would the jay have done to the 'small creature'?
Where does the grandfather live?
Where is the girl at the end of the story?

You may want to fill out the 'Making Inferences' with your students as you read the book.  I like to do it as a group so that the students can express themselves verbally as they practice making inferences.


This story lends itself beautifully to the further investigation of the life cycle of the butterfly.  I have included a cute little flap book and life cycle cards to use to teach and review the life cycle of the butterfly.
This is a great spring unit packed with fun information and activities on the theme of the Butterfly Life Cycle. This Butterfly Life Cycle unit has integrated Science and Literacy Activities (Common Core Aligned)  This is such a joyous unit to do with your students! It is packed with great activities that are sure to spark your students imagination and stimulate their minds.
This is a great spring unit packed with fun information and activities on the theme of the Butterfly Life Cycle. This Butterfly Life Cycle unit has integrated Science and Literacy Activities (Common Core Aligned)  This is such a joyous unit to do with your students! It is packed with great activities that are sure to spark your students imagination and stimulate their minds.
This is a great spring unit packed with fun information and activities on the theme of the Butterfly Life Cycle. This Butterfly Life Cycle unit has integrated Science and Literacy Activities (Common Core Aligned)  This is such a joyous unit to do with your students! It is packed with great activities that are sure to spark your students imagination and stimulate their minds.
When I was teaching kindergarten, I would read this story on the last day of school.  I told my little sweeties that they were like those caterpillars - I had tried my best to care for them and teach them what they needed to flutter into life!  (WARNING: you may have some tears.)  Then I said that I was like the girl, now older, who would love for them to come back to me in the years to come and tell me all the amazing things that are happening in their lives - 
and many of them do! 

Click on the picture to download the free book companion.

If you would like additional resources to teach the life cycle of the butterfly, please check out my butterfly unit, filled with science and literacy resources and activities.

This is a great spring unit packed with fun information and activities on the theme of the Butterfly Life Cycle. This Butterfly Life Cycle unit has integrated Science and Literacy Activities (Common Core Aligned)  This is such a joyous unit to do with your students! It is packed with great activities that are sure to spark your students imagination and stimulate their minds.

Pin for Later!
May Read Alouds - get lesson ideas, activities, and more for 12 spring books your kids will love!




Time to celebrate my birthday
with all of you!
I am so delighted to be teaming up with these amazing blogger buddies to bring you this. amazing. Giveaway!
I'm sure you can think of dozens of creative ways to use a mini iPad!
I LOVE mine!  It's just the right size - still fits in my purse, 
but large enough to enjoy the images 
. . . without squinting ;).

Enter to win - you just might be the winner.
And ..... you will be signing up to receive our newsletters - where you will receive exclusive freebies, tips, and encouragement delivered right to your inbox!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I am always looking for opportunities to hook my students on reading!  That's why I launch most of my units and lessons with a story.  A story can capture their imagination and spark their interest in what you you are wanting to teach them.  

Actually, I start with a standard - then search for a story....
This month's target standards in reading and writing are focused on informational text and writing.




Gail Gibbons is one of my favorite authors for informational text!  
I chose her 'St. Patrick's Day' as our mentor text this month to meet those CCSS targets.  
(Perfect for the month of March!)

She uses a plethora of non-fiction text features!
Students love going on a text feature hunt! 
 I created this fun little one to go with this book: 
This may used as an anchor chart to record non-fiction text features as you read it aloud to your students.  You may also choose to use it in small group or partner work.
It's a good activity to motivate students to recognize and use these features in their reading and writing.
>> CLICK ON THE PICTURE TO DOWNLOAD <<

So let's jump into the book!
You may want to use this cute flip book for your students to collect information in as you go through the book together.  Kids just love flip books - I find that students are much more engaged than with just a flat graphic organizer.

This book has historical background on the life of St. Patrick 
as well as legends surrounding his name.
  
Your students will recognize some of the customs and they will learn how different countries have adopted different customs.

Leprechauns are such enchanting little imaginary creatures!
Tell the students that they will be writing a plan to catch one, so they will need to learn as much as they can about them.  Where might they live?  What might they like?

Legend has it - if you catch a leprechaun - he will lead you to a pot of gold!
So let's catch a leprechaun!
Now your students are ready to make a plan to catch one of these little rascals!
Once the rough draft is finished, edited, and revised they are ready for the publishing step!
They have two choices to choose from.
If you would like to start with a story and end with great informational writing,
 just click on the picture below to download this freebie.

If you would like exclusive freebies 
delivered to you inbox every month, 

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