Making Math Meaningful

This 100th Day of School writing on what they liked and didn't like so far about first grade stopped us in our tracks. We are in our second year of a new math adoption, and our class has made it pretty clear how they feel about math in our classroom this year. The audible math moans and groans and passive aggressive journal writing were keeping us up at night!

Like, HELLO teachers? Are you hearing us...We HATE math!

We knew something had to change. I hated math as a child growing up, and I had the self-confidence about it to boot. I promised myself I would never allow one of my students to feel the way I thought about the subject. Something had to change! So we put our heads together and came up with some supplemental math materials that kick the "No math please" pleas to the curb!

Math Chat: Math Vocabulary Word Wall Cards, Student Dictionary & Flashcards
We are firm believers that if you're going to walk the math walk, you've got to talk the math talk. Kids are most comfortable when they know what they're talking about. Ask them! :) 
Math word wall and resources for the primary classroom.
We created these math vocabulary resources to help our students build a strong math vocabulary foundation all year long. We use these all the time...On our word wall, in our pocket chart, in centers, and the kids love using them to play math vocabulary games too! 
Math word wall for the primary classroom
We put the word cards on rings and keep them available for the taking. We are amazed at how they find new ways to practice and play with their peers.
Math word wall and resources for the primary classroom.
We also turned our Math Chat vocabulary into math dictionaries inspired by our Spelling Dictionaries. We leave these available at all of our tables for students to use. 
Building math fact fluency is a year-long process. We give our students as many opportunities to practice their math facts all year. One quick and easy way we do this is through games. Our Addition Math Fact Fluency Games are quick, copy and go activities that are differentiated for all of our students. We spend the first few weeks of school teaching them how to play, then we leave them out and available day after day. 
Math fact fluency made fun!

Math fact fluency made fun!

Math fact fluency made fun!

Math fact fluency made fun!
When our students are ready, we dig into formal math fact fluency assessments.
Math fact fluency made fun!
You can download our 
for free. 
Once we've assessed, we begin our favorite way to build math fact fluency in our students. We know there is a lot of controversies out there about whether or not to give timed math fact tests to students. We say yes! But, there's a key...It has to be fun!
We use Big Fish Math in our classroom, and our students beg for it week after week. We adjust the time to set our students up for success. We are not in the business of making kids cry over math. Been there, done that as a child and we will not scar any other mathematicians in the world. We keep this activity light, fun, and motivating for our students. If they struggle, we differentiate. Every student works on their own math fact fluency at their own pace and in their own place. We've been using timed math for over 15 years and haven't had a single tear shed yet. So, we say timed tests? Yes!
Math moves quickly and without proper review, the skills of today are lost by tomorrow! So, we begin each math session with some independent practice. We created Problem of the Day Booklets for the entire school year. Students get a new booklet each month and they work on one problem each day to get their math minds moving.
Daily math warm up booklets - Problem of the Day
These are super easy to prep. Just copy cut and staple. We like to cover the covers onto colored paper (We use Astrobrights or construction paper) because they kids feel like it's something brand new. 
Daily math warm up booklets - Problem of the Day
The back of our booklets focus on key math vocabulary which we love referring to as we work our way through our math curriculum. As we discuss each word, we have them interact with their Math Chat on the backs of their Problem of the Day booklets. It's like a portable math word wall at their fingertips! 
Portable math word walls

Problem of the Day Daily Math Warm-Up Booklets
Making math meaningful is a major priority in our classroom. 
How do you make math meaningful for your students?
Fluttering Through First Grade

Classroom Decor Tips and Tricks

For as much time as we spend in our classrooms as teachers, we should love it! Our students should love it too. It’s their home away from home after all and becomes a place they are proud to come to each school day for learning and growing.

Here are our top tips and tricks for decorating your classroom. 
Pick a Scheme...A Color Scheme! 
One of the absolute best things we ever did was choose a color scheme for our classroom. Blue and green have been our color wheel for many years now, and we love it! Choosing a color scheme makes a classroom look organized, even if it's a hot mess!
A color scheme also keeps our teacher summer shopping brains in check. 
I cannot see red. I deny you yellow. 
You are dead to me hot pink...I only see blue and green. 
The Dollar Store? Blue and green. 
Target? Blue and green. 
Walmart? You got it...Blue and green! 
Wherever we shop for back to school, we only see blue and green. It has been the best shopping spree system ever because it keeps us focused...
Stop looking at me purple!

Consistent, calming classroom colors can have a positive impact on student learning. We have found our colorized classroom provides a cohesive learning environment where students love to learn. They also learn quickly to not bring a purple basket from home and ask to add it to the class stash. 

The answer is a sweet, but strong no. :) 

From class decor to bulletin boards, table tubs to water bottles, and everything in between, we try to incorporate our color scheme subtly yet strongly all around our classroom.

Classroom decor and more! Customize your classroom with a color scheme.
Plan a Theme
Engaging your class in a theme not only makes for an eye-catching classroom, but it also sets the stage for building a community of learners. Here's a small list of classroom theme ideas.
Our Class Decor & More sets provide student-centered, teacher-friendly decor to fit your themed classroom. 
Classroom decor and more
Use the contents that best fit your own classroom needs. Many of the components of our Class Decor and More sets are editable so you can personalize them. Printing on heavyweight paper such as cardstock or construction paper is recommended for durability.  Laminating some components is optional, but will help your d├ęcor last over time. 
Classroom decor and more
With over 200 pages to choose from, your classroom will be decked out in no time so you can focus on the important stuff…TEACHING! 
Personalize your own class nameplates with editable classroom decor.
DIY classroom decor made easyDIY Classoom Decor made easy. Class labels for the classroom.

DIY Class word wall. Classroom decor made easy!

Classroom decor made easy!
We believe firmly in teaching our students how to utilize the class decor. It isn't just cute! It serves a purpose. When students ask how to spell the color green, we ask them to look around! When they need to know how to draw a trapezoid, we refer them to the classroom walls. Being resourceful and building independence in our learners starts with our Class Decor and More.
Classroom decor made easy!

We number our library book tubs not only to keep them organized, but we utilize the numbers to direct our students on how to choose their book tubs for quiet reading time. Some days we only read from odd number tubs and other days from even. We incorporate learning wherever we can with our class decor. It isn't just cute! 

We might even throw something like this at them...
"Table 1 please go get the book tub that equals 3+2 for your reading today." 
And they do!
Decorating a classroom can be so daunting, but it doesn't have to be with the 3 P's. 
Pick a scheme, Plan a theme, and Personalize it! 
Shop Fluttering Through First Grade
Fluttering Through First Grade

Mindset Melodies - Simple Songs for Growing Mindsets

Growth Mindset in the Primary Classroom
Growth Mindset is a hot teaching topic and one our school sent us off last summer encouraging us to learn more about. As a psychology major back in college, I knew this was right up my alley. I'd heard about the book Mindset, by Carol S. Dweck, Ph. D. many times, but I'd never found the time to actually sit and read it. Confession...I never did find the time to sit and actually read it last summer, but I did discover how amazing is for this busy mom who spends hours in her car schlepping teens around town. I had that 8-hour 34-minute book "read" in 1 week thankyouverymuch!

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Growth Mindset Books
It was a great place to start and gave me all the information I needed to wrap my own mind around the growth mindset personally and professionally.
Growth Mindset Books for Teachers
I continued my learning with some great professional development books for Growth Mindset. Click the book titles to link to our Flutter Girl Goodies Amazon shop. 
All of these were great resources for gathering ideas on implementation, but I still felt like it just wasn't quite kid-friendly enough for us. I was searching for a way to reach our young learners who unfortunately were displaying signs of being in the fixed mindset from the first day of school. 

We realized early on that our class was fixed and we needed to work hard to change their mindsets. 

"Do you like my work?"
"Is this perfect?"
"That's too hard for me. I don't want to do it."

We struggled with what we could do about it but knew two things...This particular class was at their absolute best when we were reading stories aloud to them and they would pretty much eat pudding out of your hands if you teach them to sing songs. 
So, stories and songs it was!
Growth Mindset Books for the Primary Classroom
 There are so many great books out there for teaching and sharing the growth mindset with young children. We find reading stories provides a great platform for fostering class discussions. When we can't quite find the words ourselves, these books help us set the stage to foster the discussion. 
Here a few of our favorites:

Now when it came to the songs, we couldn't find anything to fit the bill. 
So, we're the crazy ladies who decided to just write them themselves! 
Growth Mindset Songs for the Primary Classroom
We came up with 20 simple songs for growing class mindsets. Each song is set to a familiar children's tune. Our class loves singing songs and our Mindset Melodies bring our brains and voices together for class sing-alongs that we hope they’ll be humming for years to come. 
Growth Mindset Songs for the Primary Classroom
We really wanted these songs to become integrated into our weekly lesson plans, so we created several activities to help our class learn and practice our Mindset Melodies.
20 Growth Mindset Melodies Color Class Song Posters
Growth Mindset Songs for the Primary Classroom
20 Growth Mindset Melodies Black and White Class Song Posters
Growth Mindset Songs for the Primary Classroom
20 Growth Mindset Melodies Pocket Chart Song Lyric Cards
Growth Mindset Songs for the Primary Classroom
20 Growth Mindset Melodies Build a Song Activity Work Mats
Growth Mindset Songs for the Primary Classroom
20 Growth Mindset Melodies Song Fill-In Activity Sheet Printables 
Growth Mindset Songs for the Primary Classroom

Growth Mindset Songs for the Primary Classroom

Growth Mindset Songs

Growth Mindset in the Primary Classroom

Growth Mindset Songs

Growth Mindset in the Primary Classroom
Mindset Melodies have been a great addition to our classroom culture and daily routine. We know enough tunes now that we choose one or two of them to practice each morning as part of our morning routine. We integrate the activities into our centers time and guided reading lessons. We overhear them singing our Mindset Melodies quietly while they're working at their desks and we don't hear many pleas for teacher reassurance because they have a better understanding of how their mindsets are growing. 

Mindsets are growing in a fun, friendly way in our classroom and our hearts are fluttering!
Fluttering Through First Grade