Deal Me In

a hand of cards

I know it may seem like I am not getting much accomplished now that I am on summer vacation, but I must be doing something because I am exhausted at the end of the day. Aside from the Cocktail Testing, my kids and I figured out that Cups Trick Thing, we go to swim practice in the mornings, and I unloaded the dishwasher and folded a load of laundry.

I have also been playing a lot of cards with my kids. My parents visited and kicked off this latest activity. We mainly play Crazy 8s, Solitaire, and War. I was “over listening” to Mr. Star Wars talk to himself during a recent game of solitaire, and it dawned on me how many skills are wrapped up in a card game.

** If you are unfamiliar with the rules of play, click here for Crazy 8sSolitaire, and War.

solitaire with kids

Grouping, Sorting, and Matching

  • In order to play card games, the player has to be able to identify and/or separate the suits and the numbers. In Crazy 8s, the player can switch between the suit and the number at each turn. Deciding if you want to use a matching suit or a matching number requires a little bit of strategy (see predicting and strategy below). Kids have to be able to group and sort like items. When a kid plays cards, he is practicing basic math skills and symbol recognition that is helpful for early readers.
  • The cards that the player holds in his hand can be grouped by like numbers and like suits (and then sub-grouped by numerical order). This reinforces organization and sorting.  

Counting, Ascending and Descending Order

  • The goal of many card games is to gather cards in numerical order. In Solitaire, the whole point is to create a stack of cards that count down and also move them to the ace piles and count up. In the descending order piles, you have the added skill of a red/black alternating pattern. The player also needs to know which number is next and anticipate that card appearing. If your child’s teacher mentioned extra practice with ordering numbers, play a few games of solitaire with him/her.
  • Players have to remember that a jack is lower than a queen, which is lower than the king. Depending on the game, the ace can change from less than the 2 to greater than the king. Kids translate the value of the face cards into a number value for ordering. Mentally renaming the card’s worth requires a multi-step thought process (i.e. critical thinking).
  • In the game of War, you have to know the difference between greater than, less than, and equal in order to play. How many homework assignments have you seen that practice this skill?

Predicting and Strategy

  • To win a game, there is a little strategy and a little luck involved. In Crazy 8s, you often hold cards in your hand that give you the option of putting down a matching number card OR a matching suit card– or you might even be able to play a crazy 8. Which do you choose? Well, if you are Miss Priss, you announce that you could do either (giving away what is in her hand), and you think through which one is the better choice based on what MIGHT be in the opponent’s hand. This is great processing on her part. She is not throwing down any old thing but is thinking about the alternative scenarios, the pros and cons of choices she makes, and the various outcomes of each choice.
  • The same thinking process occurs in Solitaire. Mr. Star Wars always points out when he has two choices for his next move like if he needs a black 5, and he has one on the top of a stack of unturned cards and one in the group of 3 cards he has in his hand. Which option is better? Being able to anticipate results and seeing ahead down a few paths is a great skill to practice. Children need to see the direct results of choices they make. On a small scale, a game of cards illustrates cause and effect well.

Taking Turns

  • Sometimes you have to wait for your turn especially if the other player is contemplating his move. It might require some patience. Taking turns involves a specific order of back and forth (just like a conversation). One person makes a move, the other person responds, the first person reacts to the second person’s action. It is important to learn how to take a turn, wait, assess, and respond. 

The Suits

  • The red cards are pretty easy to identify. Most kids know the diamond and heart shapes. In order to distinguish the black suits, we say that the spades (another word for a little shovel) look like a shovel. The club looks like a clover and both of those words start with the letter “c”. 

I caught TheRoomDad teaching the kids 5 Card Poker. Miss Priss told me that she doesn’t really know the rules, but she knows if she can get a group of cards in number order, that is good. If she can get a group of cards with the same number, that is good. If she doesn’t know what to do, she just keeps all of her highest cards. I have to say, I am fairly impressed with her strategy and have no doubt she would beat me in a game of poker.

So That’s How You Spell It

grocery list

This is the grocery list Miss Priss gave me. Can anyone guess what we need from the store?

I always have a student who is a poor speller. There are kids who just never get the hang of the common patterns in the English language. I think our use of text speak and lack of handwriting practice is partly to blame, but I will save that discussion for another post.

I have a few tricks to help my students with common spelling errors, and I give some practice work for the summer too. In the age of spell check, correct spelling will be about recognizing the best way to spell a word rather than having to generate the correct spelling from memory.

If your child needs some practice over the summer or some reminders when school begins again in August, try a few of these spelling tactics. Your son or daughter might not be heading to the National Spelling Bee, but they might catch a few more errors in their writing.

Use What is Already There

  • I often have students misspell words that appear in the test or assignment. Practice looking back through a paper and comparing your spelling to words that are provided in questions or directions or even a word bank.
  • This strategy can also be useful if a child sees a word that rhymes. Rhyming words may have the same spelling pattern and the base part of the word can be copied. If you can spell rock, you might be more likely to spell sock with the CK ending. 
  • The same tactic would work if a child needs to change an ending on a word. If you see the word humid and need to write humidity, a child could make a reasonable guess using the original word given.

copying paragraphs

Practice Copying Words Correctly

  • The more often you spell a word correctly, the more likely you will spell it correctly in the future. There is muscle memory, and your hand memorizes the way letters connect (which is why cursive handwriting is important IMO). Think about writing your name. When I got married, it took awhile to retrain my hand not to automatically begin the letters of my maiden name.
  • If your child’s handwriting is really poor, and you have moved on to keyboarding, you can complete this same activity on the computer, although I think the act of handwriting is more effective.

Practice Adding Endings to Words

  • This is a great reminder about the spelling rules that we are taught directly or pick up through reading. Start with a base word like hop. Add a variety of endings and say aloud why/how the word changes. Hop becomes hopped, hopping, hops. For the ED and ING endings, we doubled the final consonant to protect that vowel sound. For the S ending, we did not need to protect the vowel sound because we were adding the consonant S. In this case, look at the word hoping. How is it pronounced? Why? What is the difference between hopping and hoping.

Practice Locating Mistakes

  • Look at a sentence or small paragraph with errors. Find the errors and make the necessary corrections.

Here are some other 4th grade tips for words that are often confused.

Separate

  • There is A RAT in the middle of the word sepA RATe.

Affect v. Effect

  • Affect is a verb (action– also starts with A). It will often have a helping verb nearby. If you can’t remember your helping verbs, I have a list here in the grammar plan. The storm did AFFECT our electricity.
  • If the word has ED on the end,  it should probably be AFFECT. We were AFFECTED by the power outage. This example also has the helping verb clue.
  • Effect is a noun. It will often have A, AN, or THE nearby and be the subject of the sentence. The EFFECT of the storm was devastating.

Desert v Dessert

  • Desert is a dry place because of little rainfall.
  • Dessert is the yummy treat you have after a meal. It has two S’s because you want two servings!

Their, They’re, or There

  • Their is possessive; it shows ownership. If you can replace their with the word his or her, and the sentence makes sense, use THEIR. We went swimming at their pool. We went swimming at his pool.
  • They’re means they are. Read the sentence with the words they are. If it sounds right, use the contraction. They’re swimming at the neighbor’s pool. They are swimming at the neighbor’s pool. In fact, any time you are dealing with a contraction, use the complete words to check yourself. The replacement word test for their and they’re will work when checking it’s and its. Try using it is and his or her.
  • There is a location. If the replacement words used above sound funny, use THERE. You can also sometimes replace there with at that placeWe will be swimming there. We will be swimming at that place.

Too

  • Too has an extra O because you have more, extra.
  • If you can replace too in a sentence with also or so, you probably need TOO. That soup is too hot, and it burned my tongue. That soup is so hot, and it burned my tongue. I want to eat soup too. I want to eat soup also

I have teaching materials for commonly misspelled words, spelling rules, and spelling patterns. To purchase spelling resources from my TeacherPayTeacher store, CLICK HERE.

Author! Author!

selznick and klise letters

TheRoomMom blog is part parenting tips and part teacher tips (with some snacky food and book ideas thrown in). Today, the teacher part of my blog is featured on the Teaching Blog Addict.

“Contacting Book Authors” is the featured activity in their weekly teacher freebie list. The best part is, I did not even know I had been selected!

If you need an activity to build a little excitement for any summer reading assignments you may have, try contacting the book author. We had great success last year. Here are a few of the authors who replied:

  • Brian Selznick (Wonderstruck and Invention of Hugo Cabret)
  • Tom Angleberger (Origami Yoda series)
  • Leslie Connor (Crunch)
  • Julie Edwards (Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles— letter was from her “fan mail coordinator”)
  • J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter— form letter)
  • Cressida Cowell (How to Train Your Dragon series)
  • Annie Barrows (The Magic Half)
  • Sheila Turnage (Three Times Lucky)
  • Kate Klise (Dying to Meet You series)
  • Patrick Carmen (Floors— took 9 months to receive a reply!)
  • Erica Orloff (Magickeepers series)
  • Obert Skye (Wonkenstein and Potterwookie)
  • Lisa Schroeder (It’s Raining Cupcakes)
  • Jacqueline Kelly (The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate)

Picture of Free Teacher Downloads at Teaching Blog Addict

Fun Foldables

Crazy things happen to my students when I tell them that we are going to make booklets in class.  They do not even recognize that there will be writing required to fill the booklet. Their attention is focused completely on the class set of scissors, stack of paper, and big bin of assorted colored pencils. I have a handful of favorite foldable booklets that I am sharing below. I also included a new one I am trying this year with my poetry unit called a tunnel booklet.

Teacher Note: To fold a piece of paper the hamburger way is to fold any rectangular piece of paper in half the short, fat way. An 8 1/2″ x 11″ piece of paper would become 5 1/2″ x 8 1/2″. To fold a piece of paper the hot dog way is to fold any rectangular piece of paper in half the long, skinny way. An 8 1/2″ x 11″ piece of paper would become 4 1/4″ x 11″. The top of the tent is the folded edge of the paper. If you were to stand your folded piece of paper up on the table like a tent, the part at the top is the edge you usually need to cut. Don’t ask me who came up with this terminology, but it saves me a lot of messed up pieces of paper.

Parent Note: Any of these booklets can be adapted for scout projects, book reports, science reports, or home schooling.

Tiny Books

I use these for an activity with Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl. When we read the chapter about Danny’s granddad’s great pheasant poaching methods, the students choose one of the crazy poaching methods from the story. The students break the poaching method into steps and write the steps with illustrations into the Tiny Books to create a “How To” booklet. This is a great way to introduce technical writing and procedures (anyone prepping for science fair?).

Materials:

  • basic white copy paper, 8 1/2″ x 11″, (one per student)
  • scissors
tiny book step 1

Step 1: Fold one piece of paper in half the hamburger way. Repeat two more times. Unfold the paper and make sure you have 8 rectangles on the paper.

tiny book step 2

Step 2: Fold the paper the hamburger way again, one time. Your paper will be 5 1/2″ x 8 1/2″ with 4 rectangles showing.
Step 3: From the folded edge of the paper, cut down the middle along the fold line to the center of the paper.

tiny book step 3

Step 4: Open the paper flat. Fold it one time the hot dog way.

Step 5: Hold each side with one hand and push towards the center until your fingers meet. The center of the paper will push out creating 4 flaps.

Step 5: Hold each side with one hand and push towards the center until your fingers meet. The center of the paper will push out creating 4 flaps.

Step 6: Press down, so pages are flat. The finished booklet is 6 pages.

Step 6: Press down, so pages line up into the booklet shape. The finished booklet is 6 pages.

Burrito Books

We make these booklets for a lot of novel studies in my class. I recently used them while reading The Bread Winner by Arvella Whitmore. I created a Bread Winner Burrito Book Template and made a gazillion copies (front and back) that gave the students space to write a gist statement (one page summary of a chapter), character notes, and historical facts for each chapter in the book. I also use these booklets for point of view journals. This activity works well for The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. At the beginning of the book, students select one main character. After reading each chapter, the students re-tell the chapter in the first person from the point of view of their chosen character. I mentioned this writing activity before in my Novel Ideas post.

Materials:

  • basic white copy paper, 8 1/2″ x 11″, 6 sheets per student? (1 piece of paper = 4 booklet pages)
  • scissors
  • construction paper, any color, 1 per student (optional– can be used to make a cover for the booklet)
  • glue stick if adding construction paper book covers
Step 1: Divide your paper into two even piles, line up the corners, and fold both piles in half the hamburger way.

Step 1: Divide your paper into two even piles, line up the corners, and fold both piles in half the hamburger way.

Step 2: Pick up one folded pile of papers. On one end, make a 1-inch cut along the end (this is the top of the tent). Repeat on the other side.

Step 2: Pick up one folded pile of papers. On one end, make a 1-inch cut along the end (this is the top of the tent). Repeat on the other side. Set aside.

Step 3: Pick up the second pile of papers. Starting about 1-inch from the edge of the paper, cut a long skinny rectangle out of the center of the page. Stop 1-inch before the other end of the paper. This is the same as cutting a Valentine heart out of the center of a piece of paper.

Step 3: Pick up the second pile of papers. Starting about 1-inch from the folded edge of the paper (top of the tent), cut a long skinny rectangle out of the center of the page. Stop 1-inch before the other end of the paper. This is the same as cutting a Valentine heart out of the center of a piece of paper.

Step 4: Keeping the two piles of paper separate, open them flat. Pick up the pile with the flaps at the end and roll it gently like a hot dog. Insert the rolled papers into the center hole of the other stack of papers.

Step 4: Keeping the two piles of paper separate, open them flat. Pick up the pile with the cut flaps at the end and roll it gently like a hot dog. Insert the rolled papers into the center hole of the other stack of papers.

Step 5: Shaking a little, unroll the hot dog papers until they fit into the notch at the bottom and top of the pages.

Step 5: Shaking a little, unroll the hot dog papers until they fit into the notch at the bottom and top of the pages.

Step 5: (continued) If the pages won't lie flat, you may need to adjust the cut flaps and make them a little longer.

Step 5 (continued): If the pages won’t lie flat, you may need to adjust the cut flaps and make them a little longer.

Step 6: Press pages in half the hamburger way to form the booklet. You can fold construction paper in half the hamburger way and glue the first and last page of the burrito book into the construction paper to make a cover (recommended).

Step 6: Press pages in half the hamburger way to form the booklet. You can fold construction paper in half the hamburger way and glue the first and last page of the burrito book to the construction paper to make a cover (recommended).

Pop Up Books

Kids get really creative with the cutting on these pages. Once you teach the basic pop up, they quickly discover how to add more details. Currently, I use these with tall tales. We read a few picture books (McBroom and the Big Wind by Sid Fleischman, A Fine, Fine School by Sharon Creech, and Those Darn Squirrels by Adam Rubin) and discuss the basics of a tall tale. Students then write their own tall tale, break the story into about 6 sections (which will become the text for each page), and book production begins.

Materials:

  • basic white copy paper, 8 1/2″ x 11″ (~6 pieces per student)
  • class set of scissors
  • class set of glue sticks
  • construction paper (1 piece per student)
  • colored pencils or markers
Step 1: Fold one piece of paper in half the hamburger way. Near the center of the folded edge of the paper, cut two lines each the same length (about 1" long). The cuts should be about 1 1/2" apart. You may want students to mark cut lines with rulers when you first get started.

Step 1: Fold one piece of paper in half the hamburger way. Near the center of the folded edge of the paper (top of the tent), cut two lines each the same length (about 1″ long). The cuts should be about 1 1/2″ apart. You may want students to mark cut lines with rulers when you first get started.

Step 2: Open paper and poke finger into the cut section in the center of the paper and gently pull forward to make a stair step.

Step 2: Open paper and poke finger into the cut section in the center of the paper and gently pull forward to make a stair step.

Step 3: Fold the paper down again like a hamburger and crease your stair step. Open the page and stand upright to check that the fold is even.

Step 3: Fold the paper down again like a hamburger and crease your stair step. Open the page and stand upright to check that the fold is even.

Step 4: Begin creating illustrations on the page. You will have one larger element that is cut out of paper and glued to the front of the stair step. Create a background on the top/back of the page. Write the story text on the bottom/front of the page.

Step 4: Begin creating illustrations on the page. You will have one larger element that is cut out of paper and glued to the front of the stair step. Create a background on the top/back of the page. Write the story text on the bottom/front of the page.

Step 5: When one page is completed, use a new piece of paper and create a new pop-up page. Do you second page of illustrations and text. When pages are ready, you will attach the back of the bottom of the first page to the back of the top of the second page. Use a glue stick and run glue around the outside edges only. If you glue to close to the center, it might stick down the pop ups.

Step 5: When one page is completed, use a new piece of paper and create a new pop-up page. Do the second page of illustrations and text. When pages are ready, you will attach the back of the bottom of the first page to the back of the top of the second page. Use a glue stick and run glue around the outside edges only. If you glue too close to the center, it might stick the pop ups to each other.

Step 6: Continue until all pages are complete and attached. The back/top of the first page and the back/bottom of the last page can be glued inside construction paper for a cover.

Step 6: Continue until all pages are complete and attached. The back/top of the first page and the back/bottom of the last page should be glued inside construction paper for the cover. Illustrate the cover too.

double pop up book

Extension: Once students master the single pop up, encourage them to try double pop ups or other size pop up boxes.

Tunnel Books

I found this cool pin on Pinterest (thank you Cheryl at Teach Kids Art) and decided to add this activity to my poetry unit. The students were going to be writing Haikus anyway, so it seemed like a good project. Plus, my poetry unit is a few years old, and I needed something new to freshen up the content. I think I could also use these as character tunnels. A picture of the main character would go on the back panel, and the student could document changes in the character with each frame.  Hmmm, I can see this showing up in my Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell unit in the spring– stay tuned.

Materials:

  • 4″ x 6″ postcard, horizontal picture, one per student
  • 4 per student 4″ x 6″ white notecards
  • 4 per student 4″ x 6″ white notecards each pre-cut into 2- 3″ x 4″ pieces*
  • 1 per student 3″ x 5″ notecard, cut to 2 ½”x 4 ½” (color other than white if pos­si­ble, use as a tem­plate for trac­ing the opening)*
  • scis­sors
  • glue stick
  • pen­cil and eraser
  • black fine tip pen (Sharpie works well)
  • col­ored pencils

* I recommend doing this step ahead of time for your students with the paper cutter in the teacher workroom.

Prep: Make the hinged sides of your book by fold­ing each of your 3”x4” index cards accor­dion style. Fold in half the hot dog way (“moun­tain fold”), then fold each loose edge up (“val­ley fold”) to line up with the fold in the mid­dle.

Prep: Make the hinged sides for your book by fold­ing each of your 3”x 4” index cards accor­dion style. Fold in half the hot dog way (moun­tain fold), then fold each loose edge up (val­ley fold) to line up with the fold in the mid­dle. I used lined notecards to illustrate direction of the folds on the hinges better. Trace the 2 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ rectangle on the center of the 4 remaining notecards.

Step 1: Write one line of your haiku across the top of each of 3 cards, and your title (if you want one) across the other. Trace with Sharpie.

Step 1: Write one line of your haiku across the top of each of 3 cards, and your title (if you want one) across the other. Trace with Sharpie. Illus­trate each page of your book by choos­ing ele­ments from the post card and repeat­ing them on the edges of each page. Keep most of your design along the top, bot­tom, and sides but allow some ele­ments to over­lap into the cen­ter sec­tion. Color with col­ored pen­cils.

Step 2: Cut away the cen­ter sec­tion of each page. By pinch­ing the mid­dle of each page, with­out creas­ing to the edges, you can snip into the cen­ter to cre­ate an open­ing for your scis­sors.

Step 2: Cut away the cen­ter sec­tion of each page. Pinch­ the mid­dle of each page, with­out creas­ing to the edges, so you can snip into the cen­ter to cre­ate an open­ing for your scis­sors.

Step 4: Cut­ around any ele­ments that extend into the mid­dle.

Step 3: Cut­ around any ele­ments that extend into the mid­dle.

Step 1: Put a lit­tle glue along the inside edge of two of your hinges and place them on the left and right sides of the back of your post card. Repeat this step for each 4" x 6" card.

Step 4: Put a lit­tle glue along the inside edge of two of your hinges and place them on the left and right sides of the back of your post card. Repeat this step for each 4″ x 6″ card.

Step 5: Assem­ble your tun­nel book, work­ing from the back (line 3 of your haiku) to the front, glu­ing the back of each hinged page to the hinges behind it.

Step 5: Assem­ble your tun­nel book, work­ing from the back (line 3 of your haiku) to the front, glu­ing the back of each hinged page to the hinges behind it.

Haiku Tunnel Poem Finished (top view)

Haiku Tunnel Poem Finished (top view)

Haiku Tunnel Poem Finished (front view)

Haiku Tunnel Poem Finished (front view)