Adding 3 Numbers

Adding 3 numbers is one of my favorite first grade math concepts. It's one of those things that students look at and say, "Woahh, that's hard" and then feel so proud of themselves when they can do it. I love that.

It can definitely be a tricky concept though so I wanted to write a blog post sharing my tips on how to make adding 3 numbers easy (and fun!) for your students as well as give you strategies you can teach your students to use.

Adding 3 numbers games and activities for math

I recommend starting in small groups or an "I do" whole group lesson using manipulatives and ten frames to show that no worries, kiddo mathematicians, it's easy.

For this small group activity, put 3 different colors of counting cubes into a container. Students reach into the bucket with one hand and grab a handful of counting cubes then sort them into 3 piles by color. Next, they put the cubes on their ten frames mat without leaving any spaces between the colors to show what number they made. Then, they write the number sentence they made and copy it onto their recording sheet, wipe off, and do it again! Having the different colored cubes and ten frames will really help them internalize the concept and, more importantly, understand the why 3+5+4 is 12. It's so important for them to understand what they're doing (adding 3 different amounts together) and what it actually means, not just be able to solve the problem. This activity is a great introduction to the concept that helps with just that!

I put the ten frame mat and recording sheet in sheet protectors so that they could be written on with dry erase markers. You could laminate them to get the same effect but I decided to use sheet protectors so I could change out the recording sheet really easy because I had 4 levels of the recording sheet to differentiate it as you can see below.

Adding 3 numbers first grade activities that are differentiated so all students can feel successful solving problems with 3 addends

Anyone who knows me knows that I am all about differentiation. I think every student should be given the tools to learn any and every concept at their level. They can do anything as long as they're given the right tools! Kids care a lot about fair though so I like to provide the same activity.. just in different levels so that there's no that's not fair, why does Johnny get to do the cubes center?  type talk. So this station, for example, has 4 levels of recording sheets. For your lowest students, use the top left where it is only 4 problems and they also copy the ten frame's representation of the problem to further solidify the concept. The top right has a little more problems, bottom left a little more, and the bottom right even more. The beauty of the recording sheet being differentiated is that you can have kids of all different ability levels at your table sitting right next to each other doing the same activity and yet have it be leveled for each one. 

I recommend using this activity as a math station after they've done it in group because it provides a TON of practice and can be done over and over with different results every time. You could differentiate it by group OR have your whole class do the 2nd level and work their way up to the 3rd then the 4th. Tell them they're working their way up to the "hard level" and they'll eat it up. :)

Speaking of ten frames, I think they're a great strategy for adding 3 numbers. For those of you who use my math units, you'll notice the letter in the top right corner of the page to signify the level of the worksheet (A = below level, B = on level, C = above level). If you've used my other addition units, your students are hopefully ten frame ninja masters (hiii-yah!) by now so this should really help easing them into a new skill.

Adding 3 numbers worksheets for first grade that are differentiated so all students can feel successful solving problems with 3 addends

Another great math center using ten frames to help add 3 numbers is SOLVE IT!

For this center, students reach into the baggie and pull out a problem strip and place it in the space on their workmat. Then, they build it on the ten frame using 3 different cube colors and write their number sentence at the bottom. 

Best math games and math centers for teaching adding 3 numbers
It's very similar to the Grab Sort Add center except the problems are on strips that students draw out of a bag or wherever. I printed mine on different colored paper so each group had a different color. You don't need to do that though, I'm a little crazy with my differentiation. I put the easy problems in the yellow bag, medium problems in the blue bag, etc.

Adding 3 numbers math centers and ideas to practice addition problems with 3 addends

Another great strategy for teaching children to add 3 numbers is number lines. Again, they should be number line rockstars from the other units so this should come easy to them. If you haven't used number lines to teach addition and subtraction before this, definitely start with just simple addition (2+3) and practice how to use a number line before you attempt this strategy with 3 numbers.

Adding 3 numbers strategies ideas!! Number lines and more!

Have students start at the first number (here it is 5). For some reason, it helps me to draw a little dot at the starting place. Then, count on however many the second number is by hopping on the number line. Again, I draw a little dot at the first rest stop for some reason. Then, they count on however many the third number is by hopping to get their answer. I know you probably didn't need a lesson on how to use a number line but I just can't turn off the teacher voice (does anyone else have that problem??) sometimes. :)

Worksheets should be differentiated to meet the needs of each student. It's a great strategy but you don't want to overwhelm your low kiddos with too many problems or bore your high kiddos with not enough. I also think it's important for the orientation of the problems to change (vertical vs. horizon) so they see the problems in different ways.

Adding 3 numbers on a number line worksheets and activities that help give students strategies to learn how to solve math problems with 3 addends

I feel like number lines make adding so much easier for the majority of students and the more they practice it, the better they become at using them. I also recommend encouraging them (when they're ready) to make their own number lines on their papers if there isn't one. It's simple to do - they just need to draw a line with some tallies along it, write the starting number on the first one and the numbers that come after, and then use it. I think every little mathematician should be able to make their own. It'll really come in handy during testing!

Speaking of practice, this is a math station favorite. Anything where we get to use dry erase markers, right??

Number lines are a great math strategy for solving problems with 3 addends and so are the other strategies for teaching adding 3 numbers on this site!

Students take a number line card and solve the problem by using their dry erase marker on the number line at the top. Then, they write the answer in the box. They look at the letter in the bottom left corner and match it to the one on their recording sheet to write the answer in. Simple but fun. To differentiate, simply give them the recording sheet with 12 problems or the one with 8. I also made a slightly harder set of A-L cards with different border colors for the higher kids.

Adding 3 numbers math centers and activities to practice addition problems with 3 addends
Yay for number lines!

Another strategy that can be really helpful for students is to use knowledge they already have to solve the problems quicker. The "Find a Double" strategy is helpful because, if they know their doubles, they really only have to add 2 numbers. For example, if the problem is 3+3+8 and they instantly know 3+3=6 because it is a doubles fact then they only have to do 6+8 to solve the problem.

Find a double to add 3 numbers and other great mental math strategies for adding 3 addendsFind a double to add 3 numbers and other great mental math strategies for adding 3 addends 

Similarly, they can use the "Make a 10" strategy to solve the problems which is even quicker if they know their tens facts (10+1, 10+2, 10+3, etc.). I think it's best to teach a variety of strategies and hopefully one or two will stick! I know that when I was in school, and even today, I use the make a 10 strategy to add numbers all. the. time. It's the one that works best for me so I love it and use it often but different students may prefer different strategies. As long as it works!

Make a 10 to add 3 numbers and a lot of other great strategies for adding 3 numbers on this post

For this strategy, they simply find the 2 numbers that make a 10 and then add the remaining number. If your students are not yet fluent in which numbers make a 10, I recommend practicing that a lot because it will help them so much in so many different math skills for the rest of their lives. Or maybe I'm just biased because it's the strategy that I use. Go back to Chapter 3.3 in Unit 3 to review making 10 for students who still need help with it. 

I hope those strategies can be helpful for your students!

I'm sure you're sick of me saying it but I think math should be FUN. Because it is. Really though. Did you just click out? If you're still here reading (thank you), I will tell you one of my secret weapons - CUTTING AND PASTING ACTIVITIES. 

Best. Invention. Ever.

Kids love them. Yay! they say. We get to glue! they proclaim. You're the best teacher ever! they cry. (Okay, did I go too far?)

They think they're doing art so they're loving it and are totally engaged when, let's get real, they're really just doing math problems. Teacher trickery at its best. But it's a win-win for both parties!

Here are some of the 32 cut and paste activities included. Yes, 32. I have a cut and paste addiction.

Adding 3 numbers first grade worksheets and activities to make 3 addends hands on and easy 
Adding 3 numbers first grade worksheets and activities to make 3 addends hands on and easy

Adding 3 numbers first grade worksheets and activities to make 3 addends hands on and easy 
Adding 3 numbers first grade worksheets and activities to make 3 addends hands on and easy
Adding 3 numbers first grade worksheets and activities to make 3 addends hands on and easy

There's just something wonderful about cut and pastes besides students enjoying it. I've said this before but I think students are more careful with their math when there is glue involved because they don't want to glue down a wrong answer. So they actually check their answers first and think harder about it so they do it right.. because they're creating a piece of art in their minds and want it to be nice.

Another thing students love is DICE. If the center has dice, the center is king.

I don't know why kids love dice so much but I'll take it!

Adding 3 numbers activities and math centers that make adding 3 addends so fun

This is a super simple center - they just roll 3 dice and add them up! I love that this center is reusable.. you can use it in your tubs for weeks to keep practicing for as long as the students need it (and for as long as you don't want to have to come up with a new center - score!) because the numbers are different every time. And it's dice (oooh ahhh) so they'll be okay with doing it multiple times. 

Okay, now for the hard stuff. Word Problems!

Not going to lie, I don't really like word problems. They hardly ever have kid friendly wording and sometimes are (annoyingly) purposely confusing.. right?? So I wanted to make sure these had first grade friendly wording - decodable words or at least words they know and simple sight words. I don't think reading should get in the way of showing what you know in math.

Adding 3 numbers word problems that kids can actually do! Lots of fun activities to teach how to add 3 numbers

 For word problems, you may have students who need to use manipulatives to figure them out. They can be really tough for some kids so it's good to provide support. You could give them the ten frame mat if they need, scratch paper to draw the problem, a personal number line to use, or anything that you think might help them.

I wanted students to be able to read/understand the problem, write or at least recognize the number sentence for it, and also be able to match the picture representation to the problem so I created more word problem match up cards. You may recognize this style center from my adding to 10 unit, adding to 20 unit, subtracting within 10 unit, and subtracting within 20 unit... yeah, I use these a lot :) But they are so helpful! Students match the problem to its number sentence and visual representation and then solve. It's a good way to see the problem in a multitude of ways. You can mix and match these with the ones from other units to make great review centers later in the year! Just make sure you have one card for each letter! I made the format exactly the same so they could be mix and matched.

Adding 3 numbers word problems that kids can actually do! Lots of fun activities to teach how to add 3 numbers

And now for the really challenging stuff... missing addends with 3 addends! Dun dun dunnnnn...

Missing addends with 3 numbers to practice finding the missing number when there are 3 addends worksheets and activities for first grade or 2nd grade
This concept can be tough!! I mean, really tough. But they can do it!

If the problem is 8+2+__=15...
*They can draw 15 circles since that is the total sum then cross out 8 of them, then cross out 2 of them. The leftover circles is their answer.
*They can add the 2 numbers they do know together and then solve it like a normal missing addend problem like they did in Unit 7. For example, they'd add 8+2 to get 10 then solve it as if it were 10+__=15.
*They can use manipulatives and a twenty frame (2 ten frames) to solve by putting 8 red cubes in the frame, 2 blue cubes in the frame, then fill the rest of the frame with green cubes until their frame has 15 cubes in it.
*Do you have any other ways?? I'd love to hear them in the comments! It's a difficult skill and I'm always open to learning new ways!

If you follow me on Instagram, you've probably seen this center but it was a hit so I want to share it anyway!

Adding 3 numbers super fun math center for missing addends when there are 3 addends!

Students take the popcorn problem cards and figure out what the missing number (piece of popcorn) is. They put the card under that bag of popcorn. So, if the problem is 5+2+__=10, the missing addend is 3 and they put it under the popcorn bag labeled 3. It made a hard skill a lot of fun! I recommend popping a little popcorn while they work on it and you will have 2 dozen little best friends.

Love this center to practice missing addends when there are 3 addends (lots of adding 3 numbers ideas on this post!)
Who doesn't love popcorn?? There are 2 sets of this center so they can do the center twice with all different problems and numbers.

As if this post isn't long enough, I just want to share one more math station (this pack I've been using all these examples from has 12) called Add It Up! It's great for practice or review. Students simply take a card, solve it, and write it next to the corresponding number on their recording sheet. It's differentiated by color. The easier problems are in pink and are numbers 1-8 for your low kids. Give your on level kids both the pink and blue cards (1-16) and the middle recording sheet. Give your above level kids all 3 sets of cards - pink, blue, and green (1-24) - and the recording sheet on the right.

Adding 3 numbers games and math centers to make adding 3 addends easy and hands on

Here's what it might look like for your on level kids...

Adding 3 numbers math centers and activities that are so much fun for adding 3 numbers

Here's what it might look like for your advanced level kids...

Differentiated adding 3 numbers games and math centers to make adding 3 addends easy and hands on

I also made 3 different colored level sets (pink, blue, green) with cards that are all the "Make a 10" strategy as well as 3 sets for the "Find a Double" strategy for even more practice with those skills. For example, all of the "Make a 10" cards have 2 numbers they can put together to make 10 for easier adding on them.

And then, of course, THE TEST. 3 versions as usual. Nothing fancy. :)

Adding 3 numbers test - these are great math assessments on this page

I hope this post helped you feel ready to tackle on adding 3 numbers or at least helped you pick up a few tricks! If you want all the goodies shown in this post, they're ALL included in my First Grade Math Unit 12 pack. This pack has all of the pages you see above and a lot more! There are 73 differentiated worksheets, 12 math stations, 32 cut and paste activities, and more!

Go here to grab all these activities!


Grab this & more fun units like this in the
along with the
to save a bunch & have your entire year of math ready & done for you!

For blog posts about other math units of mine, check out:
Telling Time
Place Value
Fact Fluency
Number Sense
Making a 10 to Add
Composing Shapes
Graphing and Data Analysis

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You can also follow me on TeachersPayTeachers to see any new resources I post! :)

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Here's a collage for you to pin to save for later! Feel free to pin any of the pictures from this post as well if you'd like to save them for later!
Adding 3 numbers first grade activities and ideas that make adding problems with 3 addends so easy! I seriously love these addition strategies and games!

Tips for Building Reading Fluency

Tips for Building Reading Fluency in Young Readers

Tips for Building Reading Fluency
Graphics by Creative Clips by Krista Wallden, Whimsy Clips, and KG Fonts

Since many young students struggle with fluency and teaching kids how to read (and read well) is one of my favorite things in the world, I thought I would share some fluency building tips.

TIP #1: 
Focus on Word Families: For student really struggling with fluency, take it all the way back to word families. Start with short a word families (-at, -an, -ag, -am, etc.) and do as much work reading those words and practicing them both on their own and in sentences. When they master short a word families, move on to short i word families, then short o families, and so on.

Word families center that kids love - roll and read!

I really recommend having the word family highlighted in some way to start out with. For example, when practicing the -at word family, have "at" within the word "cat" in another color, in bold font, underlined, etc. to help it stand out.

In my Roll and Read Word Families Literacy Stations set seen above, I have the word family in "helper red" to help it stand out to the reader. Having the focus sound be in another color will help the reader chunk "at" together when reading instead of having to sound out each letter each time. Instead of "c" "a" "t" you will start to hear "c" "at" instead. 

Once the student is reading the words quickly and without hesitation, give them the words-only version in all black text. This pack has all words/sentences with both helper red and in all black text for easy differentiation. It will most likely be much faster for them to master this step since they've had so much practice with the word family's words already. 

When they can zoom through those words, give them the sentences version of that word family WITH the helper red. I think this is an important step because they see the words they know in context and having the helper red will give them confidence that they know most of the words in the otherwise daunting looking sentences.

The pack comes with 30 different word families and each word family technically comes in 8 different levels:
Level A Words w/ helper red
Level A Words in black text
Level B Words w/ helper red
Level B Words in black text
Level A Sentences w/ helper red
Level A Sentences in black text
Level B Sentences w/ helper red
Level B Sentences in black text
{If you look in the above picture, you can see the level in the top left corner}

Having so many different levels allows you to meet each student right at their level and allows them to work their way up. So important for the little ones who struggle so much with fluency! 

If you like this Roll and Read pack, I have 3 different packs in my store. I made them when I first opened my Miss Giraffe store back in the summer of 2013 and they have always been one of my best sellers. I get so much positive feedback on them and how they help students read that completely warms my heart!

Word families activities - roll and read differentiated fun
{This is the set pictured above}

Phonics activities - roll and read differentiated fun
After your students master the word families, this set focuses on a particular phonics sound. So, instead of focusing on word families, each set of pages focuses on a sound. 

The sounds are: short a, short e, short i, short o, short u, ck, all, R blends, S blends, L blends, th, sh, ch, wh, qu, ng, or, ar, er, ir, ur, a_e, i_e, o_e, u_e, -le, y long i, y long e, ee, ea (long), ai, ay, oo (zoo), oo (book), oa, ow (snow), ow (cow), ou, soft g, soft c, igh, ie, and oi/oy.

Each phonics sound has THREE levels instead of 2 to further differentiate but is words only.

This pack is for students who have mastered the short vowel word families!

Phonics activities - roll and read differentiated fun

This pack is the sentence version of the above pack. Each phonics sound (same sounds as the previous pack) has 3 levels of sentences in both full black and helper red just like the other packs.

I actually recently bundled these in a huge pack of over 780 pages of fluency practice found {HERE} as well if you want all of them.

Like I said, though, focus on word families until they are mastered. Word families can be A LOT of fun to practice! Definitely incorporate pictures to help students visualize the words they're reading as well. "Secret Word" is always one of my favorite activities:

FREE Secret Word activity kids love - build the words and unscramble your leftover letters to figure out the secret word!

Grab this FREE here: Secret Word CVC Short A Word Families!!

For this activity, students look at the picture and build the word. When they have built the first 3 words, they have to unscramble their remaining letters to figure out the secret word.

As you can see here, the secret word is hat. So they glue it on, draw a hat in the empty picture box, and write the word. Kids love being word detectives and figuring out the secret word!

If you want more, you can also get sheets like this for all of the short vowel word families HERE or for all of the phonics sounds HERE.

TIP #2: 
Reread the same text until mastery: Of course you want a variety of text but rereading the same text over and over for mastery is a great way to build fluency. The more times they read a passage, they better and faster they will get.

Here is the way I recommend doing it...

1) Grab a reading passage at the student's level.

Reading passages that are perfect for kindergarten and first grade

This passage is from my Kindergarten Reading Fluency and Comprehension Passages but you could do this with any reading comprehension passage!

2) Give students a timer and have them cold read the passage.

I grabbed these awesome TWO MINUTE timers for only $1 each at The Dollar Tree in a few different colors. I love that they are 2 minutes because, well, it's double the reading practice of a minute timer AND it allows those that really struggle the opportunity to read a lot farther. You don't want to give them a 1 minute timer and have them only get through the first line. That's a confidence killer. It's also a great way to differentiate! If you want to use the same passage for all of your kids, give your low kids the 2 minute timer and your high kids a 1 minute timer. They look exactly the same so they won't be able to know the difference. In fact, you might not be able to either so I suggest buying all blue 1 minute timers and all green 2 minute timers (or whatever colors) so you quickly know which is which.

When their timer has run out, have them put some type of symbol to show that is where they stopped. For example, a little heart, a star, ], ), *, whatever right after the last word they read. They could also just put a 1 and circle it signifying it's the first time they read it. I recommend always having the same symbol for the first time, second time, third time, etc. so if/when you quick-check them, you can tell exactly what happened.

3) Have students read the passage at their own pace (no timer!) and highlight the words with the word family the passage is focusing on as they read.

{Note: If the passages are focusing on phonics sounds rather than word families, like in my First Grade Reading Fluency and Comprehension Passages, have them highlight the words with that sound. For example, for a CH passage, they would highlight "chat" and "bench" in "We sit on the bench and chat."}

I recommend highlighting the entire word, not just the sound in the word.

Students could also underline (or circle) the words like below:

Reading passages that are perfect for kindergarten and first grade

I personally like highlighting because I think it emphasizes the words best. Students lacking in fine motor skills may also put the line through the word a little at times, obstructing the word and making it hard to read. But it's up to you!

4) After students are done reading and highlighting the focus sound, have them grab their timer again and put their finger on the first word. Ready, set, read! Have them read it as fast as they can until the timer runs out, trying to beat their first read. Since this is the third time they have read it, they most likely will! Be sure to point out to them how rereading really helps them read better and faster. "Wow, reading that again made you such a better reader! Look how many more words you read!" :)

5) Have them read the comprehension questions and choose an answer. Have them reread the filled in sentence to make sure it makes sense.

6) This step is optional but I recommend students read the passage again now that they've focused on the comprehension aspect of reading. Encourage them to read with smoothly and with expression. Remind them to visualize what they're reading as they do. Now that they can read the passage without as much struggle, it can free up some of their brainpower to focus on the meaning rather than just trying to figure out the words.

7) Have student tell you or their partner/person next to them what the story was about.

6) If desired, they can keep timing themselves to see how far they can get.

This is a great activity to do in small groups with the teacher leading. You could give all of the students different passages from the same short vowel sound or have them do the same one.

I also think this is a great center for students to do in partners. Pair up 2 students that are at a similar level and have them do all of these steps together. For timing, have them take turns. One can flip the timer for their partner and follow along with their finger while the other person reads then they switch.
Sneaky little teacher trick: When they're following along, you can have them mouth the words their partner is reading. Model how to mouth the word without using any sound while their partner reads. This will ensure they're truly following along by reading it as well, not just moving their finger after each word.
When they read and highlight, they can do it together so they can help check each other's accuracy. They can also partner read it (read chorally) together after their highlighting if you'd like. The timer adds a sense of competition to beat their time and makes it fun. Encourage students to try to beat themselves (the little mark they made where they left off), not the person next to them.

You can also send these home when they're done with them in class to practice reading at home with their parents.

I also have reading passages like this for the long vowel word families:

Reading passages that are perfect for kindergarten and first grade

If you want them all, I have a money-saving bundle of all of my kinder & 1st grade reading passages in the K-1 Reading Fluency and Comprehension Passages BUNDLE but, like I said, you can use any reading passages - I just prefer my own obviously :) 

TIP #3: 
Read sentences adding one word at a time: For students who are really struggling, have them read sentences adding one word at a time.

For example, if the sentence is "The fat cat sat on a mat." the student would say. "The. The fat. The fat cat. The fat cat sat. The fat cat sat on. The fat cat sat on a. The fat cat sat on a mat."

It may seem repetitive but there are many kids that need that. It's a great way to build fluency.

TIP #4: 
Put reading practice everywhere!: It seems obvious but students should be reading all day. When starting the new activity, read the directions together. (If the paper/activity doesn't have written directions or they aren't decodable, write student-friendly directions on the board in 1-3 short sentences.) First, give students a moment to read the directions quietly to themselves. Then, have the whole class read it together. Some of your kids won't need the first step but it allows your lower kids the opportunity to sound out words they may not know so they'll be more confident when you read it together. Include short sentence directions with decodable words in as many places as you can.

Write little notes to your students. They will LOVE it and do their best to figure out what you're saying to them. It only takes a second to jot down a positive little note like, "You are doing great in math! Great adding!" on a sticky note and put it on their desk while they're working. Plus it is great for classroom management! They see you put a sticky on someone else's desk and all of a sudden you have the hardest little workers ever.

You know what students also love doing but is usually considered against the rules? Writing notes to each other! Have scratch paper available that students who finish early can use to write notes back and forth to each other. But they're wasting instructional time, you may say. I say they're not only writing sentences and reading sentences but they're motivated to do so and having fun while doing it. Teach them how to write a question and how to respond to a question. Set some ground rules, though - they have to use their best writing, write in complete sentences, each person can only write 1-2 sentences at a time, that you are allowed to look at the note at any time to make sure it's appropriate, etc.

Label EVERYTHING. The dollar store sells cute individual word strips (like sentence strips) that are pre-laminated and in fun colors. Write "desk" on it, cut off the excess strip, and tape it on your desk. Repeat for as many things around the classroom as you can (door, number line, desk, counter, cabinet, sink, etc.). You can also use sentence strips to label things in sentences instead: "This is the teacher's desk."

For centers, include student-friendly directions sheets. Not only will this save you soo much time in describing what to do for students because they will be able to be more independent, it provides more reading practice. For example, here is a sample directions page from one of my math units:

They're quick and easy to make for any activity. They don't have to be beautiful. Students just have to be able to read them. You can even write them by hand. It's just another way to squeeze in a little reading AND build independence. When writing student directions:
- Use short, concise sentences.
- Break the sentences up with spaces between so it's not overwhelming.
- Use pictures/examples if you need to like above to explain.
 - Only use words that students can sound out or have sight words that they know or can figure out.

TIP #5: 
Sight Word Mastery: We all know this will help build fluency! Make sure parents know what sight words you're working on each week and practice at home. The more sight words students know with immediate recognition, the more fluent they'll be. There are SOO many fun ways to practice sight words but that is a whole other blog post... or 10!

I did write a blog post I wrote about my Secret Sight Words activity though if you need some fun sight word practice!

Sight words fun - kids figure out the beginning sounds of each picture to figure out the secret sight word

There are A LOT of wonderful sight word activities out there. A simple search on TpT or pinterest can help you there :)

I also wrote a blog post showing another one of my favorite Sight Word activities using bottle caps but I actually showed a lot of picture examples of using them with alphabet magnet letters! I shared a lot of fun ways I use the Sight Word Sentence cards to introduce and practice sight words in that post - you can check it out here:
Sight Words Sentence Cards Fun Ideas and Centers

TIP #6: 
Read MORE: Yes, yes, I know. This is beyond obvious. But you may not realize all the opportunities you're missing!

Do you read stories out loud in class whole group? Do you call on one student at a time to read? Get in so much more practice by having students read in groups instead! "Next page, table 1" As the students at table 1 read, listen for any students who may be struggling more than the others. Call on 2 students from that table who you'd like to have more practice read the page again. They won't know you're calling on them because they need more practice.. they'll just think they happened to be picked again. Even if just one student at that table struggled, do it in partners. Reading shouldn't be stressful. Try to pick a partner who is similar in level so they stay together easier. Encourage students to read together and never go ahead of one another. Not only will your struggling students have more confidence because they're reading it a 2nd time, but reading with a partner will lessen the anxiety for that reader to read out loud in class. But since it is only one person they're reading with, they'll have to put in the work to decode and not be able to just seem like they're reading. Watch out for those reading chameleons who are so good at pretending to read!

Many people reread the same story - I think you should also reread the same page! After you did what I described with table 1, you could say something like, "Table 2, I'd love to hear you guys try that page! Can you read it smoother?" Make sure it's a kind competitive spirit.. a little 'competition' can be really motivating for reluctant readers or your really high kids that tend to check out during whole group activities.

You can also say, "Table 3... read that page as s-l-o-o-o-o-o-w-l-y as you can" "Table 5... read this page in your prettiest princess voice" "Table 1... can you read this page in a scary monster voice?" Make it fun!

Mix things up so students never know when they'll get called by calling by a lot of different attributes. Just some examples to call by:
- Tables (Table 1, Table 2, Red Table, Blue Table)
- Girls/Boys
- If you're wearing a red shirt
- If you have a dog
- If you're 6 years old
- If you were born in March
- If your name starts with a A, B, C, or D
- If your hair is brown
- If you can swim
- If you like basketball
... whatever! We all know how much little kids like to tell you all about their lives and this gives them a non-instructional-time-wasting opportunity to give you little snippets :)
- "Do you like dogs or cats? Don't tell me yet! If you like cats more, read the sentence. Ready, go. {They read} Next sentence, dog fans!"
If you can, try to do it by things you can verify like the color of their shirt vs. if they like dogs so you know those who are supposed to be reading actually are but it's still fun to mix in other things anyway.

This may mean that someone has to read a page twice or even three times in a row. That's okay, more reading practice for them. Strategically pick your fun categories when possible. Hmm, I noticed little Sally and little Billy both struggled with that last page we read and they're both wearing blue shirts, perfect! "Your turn, blue shirts!"

Anything to make it a little more fun!

After you read the whole story together, tell all your students to go back to the beginning of the story and put their finger on the first word. Set a timer for a certain amount of minutes and say, "On your marks, get set, go!!" and have them read the whole story from front to back as fast as they can. This is a GREAT way to build fluency, as well as stamina. Walk around to make sure they're not skipping words. This is easy to prevent, though, let them know that if they're caught skipping words, they have to start over. Again, encourage them to beat THEMSELVES, not the people next to them. Give them a small sticky note or a tab and have them put it on the word they stopped on. Repeat the timer for the same amount of time and have them try to beat their tab. They'll think it's a game... Just imagine all the extra reading practice! It takes up hardly any more time after reading the story and gets in a lot of reading!

TIP #7: 
Model fluent reading for your students: Make sure you're reading high interest picture books aloud to your students and modeling good reading! Show expression and enthusiasm. Kids love being read to and it's so beneficial for them so make sure you are doing it every day! It's easy to forget with everything teachers have going on but try to work it into your daily routine.

Listening centers are also great for this! There are a lot of great books on CDs they can follow along in as they listen to.

You can also do little super-mini lessons when your students are reading too ro-bot-ic-al-ly by saying, "Listen to me read this." and read the sentence all chunky like a robot. Then read it smoothly and with expression the way you'd like them to. Ask them which sounds better.

TIP #8: 
Have students memorize the different phonics sounds: This is SO, SO important and why all of my literacy stations focus on phonics sounds. I always have each page focus on a different phonics sounds (usually found in the corner). I think it is SO, SO important for students to know the phonics sounds (digraphs, vowel pairs, diphthongs, etc.) so they can decode anything they come across!

Be sure to display the sounds around the room. If you need posters, I have some available:

Alphabet posters and phonics sound posters to hang in your classroom in fun colors

These are also available in a precursive font if that's what you use.

I also cannot recommend enough having students keep a sounds reference chart at their desk and at your small groups table of the different phonics sounds with a visual reminder so they can have it right in front of them.

My Sounds and Blends Charts have been one of my most popular items and I have about a million copies of them laying around :) They are so useful!

If a student is having trouble sounding out sharp, for example, have them find the chunks on their sounds and blends sheet. They'd find the SH with a picture of a shark and the AR with a picture of a star. All they'd have left is the P :)

Make phonics sounds flash cards! These are super quick to make. You can do this on large paper (regular sized paper and write it with a thick marker) and hold them up yourself... OR, if you have an interactive whiteboard, make a simple powerpoint. Use a kid-friendly font and put one sound (CH) in giant letters per slide for the sounds you want to practice.
- You could just have your students say it as soon as they see it but your higher kids will say it way quicker than your lower students figure it out. This can be okay if you all look at it and say it together once it's been identified but I personally think there should be think time first.
- What I recommend is showing the slide and have students put their hands together in front of them (palms touching) or some other subtle signal to let you know they know the answer that doesn't disturb others and keeps their hands busy. This will allow your kids who always want to be the fastest the opportunity to get the satisfaction of showing you how fast they know it (so you can give them the approving well aren't you so smart smile) without blurting it out. If they don't blurt it out, this gives your other kids the opportunity to figure it out themselves. Plus, it keeps their little roaming hands busy and to themselves :)
- Once the majority of your kids have their hands together, have them say it quietly to their partner. You could have the kids on the left tell the right (alternate) to make sure both kids are contributing or just have them tell each other at the same time which I think is fine as well.
- Call on a student for the answer.
- Once you go through all of the sounds this way (it can go really quick once they get the hang of it!) at least once, do the speedy flash card way of just going through the slide as they yell it out to quickly review. Don't forget to tell them how smart and wonderful they are :) I know, I know, I'm queasy but I think school is a lot of work for little ones and they need a lot of positive reinforcement. Heck, I like positive reinforcement. Please tell me how well I organized my closet (ha!) or how nice it was for me to attempt to cook a dinner for my husband even though I may have set off the smoke alarm. But really, everyone likes compliments! Learning should be positive always.

If you want to see MY phonics work, centers, and activities I do, check out these huge posts full of pictures and details!
Short A Activities and Ideas 
Digraphs Activities and Ideas
EW UE UI Activities and Ideas
The posts focus on particular phonics sounds but the ideas and activities can be used with any sound!

TIP #9: 
Incorporate song lyrics: Do you have songs you sing in class? Maybe you sing math songs during calendar time... maybe you sing songs during clean up time... maybe your school has a school song you sing... maybe you sing lining up songs... maybe your students just love a particular song that a snowy princess looking for her sister sings {that has been stuck in my head for MONTHS}...

Write the lyrics out on a sheet of butcher paper or on a giant notepad. Point to each word as you sing the song. Hang them in the classroom in an available place so students can use pointers (love pointers!!) to point to the words as they sing it during free time. I know you may not be able to give a lot of free time because of the pressure of how much you have to teach your littles but play can be SO beneficial. Have a lot of things around the room students can read and "play teacher" with when they get the opportunity.

TIP #10: 
Let them read!!: Let students read when they're done with their work! (Until everyone is done or the activity time is over.) It's as simple as that!

Although I love the idea of pre-selecting books that are at their level for them to read and putting it in their own little box of books to choose from, I think they should also get opportunities to read any book from the library that they're interested in. Cultivating a LOVE of reading is just as important as learning to read, in my humble opinion :) I think students should read leveled books during literacy centers time but any time they are done with work any other time, let them pick the books they're interested in! They may occasionally get books that are too hard for them because they're fun read aloud books they've heard in class before but isn't that okay sometimes if it makes them so happy and look up close at a book they love?

I suggest making a rule that there can only be 2 (or however many you think) kids in the library at a time to SELECT a book and that they cannot talk while at the library. They select a book, go back to their desks, and read quietly (but aloud!) to themselves. If they realize the book is too hard/easy for them or they're done with it, they can put it back where they found it and select a new book.

I heard a GENIUS idea to give each student a hard bookmark type thing with their name on it that is slightly taller than the books to have students put it exactly where they got the book from (put it between the books the book was between). So, when they go to put their book back, they'll put it in exactly the right place! AND you'll know if you have a book hoarder who has 5 books in their desk... or if a book is missing... ensure they only get 1 book... etc. :) It helps soo much with organization! Especially if you're crazy like me and organize everything by category.

My favorite suggestion is to have a time dedicated just to reading. Let students each pick 2 books to take somewhere in the classroom and just read. They can lay down however they want to wherever they want to, cozy up, and read! You'll have kiddos in corners, on the carpet, on their backs, on their sides, on their heads.. well, maybe not on their heads (that'd be impressive!) but they'll be everywhere. Of course, they have to be more than a leg's length away from any friends. They'll love it!

The more they read, the more fluent they'll get! 

TIP #11: 
Students should always be reading OUT LOUD: Yes, it makes the room a little louder but it's worth it! Teach them how to whisper read. They'll be quiet enough to not disturb others but you'll know they're actually reading and can listen in if you need to. If they're "reading in their heads", they might skip words or even just be pretending to read and looking at the pictures.

Listening to reading helps build fluency, including listening to themselves!

I hope these tips have helped you at least a little and I don't sound like miss bossy pants or super disorganized in my thoughts. I didn't map this post out before writing it and I do tend to ramble! :) But hopefully you found a tip that will help you help your students build their fluency!

How do you build fluency in your students?? Any tips you'd like to share?

If you want to keep up with all the teaching ideas and fun stuff I share, you can follow me in these places:
TeachersPayTeachers (so you can see when I post new resources!)

You can also check out all my favorite blog posts I've written organized by topic here:
Miss Giraffe Blog Posts List
I share A LOT of teaching tips in those posts so definitely check them out to read more fun ideas! :)

Also - don't forget to join Miss Giraffe's Class so you never miss out on fun ideas and exclusive free stuff from me only for subscribers!

Here's a picture for you to pin if you want to save this to read again later! :)
Amazing tips for how to teach reading fluency strategies, activity ideas, and so much more!

Why I'm Thankful for TpT (Linky party!)

Since it is November - a month where we focus on what we're thankful for out loud to the world - I wanted to write about why I am so thankful to TpT.

I am quickly approaching one and a half years since I started my "Miss Giraffe" journey on this revolutionary website and it has been amazing. A lot of hard work and sleepness nights, but amazing.

I am unbelievably thankful that I can do something every day that I am so passionate about. The first thing I do in the morning before my eyes are even fully open is look at the TpT app and read the feedback that I've received from other teachers around the country/world. It makes my day every single morning. Although I make it a crazy amount of work for myself because I am a workaholic and a perfectionist, all my nights of staying up til 2 and 3 A.M. to finish something I'm excited about are worth it to me. I absolutely love creating. I love writing. I love sharing. I love knowing I can help children learn across the country, across the ocean. Who would have ever thought??

Some of the feedbacks and emails I've received on things that I've made - telling me how much something I created has helped their students or made their life easier - have completely rocked my world. I've easily teared up reading some of them to my husband. I know, I know, I'm a big sap, but I am still amazed by this community every single day and how we can help each other from all over the world. I'm a seller and a buyer and I have been so impressed with the quality things I get on TpT and how kind, welcoming, and helpful the community is. And I'll never forget the way I felt when I saw one of my products being used in a classroom in another part of the country for the first time on Positively Learning's blog. It was the first time I actually saw a picture of my work in a classroom full of kids I'd never met. It made it all feel so real and yeah yeah I cried :)

I love all of the connections I've made with absolutely wonderful people because of TpT. I'm just barely branching out onto social media but so far, I am loving the people I've "met" and also all the ones I really have met. :)

But what I am MOST thankful to TpT for...
is allowing me to be able to give back to the man who has done everything for me. I was just recently so blessed to be able to use my TpT earnings to buy my dad a new roof for his house. I am so, so thankful for this that it is hard to even put it into words.

My dad has been my best friend since the day I was born.

My dad letting me drive the boat! I can still hear my poor mom panicking in the background :) 

Just to give you a little history on my dad - my mom passed away when I was in elementary school and, despite being so heartbroken, he still made sure he was there for me every, single, day. He even sold his business that he loved so he could stay home and be there for me. He raised me as a single father and we were each other's rock. He is honestly the most amazing man and father I could've ever hoped for. I could go on and on but all you need to know is that he is my hero, plain and simple, and he absolutely deserves the honor.

He's desperately needed a new roof for years but he hasn't brought it up much because he's not one to ever ask for help. Plus he's disabled so it hasn't really been his top priority seeing as how his roof would need to be completely rebuilt. It needs to basically be torn off and built like a brand new roof, new plywood and everything... and roofers don't take credit cards so it has always been just out of the question financially. Plus, I don't think we realized how bad it was.

I definitely didn't.

I'm no stranger to a leaky roof. I remember, as a kid, always having buckets around the house in key spots ready to go for when it rained. We even had a kiddie pool we put on my bed for a particularly troublesome spot in my bedroom. Thankfully, we lived in sunny Arizona where it didn't rain often so it wasn't a big deal. Plus that was our old house. We moved to a new house (well, new to us - and a vast improvement!) when I was in elementary school and I actually didn't realize there was anything wrong with the roof... until the last big rain we had. My dad said huge chunks of the ceiling were falling off into some of the rooms. I was skeptical but I made the trek to my hometown to see the damage and was shocked! He wasn't exaggerating. He had to have a huge tarp put on his roof and, let me tell you, it was not pretty.

It was a disaster.

Arizona got uncharacteristically slammed with some heavy rainstorms recently and his roof finally gave in. Way more than the buckets he's had stationed in specific corners could handle. Despite his broken back and the fact that he uses a walker, he still tried to carry all of my childhood things out of my room (including my bed!!) to save them from all the water coming through the ceiling as it was raining. I really wish he hadn't done that but it just shows you what kind of man he is. Again, my hero.

I am so incredibly thankful to TpT and for everyone who has ever purchased from my store for allowing me to do this for him. He deserves it.

Thank you, Paul Edelman, for creating this opportunity for me and for so many others.
Thank you to every single person who has ever purchased one of my products or even just used the free ones.
Thank you to every single person who works for TpT that makes this website possible.
Thank you to every single person who buys and sells on TpT for making it the website that it is.
Thank you to every single person who has ever pinned one of my products on Pinterest.
Every single piece of the puzzle has helped me be able to do this for him and I am so thankful for all of you! And so is my dad.

I can't wait to see his new roof!!!


I'd love to hear why you're thankful for TpT! It can be just one thing or it can be many things but I'd love to hear from you. This website is truly the best and I'd love to see others pay it a special tribute during this month of thankfulness.

Grab the graphic and link up below!

Halloween Math Ideas

First I have to say that I love Halloween!! It makes me feel like a kid but, more importantly, gives me an excuse to be silly and act like a kid.

I have been gathering activities for Halloween and I keep finding amazing things for so cheap that I'd love to share with you.

First of all, I LOVE little erasers and using them for math! How adorable are these erasers I found in the dollar spot? I'm obsessed with the dollar spot or as Mr. Giraffe calls it with a heavy sigh, "See you in half an hour" :)
Fun ways to use mini erasers for Halloween math activities in the classroom!

These adorable little things were only $1 for 50! I got the candy corns, bats, black cats, and jack-o-lanterns to which Mr. Giraffe exclaimed, "What are you going to do with 200 erasers?!" I obviously rolled my eyes and said, "Pshh a million things!" which he knows me well enough to know means I-have-no-idea-yet-but-I'm-pretending-I-know-everything-so-just-go-with-it-because-you-love-me-and-therefore-support-my-dollar-spot-addiction :) 

I also grabbed some of this cute stuff (mostly from the dollar spot and the dollar store) for this week because I couldn't help myself...

I'm also OBSESSED with those little mini cauldrons from the dollar spot! LOVE! They say "Happy Halloween" on the side and are the perfect mini containers. I also had to have the pumpkin ice cube tray which I'll show you what I did with that a little later in the post!

Back to the erasers, this is what I came up with...

Halloween Eraser & Tally Bones Graphing!

Use Halloween mini erasers and cotton swabs as spooky bones to practice tally graphing! Directions for a fun Halloween math center!

Use Halloween mini erasers and cotton swabs as spooky bones to practice tally graphing! Directions for a fun Halloween math center!

So they use the spooky BONES (cotton swabs) as tally marks to graph how many of each Halloween eraser they had in their cauldron. It's a super simple activity that's tons of fun. All you need is: the Halloween erasers, cotton swabs, and black 12x18 (or similar size) construction paper. I got the big black construction paper at Michaels using the 50% off one item coupon on my phone (search on your phone for a coupon before you approach the register!) so it was pretty cheap! 

First, have students fold the construction paper in half hamburger style. Then have them fold that in half again hamburger style. Have them unfold it all and fold it in half hot dog style. This will create 8 boxes like this:

Each student/set of partners/group/however you want to do it needs a little container of erasers and some cotton swabs. I used the little cauldrons to hold the materials but you can easily use sandwich bags if you can't find the cauldrons and it's probably more practical because materials will be easier to manage. I'm braving it with the cauldrons though! :) 

Once they get their little cauldron of erasers, have them dump them out and sort them like so...

Gosh I can't get over how cute those little Halloween kitties are. But we all know I'm a crazy cat lady at heart so that's to be expected. Don't worry, dog lovers, I love dogs too! Really, any animals - I'm a big animal lover.

Once they sort all of their erasers, they'll put each type of eraser in each box on the left. On the right side, they'll use the spooky bones (cotton swabs) to make a tally graph of their findings!

Directions for a fun Halloween math center where kids grab a handful of Halloween mini erasers to grab sort and grab with BONES tally marks (cotton swabs)

This is what it'll look like when you're done! Super simple and lots of fun!

Here's a peek at some more fun Halloween math for this week!

Halloween math center to practice nonstandard measurement with cubes and other fun Halloween math ideas

Halloween themed non-standard measurement math station!

Students take each fun Halloween picture and use cubes to measure it. Then they write how many cubes tall each picture was. 

Candy corn Halloween math station and other fun October math games

Candy corn puzzles! Students simply match the number to the ten frame and tally mark representation of the number then record on their recording sheet.

Halloween missing number math game where kids look at the spooky character to figure out what number is missing

Halloween missing number math game where kids look at the spooky character to figure out what number is missing

This math station is to practice missing numbers! Tell your kiddos that these spooky Halloween characters/pictures stole the numbers! Oh, the horror! And it's THEIR job to help figure out what numbers they stole! 

Students simply pick a card and figure out what number is missing. Then, they write the number next to the character who stole that number on their recording sheet. 

Way more fun than a line (45, __, 46, 47), right?!

Halloween math ideas and resources - skip counting pumpkins and more!
Skip counting on pumpkins!

Halloween math activities like these bats addition worksheets and more
A little batty addition for you as well! I also made a sheet for doubles and subtraction. They color the bats whatever the answer is.

Spooky spin Halloween graphing math center for fun October math activities

Spooky Spin for more graphing practice!!

Use a pencil and a paperclip to spin the spinner and see which Halloween picture will win! You can make it a little bit more fun by having the students make predictions as to who will win or say something like, "Don't let that witch win!" - it makes them really get into it!

Whatever it lands on, they add a tally under that picture then color in one box on their bar graph until one of the pictures reaches the top! The beauty is you can play this over and over for a lot of graphing practice!

A quick tutorial for those of you who have never used a makeshift spinner. You put the pencil tip in the center of the spinner where all the lines meet with the tip inside of a large paperclip. Then, you flick the paperclip to spin it! It actually works really well! I recommend a I'm-trusting-you-with-MY-paperclips-that-are-normally-for-adults-aren't-you-so-special-so-we-wouldn't-dare-ever-bend-my-precious-paperclips-into-shapes-GASP-of-course-not-I'm-so-glad-I-can-trust-you talk before you go leaving paperclips laying around. :) 

You can never get too much addition practice! This is great practice with both addition AND writing their own number sentences. Students grab a card and write the addition sentence for it on their recording sheet and solve it. For example, if it's 4 pumpkins + 5 bats, they would solve the problem and write 4+5=9 on their recording sheet like above!

Another thing you can use that recording sheet is with these AWESOME pumpkin ice cube trays I found at the dollar store! They are the perfect premade ten frame!

Halloween Math Games to play with pumpkin ice cube trays from the dollar store and mini erasers

You can practice building numbers in the pumpkin 10 frame for students who are still practicing numbers. What I planned was creating addition sentences with the Halloween erasers I already have and recording them on the Spooky Addition recording sheet from the activity above. You could also do Making 10! Have them find as many combinations as they can to make 10 in the pumpkin tray and record them on the sheet. See, another reason to grab those adorable erasers!! Told you, Mr. Giraffe :) {I am so thankful he puts up with me!}

All of these Halloween activities are in my Halloween Math pack found {HERE}!!

I don't think you'll need anything else for math with that pack but in case you do, I also have this number sense puzzle in my store that has been a huge hit!

Halloween math center where kids look at the number and color it in to reveal a witch!
Students pick each card and find that number on the hundreds chart and color it in the color they tell them to which will reveal a witch! It's great number sense and hundreds chart practice!

For even more Halloween fun, I have some fun Halloween writing craft activities that are NO PREP that you can see in this post: 

And you may have already seen this on my Instagram but just for fun and since I already called myself out as a crazy cat lady, check out my adorable little pumpkin girl...

I know her face says otherwise but she actually loves this dress. She normally keeps to herself but the second you put this dress on her, she starts prancing around quite confidently trying to get her head scratched by everyone in the room. I do the same thing when I'm wearing a pretty dress so I guess I can't blame her!

I hope you were able to find some fun ideas in this post and have an absolutely wonderful Halloween!!!! Thanks for reading!

If you want to keep up with all the teaching ideas and fun stuff I share, you can follow me in these places:
TeachersPayTeachers (so you can see when I post new resources!)

You can also check out all my favorite blog posts I've written organized by topic here:
Miss Giraffe Blog Posts List
I share A LOT of teaching tips in those posts so definitely check them out to read more fun ideas! :)

Also - don't forget to join Miss Giraffe's Class so you never miss out on fun ideas and exclusive free stuff from me only for subscribers!