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Monday, August 29, 2011

Play Dough Math

I have been on a quest the last couple of years to ensure that activities in my classroom follow NAEYC's guidelines of "Developmentally Appropriate Practice."   I suppose my goal is for my preschoolers and kindergarteners to be learning the material they need to while still having fun, working in groups, and exploring through play.

That's why I am sooo excited about my latest creation!  It merges the very best of preschool/kindergarten (i.e. PLAY DOUGH) and common core math standards, such as number recognition, quantity representation, and addition skills.

I knew I was on the right track when my daughter and son (3 1/2 and 2 1/2) begged to play the games while they were still printing!  Here they are having some fun after the cards were laminated:

Because I am sooo excited, I want everyone to get a copy!  I've decided to offer this packet (normally $4) for only $1!!!  It will be on sale for the next week (thru Monday, September 4th).  Click on the picture below to get it now while it's on sale!

As always, thanks for reading!
Please click one of the reaction boxes below to provide me with some feedback.
Teacher Tam

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Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Princess and The Panda

One of the first words we learned in Chinese was "xiong mao," or panda.  We learned a little poem about a panda that my daughter recited for everyone who visited our house--or happened to walk into our aisle at the supermarket.   During that beginning stage, we were all very focused on acquiring the most basic of vocabulary, like colors and everyday objects.  

As we continued learning little by little (me the least of all, I think),  phrases started to happen.  "Xiao  xin," or "be careful" was an important one in a house with a toddler.  This phrase has now become part of our everyday conversation.  It's the same with "zuo xia" (sit down) for the exact same reason.  That's not to say that we're not still acquiring basic vocabulary at a sometimes painfully, frustratingly slow, one-word-at-a-time pace, because we are (or, at least, I am).   But, at least we started sticking them together in sets, using them in meaningful ways during our regular activities.  

Then, it happened.  The breakthrough that I had been waiting for.  The sign that my daughter's Language Stars* classes, a couple hundred dollars worth of language materials, and my own inadequate yet persistent attempts to speak the language as much as possible were paying off:  A sentence.  About, of all things, a panda.  

It was after nap one day.  My little princess was still standing by the bed, sleepily hugging her xiong mao.  I looked at her and said (in Chinese), "Do you have a panda?"  I was stunned when she looked up at me and said, "I have a panda."  I had never heard her use the Mandarin word for "have" before, so I was completely shocked, impressed, and overjoyed--all at the same time.  Over the next few days, I told everyone I knew.  Of course, only those who already spoke another language or had once tried to do so seemed to nod with true understanding.  Everyone else said their own version of "that's nice,"  but they really didn't grasp the work and time commitment that proceeded that simple, four-word sentence in Mandarin.    

Obviously, we have years and years of Chinese to look forward to.  We are now working on basic sentences like, "I have a ______." and "Do you want to eat _________?" So, we have a lot of hard work ahead of us, but I know it will be worth it.  I will never be fluent, but one of my hopes for my children is that they will be.  And perhaps they'll teach their children the poem about a panda . . . 

Thanks for reading once again,
Teacher Tam

*I receive 50% off our tuition at Language Stars just for blogging about their great programs.  How "niu" (cool) is that?  
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Friday, August 26, 2011

Five Days to Get This Freebie!!!

Set #1 of my Printable Books for Beginning Readers is FREE thru Wednesday, August 31st!!!!
This set includes the following books, listed with word families covered and sight words:

"I Am" -am, -en am, and, I, the
"Tam" -am,-at has, in, is, see
"Zig" -ig did, in, yes, ?
"Jen" -en, -al do, dog, gal, pal, you
"Ben" -et at, look
"Pop" -op can, lot, not
"Ben and Pup" -up, -ug go, hill, pit, up
"Tam Runs" -ap, -un done, for, had, of, one, two, was
"Did You See That?" Sight words did,see,one,big, little, you, that, it, is
"Tam and the Frog" -og barks, jump, off, on, pond, saw, this

Click on the beginning reader page above to go to my TPT page to get your freebie!

Click here to see Printable Readers Set #2
Click here to see Printable Readers Set #3

Thanks for reading!
Teacher Tam
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Sunday, August 21, 2011


Visit the Organized Classroom Blog for the chance to win one of 29 prizes valued at almost $2,300!

The contest runs until 11:59 pm EST on Friday, August 26th.

Click on this link to see all the great prizes you can win!  You must sign up for each prize individually for a chance to win.

Click on this link to sign up for a chance to win the 3 products I contributed.

I want to win Charity's "Teaching Blog Traffic School."  I could really use it!  What do you want to win?

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Another Pirate Freebie!

     I have a new freebie for you!
     Sorry, but I just realized that I cannot offer this game for free because the graphics aren't mine :(
However, it is still available for only $1.
     It's a remake of one of my math games from "Preschool, Kindergarten, and First Grade Math Games"--with cooler graphics.  That game has long been a favorite of my students, so I was going to make another version.  Here it is.
     The game has students choosing cards and counting out quantities of coins for numbers 0 through 10.    The game directions also include ideas for differentiation, such as choose 2 cards and add them and count your treasure by 2s and 5s.

Click on the first picture to go to the TPT page, then click "Download."

     If you download it and like it, please take a few moments to return to the download page and click on the tab that says "Ratings and Feedback."  I would really appreciate your thoughts.  

     You might also like the game "Pirates! A Sight Word Reading Game".
     There are more freebies available on Vintage Teacher's blog.  Be sure to visit her and download a few!

Hope your students have fun and learn a little math, too!
Teacher Tam

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Academic Futures and Flash Cards?

While I'm sad that Borders is going out of business, I'm glad that I took advantage of their current discount to pick up the book "Einstein Never Used Flash Cards:  How Our Children Really Learn--And Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less" by Golinkoff, Hirsh-Pasek, and Eyer.   The title says it all, doesn't it?

When I bought this book, I thought 3 things:  

1)  Uh, oh!  I use flash cards to teach my little ones Chinese!  
2)  What is the balance between preparing them for their academic futures and letting them "play"?  and
3)  Now I'm going to read about all the things I'm doing wrong.

Yet, the more I read of the book, the better I feel.  I think I've struck a good balance, both at home and in the classroom.  And, if I'm reading the authors correctly, balance (and some common sense) is what it's all about.  It's not that you can't or shouldn't use flash cards, it's just that they have to be used in a developmentally appropriate (i.e. playful) way, such as using them to play a game.  Whew!  Good.  That's what we're doing.  No drills.  Nothing devoid of meaning and daily application.  

I have to admit that I was a little worried about what their opinion of early language instruction would be.  So, I read some of the beginning, then skipped right to the part about language development.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that they recognized the need to begin language instruction during the early years.  Of course, they discussed how you only need to TALK to your child in order for him/her to learn, that no formal instruction is necessary.  Unless (I want to tell the authors) you don't happen to speak the language you want your children to learn!  Then some actual instruction needs to occur in order for both you and your child(ren) to learn!

All of this was swimming around in my head when my son and I went to our Language Stars* Parents and Tots class last week.  (All those thoughts PLUS some Mandarin!  Needless to say, it was a stressful morning!)  I was reassured, once again.  We sang.  We played.  We ate a snack.  We read a book.  All of these are things children do every day anyway.  We did not sit down for longer than the 5 minutes or so that it took to eat snack (appropriate for babies and toddlers).  We changed activities and/or teaching approaches so fast that it made all the adult brains spin.  We used language to describe what was happening, to ask for items, and to talk to our friends in class (all meaningful, everyday uses of language).  

My son counts ladybugs and stars
The class counts toys on the parachute

The book advises against scheduling your child for this and that, but I think they'd be okay with Language Stars.  After all, learning Mandarin is really the only "extra" activity we do.  My kids get lots of unstructured "play" time.  Our time spent at Language Stars is really just play that happens to be in another language.  And, as far as the flash cards are concerned, at least I learned a couple of new words with them today!  Now, I'll go practice my new words with the kids . . .

Thanks for reading,
Teacher Tam

*Even though I receive 50% off my tuition for blogging about Language Stars, all of the opinions expressed in this and other posts are authentic.  I wouldn't take my kids there in the first place if they didn't impress me!  
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Saturday, August 13, 2011


The contest and freebie giveaway is officially over :(

The winner is comment #41!

It was made by . . .

!!!Silly Teacher!!!

She will receive a copy of EVERY PRINTABLE IN MY STORE on CD.

Just a few notes:
1)  A couple of you did not leave email addresses for me to send your $5-or-less item.  If you left a comment and forgot to leave your email address, please email me at:   teacher tam 2 (at) gmail (dot) com (fill in the symbols and close the gaps).  Tell me the name you used for your comment and/or the comment number.

2)  If you left an address and did not receive a freebie, kindly email me again.  It was just an oversight and your freebie will be sent soon.

3)  If you commented after the 12am deadline (as stated in the "contest rules") but before I officially closed the contest with this post, you still received your freebie but your comment was not entered into the contest for every item in my store.

Thank you all again for participating in my contest and for following my TPT store and/or blog.  I had a lot of fun doing this contest and I hope you all enjoy your freebies!
Teacher Tam
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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Get a Freebie and Maybe Win My Whole Store!

UPDATE:  This contest is now, officially, closed.
Let's celebrate the end of summer vacation and the beginning of my blog with a freebie of your choice and a contest!

EVERYONE who participates can pick ONE $5-or-less item from my Teachers Pay Teachers store.
ONE lucky winner will receive a CD containing every item in my store!!!

You have 4 chances to win:
     1)  Be or become a follower of my blog.
     2)  Be or become a follower of my TPT store.
     3)  Blog about this contest.
     4)  Comment about a product you purchased from my store or one you would like to have.

Be sure to leave separate comments so that each chance can be counted.  In one of your 4 posts, tell me which $5-or-less item you would like to receive from my store and leave an email address.  If you don't want to post your email, you can also send your choice to me at:
          teacher tam 2 (at) gmail (dot) com
(close all the gaps, insert an @ symbol and a period)
You have to look through my TPT store and email me your choice because there is no way for me to make single items free another way.

I will be busy emailing all the $5-or-less items to everyone all week!  Entries will close at 12 am CST on Sunday, August 14th.  Entries received after that time will not count.  Random.org will be used to choose the winner and he/she will be notified within 2 days.
Good luck and have fun picking your free item!

If you would like EVEN MORE FREEBIES (after you've entered my contest) also check out the freebie/giveaway linky party at Kinder Latino.

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Friday, August 5, 2011

Linky Party! Teaching Tip: Hanging Artwork and Decorations

I am only 5'2"(well, okay, really 5'1").  I spent years climbing on step stools, taping things to the ceiling and hanging things from the lights.  One day, I walked into some children's museum (I don't recall which one) to find artwork and decorations hanging from a very cool, "reinvented" clothesline.  I now zigzag one across my classroom about 1 or 1 1/2 feet from the ceiling.  It has 3 eyelets holding it to the walls and forms a triangle.  I simply clip everything to it:  artwork that is drying, artwork that is finished, holiday decorations, sight words, EVERYTHING!  In this picture, I used the clothesline to hang some blue plastic tablecloths.  They looked really neat as decorations for our ocean unit.

Thanks for reading,
Teacher Tam

Join the Cool Teaching Tips Linky Party here:

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