Comparing Numbers Center: Money Game (Second Grade)

comparing-numbers-blog-pics-02It doesn’t get more practical than money!

For this game, I made a set of cards with dollar amounts on them from $5 to $999. Students divide the deck evenly, and play like they are playing war. The only difference is, there will never be a “war” because no two cards are alike.

I also made some <, >, = cards.


Every round, the person with the highest dollar amount would have to place the right sign between the numbers and read the inequality in order to claim their cash! Students get really into this game. Your only problem with it may be way too much excitement!


You could easily make this yourself, or even more easily, download it here:


FREE CVC Word Resource for Older Kids

If you have older kids (2nd-5th graders) who are working on sounding out CVC words, this post is for you! With this free resource, older kids will segment and blend with dignity! No babyish graphics here!

DISCLAIMER: This took me about 2 hours to put together. There is an alternate option at the bottom of this post that would take about 5 minutes of prep though!

Ok, so firscreen-shot-2016-10-10-at-12-19-09-amst download this freebie from TpT:

screen-shot-2016-10-10-at-7-43-23-pmYou’ll need 5 different colors of paper. The words with the same vowel, were all printed on the same color paper. Cut-out your word strips and tape the end of the word to your pencil/pen/marker/sturdy straw. The back of the word should be closest to the pen. I put tiny little girl hair bands around each one the night before to get a good curl the next day.

screen-shot-2016-10-10-at-7-43-37-pmIn small group, students had to choose five secret words in five different colors. They all practiced segmenting and blending their words at the same time. For each word theyscreen-shot-2016-10-10-at-6-55-53-pm read, students would record the word on a CVC word recording sheet with the same pen the word was attached to. After they’d read and written all five words, they would have to read me their list. I would check the words off as they read. Once, they’d read their list of five words, students would trade their old words in for five new words. Students kept going until they filled their entire recording sheet.

Way Less Prep Work Alternative: If you don’t feel like torturing yourself with a ton of prep, these are nice to use as plain old word strips! See if your kids can “read across the table” by reading a word strip and placing it on the edge of the table. Have them read the next word, and place it right next to the first word they read. Tell them to keep going until they’ve reached the other end of the table. The first one to the other side of the table wins…but ONLY if they can read the whole list to you again! If you don’t have a suitable table, use the floor tiles. Mark the starting and finish lines with tape. Maybe nix the competition if you have sensitive students, and just give points when each one reaches the finish line.

Hope you’ve gotten some good ideas from this post for teaching phonics to kids in the upper grades.



I Have Two Cancerous Kids in My Class This Year

During this upcoming school year, use person first language to show respect to people who have disabilities, and people in general.

You can use Person First Language by addressing the person before talking about their disability.

Instead of saying:

he is autistic, or autistic students, students who are autistic

You could say:

He has autism, students with autism, students who have autism, or students who have been diagnosed with autism

Instead of:

She is emotionally disturbed


She has an emotional disability

It can get confusing at times, so the easiest way I have found to make sure I’m using person first language is to think of examples with alternate medical diagnoses. For example, I don’t think anyone would say, “I have three cancerous kids in my class”. You would say, “three of my students have cancer”. Why? Because the cancer does not define the students. They are people first, who have been diagnosed with cancer. In the same way, the diagnosis of a disability does not define a person.

**BUT if you are conferencing with a parent, and the parent refers to the child as autistic, it is okay to use that wording. 🙂

Side Note: You don’t want to use the word “handicapped” at all. This is offensive altogether bc it refers to people begging with a cap in their hand. If you need to refer to parking spaces, or entrances for people who use wheelchairs, you can say “accessible parking”, or the “accessible entrance”.

I hope this was helpful and informative.

4 FREE Classroom Incentives Your Kids Will Love: Taking Shoes Off is NOT on the List

My first and favorite is the non-prize! When students give a great answer, do the right thing, or just make you smile, you can give them an imaginary prize. One of my go-to imaginary prizes is a cute baby animal. I would tell the student, “I’m so impressed with you that I’m going to put you in charge of taking care of this baby giraffe! Please take very good care of it. Remember to feed it, and put it to bed at night. I know I can trust you!” Then I would pretend to hand the baby giraffe over to them. If I’m really on it that day, I would check up on the giraffe later in the day.

This also wSlide2orks when students want things that you just can’t give them. For example, if a student says they are hot, but there is nothing you can currently do about it, put a giant imaginary fan in front of them and turn it on full blast. Might as well give them a giant imaginary cup of ice water to drink too.

You can give your students anything in the universe with this incentive! I’ve given kids a little sliver of the moon, the toenail of a giant, a bucket full of diamonds, the horn of a unicorn, a live crab, and so much more. I find that it is better to give them something, than ask what they want. They usually want electronics, but seem happier in the end with magical/weird prizes, which brings me to my next free prize.

When playing games with flash cards, I have the students use the cards like currency. We call it the money game. When they’ve read a word, they keep the card, and can use it later to buy stuff. The more difficult the word, the more it is worth. The cards are color coded for difficulty. If they talk during someone else’s turn, the person whose turn it was, gets to take a card from the talker’s pile. By the end of the game, they count up their cards and tell me how much money they have. They are allowed to tell me something they would like to buy with their “money”. The rulmobile-605422_640e is that it has to be something that they could actually afford, given the amount of flash card “cash” they have. They make their choice, I pretend to hand their merchandise over, and take their money. The kids love being able to buy iPhones and x boxes, and it’s a great way for me to collect my flash cards at the end of the game.

They think they want electronics, but what they really want is rocks, pet rocks! This one takes a little bit of time to set up. First, I found a great rock in the parking lot that had a nice flat surface for drawing. I drew a little face on my rock with paint markers, and put it in a tiny colorful party favor box.rock-1573133_640The box had holes in it of course, for breathing. For the entire first quarter, I used my pet rock, Annabelle, as my teacher’s assistant. The kids loved Annabelle and wanted to either take her, or make rocks of their own. I told them they had to prove that they were responsible before they would be allowed to adopt a pet. They had to spend the entire first quarter returning their homework, working hard, and being kind to their classmates. I collected some more rocks, and put them in a box that used to have chocolates in it. It had perfect little compartments for about 24 rocks. An egg carton would work well too. During second quarter, I would keep an eye out for responsible or kind behavior and allow those kids to adopt. Eventually, everyone got to adopt. Adoptive parents would get to decorate their pet rock, and poke holes in their little party favor box to house their pet rock. They would choose a name and be given a tiny index card birth certificate. I would periodically check on how everyone’s rocks were doing. At the beginning of the third and fourth quarters, kids were allowed to adopt additional rocks, as long as they could prove that they hadn’t lost the rocks they had previously adopted. This incentive took me through an entire school year, and cost me zero dollars. The key to making your adoption agency work is to always pretend that the rocks are real pets.

Finally, if you have a student who is loud, but sensitive you’ll love the “Quiet Fish”. For this incentive you will need a little stuffed animal. I used a fish because fish are silent and skittish, but you could use any animal. With this game, the fish toy is set on the target goldfish-163583_640student’s desk. If the student is loud or tries to touch the fish, it will get scared and swim away onto another student’s desk. Keep your eye on the target student and the clock. If the student is quiet for a certain amount of time, have the fish begin to swim back towards them. I like to look at the start time, predetermine an amount of time the student has to be quiet, and move the fish accordingly. Vary the time interval to keep the student on his toes. You can silently move the fish around as you teach. The fish moving is not a reward or punishment. It is just a natural reaction to noise and movement! The key to making this incentive work is always pretending that the fish is actually alive. This is particularly effective while students are taking tests, or at times when the entire class has to be quiet.

Bonus Fifth Incentive! This one is almost free. Go to the dollar store and get a bag of decorative flat marbles. At first, carry around your own flat marble, and tell the kids it is your lucky stone. If you carry it with you, you’ll have good luck. Then tell them that if you rub the stone you get extra good luck! The more you rub the stone, the more luck you’ll have! After you’ve got the whole class wanting a lucky stone, start handing them out sparingly as prizes. These are great for kids who need to fidget!

Check out my Individual Behavior Charts too! 🙂

Hope you enjoyed reading this, and picked up some new ideas for the coming school year!

How to Avoid Talk That Hurts People with Disabilities

Ok, by now the only people left saying “that’s so gay” are the thoughtless ones. Most of us know this is horribly insulting and insensitive.

(just in case: Gay is Good Open Letter)

Now that we know that gay people are just people, it’s time to stop poking fun at ourselves by taking jabs at people with disabilities. I started thinking about this today, because I typed out the hashtag “adultADD” on a picture I was posting to instagram.

Here’s the picture/quote:

inner conversation-01

I posted this because I accidentally drove about 20 minutes listening to my daughter’s kid-songs cd the whole way (not the first time this has happened). I didn’t realize it until I parked because I was thinking so loudly.

This seems like a harmless joke against myself, but when I compare my experience to a person with a disability, it is insulting to a whole group of people for whom the struggle is actually real.

So why is it okay to compare our personal and very typical weaknesses and quirks to diagnosable disabilities? Why say, “I’m so OCD” when you just like to be neat and organized? Or, “I’m totally blind”, when you just wear glasses? I hear this again and again, and am totally guilty of saying these things about myself.

Another thing I hear all the time is, “He has got to be on the spectrum somewhere. I think he has Aspberger’s. He didn’t look me in the eyes.” Some people are shy. Some people are socially awkward. I realize I’m going off on a tangent now. This is mostly just a pet peeve.

Let’s dive into the dreaded “r” word. Way back when, in the institutions, people used to get the diagnoses “stupid”, “idiot”, or “imbecile”. Medical professionals probably stopped using those terms because they became insults. So then we started using the label “mentally retarded”. This quickly became a hate-filled slur. Now we use the term “intellectual disability”. Hopefully no one messes with that one.

Please do make fun of yourself, but not at the expense of the most discriminated against minority. Let’s not turn any more diagnoses into words we can’t even say out loud.