The Magic of Helper Beads

Whether you call it spring fever or cabin fever, it hit my firsties hard last week! I left on Tuesday afternoon wondering what had happened to our classroom! Where were my good listeners? What happened to my dependable friends?

On Wednesday, I started passing out "Teacher Helper" beads. My plan was to get my most dependable friends back on track. It's amazing how little ones can positively impact each other so I knew I just needed a few good role models to help! I was looking for firsties who were modeling our classroom expectations and who were reminding others to do the same. They were using quiet signs or asking someone to whisper or tapping on someone's shoulder to follow the line.

The kids were so proud to wear their beads. I also asked them to help with some classroom routines for the day, and they got to take their beads home with them at dismissal. I have a whole basket full of beads that I have been saving for years. I don't know why I hoard some weird things in my classroom, but a whole basket of beads was sandwiched between 200 toilet paper rolls and 3 boxes of coffee filters.

You can get 6 dozen beads for around $10 from Amazon so it's a really affordable reward. If you want to keep your beads, you could collect them at the end of the day and send home coupons. I made Helper Bead Coupons with a poem on the back! Kids can keep their coupon and parents can read the poem to find out why they earned beads in the classroom. Just click on a picture to download them for FREE.

One of the best things about Helper Beads is that you don't have to use them everyday. Just pull them out on a day when things are starting to get a little crazy! The visual is great for little ones because they can actually see the reward. If you need to get everyone's attention, just take off a strand and act like you're really looking for someone to wear it. It's like magic!

When I first posted this idea, I got a lot of questions about what to do if someone who has beads stops being helpful. I just put her beads back on until her behavior improves, and then she can wear them again. I remind her, you have to be a listener to be helper.

My inspiration for Helper Beads came from the amazing Diane Romo of One Giggle. She was my student teaching mentor, and all of my students for the past 10 years know her as the teacher who taught me how to be a teacher. So many of my classroom ideas come from her! Did I mention she's amazing?

Check out how she uses beads in her classroom by clicking on the image!


Adding to Make 10 with TENOSAURUS

Meet our new favorite classroom friend...

TENosaurus! He's a loveable dino who loves everything about the number TEN, and he has made the making 10 addition strategy so much fun for my firsties!

The making ten addition strategy is a skill that is used to teach little ones how to be flexible when they are adding. As adults, we may not even realize how much we use this strategy in our everyday lives. If I am strolling through Target, and I see amazing shoes for $29 and a must-have scarf for $14, I don't pull out my stratch paper. My brain computes just 30+13 because adding with a group of ten is always simple or in first grade terms "TEN is our math friend!"

Bringing TENosaurus to my classroom has kept my firsties super engaged during math! I use projectable lessons in my classroom, because they are comprehensive, interactive, and no prep! Every lesson is ready to go so I just print the slides for my lesson plan binder. We work through the lessons together on our promethean board. Every lesson has a game, problem solving activity, lots of guided practice, partner work, printables, and a work mat! 

If you've taught the making ten strategy before, you may know that it takes practice! So we also hang out with TENosaurus during calendar time! I added this work mat to my number of the day board. I use magnets for counters, and we practice making groups of ten together. This time helps me focus on a couple of friends who may need extra practice! To grab their attention, I make a big deal about waking TENosaurus in the morning to join us. He's always grumpy and silly because he doesn't really want to get up until 10:00, of course! 

To help us make 10, we opened two new centers this week. The Problem Paleontologist has rapidly become the most requested center in my classroom! I put some sand and rocks in a Ziploc tub and then buried problem fossils. I also wrote sums on some plastic dinosaurs from the Dollar Spot and buried those too. (You don't have to use plastic dinosaurs, but it adds to the excitement.) My little Paleontologists dig up the fossils and dinos with spoons and match them up. 

How cute are these TENosaurus dinos that my kiddos made this week?! I just printed them on a variety of brightly colored papers. The firsties colored the spots with addends of ten and glued everything together!

We have had so much fun together learning a math strategy that could easily be boring to teach and learn! I wanted to share some of the extra printables that we used this week. Just click on the pictures to grab them for your classroom! You can also grab the making ten work mat for FREE. 

You can find out more about the activities and lessons in this unit, click on the pictures below. If you already own all of my Making Ten lessons, you can grab the extras here

Back to Top