Thursday, December 13, 2012

A mysterious package arrives...!

What could it be? It was from one of my publishers, so that was a clue. They usually send things without any notice, just assuming I'll be home. Which I generally am, as opposed to jetting around the globe. Anyway, it was a nice surprise to see…
…the paperback version of my spring book Seeing Symmetry. That's pretty quick to have paperbacks already. I'm hoping it means that lots of schools will be ordering classroom sets (smile). In case anyone hasn't rummaged through my web site lately, there is a large activity pack in PDF form that goes with this book. Anyway, it was a nice surprise to get these today, so yay!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Winter Holidays Teaching Tips & Freebies ebook

Ho, ho, here for a holiday gift for teachers! It's a free ebook with dozens of seasonal tips and links to free classroom resources. Here is a preview of my page, which has a link to my Winter Symme-TREE activity.
This ebook is for PreK and Kindergarten, then there are several more for other grade levels. They are in PDF format so all you need is Adobe Reader.

Let's all try to have a low-stress December!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Loreen Leedy Math Books poster

I was emailing with an international school in Germany whose theme for the year is mathematics. The librarian wanted to make a display of my books so I agreed to make a poster with a message about my math books. With the emphasis in the U.S. on the Common Core standards, it might come in handy on this side of the ocean, too. The image is a medium resolution jpeg, which should print fine. If anyone needs a larger file, let me know and I'll send it to you (please send your request to: me AT Enjoy!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Curiosity has landed!!!

What a thrill to find out that the Mars Science Laboratory rover, nicknamed Curiosity landed safely this morning! This short animation shows the landing sequence:

My husband Andy is a scientist whose research centers around simulating Martian conditions, so naturally we have been monitoring this mission closely. Some of his work is about how Earth microorganisms fare in his Mars chamber…many of them die very quickly, but do they all? Stay tuned!

We wrote a picture book together about Mars a few years ago that introduces quite a bit of info about the Red Planet. If your young readers love space, please check it out at your local library. Preview the book on this page of my web site and see Andy's lab here

Happy reading!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

What do you think of my new blog mascot? A blog button mini-tutorial

This is the 2nd or 3rd try…it looks pretty good but I'm still not sure. The last one was also a cat, but there was too much detail that got lost when it was shrunk down. Hope this one will work as a blog button! Of course, it has to be much smaller, like this:
The web site app I used to generate the button code is called the Grab My Button code generator, appropriately enough. First I uploaded this 150 pixel by 150 pixel image into this blog post, then clicked on the image while in the Blogger editor. The blue option bar shown below pops up.
Click on Edit Link, then select and copy the code for the image. 
Paste image code into the Your Image URL box on the Grab My Button page. Follow directions on the page, then paste the resulting code into an HTML gadget on your Blogger blog. 

This mini-tutorial doesn't cover every single step, but I hope it helps somebody.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Let's Write: Pencil and Paper Characters

I just finished another clip art set for teachers, authors, scrapbookers…whoever! This group can be used on worksheets, mini-books, posters, writing workshop materials, cards, and anything else that needs a whimsical writing theme. There's a FREE sample in the Preview to try out on my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

Can't wait to see what everyone comes up with. The pencil character in this clip art group is similar to one from Look at My Book: How Kids Can Write and Illustrate Terrific Books. There is a link to a free writing process poster on that page of my web site, by the way.

As you can see from the picture, each image comes in color, grayscale, and black line art, depending on the end usage. For example, nobody wants to print color images on a zillion worksheets, but probably would for a poster. The line art ones are good for coloring pages.

I want to make related set of borders…maybe with scribbly doodles all around.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Talking math in Wisconsin (Part 2)

Here is the summary of the second of my keynote talks at the WMC conference (Wisconsin Mathematics Council). Part 1 is the previous post on this blog

Math in Picture Books = Math in Context

As a student, I was not a math person especially…so how did I end up writing and illustrating so many math picture books? At that time (late 60s and 70s) math was presented in such an abstract way it was pretty tough to relate to. To me, it was just a bunch of meaningless numbers that (as presented) had little to do with real life. Though an A or B student, I dropped out of taking math classes as soon as possible after an "incident" with an overly strict trigonometry teacher. The books I create now are the kind I wish had been around lo those many years ago…friendly, fun, and colorful. Of course, the very abstract nature of math means that it's easy to connect math with just about anything…from silly monsters to graph-making toads to lazy witch girls to Boston terriers. 

Most of my books have a storyline that puts the math concepts into meaningful context to help kids see why it's important to be able to add, subtract, and more. Without further ado, here are my math books…click on the book's cover to visit that book's page on my site with activity ideas, reviews, art notes, and ISBN numbers. The links below go to various teaching ideas online. The Common Core State Standards for Mathematics quotes and citations that relate to each title come from the PDF available here.

Follow the Money! shows George the quarter as he makes his way through the economy being spent, saved, lost, and even washed in a washing machine, all in one day. The page numbers are part of the fun…they consist of various coins and bills.

Common Core Math 2.MD.8. Solve word problems involving dollar bills, quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies, using $ and ¢ symbols appropriately…
The Monster Money Book starts with a young monster and a girl who want to join The Monster Club. They earn money to pay dues and help figure out how to spend the club funds. Several basic personal finance concepts are discussed such as how to earn money, being a smart shopper, investing in a (very) small business, earning a profit, making a budget, and donating to good cause.

The Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy has tons of educational resources, national K-12 standards, state requirements, best practices, and more.
Common Core Math 2.MD.8. (same as above)

The Great Graph Contest begins with a toad named Gonk who loves to make graphs about his interests such as mud, pie, and foot sizes. His lizard friend Beezy challenges him to a graph contest, so they go into the garden to collect and sort data, then make Venn diagrams, bar graphs, pie charts, and more.

Common Core Math: Several Standards apply, such as 1.MD.4. Organize, represent, and interpret data with up to three categories; ask and answer questions about the total number of data points…

It's Probably Penny stars Lisa and her dog Penny, who becomes the focus of a homework assignment about probability. Lisa predicts the likelihood of events such as whether Penny will see a shark, dig up a buried treasure, or turn into a cat, then records the actual results.

The Best Children's suggests Do the Homework! In other words, use the book itself as a lesson plan.
Common Core Math: I couldn't find a reference to probability prior to 6th grade, but a related concept may appear in lower grades… if anyone knows, please leave a comment.

In Mapping Penny's World Lisa needs to make maps for her homework, so she starts with a floor plan of her room, complete with symbols, a key, a compass rose, and a scale. Other maps include Penny’s treasures, her favorite places, and a trip around the world Penny might take some day.

Common Core Math 4.MD.3 Apply the area and perimeter formulas for rectangles in real world and mathematical problems. For example, find the width of a rectangular room given the area of the flooring and the length…
Also, many of the various measurement standards apply.

In Measuring Penny, Lisa needs to measure something for her homework, so she chooses her dog Penny and a few of doggie friends at the park. Lisa uses both standard and nonstandard units to measure tails, paws, noses, as well as how high the dogs can jump and many other attributes.

Common Core Math: Every primary grade level has measurement standards, such as 2.MD.1 Measure the length of an object by selecting and using appropriate tools such as rulers, yardsticks, meter sticks, and measuring tapes. 

Fraction Action features Miss Prime and her students as they learn about fractions in five short stories that start with simple geometric shapes and objects such as half a glass of milk. Scenarios such as how to divide food evenly for a lunch or how far to discount lemonade for sale in wintertime show how fractions are used in real life. 

Common Core Math: Halves and fourths are in 1st grade (1.G.3), thirds in 2nd grade (2.G.3), and fractions as numbers in 3rd grade (3.NF.1–3)

In Mission Addition, Miss Prime explains the basics then her students venture out into the world to add up scores, tally up their pets, sell things at a garage sale, and write word problems. Extra problems are at the end of each chapter.

Mission Addition online game (not related to my book)
Common Core Math: 1.OA.1 Use addition and subtraction within 20 to solve word problems involving situations of adding to, taking from, putting together, taking apart, and comparing…
Subtraction Action has seven short stories in which Miss Prime’s students watch a magic show, put on a play, run an obstacle course, and try to win a prize by making things disappear.

Common Core Math: 1.OA.1 (Same as above)

Missing Math When a town’s numbers vanish one day, everyone discovers how difficult a world without math would be. If nobody can count, add, subtract, make phone calls, use a computer, or use money, life becomes impossible! Hopefully a local detective can crack the case.

Common Core Math: Many of the standards relate to this book in the sense of how bad it is if you can't count, add, subtract, and so on.

Seeing Symmetry shows a myriad of examples of line and rotational symmetry, from kites to quilts to flowers to animals of many kinds. Symmetry relates to many basic math concepts such as equality, repeats, reflections, and rotations.

Common Core Math: 4.G.3: Recognize a line of symmetry for a two-dimensional figure as a line across the figure such that the figure can be folded along the line into matching parts. Identify line-symmetric figures and draw lines of symmetry.

2 X 2 = BOO! A Set of Spooky Multiplication Stories In six short and silly stories, Halloween characters such as ghosts, black cats, bats, and skeletons demonstrate the multiplication facts from 0 X 0 = 0 up to 5 X 5 = 25.

Common Core Math: 3.0.7. Fluently multiply and divide within 100…

For an ever-enlarging collection of various teaching ideas for elementary math, please visit my Making Math Fun! board on Pinterest.

That's all folks…whew! 

Talking Math in Wisconsin (Part 1)

Greetings, WMC conference peeps! (The Wisconsin Mathematics Council, that is.) Speakers have to send in the handouts a few weeks ahead of time, but of course I don't pull my presentation together until a few days (hours?) beforehand. So that no one has to scribble too much on the handouts, my speaker notes and links are in this post. Somebody got the bright idea to have me give two(!) keynotes, so Part 2 will be Math in Picture Books = Math in Context while this post outlines my talk about…
Seeing Symmetry!

Ideas for introducing the book
Symmetry is a great visual way to convey basic math concepts such as equality, repeats, reflection, and rotation. Show students that the back cover of the book is the same as the front…except the words are backwards. That's because the front and back are mirror images of each other, to visually convey the topic in the book design.

Watch the book trailer. FYI, it started out as a Keynote presentation that I "filmed" using ScreenFlow screen capture software. For the narration, I recorded myself with Garageband on my iPad2. Then the voiceover and sound effects were added to the timeline in ScreenFlow. 

Reading Options
Depending on the level of your students and the size of the class, this book can work as a read-aloud. Using it with a document projector makes it easier for everyone to see the pictures. It could also work to read just one or two spreads in a session and continue another day.

Concrete examples

Use symmetrical construction paper cut-outs as shown below. Hold them up while folded and have students predict what they are.
The images shown are a butterfly, square, teddy bear, number 3, letter Z, car, and star. For more info and to check out the Seeing SYMMETRY Chant that highlights these items, click on the photo above. 

Have students use a Super Simple Line of Symmetry Locator to check out images in the book for line symmetry. What am I talking about? More info and a poster are found here.
Several activities that use the book can be found in the Seeing SYMMETRY Activity Pack on my Teachers Pay Teachers store. Several other PDFs with a symmetry theme are also available in my store such as Spring Mirror Word Puzzles and the Cowboy Boot Coloring Page. Several are free while the rest are two or three dollars, such as the WOW MOM Mother's Day Card.

Math Ideas on Pinterest
There are zillions of great math and other educational ideas on Pinterest (pronounced like the word "interest" with a P in front). It has become my favorite way to browse the Internet because…

Pinterest = Images + Text + Organizing + Sharing  

You "pin" the images you find on the web onto your "pinboards" (usually known as bulletin boards in the U.S.) You can "repin" other people's pins to your boards, while the link to the original source remains. You can follow other people and they can follow you. Some of my boards have close to 1,000 followers after a few weeks, which implies that plenty of other people find this as inspirational as I do.

How to find great math ideas and links on Pinterest:
on general terms such as math but also more specific words such as shapes or geometry. Adding "lesson" or a specific grade level to the search leads to more education-oriented pins. I do most searches on Boards or Pins (as opposed to People).
Follow people who have similar interests as you. Click here to see my boards. The most interesting to math teachers are: Seeing Symmetry! and Making Math Fun!

iPad Apps that incorporate Symmetry
Paint My Wings lets kids paint a butterfly…as each stroke goes on, its mirror image appears on the other wing.
Create a Monster HD has a symmetry mode as you assemble the monstrous pieces and parts.
123D Sculpt allows you to push, pull, and paint virtual clay with symmetry with an optional setting.
uzu is hard to describe…it's more of an experience that allows one or more people to play with amazing particles in a sort of intergalactic way. It has settings that create symmetrical images.

Common Core State Standards for Mathematics
The standard that Seeing Symmetry is aligned with is 4.G.3, or: Recognize a line of symmetry for a two-dimensional figure as a line across the figure such that the figure can be folded along the line into matching parts. Identify line-symmetric figures and draw lines of symmetry.

A couple of other points… the standards for ELA state that the percentage of informational texts that elementary students read should be 50%. More on this topic is here, but my observation is that math certainly counts as "informational," right? (smile)

Lastly, there seems to be some confusion about at least one aspect of the math standards…note that the Common Core Standards of Mathematical Practice apply to ALL grades. They are reiterated in summary form for each grade level in a numbered list from 1 to 8, but the long version is what applies, not just the summary. I have run across teachers who think that only the summary applies to their grade, which is not the way it reads to me.

Anyway, if you've read this far, congratulations! Not sure if I will be able to deliver all this in an hour, but if not, people can catch the rest of it here.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

First Graders See Symmetry!

Two hundred 1st graders came to the annual Young Authors Conference at the University of Central Florida today to share the books they had written and illustrated…always a delightful type of event. I was fortunate enough to be the featured author this year so was able to speak to all the participants.
My newest picture book Seeing Symmetry was the main focus of my presentation, though I wasn't sure how much the kiddos would know about the topic. In Florida it’s taught in 3rd and 4th grade. 

We looked at the cover of the book and I used my Super Simple LOS Locator…

…(a barbeque skewer with the point cut off) to show how the tiger and butterfly image can be divided into equal mirror image halves. (A high-res version of the above poster plus quite a few related printables can be found in the Activity pack for the book on my Teachers Pay Teachers store.)

Though the kiddos weren't very familiar with the word symmetry, they had no trouble making great guesses about what various shapes folded in half would turn out to be. I held up folded cutouts of various items from the book such as a butterfly, teddy bear, and star, which they could readily guess.
The trickiest ones were the number 3 and the letter Z (which has rotational symmetry for those of you who haven't thought about this subject recently.) The red construction paper Z has a button in the middle…in its collapsed state it looked like a 7 or a 1, but once the parts were rotated into their proper position, the Z revealed itself.
I drew a symmetrical butterfly, then asked for ideas from the students to draw a symmetrical alien, which turned out perfectly silly, as intended! Copies of the aliens will be sent to the schools later for the kids to color or otherwise embellish upon. In addition, each child received a copy of the book for his or her very own! They were very excited about that and kept asking when they would get their book.

Another highlight was a Symmetry Chant that had its world premiere (ha!)…since I've never tried writing or leading one before, it was hard to predict how it would go. The kids acted like they do call and response chants every day and had no trouble following me. The specific items mentioned in the verses were the various shapes I had shown earlier. We practiced first with me saying 1-2-3; they repeat 1-2-3; A-B-C; A-B-C; and so on a few times. Then on to the real deal:

Seeing SYMMETRY Chant

Here and there       Here and there
And everywhere     And everywhere
We can see            We can see
Symmetry!              Symmetry!
Our two eyes          Our two eyes
See butterflies        See butterflies
A perfect square     A perfect square
A teddy bear           A teddy bear
The number 3         The number 3
The letter Z             The letter Z
Most any car           Most any car
A shiny star             A shiny star
Up and down           Up and down
And all around         And all around
We can see             We can see
Symmetry!               Symmetry!

I held up the various cutouts as we went along. It worked really well in a spontaneous situation like this, and would certainly be awesome with a little rehearsal. If anyone would like to use this chant for educational purposes, by all means feel free. If you'd like to include it in a blog post or article, please credit me as author and give a link if possible.

For those teachers who are incorporating the Common Core Standards in their classroom, the applicable one is 4.G.3:
Recognize a line of symmetry for a two-dimensional figure as a line across the figure such that the figure can be folded along the line into matching parts. Identify line-symmetric figures and draw lines of symmetry.

Many thanks to Penny Leggett and Taylar Clements for inviting me and making this event run so smoothly with the help of a small army of UCF students. The tech set-up was great and special thanks go to the guy who found me a clip-on mike instead of the big handheld one! We were discussing afterwards how visiting a college campus can make such a big impression on young students and hopefully will inspire many of them to think “I can go to college, too” when the time comes.

Monday, April 16, 2012

WOW MOM: A Mother's Day Card with Line Symmetry!

Why try to explain when pictures are so much easier...
If you'd like to download the Preview which has more info, please visit my Teachers Pay Teachers store. Thanks and have a symmetrical Spring!


Seeing Symmetry Book Activity Pack

Whew, I finally finished an activity pack to go with my spring picture book, Seeing Symmetry. It has two printables that will send students on a hunt for various pictures in the book, plus several activities students can do even if the book is not on hand (yet!) They can use the Super Simple Line Symmetry Locator, draw and fold lines of symmetry, trace rotational symmetry, or complete a line symmetry sort with a surprise (a silly face). In addition, there are capital letter cards and a poster to compare line and rotational symmetry:
Venn diagram comparing Line and Rotational Symmetry
Venn diagram comparing Line and Rotational Symmetry
More into is in the description here. The Preview includes a printable page for students to match various silhouettes with pictures in the book, plus the Preview shows an overview of all the pages.

There are several other free and inexpensive PDFs with a symmetry theme on my TPT store, so if teaching symmetry or just having fun with math is on your agenda, check them out. The WOW MOM Mother's Day Card has been very popular, while some of the freebies have had thousands of downloads.
Have a symmetrical Spring!


Friday, March 30, 2012

Activities for Centers and Small Groups on Pinterest

If you're a teacher or parent looking for small group and center activities, here is a Pinterest board with a variety of free and priced options. 

Ironically, there is no way to directly pin one Pinterest board to another (or at least I couldn't figure out how to do it.) That's why I had to write a blog post. 

Since you're here, please feel free follow my blog for more posts about my picture books and activities for kids. Here's the link to go directly to my Teachers Pay Teachers store. Currently there are 13 items, of which 7 are free and 2 are on sale for a week.

If you have a blog with posts about education, please leave a comment so I can go check it out. Thanks so much for stopping by!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Symmetry is Eggciting!

For this activity it's easier to show an eggsample:
There are 10 different designs with a Spring theme such as a bunny, tulip, and a basket of eggs. Easter is coming soon so if you need a fun math + art project, please check out the Preview on my TeachersPayTeachers store. It includes a free sample of the ladybug and butterfly designs to try.

The full PDF has two levels: the half designs as shown above or complete ones for kiddos who are too young to draw the missing part. The young ones can color in their egg to make it symmetrical. Here are a couple with a weather theme:
The cover shows the bird sitting on a nest and the frog:
I had a great time creating this, hope you and your kiddos enjoy it! Please follow my blog and my TPT store to hear about new books and activities.

Update: For a wonderful blog post by a new 2nd grade teacher who used this with her students and took lots of great photos, check out Luckeyfrog's Lilypad!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring Basket Craftivity

A year or two after graduating from college, I made a list of career goals and one of them was to create craft books. While a few of my earliest picture books had some crafts included, for the most part that interest of mine has been on the back burner. Now that the digital age is upon us, it's much easier to test ideas online and see how it goes. Since December, I've been posting free and priced products on my Teachers Pay Teachers store and have sold quite a few things. Thousands of my freebies have been downloaded, which is pretty amazing.

But the real fun has been to think of an idea, design and make it, and put it online to see how people like it. No waiting for an editor to respond, no printing/shipping/etc. to deal with, just neat little electrons being exchanged amongst people with common interests. Here is the latest one, called What's In My Basket? It's a printable "craftivity" which (to me, anyway) means a craft with an educational component. This is what the basket looks like closed with the contents "peeking" out:

And here it is opened up:
For the educational part, students read and write spring-themed words, plus complete a writing prompt. A group of these would look cute on a bulletin board, don't you think? 

What gave me the idea to have the flap that opens is all those "interactive" apps that are now available for mobile phones and tablets. My theory is that there are plenty of interactive things to be done with paper, crayons, markers, and scissors, right? Click here to check out the various items in my TPT store. And if you're interested, by all means "follow" my store to be notified of new things as they are posted.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Spring Mirror Word Puzzles

Don't worry, your screen isn't broken. This image is from Spring Mirror Word Puzzles, a word work + math activity I made to go with my new picture book Seeing Symmetry. Some of the Spring-theme words are reversed and/or upside down while some of them are missing half, like this:
Students will need a small mirror to solve the puzzles and record the answers. To download your free copy of this 5 page activity PDF from my Teachers Pay Teachers store, just click this link or the cover image below:
If you're on Pinterest, I have a board full of great pins about symmetry. Pinterest has become my favorite social media site because it's so visual. If you're interested in joining, I'll be happy to send you an invite (which is much faster than requesting one from the site.)

Anyway, hope you and your kiddos enjoy this activity…all fingers are crossed for an early Spring!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Seeing Symmetry is here!

While I knew my latest book was for spring 2012, it was a nice surprise a few days ago to find out it's in the warehouse and is shipping right now. Eeeek! Guess my procrastination about making a trailer had to end sometime:
I've been working on the idea of a picture book about symmetry for a long time, and finally it's here so yay! In the years of wrestling with how to present this topic, I kept worrying that some other author would scoop me. Because for some odd reason, very few trade books about symmetry have ever been published (for children, that is.)

Perhaps it's an age thing…a few decades ago when I was in elementary school, if symmetry was ever brought up at all it would have been in an art class. However, my nieces and nephews knew all about line and rotational symmetry because it was added to the math curriculum quite some time ago. (There are additional types of symmetry, but those are the ones covered in this book.)

Because symmetry is such a fabulous combination of art and math, it was a natural topic for me. I've created some symmetry activities, including some free heart templates which could come in handy in the next week or so to make a few valentines. Here is a better look at the front:

And here's what the back looks like:
Yep, it really is backwards! If you don't have a book about symmetry in your library, by all means ask your librarian to please order it. : )


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