Friday, November 29, 2013

Math Game Day Suggestions

 We celebrated the last session before Thanksgiving holiday with an open "math" game day. I pulled out a stack of math-y game and activities and let kids choose what they wanted to do. Some of the more popular options this time were: Mythmatical Battles, Chocolate Fix, Blokus, Polydrons, SET, Blink, Spot It, Swish.

If you're looking for math games & activities for holiday gifts, visit the Math Toys, Gifts, and Games page.  At the top of the Children's Literature Book List page you can also download a Math Game List in pdf form.

Enjoy your holiday!

Mythmatical Battles

Chocolate Fix

Polydrons - making a hamster run!

Disclosure: If you order from Amazon, all commissions go toward foster care through Grace and Hope at no additional cost to you. THANK YOU!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Math Monday Blog Hop: Addition & Subtraction

Well that's one GIGANTIC topic...any and all ideas for teaching addition & subtraction! Post ideas below (no ads, please.)

Have a happy week...adding up all those blessings as you celebrate Thanksgiving.

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Saturday, November 23, 2013

A FREEBIE Thank You to My Readers! (Clock Fraction Flip Books)

My new Clock Fraction Flip Book is FREE on TPT and Teachers Notebook. My students had a great time making their mini flip books and I hope your students do too!

If you like the product, I'd REALLY appreciate it if you'd take the time to give it a rating in my store(s). Thank you in advance!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Clocks or Money?: Finding Friendly Fractions

After having spent several sessions (Bridges Second Edition) using both clocks and money as fraction models, I asked my 5th grade students to make posters demonstrating what they'd learned. Half the group made clock fraction posters while the other half made money fraction posters. I displayed their work on a bulletin board with a venn diagram in the center labelled:
  • Clock Fractions-fractions easy to figure with clocks
  • Money Fractions-fractions easy to figure with money
  • Clock or Money Fractions-fractions easy to figure with clocks or money
  • Neither-fractions that aren't very easy to figure with clocks or money (outside of diagram)
I then passed out some fraction cards (mostly unit fractions) and asked students to work with a partner to consider where each fraction would best fit. In pairs, they came up and placed their fraction, justifying why they thought it belonged there. If members of the "audience" disagreed, they had to state their reasoning. We had some great discussions. At first some thought that 1/8 should go in the middle since it's half of 1/4 and that's friendly for both. But then they reasoned that they'd have to cut a quarter or 15 minutes in half, which isn't easy to work with. Another student argued that 1/20 is clock friendly, because it's 3 minutes. We had some debate and agreed that it might be easy for some of us, but it wasn't as easy as some of the other clock friendly fractions.

This little review activity helped to solidify student thinking and reaffirmed the power of using different models. We're now beginning to work with the number line model. It's amazing how much their knowledge of clocks/money helps them to add/subtract on the number line!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Clock Fraction Flip Books

You know you have a hit when you demonstrate the new homework assignment and the class collectively says, "Oooooooh, COOL!"

Since we've been using clocks as a model for learning fractions, I thought it might be fun to make Flip this case, mini books in which fractions appear to move, getting either bigger or smaller (depending upon the order in which you compile the pages.)

The pdf comes with 3 pages of "clock friendly" fractions. (23 fractions with an extra blank one, just in case.) At right, you see several samples of Flip Book cards, colored by a student.  The assignment asks students to:
  1. Color each given fraction. The cards come with numbers and blank clocks.
  2. Cut out the cards.
  3. Sequence the cards. They are purposely printed out of order. The set includes equivalent fractions that must be placed sequentially.
  4. Staple into a Flip Book.
The pdf is FREE in my Teachers Pay Teachers  and Teachers Notebook Stores. The pdf was revised on 11/25 to improve "flip quality." Grab your revision if you downloaded before then! ;) The clocks are now on the right side, so the opposite of what you see in the video below.

One of my students made a little stop action video to demonstrate...AKA, the "Separatists' evil clock plans..."

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Power of Picture Books in Teaching Math (angles!)

Tsk, tsk.

Lately, I've been so consumed with curriculum and content that I forgot some of my own advice...


The last couple sessions, I've made a concerted effort to include them. I've been reminded of how students new to the books...and the concepts...delight in learning math through stories.

In a specific example, I recently noticed that several students didn't know the meanings of "acute" and "obtuse" angles. I could have had them fill out a worksheet. [Yawn.] Then I remembered Sir Cumference and the Great Knight of Angleland.  In the book, Radius goes on a quest to earn his knighthood. He passes a village with "cute" rooftops, and continues through the "mountains of obtuse." In the end, he gives names to acute/obtuse angles, based on places in his journey.

My fifth graders were captivated.

After the read aloud, students easily wrote their own definitions of acute, obtuse, right, and straight angles on a Math Vocabulary Sheet. As a reader suggested, I'm now copying these with 2 pages on each side, so as to get all four definitions on a single sheet of paper. For a little 3D action I gave them toothpicks to glue on their "example" of the angles.

None of us are likely to forget acute and obtuse after this knightly adventure!

For more book suggestions, visit the Gigantic List of Math-Related Children's Books.

Disclosure: If you order from Amazon, all commissions go toward foster care through Grace and Hope at no additional cost to you. THANK YOU!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Math Monday Blog Hop: Winter & Holiday Math

What ideas would you like to share for teaching math around the winter holidays? Think about Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, snowflakes, winter, snowmen, gingerbread and more.

Post your ideas (no ads, please!) in the blog hop below.


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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Dyscalculia - A Math Learning Disability
Do you have a student who really struggles with math? Read up on the symptoms of dyscalculia to learn more about this learning disability. Also, read a guest post at Kids Math Teacher where a parent talks about her son's dyscalculia diagnosis.

The following videos describe more:

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Fraction Tracks Online Game
Looking for some online fraction practice? In Fraction Tracks, a 2-player game, students must add, compare, and find equivalent fractions in order to race across a series of 0-1 number lines.
This is a great game to help students increase understanding of fractions.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Fractions on the River Trail - Making Posters

Here are a few photos from class today. In this lesson from 5th grade Bridges Second Edition, students had to locate places on the "river trail," based on fractions in a 30 kilometer stretch. They initially identified fairly easy markings on the trail (1/2, 1/3, etc.) and then used those increments to figure out more challenging fractions (1/12, 1/15, etc.) of the distance, expressing final answers both in fractions and in kilometers. Phenomenal work, all!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Clock Fractions with a Paper Plate

In a recent post I mentioned that my students have been using clocks as a model for understanding fractions. Inspired by Pinterest, I thought it might be helpful for students to demonstrate understanding using paper plate clocks. Here's how to prep:

1. Purchase 2 colors of paper plates. I found mine at a $1 store.
2. Find the center of the plate. (There are various techniques to do this...mine was hit/miss!)
3. Cut a straight line from the edge to the center (radius!) of 2 plates--one of each color.
4. Put clock numbers on the lighter colored plate. (Again, various methods. Mine, again...hit/miss.)
5. Slide the darker plate onto the lighter plate/clock face as shown above.

Now make use of it!

What fractions do you see in the photos above?
How many equivalent fractions can you make?
Which photos can model each of the following denominators: 60, 12, 4, 3, 2?

Give students little cards and ask them to record every fraction that can be found in the photos above. Then, using their own clocks, have them model each number.

And that's only a fraction* of the possibilities! Learn how my students learned to add fractions with clocks. And see my Clock Fraction Flip Book freebie here.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Fraction Numberline with a Clothesline!

What do Home Depot, fractions, and clotheslines have in common?

My classroom!

Inspired by Jeffrey Frykhom's Book, Learning to Think Mathematically With the Number Line, I purchased a retractable clothesline from Home Depot and installed it in my classroom.

Fraction Warm-Up
Over the last couple weeks, my math class has been looking at how money and clock models can be used to make sense of fractions. In today's warm-up, I wanted to do a quick review of the fractions that we've used in our clock models.

Fraction Number Line Activity
I strung the clothesline across the room and explained the "rules" of the activity:

1. The activity is done in silence. The exception is explained in #3 below.

2. You will receive a fraction. When you get a tap on the shoulder, place the fraction where you think it goes on the number line. If you're really stuck, you can tap another student to come help you. (Still in silence.)

3. When it's your turn, you can move fractions if you think they belong elsewhere. You must justify your answer. (The only time you get to talk!) For example, you might explain where you think the number goes in proximity or sequence with other numbers. Or you might refer to the clock, reflecting on how many minutes would occur in that fraction of an hour.

4. Layer equivalent fractions on top of one another.

Getting started with the number line
Reflections & Differentiation
Students, in rapt attention, worked to figure out their fractions and watched as classmates posted new ones. For some, calculating where to put their fraction proved to be a nice challenge. For others, a higher-level challenge lay in recognizing where the number line wasn't working. I heard comments like:
  • The 1/2 needs to be exactly at the center (and other position comments.)
  • You need to reverse these because... (this is less/more than the one next to it...and then they proved it.)
  • These are equivalent because... (demonstrated proof)
The depth of the activity hugely contributed toward differentiation.
Moving a fraction...then explaining why two fractions are equivalent
Reviewing Fractions of an Hour
After all the cards were posted, I started at zero and picked up one card at a time, asking students to figure out what fraction of an hour the number represented. So, for example, for 1/12, students said 5 minutes. For accountability, I usually had them whisper the answer to their neighbor before I asked for a volunteer to give an answer and justify it. When we reached a stack of fractions on the number line, I asked them to explain why they thought the numbers were equivalent.

Showing a this case, noticing that 12ths can be found in order.
Seeing Patterns in the Number Line
As we wrapped up, one student noticed a pattern...that all the 12ths--1/12, 2/12, 3/12, etc...--were in order on the line. Another student lit up, noticing the fourths. Then another saw the thirds.

This clothesline is going to see a lot more laundry fractions!

P.S. For a single student, try Clothespin Fractions.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Math Monday Blog Hop: Measurement

I enjoy teaching measurement, probably because it's such a diverse subject and so easy to apply to real life situations. Some of my favorites have been:

Capacity Scarecrows

How Big is a Giant's Foot?

Measuring Water Temperature and Penguin Height

What ideas would you like to share for teaching measurement? Post your ideas (no ads, please!) in the blog hop below.

P.S. Math Monday will cover time & money in December (a great month to think about both!) so save those measurement concepts for a few more weeks.

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Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Ha! Brainteaser Kit...Problem Solving Perseverance!

It's no secret that I'm a fan of ThinkFun games and activities. So I was pretty excited to receive the A Ha! Brainteaser Kit for review. 

The kit contains 8 colorful, plastic brainteasers designed to exercise problem-solving muscles. Each brainteaser comes with four cards; the first describes the objective and the next three provide clues on how to solve the problem.  

Uses: Individual & Classroom
The kit arrived right before my 11yo son and I left for our weekly allergy shots. We opened it in the office and alternated puzzles. My son started with "Starburst," handing it to me after a ten-minute attempt. I tried. Kept trying. Thought to myself...come on...this is designed for Grades 2-8...YOU...CAN...DO...THIS. Then, seriously, this phrase started going through my head (think Nagini to Harry Potter):
CCSS.Math.Practice.MP1 Make sssssense of problemsssss and persssssevere in ssssssolving them.
And like the little engine that could (or the middle age math teacher putting Ssssstandardsssss into Practiccccce), I DID IT! And, no, I didn't look at all the clues. Well, maybe one clue.

Starburst Puzzle with Cards
See! I did it!
Next, I introduced the kit to my 5th grade math class as a transition activity. The result? Kids frequently pick them up. Since all of our current Math Stations require partners, it's been nice for times when I have an odd number of students. Early finishers also challenge themselves with the kits.

I've encouraged students to delay use of the hint cards (especially hints 2 & 3) as long as possible. When students work in pairs, they can discuss their problem solving strategies, thereby providing one another with hints of their own. Although I haven't done this yet, I may put out 2-3 kits on a rotating basis to use for transitions/Math Stations/early finishers and ONLY include the objective card.

Other Thoughts:
While the kit suggests use in Grades 2-8, I think it's most appropriate for gifted students in the lower grades. My 7yo first grader asked to participate along with me and my 11yo son. After about 30 minutes on a single puzzle, I began congratulating myself on my 7yos amazing attention span. Then he burst out crying. He was SO UPSET that he couldn't figure it out. (Bit of a perfectionist?) I put that puzzle away, but he immediately wanted to try another, so I guess it wasn't too traumatizing.

I love this kit. I will use it with my own kids as well as my students.

Disclaimer: I was provided a free kit by ThinkFun for the purpose of review. This did not influence my opinion. Although I do appreciate the freebie!  If you order from Amazon, all commissions go toward foster care through Grace and Hope at no additional cost to you. THANK YOU!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Math Monday Blog Hop: Thanksgiving Math

Welcome to Math Monday Blog Hop!!!! In this hop all links will relate to the theme: Thanksgiving Math.

My greatest math/Thanksgiving lesson ever was the one in which we combined handprint turkeys with our math calendar for the month:

 How do you bring math into your seasonal celebrations? Post your ideas in the blog hop below!

If you want to share this collection on your blog, just grab this link:

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Saturday, November 2, 2013

Wondering What to Do With All Those SKITTLES? (SALE!)

SALE ALERT!!!   Is your household (or classroom) in a post-Halloween sugar stupor? Got some of these?

Maybe it's time for a little work with Skittles Fractions, Estimation & Graphing! :)

This pack is on sale through this weekend!!!  Make use of those calories! ;)

Skittle Fractions, Estimation & Graphing
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