Tuesday, December 23, 2014

iHeart Math Holiday Hop

Happy MATH-y Holidays! I'm hosting the final day of the iHeart Math Holiday Hop. The entire advent calendar (see bottom of post) has now been unlocked; you can now go back and download freebies--23!--from ALL of my math blogging friends. Some of the activities are seasonal and you'll want to use them when you return to school in January. Others can be saved until next Christmas. Some, like mine, can be used any day of the year!

Stocking Stuffer #1 - Giving Back: Favorite Math Books & Games

It's no secret that I'm obsessed with math-related children's literature. Even if your Christmas shopping is finished, you still have plenty of time to grab the gigantic list and head to the library to check out a stack of favorite books to share with a child.

Since we are a big game family, I've also compiled a list of favorite Math Toys, Gifts, and Games. Chances are, some of these are in your closet. Why not pull them out to enjoy over holiday break? In the interest of minimalizing, you could pass around a set of games amongst friends.

In addition, this free Math Game List handout can be passed along to teachers, parents, and homeschoolers who are interested in enriching children's math experiences at home through simple card and board games. This list, which also includes a few game-like activities, could be used in a variety of ways:
• letter home to families at end of school year
• math center ideas for school or homeschool
• early-finishers list
• a checklist for summer fun

Stocking Stuffer #2 - Math Tip: Gingerbread Math

Here's a timely online activity for young mathematicians. On Topmarks Maths: Gingerbread Man Game, students can choose from the following:
• matching written numbers to dots
• ordering #s of dots by quantity
• counting
• sequencing numbers
• counting with one-to-one correspondence
Teachers can use the full-screen function and project the activities for transition times. So fun!

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 Books...in 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.  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 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..."

Visit all 23 of these math bloggers for fabulous tips and freebies! Just click on the calendar squares to link to individual blogs. Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Fairy Tale Favorites!

Fairy tales invite students to think about short stories in new, exciting, and creative ways. Here are some of our favorite activities that focus on character in grades 4 and up.

Poetry & Art: Character
I invite students to create diamante poems that either show the changes in a single character or contrast two characters. After writing a poem, students create background displays. Here's how...

First, think of a prominent feature from the book that is fairly easy to define in an chunky outline, like a beanstalk (right) or stars (left.) Then, make shape templates out of cardboard scraps and use teeny pieces of tape to mount them on background paper.

Spray them with tempera paint that has been watered down just slightly...enough so it will go through a spray bottle. (Test this ahead of time and remind students that less is more. Too much spray will give you "lake effect poetry.")

When dry, remove templates and write the poem. A couple colored construction paper cut-outs help the artwork to "pop" and give it more depth. I use this tempera spray art for a variety of poetry-art projects. Students always love it!

Character Study Sheets (available here)

"Character analysis"...it's not a phrase that brings students running. But what if you change it up a bit? How about scoring characters on report cards? It's so much fun to consider...

What grade might you give Red Riding Hood for "follows instructions?"

 Character Report Card

Throw in a few adjectives--and their opposites--and you've got the makings of more creative character analysis.

On a scale of 1-10, how might you rate each of the three pigs for lazy versus industrious behavior? How would Hansel and Gretel score on impulse control? The possibilities are endless...

 Casting Characters
Finally, what if you got to cast characters in a movie production? Can you describe each character and cast a famous actor or actress in the roles?

I love teaching short story through folk and fairy tales! Read more about our unit adventures here and here.

You can also preview the character analysis sheets here.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Christmas Art & Poetry: Winter Art from the Heart

I spent the morning with an incredible group of (almost 30!) second graders, creating winter scenes.

In preparation for their scenes--and for poetry writing--we brainstormed nouns, verbs, and adjectives that they might find in a book with the subject of "winter." They came up with fabulous lists.

I am tickled with how these turned out. On another day, they'll complete poems to go on the back of each winter scene. Here are a few to share...

 Wisemen, angel, Mary & Joseph

 Notice the "naughty" list?

 Love the reindeer.

 Wreaths on the fence are a nice touch.

 So much detail. Love the colored birds.

 Now THAT is an angel! (And what a Rudolph!)

 Check out the Grinch!

 Frozen comes to life! The kids started singing spontaneous carols--and the Frozen tunes--while they worked!

 Penguin habitat!

 Tree is all decorated.

 Angel AND Santa!

Displays for a class of 30 kids takes up a lot of counter space! :)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Math in Real Life: Brownies for a CROWD!

I love exploring "real life" math with students. Today I'm excited to be linking up with:

A monthly REAL WORLD math blog link-up hosted by

A month ago, my family attended an annual camp retreat. When I walked in the kitchen and saw this...

...I knew it was time for real life math. My sister, the baker, was in the process of preparing brownies for 150. Here's her recipe:

Thankfully, a computer program converts a standard brownie recipe to serve 150. But the question remains...how do you convert fractional parts of quarts, gallons, tablespoons, etc.? And what does that equal in portions that bakers are likely to find friendly? For example:
• How many cups of cocoa power, sugar, and flour are needed?
• How many sticks of butter?
In the kitchen, this chart is posted on a nearby cabinet.

Using that chart, she made some delicious brownies! Can you figure out exactly how much of each ingredient she used?

What other "real life" math moments do you see in this activity?

Monday, December 1, 2014

December Sale, Calendar, & Events!

So much going on this month! Sales, freebies, math hops and more!

Today kicks off TPT's Cyber Monday & Tuesday sale. Save up to 28% by using the promo code TPTCYBER at checkout.

In my store you may want to check out the "Presents."

Presenting...Multiples & Factors
These little factor and multiple flap book "presents" require students to write the definition of "factor" and "multiple" and list 5 multiples for 2-10 and all the factors for 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 18,  24, 36. Blank versions are also included for teachers or students who want to use their own numbers. Great for use in math notebooks!

Presenting...Powers of Ten (pictured below)

Color, cut, and glue these little "present" flap books to review place value and decimal patterns when multiplying or dividing by powers of 10. On each sheet students solve nine problems and write descriptions of the patterns they observe. Blank versions are also included for teachers or students who want to use their own numbers. Revised **TODAY** to almost double the content! If you've previously purchased the product, you can download the revised file for free!

December Math Calendars
As always, the NRICH site is sharing online math holiday calendars...a problem each day for the days leading up until Christmas.  Visit them here, by level:

Primary Calendar (British Stages 1-2*)
Secondary Calendar (British Stages 3-5)

iHeart Math Holiday Hop!
23 math bloggers have joined up to offer a season of mathematical tips and freebies!You can begin today by visiting Mr. Elementary Math.
#iheartmath

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Counting Backward...and Why It Matters

By this time in the school year, many of my first grade friends are pretty comfortable with counting forward. Sometimes it sounds like this, in warp speed:

onetwothree
fourfivesix
seveneightnine
teneleventwelvethirteen

Count from 5 to 13.

Count from 18 to 25.

Count from 23 to 31.

Suddenly, student comfort levels become more apparent.

But if you really want to know how fluent students are with number sequence, ask them to count BACKWARD.

Quite a few will rattle off 10 - 1. But ask them for other sequences and you'll soon discover things you might not have known.

Count backward from 13 to 5.

Count backward from 17 to 9.

Count backward from 27 to 19.

I've recently been doing some intervention work in first grade. Some students can slowly and methodically count back. Others really struggle. In a few cases, I would never know about their lack of confidence with number sequencing if I had only asked them to count forward.

It's interesting to see what strategies they use. Today I watched one little boy do this:

17, um...

(whisper counts on his fingers, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7...6),

16,

(whisper counts on his fingers, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,...5),

15, etc...

Based on his whispers, it appears that he understands that the order of numbers repeats in the teens, but he must go back through the single digit numerals to figure out which ten & something digit comes next.

Some kids need written support to count backward. If they ask for help, I write their responses in a double ten frame as they count:

27, um..., 26

I continue writing, recording each number as they say it:

After working with a hundreds grid for quite a while, the double ten frames look pretty familiar and they can usually relate to the decade numbers being on the far right.

Robert Wright's (et al) book, Teaching Number in the Classroom with 4-8 year-olds, has many ideas about the relevance of backward number sequences in mathematics. Here's a sample:
"Children might omit a word in the backward sequence which they do not omit in the forward sequence, for example, sixteen, fifteen, thirteen, twelve, and so on. This error can be persistent and can result in errors when using the backward sequence for subtraction, for example, 17-4 as sixteen, fifteen, thirteen, twelve!." (p. 35)
What insights have you gained from asking students to count backward?

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