Great Math Products!


Base Ten Number Line


Multiplication Tricks



FourFingers with Numbers

Telling Time Misconceptions


Equivalent Fractions


Simplifying Fractions


Clock Fractions


Math Fact Motivation


Math Night 2012


Bulletin Board Ideas


Classroom Management


Lines and Angles



I get the cutest handwriting fonts at Fonts for Peas!

STOP! Don’t Throw Out the Markers!

Here’s what happens.  I’m in the middle of a lesson or art project.  You name it.  Then my Crayola, Sharpie or, Expo marker etc. stops working.  I declare, “This marker is going to marker heaven,” as I toss it into the metal trash can. BONG!  

As you can see above, I have a whole collection of markers that aren’t in the best shape.  I go through these every year to check for ones that don’t work so that they can be thrown away.  Now there is a better way!

Did you know Crayola recycles markers?  Not only do they recycle their own markers, but they will recycle other markers, too!  They will also recycle  other brands of washable markers, permanent markers, dry erase markers, and highlighters.  They will do this for any K-12 school in the contiguous 48 states.  The school has to have a contact person to register the school, though.  You can get more information by clicking here.  Now, no more marker heaver–just marker reincarnation.

Try this Fun Activity for Your Promoted Fifth Graders!

We always have a big ceremony for our 5th graders who are being promoted to 6th grade every year.  In fact it rivals many high school graduations in its attention to detail and classiness.  This year, I wanted to add little something to it, so at the prompting of my students, we made these cute profile images of their faces.  The students put quotes on them that meant something to them.  In some cases students made up their own quotes, and I let them.

I had students make up the rubric for what a good profile image would look like. Most of them agreed that a quality profile had to have no white spaces, at least two colors, and at least one quote.  They turned out SO well, and I’m so proud of them! 🙂  You will notice that some profiles look similar to others.  That is because when one student had a good idea, other students tended to copy the good ideas.

First you must know that I work next door to the art teacher (HOW convenient!).  The art teacher let me borrow these spotlights that make the perfect shadow on a large sheet of white construction paper.  I outlined the students’s shadow and had them trace their shadow in black Sharpie.  If you don’t do this first, it turns out disastrous because then students end up coloring over the pencil lines and then when they cut out their profile, their lips and nose look somewhat deformed. I had them make their colored design first, and then AT THE END they can cut out their profile.  I allowed students to be able to use oil pastels, water color, black Sharpie, and crayons to make their images.  I emphasized the fact that they must NOT use Sharpie over the top of oil pastels or crayons because the wax will ruin the Sharpie.  I had them use the oil pastels, crayons, or Sharpie first and THEN they could paint over it with water color.  The wax in the crayons and oil pastels will cause the water color to resist causing a nice effect.

Parents and students took much pride in these as they lined the hall after their “graduation ceremony”.

Does Fruit Have Feelings?

This post is a continuation of our previous water and rice experiments.  The experiment is completely a product of child wonder and curiosity.  After we spoke to rice for 30 days and saw the changes, the students wanted to try fruit, and they voted on blueberries.  So that everyone was a part of the experiment, I put the blueberries in a baggy and put that baggy inside of a Wal-Mart sack to prevent leakage.  Then I passed the bag around so that all of the students could have a turn squashing the berries inside the bag.  Next, I put about a half of a cup of squished berries in three different clean jars and sealed them.  With masking tape, one jar was labeled “LOVE” and the other jar was labeled “HATE”.  A third jar was left blank as our control group.  The children made predictions about what they thought would happen to each jar.  Every day without prompting as the students would leave class, they would say, “I love you” to the love jar and “I hate you” to the hate jar.  The blank jar sat by itself without being spoken to.

After 30 school days of speaking to the jars, we opened them…duh…dum…

So what do you think happened?  Now, if you have been following the other two experiments, you may have an idea of what happened.  The love and hate jars smelled distinctly different.  The love jar smelled like sweet wine.  The hate jar smelled more like vinegar.  Of course, all of the jars had started a fermentation process.  In fact, the jars had fermented so much that when I opened the lid it was pressurized to some degree and  hard to open.  There was actually a blue-grayish fog that came out of the love and hate jars when they were opened.  The jar that had no name didn’t have a fog and neither was the smell very strong like the love and hate jars.

What explains all of this?  Now, I can’t explain it, but there is something powerful about words and your students will figure this out after doing any of these experiments.  This could lead to such a powerful discussion about talking to others in a kind way.

What do you think we did next?  Well, I had one student who wanted to know what would happen if we started saying “I love you” to the hate jar and “I hate you” to the love jar.  We did this for 30 school days with the same jars and same berries.  We relabeled the jars with “hate” tape over the “love” tape and “love” tape over the “hate” tape.

(suspense building music plays here)…We opened the jars again after 30 school days of talking to the jars.  I predicted that the jars would change and the love jar would turn the hate berries into smelling sweeter and the hate jar would turn the love berries into smelling more sour…BUT this isn’t what happened.  The jars actually smelled the same.

What should we try next?

Try this New Free Math Website!

Earlier, I showed you a video about how to set up an account with  iKnowIt is a fabulous new math website that gives students a variety of practice problems to solve through a fun and interactive new platform.  Now, I am going to show you what a student sees when they experience iKnowIt.  Remember iKnowIt is absolutely FREE until August 2018.  Give it a try!  Happy Viewing!


Did I mention I love the chipmunks! (wink, wink)

How to Set Up an IKnowIt Account (free)!

Guess what?!  Have you heard about this great new math website?!  There are math lessons set up for kindergarten through 5th grade.  Students are given a score for problems they get right so that you could potentially use this for a quick grade. Winning!  Right now you can set up an account for your class absolutely free–until August 2018 that is!  In the following video, I show you how to set up your free account and how to assign lessons to your students.

Pi Day Lesson Freebies!

Recently I told you my plans for teaching a Pi Day lesson.  I am pleased to tell you it went very well!  I am going to share a few things with you that may help your future Pi Day go well.

First of all, I explained to students how Pi was determined.  In case you don’t know, pi is the number that you get when you take the circumference of a circle and divide it by the diameter.  Then I showed students this fun video.  You really need to explain pi first before the video since  the information may get lost in the cutesy-ness of the video.

Next, I talked to the students about how some people try to break records with how many digits of pi they have memorized.  I showed them this website with a million digits of pi and scrolled down a bit so they could see all of the digits of pi.  Students were amazed when I showed them this website and highlighted the names of people who have broken records with memorizing digits of pi. I gave students a paper with as many digits of pi as would fit on it front and back and had them highlight any numbers that meant something to them.  These numbers could be ages, birthdays, lunch numbers, addresses, zip codes, etc.  By the end of the week, I had one student coming up to me and spouting off the first 40 digits of pi she had memorized.  Students seemed slightly obsessed with memorizing digits of pi.

Then I gave students a box of several objects that were circle shaped to choose from.  I just had these items around my classroom.  Now, you must understand that I tend to collect recyclable items and always have a few on hand.  This helped quite a bit with this project.  At this time, no lie, I have about thirty toilet paper rolls in my backseat.  They have been there for several weeks just waiting to go into the school and be a part of some project. 🙂

I also borrowed some hula hoops from the PE teacher for an extra fun challenge!

I told students that they had to measure a smaller item before they measured the large hula hoops.  This seemed to work best for students to manage their time more wisely.

I showed students how to measure around an object with some thin wire that I had.  I chose wire instead of string because string seems to stretch too much, thereby giving inaccurate measurements.  With the wire, students were able to bend it to mark off a point to show where to stop measuring on a ruler.

I had students to measure with the metric side of the ruler and I showed them how to convert the marks between the centimeters into fractional tenths of a centimeter.  For example, a length that measures 5 cm and 2 mm could be written as the decimal 5.2.

I did allow students to use calculators for this activity because I really wanted them to be able to have several decimal places after the decimal.  Not all of my students had been taught division with decimals yet.

At the end we discussed how the measurements didn’t come out to be 3.14 exactly and why that happened.  We discussed the possible use of wire, human error, and so forth.  Students used words like precision to describe their measurements if they weren’t 3.14.  Another topic of closing discussion was looking at papers that had decimals that weren’t preceded by a 3.  We talked about why that may have happened as well.

I would teach this lesson again.  The students were engaged the entire time and really seemed to enjoy this change of pace.

Download the Activity Sheets here if you would like them.

Do You Have a Pi Day Plan? {Giveaway Time}

Do you have any fabulous plans for Pi Day you would like to share?  I am going to spend a little time doing two things.
1.  Discover pi. I am going to have a variety of circular objects such as Pringles containers, nut canisters, and other recyclable items for students to have access to.  Students will choose at least three objects.  Then they will measure the circumference with string and divide by the diameter of each circle.  I will provide string to measure the circumference and rulers to measure the string and diameter of each circle.  Then students will divide the circumference by the diameter.  I will do this to help them discover pi by themselves.  Students should roughly get three on each circular item.
2.  Next, I will print off enough digits of pie to at least fill a page.  I will have them go on a pi scavenger hunt to find as many meaningful numbers as the students can find that have to do with their life.  For example, they can possibly find their age, birthday, house number, zip code, phone number, etc.
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Fill In Fraction Freebie: Counting by 1/2

Just finished up this free fraction sampler for you all!  This includes some pages of fill in number charts counting by ½.  There is also a completely filled out chart of counting by ½ that could really be useful for those students who are struggling with the concept of halves or even counting by halves.

This sampler is a few pages of the 60 newly posted fill in fraction number charts that has charts counting by ½, ⅓, ¼, 1/5, 1/6, ⅛, 1/10, and 1/100.

I hope you enjoy the freebie!  Click here to download.

Does Water Have Feelings? {Science Experiment}

Well, it may not have feelings, but it responds when you talk to it.  If you have been following my blog at all, you will know that in the fall we did an experiment with rice jars.  We said, “I love you” to one, and “I hate you to another”.  Then we let one jar just sit as our control group.  If you want to read more about the rice jar experiment, go here.

After that experiment, it made kids become curious about what would happen if we repeated the same experiment, but with different items such as fruit or water.  Well, we did repeat the experiment with water and repeated another experiment with blueberries.  This post will be about what happened with the water experiment if you want to repeat it in your classroom or at home for that matter.

First we took three jars of exactly the same size and put the same amount of spring water in each one.  I used spring water because I have a water cooler in my room. Then we put exactly 1 cup of water in each jar. We made a jar to say “I love you” to, a jar to say “I hate you” to, and a jar with no label that was just to sit as our control group.  The kids in the classroom talked to the jars every day for 30 school days before they left the room.  The jars just sat over the weekend, and they just sat if we had a day out of school.  The students picked the jars up when they talked to them, but for the most part didn’t really pick up the control group jar.

Below, I put these against black construction paper so you could really tell the difference in the three.

Ironically, our 30 days ended on Valentine’s Day, so we opened the jars on February 14th.  The control group jar just smelled like water and the water was very clear.  The love jar didn’t have a really detectable smell to me but one of the kids said it smelled like cut grass.  It was a little whiter in color than the control group water, but not very much.  The love jar looked very similar to the control group.  Next the big difference was in the hate jar.  We could easily see that the hate jar had a cloudy white color to it compared to the other jars.  It also smelled musty when we smelled it.  More condensation was also on the sides of the jar.  Upon close examination, we also noticed that the lid had grown mold or mildew on the top.

Below, in order the control group jar lid, the love jar lid, and the hate jar lid.

Ok, so I know the experiment isn’t perfect because the lids aren’t all the same, but I couldn’t find another one of the metal lids at the time, so I used the purple plastic one.

What a fantastic and powerful way to teach kids about bullying and kindness.  The power of the kids’ words is evident when they speak to the jars without you having to say much.  I do suggest you ask questions when the jars are opened such as:

Why do you think this happened?

How is this like when we talk to people?

Do you think your words affect people the same way?  Why?

What do you wonder now?

Did our words really change the water?  Was it just some bacteria that floated in the air?  Were the jars clean enough? Was there bacteria in the water?  What could explain these differences?  (I feel like I am a script writer for Ripley’s believe it or not.)

Now, this happened not once–but twice.  First, with the rice experiment and now with water!  Something is definitely going on here.  You don’t believe me?  I dare you to try it at home for 30 days.

What will we do next?  Well, the kids in my class decided that they wanted to put three NEW jars in boxes in separate corners of the room to talk to each day–so that is what we will do!

Help Your Strugglers with Fraction Number Sense!

Sad but true…Most kids start out struggling with fractions.  In real life, we don’t count by fractions and fractions are smaller than our normal counting numbers.  Sometimes students get the “top number” and “bottom number” confused.  The computer makes fractions with a slash, and teachers tell students to write fractions with a straight line and not a slanted line.  There is so much to stumble over as a student!

Could making fractions a part of your daily routine actually help students have a better conceptual understanding?!  But of course, darling (with godfather accent)!  I mean, after all, when teaching kids to count, we count over and over again EVERY DAY in kindergarten.  Students count by 2’s, by 5’s, by 10’s etc. and that is how we teach them to develop number sense.  We somehow lose this idea when it comes to fractions.  What if we actually gave the same tenacity to counting with fractions?

I am going to show you the tool to use to be able to support your students through scaffolded understanding of counting with fractions.  Behold!  Fill in Fraction Number Charts! 😉


Students have the opportunity to count by ½, ⅓ , ¼, 1/5, 1/6, ⅛, 1/10, 1/12, and 1/100. There are a variety of number charts included so that students can start out finding patterns when counting by a unit fraction.  Then there are three levels of charts when counting by each fraction.  Each chart level gets increasingly more difficult as it scaffolds learning.  This could also provide differentiated practice for your learners.  When students become comfortable counting by unit fractions, they can then try the three levels of simplified charts if the unit fractions can be simplified.  Then after daily practice, ta-daaaaaa, better fraction understanding!

Oh, my gosh!  What a great idea for morning work!  Great way to start the day!

I’ll be back in a few days to show you a special fraction freebie I have in store for you!



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