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!

Ms. K

Need a Beginning of the Year Lesson for Symmetry?

This lesson was almost an accident, but it turned out so well!  Not knowing I was going to have to teach a particular class, I desperately went in search of the librarian’s expertise for a beginning of the year book. I couldn’t find the book I was looking for so she gladly showed me this book.

I read the students the story, calling particular attention to the stamp she receives from her grandmother, and then I had students make stamps.  In order to do this I used some bottle caps we had been collecting. Sadly, I spent too long at home hot gluing foam squares to bottle cap lids.


I was kind of worried that if the squares weren’t perfectly rectangular or square it would not look good when students stamped their letters, but actually kids wasn’t able to tell after the stamp was pressed down.  It really just mattered where the pressure was when the stamp was pressed down.

When I brought these to school, I had kids find the Korean letter that corresponded to one of their initials.  I used this page I found after a Google search.  Then I had students write their Korean initial once, draw a line of symmetry and flip the Korean letter over before they carved it into their stamp.  Because not every letter of the Korean alphabet corresponds to an English letter, I had students find the Korean letter that most closely corresponded.  I also gave them the option of picking a letter from their middle or last name if their first initial didn’t correspond to a Korean letter.  Students carved with their pencil into the foam.

Here are some of the results.  I let the kids take their stamps home.  NOTE:  If you don’t want stamp ink everywhere invest in some baggies for them to put their stamps into.

I did this with both first and second graders.  I was a little nervous about doing this with first graders, but they handled it like champs (one of my stamp pads was worse for the wear due to a first grader I might add).  I would do this lesson again, and it was such a rich lesson.  There were connections in the book to another country, the Korean alphabet offered a connection to another language, and the symmetry added a math connection.  The whole lesson took three class periods of 30 minutes each. Happy stamping! 🙂

Could You Be Hurting Your Students by Using This?

Recently, I started doing math intervention with a small group of students.  I noticed when given a mat similar to the one above that the students didn’t really understand all of the wording beneath the boxes.  They heard the word thousand and they were completely confused.  This caused them to begin looking for the thousands box when hearing a number called out orally.  I also had students holding the mat vertically and writing the numbers vertically.  For this lower group of students, I finally just pulled out the white boards and had them begin writing numbers by filling in blanks such as this…

_____,  _____  _____  _____,  _____  _____  _____

This worked out better with much less confusion after I explained how when coming to a comma that you say the name of the period such as thousands or millions.  Show students how to cover up everything on the outside of the comma and just say the three digit numbers.  This will give students a starting point.  Most students can say three digit numbers in third grade and beyond.  If you teach kids that there is a pattern to being able to say numbers, they will feel so empowered.

In case you are having difficulties with this in your classroom, this product below may be just what you are looking for!  It completely explains how to verbalize large numbers with great ideas for anchor charts like below.

In Need of a Challenging Back to School Bulletin Board?

Back to school is always a time that we struggle to arrive at a fresh new back to school bulletin board.  Now I have used a similar idea in the past for a bulletin board, but I have never included a rebus with the board.  This year I did include a rebus/plexer/hink pink/ or whatever you like to call them. Some might say that I just wrote the words backwards and tried to make a mirror image while other students I have worked with for a while recognize my tactics and know there is a secret hidden meaning.

two schools

backwards schools

back two school

OH!!!! Back to school!

For the board materials, I just used some extra school supplies that were around the school.  I can always return the supplies for them to actually be used because no supplies were damaged in the making of this board.  The items that wouldn’t hold a staple were merely placed on the board with hidden masking tape rolls.

If you are looking for some free rebus puzzles for your bulletin board, you can search for some (free ones in fact) on Super Teacher Worksheets.  I use these sometimes.

Happy Back to School Season to you!

Best, Cheap, Color Pens Ever! {Giveaway}

I have been on a quest for good colored pens and didn’t want to spend a gazillion dollars on them.  I searched at Office Depot and deliberated over several pens.  Then I finally bought some Paper Mate ball point colored pens.  There were about four in the package for five bucks.  I liked them okay, but they weren’t quite what I was looking for in the way they wrote. Well, I gladly remembered I had a gift card to Target, so a few days later I spent some time in Target and bought a pack of cheap Bic pens.  I got 12 pens in the package.  They were multicolored and had a pen stroke of 1.6 mm.  I tend to like a heavier pen stroke.  At only $2.44 for a package of 12 pens, what did I have to lose?  I bought them and took them home.  Pen love ensued.  In the package you get 6 colors with two of each color…black, red, light blue, pink, lime green, green, and my personal favorite purple.  Look how nicely they write!  They would even be wonderful for grading papers with the bright colors.

Prize: $100 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card
Giveaway Organized by: Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher)
Rules: Use the Rafflecopter to enter.  Giveaway ends 8/13/18 and is open worldwide.
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Is There Math in Building Robots?

It seems building robots is frivolous…an extra activity….not really necessary…just for fun, BUT I recently had the privilege to attend a 5- day robotics summer camp, which opened my eyes to the skills involved in learning robotics.  Elementary students in grades 2-5 worked with VEX IQ robotics in teams of 2-3.

1.The first day they built the robots from the kit directions.

2.The second day they practiced having the robots drive to certain points on a floor mat.

3.The third day they programmed the robot to go to certain points on the mat.

4.The fourth day they learned to drive the robot with a controller.

5. The fifth day they put all they had learned into practice and competed.

The day they competed was my favorite day because I got too see the students excel with all they had learned.

Here are the major skills I observed kids learning during the process of building robots:

  1. learning interpersonal skills by working in teams to accomplish a goal
  2. learning and communicating in angle measures because they had to program their robot to turn
  3. learning the difference in mm and inches as they had to program their robot to move a certain distance.
  4. estimating distances as they had to program their robot to stop at a certain point
  5. exercising perseverance when a part of their robot didn’t quite connect correctly or behave correctly when programmed

Below you will see some photos showing the first mat students used in learning to drive their robots.  On this mat students programed  their robot to turn and learned about distances.  Their task was to program their robot to drive from home (the orange sign) to their friends house (the green sign) to the movie theater (the pink sign).  Then they were to program their robot to drive their friend back home and return to home themselves.  This task was way more challenging than it appears.

For your students who are unmotivated, what better way to create motivation than to have them do a culminating project of building robots after they learn measurement or as they learn measurement skills.

So I am going to fumble through learning this with my students this year.  I will be a novice robotics coach learning along side the kids.  🙂


Crayola Markers STEM Challenge

I made scribble bots with my students during the last days of school.  It was a GREAT activity with high engagement and interest among students.  Not only that, it is a great way to use your almost dried up markers–the ones that still make a mark, but may not be so good for coloring.  All of the other materials are available at the Dollar Tree except for the small motors and items from around the house.

For each scribble bot you will need:

  • a small motor (from Amazon)
  • a clothespin
  • tape (I used masking)
  • a AA battery
  • a cup (I used styrofoam)
  • a popsicle stick
  • Old Crayola markers (at least 4)
  • old Christmas light wire (we used this instead of alligator clips)
  • bulletin board paper large enough for the bot to travel a little way

First, I showed this video to my students.

Next, I reiterated a few parts of the video such as make sure your motor is perpendicular to the popsicle stick and make sure the motor is all the way on the end of the stick.

This will probably take your students the better part of an hour, but your really smart kids may finish earlier.  These students can still be challenged by trying to find a way to make a different pattern with their bot, or using their materials and motor in a different way.  Notice the scribble bot with lots of markers all around…my little over achiever made this one.  His bot actually made a fabulous pattern!  Notice some of the different patterns that are being made on the paper by different students’ bots.

I hope your students enjoy this as much as mine did!

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)




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