Great Math Products!


Base Ten Number Line


Multiplication Tricks



OneFinger copy

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!


Your Kids Aren’t Learning Their Addition Facts? Try This…Part 6

If you have been following the previous posts, then you will see the progression of teaching number facts strategies.  Nearly the last part of teaching addition facts focuses around doubles and doubles plus 2.  I think this is one of the hardest strategies because kids may not readily see the double when it is two numbers away. With a little thinking and prodding, however, they will see the fact without using their fingers.  Line the numbers up side by side so that students can see examples of both sets of numbers–the helping fact and the double plus 2.


Again, when having students recognize patterns and see relationships, I like to write them out of order so that students don’t say that the numbers are counting by 2’s etc.  If students struggle to see the patterns, underline numbers to help them focus on what you want them to see such as underlining the second addends on both sets of equations.  Then underline the sums on both sets of equations.  Step back for a few moments and let the prolonged silence aid students in thinking about the relationships in the two sets of numbers.  Give students time enough to generalize about how doubles can be a helping fact.  * Note that students have already learned sums of 10 and 10s plus 2 more so they have strategies for 5+7, 4+6, and 6+8.

After this, students only have a few more facts to learn!!

You may also like:


Thank you Erin Cobb!  Frames Courtesy of Lovin Lit.

You’re Kids Aren’t Learning Their Addition Facts? Try This…Part 5


(Thank you Erin Cobb from Lovin’ Lit for the pretty border!)

Now after I have taught everything that I previously blogged about in Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4, which includes tens and tens plus one.  Learning the sums/bonds of 10 is the foundation for this discussion.  One of the tens plus 2 will already have been learned because it is a double, but there is no harm in learning multiple strategies to reach one fact.  Also, doubles plus two facts will be learned later and doubles plus two will also give students a strategy to reach 7+5=12 and 5+7=12.  Allow students to recognize this on their own when you reach that lesson.  The more ownership students can have of the strategies without you telling it to them, the more they will remember the strategies and feel smarter for being able to discuss the strategies.

Again when you introduce these facts write them out of order on the board.  Step back, wait, have children quietly look at the number facts and find relationships or patterns in their head.  I use the Number Talks strategy and have them put their thumb on their chest when they find a pattern.  This keeps everyone attentively looking for more patterns without the dramatic hand raisers flailing their arms in the air.  If students say that they see lots of tens and twelves acknowledge this and then ask students to look for more.  Eventually you will get what you are looking for if you have the foundation built from the previous lessons.  If no students say that one of the addends goes up by 2 and the sum goes up by two, offer a hint by underlining these numbers so that they are focusing their attention there.  Follow this up by fact (flashcards if you prefer) practice over the sums they have just discovered a strategy for and over previously learned facts.

Happy Thanksgiving!

You may also like:


Your Kids Aren’t Learning Their Addition Facts? Try This…Part 4

So far if you have followed my previous posts, students will have learned their bonds of 10, their +1, +2, +9, +10, and adding one more to their bonds of 10 facts.  Next, I like to focus my students’ attention on learning their doubles.  Most of the time students are already comfortable with their doubles up to 5+5 since they easily see these doubles on their fingers, on dice, and in other real world examples.  At least when working with my intervention groups, this is the case.  The doubles kids most often struggle with are 7+7, 8+8, and 9+9.   When writing the doubles on the board, kids can easily see that the sums of double numbers turn out to be even numbers or the numbers that count by 2’s.

Slide1 I also like to use videos and games to help kids remember their doubles.  Here is one of the videos that I like to use.

This is only a preview of the video.  The other part used to be free but is no longer free.  The video costs $2.49 to download the 6-10 doubles, but is worth the purchase in my opinion.

After kids have learned their doubles, show them these doubles plus one more.  Don’t tell them that they are doubles plus one more, but let them see the pattern and tell you about them.


 Allow the kids to notice the pattern in the doubles and doubles plus one and express to you how the numbers change when one is added.  Kids will excitedly see the relationship between the double and how it goes up by one more.  After discussing the patterns from the previous posts, students will more readily see this pattern and relationship.  Then when using flashcards to follow up, students will sometimes think out loud about their strategy, and you will hear them thinking about the relationships they see to get to a new sum.  When you hear this you know you have taught them well!

You may also like:


Your Kids Aren’t Learning Their Addition Facts ? Try This…(Part 3)

Up to this point if you have been following my previous posts and tried them with your students, you’re students will have learned their bonds of 10, +1 facts, +2 facts, +9 facts, and +10  facts.  Now it is time to build on some of that foundational material that you have been working on with your students.  With consistent review of what they have already learned students will be ready to move on to using their bonds of ten to find other sums.  While allowing them to sit and think, show students these facts side by side and allow them to comment after a few minutes on what they notice.  I like to use the Number Talks idea and have students sit and think for a while and when they notice something in the patterns to then respond with a thumbs up on their chest.  This allows the other students to think without the over zealous arms dancing in the air with the correct answer.  Here even if students say something that isn’t quite what you are looking for, don’t discourage their contributions.  For example, if someone says that they all have 11’s respond by agreeing but asking for something more.  You might ask, how are the facts on the left like the ones on the right?  What are the only numbers changing?  How much are they changing by?  Only ask these questions if you don’t get much response initially.  Allow students time to think and study what you have written. Slide1

You may also like these earlier  posts about learning addition facts:



*Thank you Erin Cobb: Frames courtesy of Lovin’Lit.

Your Kids Aren’t Learning Addition Facts? Try This…(Part 2)

So, once the kids have learned the initial easy facts like I posted about before (+1, +10, and +9), I focus on getting them to learn their bonds of ten.  Now since we had already learned the +1 and +9 facts, I focus on these foundational facts to help us build other facts later on.  Most often kids know that 5 +5 makes 10 because they have 5 fingers on one hand and 5 fingers on the other hand to make 10 fingers.  After we talk about these, I make them practice these other three facts over and over (4+6, 3 +7, and 2+8) by writing them and saying them.  I don’t let them participate in any other activities in my group time until they can tell me these three facts that make ten.


I give them these facts to practice for homework as well before we use them as a foundation for anything else because I want them to be solid in this.

Then I leave the bonds of ten facts for a little while to practice the +2 facts.  These are easy.  All the while we are recalling what makes 10 often (in review) to keep these facts fresh in their mind.  After the kids see the number facts with the answers that are adding 2, I ask the students how they can always find the answer to a +2 fact easily.  Sometimes I write the +1 facts right beside the +2 facts to prompt their thinking.  Eventually they tell me that you just count 2 more numbers to get the sum/answer.

Slide1 More to come…

*Thank you Erin Cobb: Frames courtesy of Lovin’Lit.

Your Kids Aren’t Learning Addition Facts? Try This…

I have taken on teaching some third graders addition facts as an intervention.  When intervening with kids in any type of math, I never assume too much.  I start at the very bottom and work up.

Once I went to a  math professional development and the trainer was Melissa Conklin from Math Solutions.  She said one thing that has stuck with me.  Kids who are good at math see patterns.  If this is the case, then why don’t we present math in a way that kids can see patterns?  But usually when we teach addition facts, it begins like this.  Learn all your 1’s, then 2’s, then 3’s, then 4’s, then 5’s and so on.  Kids see the number facts usually presented in order.  There is no chance to think about the sums and why they turn out the way they do.  So, I challenge you to begin teaching your students their addition facts like this…

Have students look at patterns in their ones.  Don’t place them in order.  Go ahead and answer the problems so the conversation isn’t about finding the answers.


Now before I present something like this on the board, I leave it there and make the kids sit quietly to find any patterns they might see.  This shouldn’t take long, but you never know if kids aren’t seeing this simple fact.  Interestingly enough, usually the students with lower test scores on state tests do not see the patterns readily.  I must underline certain things after a while if I don’t get the feedback I am looking for.  For example, if students don’t see the ones pattern above, I underline the addend added to 1 and the sum…I would underline the 6 and 7, the 8 and 9, the 3 and 4, and so on.  Hopefully your students will say that when they add 1 that they are just counting up to the next number.  I follow up with flashcards of adding ones in my group of five or six students.

Next, move onward to 10’s because there is a similar pattern that you hope children will see.  Depending on your students, show them the 10’s pattern and let the kids observe for a few minutes, sit, and wait.  I have the kids put their thumb on their chest like they do in the Number Talks videos.  This lets me know they have found a pattern without them raising their hand distracting their neighbors who may still be thinking.  Remember, write the equations out of order and write the sums.


After writing these on the board, lower students will say that they see 10’s in all of them.  I ask for any other thoughts.  Then someone will say that they see the one in front of the number that is being added to the 10.  I ask for clarification and a student comes to the board to point a finger at the 1 in front of the sums.  I further still get clarification about the one asking if this is really a one or one group of……oh! ten!  Most have no difficulty after seeing the pattern.

Next, I bring out some of the hardest facts that students shudder at….dah…dah..dum(in suspense)–THE NINES!!! eeeeeek!  But if you know a pattern are the nines really that hard?  NO! ABSOLUTELY NOT!  Slide1

When you place the numbers on the board write them like above where you pair the ten helping fact with the nine fact.  Then allow kids to discuss what patterns they see.  They will see a pattern that works for them.  Underline the sums of the 10’s and 9’s facts to help students recognize that the nine’s facts are one less than the 10’s facts.  Students will use this strategy and maybe others when you use flash cards to help them become fluent.

That is all I have gotten to for now…more addition strategies to come.

*Thank you Erin Cobb: Frames courtesy of Lovin’Lit.

An Exploration of Math Stations

Maybe I’m a little late to jump on the Math Station band wagon, but when anyone mentioned math stations to me, all I heard was centers.  I didn’t feel that math stations were the right thing for our school until I read Debbie Diller’s Math Work Stations book.  So began my math workstations journey.


The book completely changed my mind about implementing stations.  I LOVE IT!

After reading this book, I decided to experiment with the idea of math stations in a 1st grade and 3rd grade classroom.  Right now we are getting them set up–deciding what activities to place in each station, making locations for each station in the room etc.  Since it is the end of the year, I knew we could spend time working out kinks with stations so that we could start out full force with math stations next year.  I will be writing more about our math stations with photos included coming soon.

I am including a freebie here for now that you may want to use in one of your math stations.  This sheet will go with an addition/subtraction station like one of the activities Debbie Diller suggests so that students may mark off the facts they know.  Click the blue link to download a copy.

AdditionFactsOrganized By Helping Strategy

Screen Shot 2014-05-12 at 9.27.06 PM

If you are using Debbie Diller’s math stations, I would love to hear about your experiences with what worked and what didn’t.  Please comment below. 🙂

Do You Need Some More Math Activities for Math Night?

Take a look at these exciting photos of our recent Family Math Night.  Originally we had scheduled Family Math Night on the 100th Day of school to build more momentum for the event, but we had to reschedule Math Night due to weather.  I’m mainly including activities that we hadn’t done before, and I will include links to former math nights so you can get even MORE ideas!

To start, tables with parent information were set up in the hallway.  The more inviting and fun student tables were set up inside the cafeteria.

Since many parents are unfamiliar with ten frames (I had never heard of them until I had started teaching), we had a table informing them of how ten frames work.



Then we had an information table showing the parents of 2nd and 3rd graders addition and subtraction strategies.  Parents even had an opportunity to see how base ten blocks were used to do regrouping.




Here is a station explaining to parents how Reflex Math works.  We had a laptop set up to show parents Reflex Math from a kid’s perspective.MathNight2014Blog-43

One teacher put together game packets for parents to play math games with their children at home.



Now it’s time for the fun stuff!

Below you will see beach balls with math facts written all over them using Sharpie permanent markers.  When someone catches the ball, the right thumb’s landing spot determines the math fact that must be answered.   We had large beach balls for the kids to play with and small ones for them to take home.  We ordered the beach balls from Oriental Trading Company.


MathNight2014Blog-1 copy

How many books will it take for YOU to weigh 100 pounds?  That is the question that students had to answer when they stopped at this station.  Students estimated how many heavy encyclopedias it would take for them to weigh 100 pounds.  Having experiences with measurement is the best way for students to make reasonable estimates with measurement.



Uh-oh!  Looks like he picked up too many books, but he’s close!

Fractions beckoned to students’ interests under the guise of a messy pudding party.  Students had to measure out two cups of milk without using a 1 cup measuring cup.  They had to use ½, ⅓, or ¼  measuring cup .  Doing so made them repeat these measurements until they had milk equivalent to 2 cups.MathNight2014Blog-4

What is Math Night without estimation stations?


I have done estimation stations every year we have had Math Night, but I wanted to do a little something different this year.

MathNight2014Blog-8 copy

Instead of just having the estimation jar, ziploc baggies were placed in front of the jars with 10 of the candy item inside.  This helped students make more precise estimates.  I also had a wild idea about gluing base ten blocks together to see who could come the closest to estimating the total of the blocks in a base ten tower.


How many are in this base ten structure?  Can you guess?

(above) I know the tower looks more like the leaning tower of Pisa than anything of mathematical value–it looks like a hot mess–a hot glue gun mess ;).   What can I say…I think I should pose like one of Charlie’s Angels with my hot glue gun!

(below) Making 10 groups of 10 was a kid favorite last year and remained a kid favorite this year.  Kids took small food items and grouped them on a mat.  They got to eat their 10 groups of 10/100 items when they had filled up their mat! Yummy!




(below) Where did Freddy the Frog land on the hundred’s chart?  These kids played Toss and Guess, a game with a giant hundreds chart grid and a beanbag–in this case a bean bag frog.  The idea for the grid and the Toss and Guess game came from The Learning Carpet.  Kids received prizes when they guessed where the frog landed correctly.


Below is my absolute favorite booth of all booths!  How many hulas can you hoop?  Students hula hooped until they could hula no more.  Then they counted their hulas and wrote the total of their hulas on a piece of paper.   They stuck this paper to the wall so other students could compete with the highest total.  The two hula hoopers with the greatest number of hulas won a hula hoop!

MathNight2014Blog-22 copy



The following made the evening worth while.  This parent solved math problems with her Pre-K student.  She helped him count on her fingers!  This embodied the goal of the whole evening–helping parents connect to their children through mathematical thinking!

MathNight2014Blog-57 copy

 If you liked this post about Math Night, you might also like Math Night from 2012 and 2013…







 I hope these posts inspire you to make your math night fun!

How Can You Motivate Your Class to Learn Math Facts?

This year, I have had the most competitive success when I have given attention to students progress on Reflex (an online math fact video game-like program for learning math facts–Read more about Reflex here).  Each Friday, I pass out the reward certificates and recognize students who get a certificate at our morning meeting.  Students who get a certificate also win a little prize with each certificate.  What has helped the classes become most competitive is the bar graph I have hung in the hallway.  Each class name is at the bottom of a bar.  I update this graph nearly daily.  Every time students go down the main hallway, they look to see if their class has grown on the graph.  I have placed the graph below…

ReflexBarGraph copy

As you can see the taller bars are the 3rd-5th graders which have gotten VERY competitive.  On our last contest 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place were only 1 point away from each other!  I took a picture of the classes who won on the last contest to place beside the graph.  I personally reward the 1st place classes with a party.  This time I was so proud of the special ed class who won 1st place!

In addition to the above graph, one of our teachers has developed a class thermometer for her individual class competition out in the hallway.  She moves each student’s name on a clothespin closer up the thermometer to 100% fluency each week.

I am not paid a dime to say this, but I must say Reflex math is the most effective tool I have ever used to teach math facts!

I must be honest.  I hope the wall isn’t red underneath the paper at the end of the year.  I think that every time I color on the paper to fill in the bars…the paper is kind of thin.

Try This to Promote Fact Fluency at Your School!

Reflex Math…I LOVE IT!  Kids LOVE it!  In case you aren’t familiar with Reflex, it is a computer program that web based and helps students learn their math facts.  The computer program is like a video game so it is very engaging to kids.  I wrote more about Reflex math here.  I am always trying to think of ways to encourage students to be a little more competitive about learning their facts, so I  host a contest every quarter.  We just finished our first Reflex contest a few weeks ago.  While the contest was going on, I created a bulletin board with the students who were in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place weekly.  I also announced these students every week.  When the contest was over, I posted the students photographs on the bulletin board with their names.

Reflex Contest

I also posted the students’ fluency certificates on the wall beside the bulletin board.

Fluency Certificates

When students earn a certificate, they get to pick out a prize.  A teacher at my school met one of the representatives from Reflex at a conference this summer and the representative gave her lots of free prizes.  The kids especially love the fake tattoos.


In case you don’t have Reflex at your school and you would like to try it out, they offer grants to teachers to try it out for free for 12 months.




Artisteer - CMS Template Generator