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Base Ten Number Line


Multiplication Tricks



TwoFingers 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!


Fun Hands-On Geometry Lesson for Kinder and First

At this time of year attention spans are short so it is always good to bring in a fun hands on activity. Why not use shapes to make new figures? I used this for an enrichment unit to see which of my students could demonstrate different perspectives in an enrichment class, but you could easily use it to meet these common core standards for kinder and first graders.

Kinder: CC KB6: Compose simple shapes to form larger shapes.

1st: CC standard 1GA2: Compose two-dimensional shapes (rectangles, squares, trapezoids, triangles, … to create a composite shape, and compose new shapes from the composite shape.1

This will take a little preparation because you will need four right triangles cut out of card stock. Each triangle needs to be of a different color. I used the Ellison die cutter at school and cut out squares. Then with a sharp pair of scissors, I cut down the middle of the square to make 2 triangles. Of course remind students to take care of the triangles so you can use them over and over. I chose not to laminate because I felt the plastic edges would probably make the shapes not fit together very well.

Next, you pose several different figures for the students to make. Students have to use all four triangles for each figure.

  1. build a square.
  2. build a triangle.
  3. build a rectangle.
  4. build mountains.
  5. build a diamond (really just the same as a square but turned differently. See if your students know to do this.
  6. build a house
  7. build a pinwheel (if you attempt this one be prepared to show students a picture of a pinwheel. This one proved to be most difficult for students because even after they had built it, they had the triangles turned the wrong direction and thought they were correct.)

Solutions are below.

I had my students sit on a circle around the carpet and build their figures. Some of them looked at others work to help them. If you really want to know who knows what, then this configuration wouldn’t work well, but at times, I think it was helpful for students to see their peers work. I liked sitting in a circle around the carpet because I wanted to see the students closely during this time.

Alternately, you could tell the students to build as many different figures as possible with four right triangles and record them as they find each solution. This could be done on a separate day. Heres a link that shows the ways and other activities to do with right triangles.

The four triangles

Make Snowflakes and Learn Math!

What a great way to sneak math into a fun winter activity!  Have students figure out how many degrees will have to be in each angle if a hexagon shape is cut into a snowflake.  Well. 60 degrees of course because 60×6 angles would make 360 degrees.  You can also discuss symmetry after they are cut out to see if the snowflakes truly did turn out symmetrically.

I had students cut these out for a fun enrichment activity.  First of all, I read a portion of this book to them since it is about the science behind snowflakes.  Did you know snow is NOT MADE by freezing raindrops?  Me neither.  It is made by frozen water droplets smaller than the tip of your hair.  It takes over 100.000 water droplets to make one snowflake.  This information and more are included in this unique book which gives the science behind snowflakes.

After I read students a portion of this book, we made snowflakes.  I will show you below.  The more you do it the better you get!

Step 1:  Get a pair of scissors and a sheet of 8.5 x 11 computer printer paper.

Step 2.  Fold the paper in half “hamburger style” or the fat way.

Step 3.  Fold the paper in half again. Make sure the open corners are facing you.  If they are not facing you then your snowflake will be cut in half unintentionally, and you will be left wondering why this happened.

Step 4: Fold the top corner down until it is slightly over the bottom of the rectangle above.  I have not changed the orientation of the paper to accomplish this.  The open corner are still in the same location as above

Step 5:  Finally fold the bottom triangle over the other triangle in a waffle cone type of configuration–(that’s what the kids called it)

Step 6.  Slide the end of the “waffle cone” off of the rest of the figure.  and you will be left with the bottom of the “waffle cone” which is a triangle.

Step 7.  Cut any type of figures you like into the triangle and experiment with different patterns.

Step 8.  Open up your snowflake and see what you have created!

Hang them up  in your classroom for a festive winter theme!

Try This Fun STEAM Activity!

This fun STEAM activity has many advanced skills.  Students won’t be aware they are doing critical thinking, creativity, and symmetry.  A teacher friend showed me how students can write their name on one side of a paper and rub the paper so that the other side of the paper will show a reflection of the name that was written.  Then students turn their names into a monster or creature.  This is fun to do around October, but could be done at any time.  I actually did this in November with no complaints. 🙂

Here is an example of a name monster by a girl with the name Anna.  You will have to turn your head sideways to see the name written, since the name was written on the horizontal crease on the paper.  Details are following.

To make a name monster, students must do the following:

1. Turn the paper horizontally and fold the paper on the crease.

2.Next, they must write their name in pencil (or you can use graphite sticks for darker pencil lines–thanks to the art teacher for these).

3. Then students can do either of the following depending on how difficult you want to make the task.

**You can have them go over their name more darkly with the pencil and then fold the paper back over onto the other side and rub the paper with a sharpie lid or some other hard object so that the graphite from the pencil wears off.  This is the easier option if you can find a hard lid for the name to rub off on the other side.

**You can have children draw the reflection of the name on the other side to teach symmetry.  This requires some critical thinking because students have to visualize and write their letters in a flipped direction. (more difficult option).

4.Once students have traced their name on the other side of the paper, they can add features to their name making a creature.  This will take some creativity on the students’ part.  They will have to imagine some of the letters in their name to be like shoes, eyes, arms, or the like.  Every feature that students add MUST be symmetrical.

5.Next have the students color their creature.

Below is the name Liza.

At the end of this lesson I like to have students share their work so other students can appreciate the work their peers did.  Also, I have students trace their name with their finger so other students can see the work they have done.  Have students point out the features they added to their creature as well, such as if they added eyeballs, a tongue, shoes etc.  For extra creativity, have students name their creature.

This would make a great beginning of year task when everyone is learning names or a great Halloween activity!


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! 🙂

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.

Don’t Cause This Misconception When Teaching Angles!

We all have started out teaching right angles like this…

“Okay, class this is a right angle.”


But, have we left it at that and gone on to teach other terms such as acute and obtuse?

Then students are left to draw their own conclusions when faced with this.


Obviously to a child, this is a left angle because it is facing the opposite direction and the opposite of right is left!


Or if left to their own conclusions, this is a left, down angle.



And, yes, all of the angles pictured above are in fact…right angles.

It is up to you to make sure students see angles in lots of different directions so that they do not form misconceptions about angles.

So how can students test to make sure that right angles are, in fact, right.  Well, they can just use a paper corner such as a sticky note or the corner of their paper.






Each time they come across an angle they can put the paper corner in the angle to know if it fits exactly.  If it fits exactly, it is right!  If it covers one of the sides (rays) of the angle, it is acute and if one of the rays of the angle sticks out, it is obtuse…but that is another post for another day 🙂

Painter’s Tape Strikes Again…

In all honesty my goal was to really use painter’s tape on the floor to make polygons in the first place, but I took a detour with painters tape on this geometry.  I just love the fact that floor tiles are actually a square foot– so with that in mind,  I had to stick a little area and perimeter lesson down on the floor.


Where did I stick the shapes?

You guessed it!  Near the bathroom of course!  After all, what other location in the entire school gets more visibility than the bathroom!



For the triangle and octagon I wrote inch measurements on the diagonal lines to help the students calculate the perimeter without a measurement tool.  You can’t see that in the pictures.


I numbered the shapes so that they could be matched to an answer key.  I was trying to leave in a hurry so I didn’t quite get finished with the answer key.  That will be coming soon.


Now, I did think to ask one of the evening custodians if this would be a problem, but she didn’t think so.  Well, the next morning, I got a “hmmmph!”  The day custodian immediately let me know that the tape had already come off of the floor a bit and asked me how long it would be there.

I said, “not long,” with a smirk.

He informed me that we had gotten second place for the cleanest school last year and showed me his plaque.

I said, “Well, we’ll be the most mathematical school.”

I’m leaving the tape down for a good 4 weeks ;D.


Angles in the Bathroom?

In response to the poor scores on a recent geometry quiz, I took advantage of the prime real estate near the bathrooms.  Students in this particular class pass this area often, so why not put some geometry review in their path?  I made good use of a roll of painter’s tape by making types of lines and angles all around the bathroom entrances and water fountains.



The yellow sign below says to identify the figures and tells students to check the answer key to see if they are correct.




Then in an easily accessible place outside of the bathroom, I placed an answer key for students to check themselvesAnswerKeyCover

Underneath the cover are the answers…


I had more types of lines posted than are pictured above, but I thought a few of the pictures would give you the idea.  I’ve already seen kids looking to check their work on their way down the hallway.  🙂

If you remember from one of my previous posts, then you will remember I have a weighing station outside the bathroom.  I also have a location for students to measure their own height with a measuring tape.  I still see students stop by occasionally to measure themselves.  I had one with a sideways grin tell me today, “I’m 47 inches.”

I hope this inspires you to do something similar with your students!

Teaching Coordinate Grids? Try These Great Resources!

A fabulous fifth grade teacher I work with started using these coordinate grid mystery pictures with her class from Super Teacher Worksheets.  She said that her kids who struggled with everything else in math, loved these and were so engaged in finding the coordinates.  There are many different mystery pictures that you have to pay for on their site, but I want to call your attention to a Santa Clause mystery picture that is absolutely free 🙂 especially since this is the week before Christmas!  We all know how kids are the week before Christmas break–ahem–let’s just say they need something super engaging!

Santa Coordinate Graphing Activity from Super Teacher Worksheets


I also just finished revising a coordinate grid activity that I made a while back.  Students must locate buried treasure on a coordinate grid using geometry and graphing terms.  Our fifth graders are enjoying this activity right now, too!  This activity packet is available on TeachersPayTeachers.

Buried Treasure1

Social studies can be discussed with this activity since the grid has a map behind it.  I like to discuss coordinate graphing on the same days I am teaching map skills in social studies because the two are so similar.  This activity doesn’t explicitly teach social studies, but there is definitely room for some discussion about the maps and what part (or state) the treasure is probably in.

Screen Shot 2013-12-15 at 9.17.55 PM


How Can You Incorporate Literacy with Coordinate Grids?

I was ecstatic when my new books arrived!  I had been wanting to order these books for a while, and finally discovered that I had some money in the budget!  What is so great about these books is that they tell the story of how Rene’ Descartes invented the coordinate plane.  The general story tells of how he was sick in bed staring at a fly on the ceiling and wanted to map its location.  As the old adage goes, “necessity is the mother of invention”,  so  Descartes visualized the coordinate grid system on his ceiling to locate the fly.  This is such a great story to help  students conceptualize coordinate grids while tying  social studies (maps), literacy, and math together in one lesson!




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