## 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.

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!

## 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 themselves

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!

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.

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.

## 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!

## Teaching 3 Dimensional Solids?

Check the trash first! Whenever teaching dimensional solids, I look around the school building for large boxes that may be thrown out. Especially in the teacher workroom, there are always bulletin board paper boxes, toner boxes etc. that are being thrown away. This is where I have found some of the best trash for treasure pieces for my 3D solids collection. When I have found one, I wrapped it in colored bulletin board paper with the name on each one to help students have a constant visual of prism pieces. At the time I teach solids, I also have the students bring in items they find at home that may be prisms, cubes, spheres, or other solids. They relish sharing their found items with the class. When they share them with the class, they must ask the students how many faces, edges, and vertices there are. Students get extra credit for bringing in solids. The best solid that I ever had a student bring in was an almost perfect triangular pyramid made out of rock! Below are pictured my recycled trash 3D solids.