I know no one is probably looking for Valentine’s Day lessons yet, but I redid my cute little Valentine lesson “How Big Is Your Kiss”. This will be my momentous tribute to working over the Christmas break. This is my favorite lesson to do at Valentine’s Day. Kids kiss a piece of grid paper with Vaseline on their lips, and then measure their kiss. This looks SO cute, too, when you hang it in the hallway with all of your kids lip prints. See the lesson below.
Yesterday, I modeled a lesson in a second grade classroom for students who were struggling with telling time to the nearest 5 minute intervals. Students had the classic problem with telling time. When the hour hand was close to the next hour students mistakenly wrote the hour an hour ahead. For example, when students read the time 8:55, they would write 9:55 instead because the hour hand nearly touched the 9. To alleviate this confusion I used and adapted the idea from the free Georgia Curriculum resources (page 57). Unlike the clock instructions in the Georgia resources, I used sentence strips which I cut up, and paper clips which I threaded through the holes. I ran out of brads, so I used what was available.
To begin my lesson on time, I stretched out the clock on sentence strips in a linear fashion. Then I held my hour hand clock arrow under the numbers and moved it along and asked students what hour it was. I explained to students that until the arrow point was directly on the next number AND in this case color, that the previous number still remained the hour. Students proved to be more successful in telling time on an analog clock after this discussion.
Then after the discussion with the linear clock using the hour hand, I had several student helpers hold the clock in a circle so that they could see how the linear clock compared to the round clock on the wall. I repeated my questioning holding the hour hand in between the numbers and asking them what hour was being shown.
I was so excited to get these unifix books that I ordered. With there being a shortage of counting activities in our regular kindergarten textbook, I was eager to find more. These simple and practical books for kindergarten and first grade offer several counting activities like the following:
- Shapes that students cover with cubes to see how many cubes will fill the shape. Students count the number of cubes that fill the shape.
- Cards with a different number of shapes on them that students match to numbers cards.
- Number cards to match to plastic baggies with cubes in them.
- Games like “First to Fifty” in which students spin a number spinner to draw a certain amount of cubes to cover a board. Students can count how many they have left to cover.
There are some other good number sense activities included also. These are available at Didax for $13.95.
I am posting a follow up of the lesson I co-taught with a fifth grade teacher. The earlier post shows the number line that I made for students to model their number line after. I had planned to have students do a different section of hundredths so that we would have a large number line from 0 to 1 tenth compiled of different students’ number lines. I decided not to have them do different numbers than I had shown on my own number line because I saw that students were struggling with the idea of counting by thousandths in discussion before they did the task. The whole project took about 2 days for almost all students to finish. Below I have pictured two of the students’ number lines that turned out well. None of the groups quite had time to write the midpoint between two different hundredths like I have in blue….five thousandths, fifteen thousandths, twenty-five thousandths etc. Even though students muddled through this and had a difficult time getting started, I would do this lesson over again. I probably would spend more time examining decimal number charts first so that students would more quickly recognize number patterns to write them on a number line. To save yourself some time if you want to build these number lines see the measurements I used in my earlier post.
To help 5th graders understand decimals last week, I built this number line using an old roll of fax machine paper. I measured off a little over two meters and then marked every two centimeters to put another number, so I would have room to write the numbers and for them to actually be seen. Students don’t usually have much of a problem ordering decimals to the hundredths place because they can visualize pennies and dimes, but past that students struggle. Also, thousandths are a bit daunting to teach…after all they don’t make “thousandths” manipulatives….at least that I am aware of. This coming week, students are going to build their own number line between two hundredths and we are going to connect all of the number lines and put them somewhere…I am not sure where because it will be VERY LONG because 100 numbers are written on it. Another something I did to the number line is I glued hundredths blocks down underneath the hundredths numbers, so students could see the concrete representation of these.
In case you aren’t familiar in decimal base ten block world:
a flat = 1 whole
a rod = 1 tenth
a unit= 1 hundredth
When explaining hundredths and thousandths to students I do the unthinkable. I take a blue foam base tenth block and a pair of scissors in front of the class and SNIP a hundredth goes flying a few feet away. This grabs students attention because #1, I just cut a holy math manipulative, and #2 something just went flying across the room for those students who may have just momentarily zoned out . No worries, I have had tubs and tubs of these math manipulatives (oh we are calling them “tools” now) that I could build a shrine to them with lit candles. In other words I have plenty that if I cut one it isn’t a big deal. THEN, I take the itty bitty hundredth that I just cut and SNIP another slice goes flying. I tell students that this slice is one thousandth. This visual really helps students to see how tenths, hundredths, and thousandths are related. A speck can even be cut off of the thousandth so that students can see what a ten thousandth looks like. After I have cut all of these pieces off, I put them underneath the document camera so students can see them up close.
I’m so thankful for a summer vacation and the beautiful weather we have been having. Usually it is so hot and humid this time of year, but the weather has been so mild and beautiful compared to recent years. Yesterday was really my first day out that actually felt like a vacation. I have been going to trainings and working on our district’s pacing guide. With all of that said, I spent yesterday doing the finishing touches on a branching unit I had posted previously on TPT. One of my summer goals is to improve some of the items, which I feel need a makeover that are posted in my store. I am so much more proud of this unit now. I included some of the fun branching templates that a co-teacher and I devised to make branching and our hallway more fun which weren’t there before! I hope that those of you who have already downloaded this item enjoy using these materials even more now. Last summer was the first summer I got REALLY serious about selling on TPT, and in this year I have learned so much–from fellow bloggers, from TPT, and from my customers.
I am also considering doing a whole new makeover for my blog…hopefully to be coming soon !
Below I have posted pictures of my new and improved branching unit which I used when teaching my third grade class several years ago. The new part is the templates that we used to decorate our hallway with ‘branching trees’, more detailed teacher notes, student word problems, and I included some scaffolded practice for struggling students to group their tens and ones. I have posted a sample of some of the student sheets that you can try out for free. When you click below, the link will take you to my store where you can download the free preview.
I have been working with many small groups of average leveled students to help build their number sense since there will be so many gaps in common core understanding with students moving up to 4th and 5th grades. Up until earlier this year I confidently thought that students in second grade needed to learn the traditional regrouping algorithms for addition and subtraction. After some common core training, I humbly realized that students aren’t necessarily expected to know how to complete this traditional procedure, but rather be able to make sense of a problem by decomposing and composing numbers using strategies that are comfortable for them. I said all of that to say that because of this thinking, I gave students in my small groups base ten blocks and NO paper. I gave a double digit addition problem that would give students the opportunity to regroup 73 + 48 (mind you they should have been able to handle larger numbers). I thought I would start with a really easy problem. Well, I was wrong! The students struggled to get an accurate answer with blocks to solve this problem. Of the four students I had in this particular small group, only one student was able to find the correct answer. Well, I changed my mind on the no paper and gave them a sticky note. I instructed them to write their answer on the sticky note just so I could do a quick assessment of who could accomplish finding the answer with the blocks without blurting it out. To my chagrin two of the students were trying to solve the problem on their sticky note with the procedural algorithm. I promptly reminded them while replacing their sticky notes that we were solving the problem with the blocks and not paper. When all students had finished thinking, I listed all of the students’ answers on the board and asked them who was correct. After having students count and recount their blocks, they finally came to a consensus of the correct answer …121. They struggled with counting past 100 especially by 10′s… 110, 130, 140… and they would correct one another to say 110, 120, 130, 140. Surprisingly enough to me, the students felt more comfortable lining up numbers in an algorithmic procedure with no understanding to obtain an answer than they did counting out blocks past 100 to obtain the correct answer.
Below is a picture of the students counting out their blocks. I had them place their addends onto small sheets of square paper to help keep them organized since they were getting their extra blocks confused with the ones they were counting. I wanted to use small paper plates to help them organize their blocks, but I didn’t have any. I happened to have some origami paper lying around, so I just used that instead.
Students built the following houses out of food items and then calculated the perimeter of them. We did this project as a relaxing activity after testing. I allowed students to build houses out of graham crackers, frosting, red hots, marshmallows, and Smarties. Then they used a measurement tool to calculate the perimeter in centimeters. If I had really wanted to use this activity to stimulate mathematical thinking, I would have had the students calculate the surface area and the volume using large marshmallows. Since I just wanted the kids to take a fun break after testing, I didn’t have them calculate anything except the perimeter. If I had to pick their favorite after testing activity from this week, this would have to be it!
Use pattern blocks to help students find equivalent fractions. Students simply take the blocks and trade them in for larger and larger blocks until they can not use any larger blocks to make the same shape. See below for some examples. The first row shows the blocks as fractions of 1 hexagon.
To make using hexagons for fractions more engaging, call them cookies since they are yellow and the size of a cookie. There is a TERC math investigation lesson called “Hexagon Cookies” which is in the Fair Shares book (for 3rd grade). Hexagon Cookies makes a great lesson to teach previous to simplifying fractions with the pattern blocks.