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Search Results for: reflex

How You Can Make Cute & Cheap Rewards for Kids

This is how my idea all began.  My mom had given me some adorable sticky notes in the shape of stars.  She is always thinking of me buying me school items (thanks mom!).  Also, I had bought this very cute patterned masking tape before school started at Office Depot on clearance.  I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it, but I knew it was cute.  That was all that mattered!


I found myself wanting a way to attach something meaningful to the award certificates that students were getting for fluency in Reflex Math, and I ran out of Scotch tape. But, I had this cute tape, so my clearance deal found its purpose on students’ reward certificates!  Next, I was trying to figure out a way to efficiently hand out cute pencils to students who scored 70% and up on the Reflex wall, but I had no certificate to attach it to since the certificates went on the wall.   At first I was using square sticky notes to write children’s names on and attaching them to the pencil, but the pencils would get stuck to one another with the tape, and they didn’t look very attractive to say the least.   So, what did I do?Finally, I wised up and used the star sticky notes and attached one piece of cute tape horizontally to the back to hold the pencil on.  The star sticky note would have the child’s name and his percentage of fluency.  Even though I used this idea for Reflex rewards, it could be done with anything.  I think the pencils kind of look like little magic wands!  This is so much better than the sticky Scotch tape mess I started with.  Here is an example below (but I would have the student’s name on the star also).


Best Results Ever with Kids Learning Math Facts!

I am going to share with you what I did this year to be successful in helping our school be more fluent in math facts than ever before!  We have had Reflex Math for about 2 and a half years now.  The first year everyone didn’t know much about what to expect.  The second year some classes were making progress with it.  Now this year being in a new school with new people (we consolidated with another school), we had a slow start but by the end students’ fluency took off.  Albeit some of the increase has been due to the increase of available technology and the new Reflex Math app on the iPad, but students this year were more motivated to achieve than ever before.  I believe that is due to a few things I added to encourage friendly competition!

1.  I added the 70% and up club.  What child doesn’t want to be a part of a club?!  When children reach the 70% mark, I post their certificate on the wall with their pictures in a central location.   I try to take their pictures close to window light so they look nice.  If students’ certificates are up too long without their picture they make sure they let me know about this.  I print the certificates off weekly.  These are available to easily print off from the home dashboard screen underneath the unprinted milestones link.  I also have these students names called on the announcements with “Welcome to the 70% and up club…” and then I have their names called out.


2.  To encourage students along the way to reach the 70% and up club, I send home their certificates if they are below 70%.  Students get certificates for answering facts and they get certificates for answering a certain amount of facts.  One of these certificates may say something like Joe Bob solved 2,000 facts.  If the certificate is one that is fluency related then I attach a little prize such as a pencil or fake tattoo.  These certificates may say something such as Mary Sue learned 25 new fluent facts.  All certificates that are 70% and up go on the wall.  I replace the 70% with an 80% or 90% certificate so that others walking by can see their achievement.

3.  I have a special place to hang students who achieved 100% fluency during the year.  These students have their picture retaken again for this spot on the wall.  Also, I had a special ceremony for these students at the end of the year in which I invited the principal and guidance counselor to shake the students’ hands and pin them with a special pin I ordered from Jones Awards.  I had wanted to order them all trophies, but I didn’t think I would be able to afford enough trophies with the school budget for those kids who had achieved 100%.  I also have the 100% fluent students’ names called out on the announcements when they achieve fluency.


4.  Each quarter I have parties for all the students who achieved at least 70% fluency.  Once students achieve 100% fluency, they are able to go to all parties for each quarter.  Most students who achieve 70% fluency go ahead and work towards the 100% fluency spot on the wall even though there isn’t much more reward to achieve 100%.

5.  In addition, I have parties for a class winner in 1st-2nd grade and a class winner in 3rd-5th grade.  I didn’t do a party for the 1st quarter.  In the 2nd quarter we did a hot chocolate party with toppings, in the 3rd quarter we did an Easter egg hunt, and in the 4th quarter we did a water play party outside with sprinklers and water squirters.  The kids anticipate these parties with great excitement!

6. Within each grade level I hand out 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place ribbons for the highest percentages of fluency achievement.  These students pictures are also displayed in a central location for everyone to see.  Some students are very competitive about this.

Because of all of these things, more students achieved 100% fluency than ever before.  The excitement built around the achievement of math fact fluency built a positive momentum with the children for something to earn.  When parents visit the building, they can often be found near the wall looking at all of the children’s pictures on display.


Some teachers became very competitive about their classes beating another class.  These teachers built a competition within their own class.  Towards the end of school, some teachers were sneaking their children who were still below 70% to the computer lab just so they could reach 70% fluency to attend the party outside. (I know the paper colors don’t exactly match, but I was just working with what I had :/.  I will make it look better next year :))



I hope this sparks some ideas within your own building!

Highlights from Math Night

I wanted to share a few of my favorite things about Family Math Night. So here they are…

I saw this idea on Pinterest, admittedly, but I really wanted a LARGE 100 sign that parents and children had to walk through that had 100 on it.  The wonderful art teacher helped me out tremendously by making a huge sign with 100 on it.  She made the numbers separately because we obviously didn’t have paper large enough to write the whole 100 on.  She made one of the 0’s a bit larger so that people could easily pass through it into the cafeteria and gym where our event was held.



We had a 100th day of school photo booth.  One of our teachers had some already made up props with little lips, mustaches, and beards.  Our kind art teacher helped me with the signage for the booth.  Because we didn’t have the man power to take pictures and distribute them the same night, we just allowed parents or whoever to take pictures with their smart phones as they passed by.


After the fact, I wish I had put some colored paper behind the sign.  That way there would have been a prettier background for short children!


The two girls in the picture above were some of the cutest dressed for the 100th day.  One had on 100 hearts and the other had 100 kisses neatly done with lipstick!

Next, because Reflex Math is now on computer and iPad, we had a booth to showcase the ease of using this to learn math facts.  Anytime we have technology set up, this tends to be a popular table.

This was my favorite game of the evening, the +10, -10, +1, -1 life sized 100’s chart game.  Students stand on this and a large foamy die is rolled.  Students stand on the numbers and move according to the number which the die lands on.  If students bump into each other then the one who is bumped into is out.MathNight2015-2

The chart is made from duct tape and a large tarp.  You can make cards on the computer for the chart, too, that will fit perfectly in the squares.  However, we didn’t want children walking on these for the game with their shoes on, so index cards and packing tape were used to attach the cards for this game.


Finally, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this die which I found at Mardel (one of our educational stores).  The dice has clear plastic pockets so you could change out whatever you wanted to put on the die. It could be used for literacy, for normal numbers, dots, math facts, you name it!!


Here is a game similar to this on TPT with a bubble gum theme, which kids absolutely love!

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You may also like to read about past years’ math nights:

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Math Work Stations Experiment Part 2

Finally, onto Math Work Stations in a first grade classroom.  Now remember we explored using stations during the last few weeks of school, so they are lacking in beginning of the year meticulous cutesy-ness!  We set the stations up similar to the way we set them up in 3rd grade.  We had several colored tubs arranged in a shelf like organizer.  (I rescued this out of an old junk room which is the catch-all for teachers’ unwanted items.)  This organizer had eight tubs, and that helped us get started.  The teacher also found some tubs she had that she put with these extra tubs.  We placed this in an easy traffic flow area near the wall.  All the materials needed for each station are stored in each station’s tub.


I must say that the above tub organizer was not the best for stations even though it is what we used–it is what we had to work with at the time.  There was a problem with fitting folders or books into the tubs without them bending when placed on the second or third shelf, as you can see in the picture.  Next year, the teacher is going to use tubs on a bookshelf instead like the 3rd grade teacher.

Because first grade uses literacy centers, the teacher just used the same pocket chart to organize students’ names for math  work stations (remember we are making this simple with only a few weeks left in the year).  Unlike literacy centers which name the station, she chose to just number the stations for the students on the wall and on the tub.  This is what Debbie Diller suggests.

Brightly colored numbers are also placed around the room to guide students into going to the correct place in the room for their math station.  You can see the bright yellow number below.


 Now originally when we put the stations together, I told the teacher I would write the “I Can” statements on the bottom of the tubs.  I did this with illustrations.  Now, Debbie Diller’s book has the “I Can” statements written on the lids of tubs, and a math coach I work with also has the directions labeled on the tub lids.


However, after the first grade teacher saw what the third grade teacher had done by putting the “I Can” statements on the inside of the folder, she, too, opted for putting the “I Can” statements and directions in folders.  She numbered the folders only.  This way the inside of the folder can be switched out without having to buy new folders.



So here are some of the stations and games that we put into place for the 1st graders.  Again,with first grade the target of the stations was fluency with number facts and with counting.

Station 1 was simple and easy–Reflex Math Fact Practice–addition, of course, for 1st grade.

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Station 2

I already showed you the “I Can” statements for Station 2 above in the blue bucket with Ten Sly Piranhas.  Kids could read the book, they could act out the book on the mat with the cubes, or they could write their own Piranhas word problems.  The alligator on the work mat is just something I found on Google images and cut out.


Station 3

This station revolves around counting and number patterns.


One choice the students have is to read 100 Days of Cool by Stuart Murphy.  This book is about counting to 100.  The second choice they have is to use one of four different colored sets of number cards and fill the pocket chart in.  The colored numbers are differentiated to suit both high and low learners.  For example, the white cards span the numbers from 21-120, the green cards span the numbers from 121-220, the orange cards span the numbers from 221-320, and finally the turquoise cards are the most challenging and span the numbers from 921-1,020.  Students select the cards that will best suit their needs.



Above are some cards that the students were filling into the pocket chart.  I chose this picture because the students soon self corrected and noticed that 309 and 318 cannot be in the same column.  Looking at this picture, I am just now realizing that the kids will have to move the numbers down because the rest of the numbers are less than 300.  The kids can grapple with this and figure it out.  However, I’m thinking that writing what number to start with on the baggie would be a better idea.

The above number cards came from a product I made when I realized students cannot count past 100 with a hundreds chart.  The last time I checked the number cards that are sold commercially only go to 120 now.    I’m posting a link to the number cards I made below in case you would like to save yourself the time from making them to fit your chart just right.  The cards come in red on white, white on red, and black on white so that you can make the cards any color you want (like above).

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Finally, the last choice for Station 3 is for students to put together number puzzles which are basically just 100’s charts that have been cut apart.   First, you could try out these whole class (shown below) which are on TPT before having students do them independently in the math station.  For a station, I recommend that the chart be cut apart already because students won’t have time to use scissors in a math station.


Station 4

Station 4 reinforces adding and subtracting one from a number with the story Ten Flashing Fireflies.  The students could read the book, act it out with yellow cubes on the jar work mat, or write their own story problems about Ten Flashing Fireflies in their work station journals.



I got the jar clip art from…you guessed it…Google images.  I think there is an actual jar picture in one of the Math Solutions books, but it was just quicker to find a jar on Google images.  This book is one of my favorites in which the fireflies are being gathered one by one in the jar from the night sky.  The illustrations are compelling.

Station 5

In stations 5 through 12 we included the same activities with the intention to change them out later if the students became bored with the activities.  These stations dealt with adding and subtracting sums of 10 and sums of 20–namely, where we needed the most work, fluency.


The first choice students could work on was “Sums of 10”.  Their second choice was Differences and Dice.  Both of these games can be found in Debbie Diller’s Math Work Stations book in the section about Addition and Subtraction stations.  Also, students had the choice to play Close to 20 which helps them become fluent with larger sums.  The Close to 20 game and score sheet came from a TERC math book.  However, you can easily find Close to 20 instructions and score sheets on the internet in multiple places.  In Close to 20, students  pull out five number cards and try to build a sum as close to 20 as they can.  Close to 20 can be easily differentiated to Close to 100 or Close to 1000 for advanced learners.  The wonderful thing about this station is that every game uses number cards 0-9.  There are also other games that could be incorporated in this same station such as Tens Go Fish, which uses number cards as well.  Later on after math stations were established, the teacher did incorporate the Tens Go Fish Game (another TERC math goody) into this center.  If you plan on doing math centers at any level, number cards are a great thing to have on hand.

MathStations1stgrade-01722The first grade teacher also decided to go with spiral bound notebooks for the students to carry around if they had any writing to do at a math station.  Above shows a student’s recordings of the Close to 20 game.

After experimenting with Debbie Diller’s Math Work Stations at the end of the year, both the 1st and 3rd grade teacher opted for journals that students could carry with them as opposed to community journals.  Also, both teachers next year will include the “I Can” statements and game instructions inside of  paper folders.  My goal in general for our Math Work Stations is that we improve differentiation in each center for low, average, and above average learners.

I hope you can use some of these content ideas for stations in your classroom next year!

You may also like to read this post about our 3rd grade math station experiment:


or this addition/subtraction freebie for math stations…

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Math Work Stations Experiment Part 1

Last time, I told you all about my experiment with Debbie Diller’s Math Work Stations.  Well, it is about 5 weeks into the experiment, and I am loving the idea.  Using math stations does however take excellent classroom management skills, but more about that later.  The pictures below show a 3rd grade teacher’s classroom.  She is an excellent classroom manager and very organized.  Once I helped get her station activities together and discussed the details of running the stations, she made the math stations her own.   Because we only had a few weeks until the end of the school year, and I was concerned about the students’ fluency with multiplication, we focused most of the math stations around multiplication.  Some of the stations are built around multi-digit addition and subtraction to keep this skill fresh in their minds also.

The station tubs are located on a back shelf in the classroom.


There are numbered labels on each tub and little stickers on the shelf below so that students can find the correct place to put the tub when it is returned to the shelf.


The numbers coordinate to a chart which is numbered with the students’ names on it.  The teacher put the name on the chart of one of the activities in the tub in addition to the number to make it easier for herself to manage.


I blocked out the students’ names on the cards for their privacy, but on each pink card and on each yellow card there are two names.  The pink cards are her first class and the yellow cards are her second class.  Our school departmentalized math this year.  Students work in pairs in each class.  We initially started with only one station and after a few weeks worked up to more than one.  In Debbie Diller’s book, she says  to start with one for about 20 minutes and do no more than 2 a day totaling about 40 minutes (50 with rotations and cleanup etc.)  We placed matching numbers in the room so that students would know exactly where to go when their name was on a particular math station.  We also placed these numbers in sequential circular order around the room so that students could easily rotate without running into one another.

In most stations we gave students three choices to pick from which is what Debbie says to do in her book.  That way students feel empowered with the fact that they get to make choices.  Each of the choices at a station relate to each other.  If students don’t want to do one of the games/activities at a station, they have other choices to pick from.  Also, if they aren’t as confident with one activity, they can pick a different activity.


In station 1 we placed several addition/ subtraction games which use some of the same materials.  The games we included were Close to 100, Close to 0 (basically the same game but subtracting),


and addition/subtraction tic tac toe.  Close to 100 and Close to 0 are both games that can be found in the TERC math series.  This is out of print, but many buildings have copies of these.  Both games use number cards.  TMathStationsforBlog-01678

The addition/subtraction tic-tac-toe is teacher made.  One student answers the problem.  the other student in the pair checks the problem.  If the problem is correct, then the first student may place a marker on his problem space.  Just like in real tic-tac-toe, the first player to have 3 in a row wins.  The three colors of boards are three different levels of problem boards.MathStationsforBlog-01676


I found that both teachers in first and 3rd liked to organize their games in pocket folders.

In station 2 we built the activities around Amanda Bean’s Amazing Dream.  This is a fun book with lots of multiplication applications on each page.


In this station students can read the book, work out word problems from the word problem sheet, or create their own word problem stories.


The cake work mat and word problem sheets come from my Discovering the Commutative Property of Multiplication Unit.

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Station 3 is a Multiplication Bump game that she got from TPT.  Because there are several different game boards, we didn’t provide many options at this station.  I have really enforced calling them “Math Work Stations” like Debbie Diller suggests so students remember they are working–NOT playing.  I also really like how the teacher took this to heart.  Instead of writing I can “play” this or that game, she wrote I can “work” on this game on the I CAN statement sheets.


Station 4, 5, and 6 are duplicates of other stations.  Station 7 is a computer station where students are practicing math facts on Reflex Math.  Station 8 is also a duplicate.  When getting started Debbie Diller says it is fine to duplicate stations so that you aren’t overwhelmed.  Because the length of time between when students will be at the same station again is several days, students are okay with a repeated station.

Below is station 9.  This station revolves around multiplication as arrays.  The 100 Hungry Ants book is about ants in arrays and one of students’ choices is to read the book.  Another choice is for students to write their own story problem about arrays with ants on a paper plate…how darling…right?  I even suggested that the teacher hang the plates outside her door on a checkered table cloth. (plastic ones are available at the Dollar Tree as I type)  Students can also play Array Card Game War, which basically works like regular War but with multiplication facts to go with the Array Cards.  This is another TERC math goody in the Things that Come in Groups book.

MathStationsforBlog-01688I included this speech bubble card which Debbie Diller suggests to help students use math language while they are playing games.  We didn’t make them for all of the stations, so I cannot speak to their effectiveness.


Station 10 includes two different publisher made games for multiplication.  One is Four in a Row and the other is Hit the Road.  These are both games the teacher just had in a file.  I am pretty confident you could easily find a game like Four in a Row on the internet because I have come across several games like this before.


At Station 11, students could read the book Each Orange Had 8 Slices.  They could solve the problems in the book, or they could write their own problems like the ones in the book.


The above notebook shows an example of some student work that took place while the students were traveling in their math stations.  This teacher opted to have each student carry his/her own journal around to each station as opposed to having a community journal at the station.  This is a teacher’s personal choice.  Students head the page with their math game/activity title, date and math station number.



The classroom teacher also incorporated a missing pieces bucket like Debbie Diller suggests.

And we must mention last but not least BORING STREET.  This was a first grade teacher’s idea.  This is where you go when you are not behaving at Math Work Stations.  This is a collection of boring math work that you can do while everyone else is playing  fun math games.  The work must be turned in at the end of math station time.  MathStationsforBlog-01671

Next year, we will know just what to expect for Math Work Stations and we can make them even better since we did this end of the year experiment.  Up in the next few days…our Math Work Station experiment in 1st grade!

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.


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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.

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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!

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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!

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 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…

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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.

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

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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.

Losing My Dignity as a Mathemagician…

You know how you try things out at the end of the year preparing for the next year?  Well, I tried out something and DID lose my dignity, but the kids loved it!  I dressed up as a mathemagician …more specifically The Masked Mathemagician!  I told the kids that Ms. K had sent the magician to tell the special news.  I did this to announce our Math Wars awards.  I had one big contest at the end of the year where I awarded students in the top three  places for Reflex Math AND the top three classes in K-2 and 3-5.  I bought a cape and mask at Wal-Mart in the toy section for $6.97 and borrowed a glittery black hat from a teacher down the hall.  At the last minute, I thought to use a ruler for my magic wand.  I just used a plain one, but I think I will glitz it up for next year.  I’m also thinking of adding white gloves.  Anyhow, I ran into our morning meeting (that we have every day) dressed up, and children’s gasps  could be heard as I ran in.  One of the teachers told me later that the students stopped eating when they saw me.  (Our morning meeting is in the cafeteria.)  After I announced the winners, I took off my little costume in the side room, so that the kids wouldn’t see me change.  The kids told me all day that they saw me dressed up.  I kept telling them that it wasn’t me dressed up, but my friend.  Most kids knew it was me of course.  One kindergartener said, “Really it looked just like you!” 🙂

I dressed up like this on a whim because of a presentation called “Math Math, Better Than a Bath” that I saw at the NCTM conference this year.  The presenter described wearing a silly hat etc. to do math contests like creating silly math poems and math jokes.  I think in the myriad of test prep and accountability we forget that kids live in a world of make believe, imagination, and fun.  To really reach them, sometimes it is necessary to speak their language of imagination…and this coming from someone who likes to remain behind the scenes and not make a spectacle of themselves…me!

Below is pictured my $6.97 cape and mask, borrowed glitter hat, and magic ruler wand (which I will be improving in the future).

Cute, Cheap, and Easy Trophies

This year for the final Math Wars contest, I decided to use Reflex Math instead of a paper pencil timed test like I had been doing.  A little plug for Reflex Math here…I LOVE it as do the kids  (more about Reflex here).  In case your school or district is thinking of purchasing this program, get it!  It has definitely made a difference in our students’ math fact fluency.  Since I wanted to give out awards for the Math Wars with NO budget, I made some.  I had some large gold stars left over from another project, but I needed something to stabilize them on so I found four cones in a package for $3 at Wal-Mart.  Since hot glue is the answer to just about everything that needs to be stuck somewhere at school, I hot glued the stars to the cones.  Then I got some scrapbooking stickers at Hobby Lobby to label the stars.  The stickers were 40% off the week I got them.  Then I found some little medals for the kids on clearance for 75 cents for a package of about 8 (yay!)  I  bought extra packages because I can always use these for something.  The medals are plastic but look almost as good as metal ones.  Since the ribbon in the package was kind of short, I used some nicer ribbon that I happened to have on hand from another project.  Pictured below are my trophies and medals.





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