Here is my absolute favorite session from NCTM (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics). The presenter was a lady from Canada who brought The Learning Carpet for us to see. The learning carpet is a 10 by 10 grid of empty squares that you can use for many things, but it is especially useful for a large 100′s chart.
The number cards are 6 1/2 inches square and made out of card stock. Students in groups of five can see how fast they can place the number cards on the carpet. This can be easily differentiated by giving the easier numbers to the struggling learners and the larger numbers to the students who need a challenge.
Students can also be asked to pick up the numbers whose digits makes sums of 10 or any number. Students will start to see patterns such as how different sums follow diagonals. I felt dumb when she showed us this because I had never noticed that the sums make diagonals.
In the above picture you can see the gray squares on the mat. You could easily make this on a tarp with paint or tape to show the number boxes. The gray boxes are 6 1/2 inches and the black stripes on the grid lines are 1/2 an inch. If I made one of these carpets, I would make the squares actually bigger so that feet could more easily fit inside the boxes. I ordered the book with all the games that you can play so I could make my own if I wanted. Next year, there may be money in the budget to actually purchase some of the carpets.
The amazing thing about the fact that there are no numbers on the grid actually teaches more number sense. Students are made to think about number relationships to find spaces on the grid. If asked to find any number on the blank grid students have to understand the relationships between the numbers. For example, if trying to find 57 on the grid, students will know that all the sevens are in a column so that 57 will be in the column with sevens. A marker can be thrown on the grid and then students have to tell what number space that it landed on. They can walk on the carpet to help them figure it out.
The grid can be used for bar graphs or coordinate grids. The grid can also be used for area and perimeter like below.
There are so many fun activities you can do with this carpet, and I love the idea of the students actually being able to get up and stand on it to be involved. If you want to order the resources you can buy learning carpets and resources here. The kindergarten teacher who designed these is in Canada, and this is the only place you can buy them. They don’t sell through a larger distributor like Amazon etc. I have no stock in these, I just think that it is a great idea whether you order the ones she makes or make your own.
I’m always trying to find ways to help kids learn math by osmosis . I try to hang vocabulary words and other mathematical items in the hallway near the bathrooms to help kids learn while they are waiting in line. I even asked my principal a few years ago if I could hang a multiplication fact on the back of each bathroom stall door. I thought they could learn a fact while they were sitting there on the, you know, toilet . My principal unfortunately didn’t like the idea. She thought the kids would write on them. This is one of those times when I wished I would have asked for forgiveness rather than permission! Now onto the easy measurement experience for kids.
The fun measurement activity started with my mom. (I must take a moment and tell how thoughtful my mom is! I love her! ) I really appreciate how my mom supports my teaching and blogging efforts. She is always sending me items to use for school. This time she sent me this growth chart she had gotten from somewhere. I laminated and hung it up near the restrooms so that students could measure themselves in inches. After it had been hung up a while, I realized that many of the students in the 2nd-4th grade hallway were too tall for the chart so later on I hung up a measuring tape beside it which goes to 60 inches. The teachers in the hallway are always telling me that kids love to measure themselves. Many of them measure themselves from week to week to see if they have grown from one week to the next. I hung a sign above the measuring chart that asks students how tall they would be in feet and inches. Later on, I added the arrows that show how many feet every 12 inches are worth. That way a student will at least be a good estimator to five feet or 60 inches. Below are pictured the measuring tape and the sign that are hung outside the bathroom. I know you may be thinking that kids will waste time instead of coming back to class…but on the contrary the students that are measuring themselves are actually having a meaningful hands-on learning experience even if it does take an extra minute.
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.
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.
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!
Since I am my school’s math coach, all during the year I announce a problem of the week to the students at our morning assembly. Each problem of the week is a multiple choice released item test question. Students answer the question and explain how they know the answer, and then they place their answer through the slot in the answer boxes I have set up in the hallway. At the end of the week, I pull one answer from the box at our morning assembly and the winners get a prize. Since I have a question for primary kids and for intermediate kids, there are two boxes and I pull a winner from each box. The afternoon before I pull a winner, I check to make sure the students’ answers are correct, and I eliminate the wrong submissions and the submissions that are not explained.
In addition to having a problem of the day submission on a school wide basis, some teachers have created their own personal classroom problem of the day boxes to practice questions that are more often missed. They pull a name from the box daily and reward the winner.
Well, I have just dirtied up just about every dish in the kitchen and had fun doing so…thanks to an image I saw on pinterest! I found this recipe at Christie’s blog for making teepee cone cupcakes, and decided to try it. I am bringing it over to my friend’s dinner tomorrow. I am hoping the kids will love them. I didn’t do this for anything school related, however, if you are studying Indians and pilgrims, you could have the cupcake cones ready made for the students to decorate. The only things I did differently than the recipe at Christie’s blog is I used a large foil roaster pan instead, and I iced the bottom of the cones in addition to using the chocolate. I couldn’t find leaf sprinkles at Wal-mart or Hobby Lobby, so I sifted through some colored ones I had and took out the pink and blue (I know ridiculous!). Sadly, the stocker at Wal-mart told me that they had replaced the leaf sprinkles with Christmas sprinkles–and to think Thanksgiving isn’t even officially here!
This is too cute not to try!!! I learned that peppermints grow from a very talented kindergarten teacher. Every Christmas season, she has her students plant peppermints in a cup of dirt. Students put glitter in the dirt for fertilizer and then just wait. In a few days, a small candy cane has emerged “growing in the cup”. In another few days, a candy cane of larger stature has “grown”. Children are oh so excited that their peppermint grew to such a large stature! Of course behind the scenes, their teacher is placing a small candy cane in the cup when the children have gone for the day, and then replacing the small candy cane with a larger candy cane. This all for the amazement and wonder in children’s eyes that comes from the magic of Christmas.
To practice math facts, spelling words, or any other quick answer type learning, you can play Squat. To play Squat, two students from two different teams approach the board. The teacher calls out a fact or a spelling word. The two students at the board race to answer the question correctly and then they squat when they think they have the correct answer. If they are correct they earn a point for their team.
When I have played this, I usually split my class into two teams. Different students on the teams take turns to be at the board to earn their team points. Team points can be taken away from students who aren’t waiting quietly or who blurt out an answer when it isn’t their turn. Students love this game and will beg to play it after you have played once. If you have some extra time (heh, heh, who has that?!) during a spot in your day, this is a fun way to reinforce skills or fill time.