Halloween Math

Hi Everyone!

I love simple, interactive activities for math. I love watching my kiddos explore in math and learn things in a hands on way. It gets even better around this time of year because there are so many holidays to make the activities even more exciting and unique for them.

This month we have been enjoying all things Halloween and Fall. We have been using Candy Corn for several of our math centers. In the picture below we didn't have actual candy corn on hand the day the picture was taken but typically we use it. We were playing roll and cover with two dice. We started practicing adding 1 to the answer of the two dice and then we practiced subtracting 1. They had a lot of fun. We will also be using candy corn later this week in a measurement and graphing activity. These candy corn activities are from Sarah Cooley's Candy Corn Math-tivities packet.

We have also used the pumpkins below to practice adding. I found these at Walmart on clearance a few years ago. We only used them for addition this year; however my kiddos found it fun to race each other to make it more exciting. They would split the sticks among themselves and then see who could solve their math problems first. It was fantastic! They were so focused on their math facts!!


My favorite activity this month though would have to be our candy corn "people." We had a crazy week last week and one of my math days got cut up so I didn't have enough time to teach a full lesson. Instead I turned it into a practice day. We needed more practice with adding 1 so I made a candy corn template and math sheet to go with it. They solved their math and then made their candy corn person. The math attached to the back. It was simple, fun, and looks cute hanging from my ceiling.

So these are definitely not fancy activities but I love that it got their attention and kept them engaged in their lessons.

Thanks for reading about a few fun math things I have done this month.

Dollar Store Math Activities

Hello!  Heather here from Learning with Mrs. Langley.  Is there anything better than getting kids engaged with some Dollar Store finds?  I love filling our math tubs with fun activities.  Today I will share some of new math activities I found recently at the local Dollar Store. 
First up: Ten Frames!
We use ten frames for just about everything in Kindergarten.  I introduced counting collections this week with these fun ice cube trays just in time for my pumpkin unit.  I got the colored pom poms at the Dollar Store too so they could have something festive to count.  
 This group counted by color and sorted their tens into little boats from the cafeteria.  We are loving counting our larger collections by tens!
 This group just wanted to count all of their collection before time was up so they just went for it!

These little cuties were counting their pom poms by size.  So many ways to differentiate with this activity! 

Next up: BIG DICE!
I love big dice!  I was really excited to find these big dice in the toy section.  We will be using these for some addition activities next week but we wanted to try them out in our math tubs just for fun.  I use dish pans to store all of our math tub materials in and they work wonders for keeping those die from flying all over the room.
 Fun right?  Kids are racing to the math tubs every day to get their hands on these fun materials.  The best part?  I didn't break the bank!

Thanks for stopping by for some math fun today.  Curious about what else I put in my math tubs? Check out some fun fall math and ELA centers HERE

Sharing Sunshine in October

Are you ready for some warm Arizona sunshine?  With the rest of the nation enjoying sweaters, chic boots, and pumpkin spice everything, we Hello Sunshine bloggers are still battling 100 degree weather - so it's no wonder that we're sharing some of this sunshine year round!

Welcome back to our monthly link up, where we share tips, ideas, and resources with you.  Our October theme has been literacy, but the link up can feature absolutely anything that helps our fellow educators.  We hope you'll grab these buttons and link up to share some of your own sunshine too!

Click on these links to bask in some sunshiny teacher love...  And don't forget to add your own - we can never get too much sunshine!

Help your students become STAR problem solvers

Teach your students how to be STAR problem solvers.  Learning problem solving steps and strategies will help them solve any word problem.

 "I don't get it!" If these are the first words your kids say with they see a math word problem, then you need to teach them how to be a STAR!

I truly believe that every student can be a star with problem solving if they're taught the proper steps.  You need to show student how to read and understand the problem, much like you teach comprehension during your reading lessons.  I use the good ol' I do it, we do it, you do it  model when I'm teaching math problem solving.

I do it-  I read and do my thinking out loud so the whole class can hear my thoughts and the questions I'm asking myself. I show them how I figure out what the story problem is asking and how to pull out the important information.  Then I model one of the problem solving strategies, find the solution and most importantly, go back to review and check my answer.
We do it- First I'll read the problem and ask some of the thinking aloud questions and let the students respond.  Gradually, I'll lead them to do the think aloud part.  After we've figured out what the problem is asking and pulled out the important information we'll choose a strategy and solve the problem.  I may have them solve the problem with a partner or on their own.  Then we share solutions, making sure to discuss that there is usually more than one way to solve a problem.  We always end with a review and answer check, which I consider one of the most important steps in this process. 
You do it- Now the students are ready to solve a word problem on their own.  At first they'll need visual and verbal cues for the steps, but gradually, these steps should become automatic.  I also begin the You do it phase with partners and move on to individual work later.

These problem solving steps follow the acronym-STAR, 

  • Stop and read the problem,
  • Think about a strategy, 
  • Act, or carry out the strategy and solve the problem
  • Review the problem and check your answer.

 STAR problem solving sign, freebie! Remind students to stop, think, act and review as they're solving problems.
(click for free image)

The STAR steps are taught at the same time you teach the eight basic strategies; use manipulatives, draw a picture, make an organized list, find a pattern, make a table or chart, guess and check, use logical reasoning and work backwards.  These strategies will help students solve almost any word problem they will ever come across.  I do not teach key words!  Not all word problems have key words and not all word problems require an addition, subtraction, multiplication or division equation.

Some strategies work better with certain problems, but most word problems can be solved using several different strategies.  After teaching and practicing all the strategies I allow students to chose the strategies they want to use for each problem.

I think the easiest strategy to begin with is using manipulatives.  This is a very concrete way for students to visualize what is going on in they problems.  The manipulatives can be little blocks, teddy bear counters, clocks, coins or anything that can be moved around to "act out" the problem.

After using manipulatives I usually teach the strategy draw a picture. I think this strategy is my favorite.  I'm a visual learning and sketching out the information helps me make sense of the problem.

The other strategies can be taught in any order.  I do suggest that you spend several days or a week on each strategy before introducing a new one.  Once all the strategies are taught then I let them choose the strategy they want for each problem.  Like I pointed out before, most problems can be solved in multiple ways.  Some kids will even use parts of two or three different strategies.  One think I require is that they be able to explain their thinking.  They need to be able to tell what they did and why.

To help students remember these steps I display signs that have graphics with the steps.
 To help guide the students through each step I created a page with room to write or paste one problem at the top and then boxes for students to respond to each STAR step.  
Students have to
-Read the problem and write down what it's asking.
-Decide on a strategy they want to use.
-Show their thinking as they carry out the plan.
-Make sure they answered the question and justify their answer.
As student get more proficient with solving word problems I do not require them to write out all of this information, but it really helps when they are first learning to be a STAR problem solver.

These pages are available from my TPT store.
 Help your student become STAR problem solvers.  Teach them how to read the problems carefully so they know what the problem is asking and to find the important information.

I know your students can become STAR problem solvers once they learn these four steps and have success using the eight strategies!

Happy Problem Solving!

Candy Math

Halloween is quickly approaching, and I love engaging my students with things that are surrounding them.  Candy is something that is on many students' minds during October, and quickly following Halloween.  To help make this easier I spend a whole week using candy for math!!

Candy math to help keep students engaged the week after Halloween

I have each student bring in 10 pieces of candy on Monday, and then we spend the first day sorting our own candy and making predictions.  We spend a lot of time figuring out the different kinds of candy we have, and figuring out our class favorites.  From there we sort it, and make graphs of the top ten candies we have.

To help expand past the math part of the day, I am bringing some science into my candy lessons! I am excited to see what kinds of towers my kids are going to build this year, and what types of candy they think will work best.  I plan on doing these activities for a full week, and letting them enjoy their candy at the end of the week. 

Last year my students had a lot of fun figuring out what kind of candy they liked best, and what the favorite candy of the class was.  I can't wait to see what this year's class likes best!!

You can find my candy math here and keep your kids engaged after Halloween!!

Mastering Measurement

Math is, without a doubt, my FAVORITE subject to teach!  I love all the hands-on, engaging activities and the variety of manipulatives and real-life situations that can be used to teach the concepts.  
One of my favorite math units to teach is measurement!

When I taught first grade, we started with non-standard units of measurement.  We used everything and anything we could get our hands on to measure.  The most commonly used materials were crayons, paperclips, and linking cubes.  My class loved being able to roam the room measuring and comparing the lengths of various objects.  One of our favorite non-standard units of measurement activities was Ice Cream Measurement.  

I made one giant ice cream cone and had each student stand next to it to see how many ice cream scoops tall they were.  It was so much fun!  I took their picture and glued it on to a paper.  Then they wrote how tall they were in a complete sentence.  I don't have the ice cream templates, but you can grab the measurement page below!

Once we mastered non-standard units of measurement, we were able to begin standard units.  To start off, I gave each student an inch worm.  They taped it around their finger and used it to measure objects around the room.  This helped them begin to make the leap to using inches and centimeters to measure.  

You can grab the inchworms and recording page below!

When I moved up to second grade, we used solely standard units of measurement - inches, feet, yards, centimeters, and meters.  I created a unit to help us learn the more advanced concepts of measuring.

Click here to learn more about this packet.

We measured, compared, and created line plots for all the standard units.  Line plotting was a tricky concept at first, but quickly became a popular inquiry activity.  Students worked in groups to measure the lengths of pencils, string, books, and construction paper.  They recorded the measurements on a line plot and analyzed their results.  If you would like to see more practice with line plots, check out my graphing packet.  

Want to more measurement fun?
Head on over to my blog to see more of my favorite measurement activities!  :)

13 Different Types of Addition and Subtraction Problems?!

I teach at a school with an accelerated curriculum.  This provides me with the challenge to cover kindergarten and first grade math standards in kindergarten.  Wowza!  It is tough to squeeze in so much math in one short year; every minute matters during the math block.

As I was looking through the first grade math standards, I noticed the math program we use (Saxon Math) does not quite cover all of the different types of word problems the kids must learn in kinder and first grade math.  So, I have been beating my head against the wall trying to finish an activity where my students could work through all thirteen different types of problems, while ensuring the learning would be meaningful and worthwhile. 

Now, I am VERY lucky in the fact that my students LOVE to participate in class this year.  When I ask a question in class, most of the time about half the class has a hand in the air.  They are willing to take chances, and aren't discouraged when they don't have the correct answer.  Like I said, I am lucky.  Even though I have an amazing class, I wanted them to be able to write down their thinking, and I wanted to show parents the amazing skills they were learning in math (because I didn't learn this stuff in kindergarten).

I formatted the file so the kids would have a journal sheet to show their work and their thinking.  I also made the file so the pages could be printed two to a page in order to save paper.  That way, if you wanted to complete one problem per day, you could make one copy per week (Monday through Thursday... because, let's face it, we don't always get to everything we plan for each day).

There is a page to post on your calendar wall (if you choose to work on it that way).

The same problem is on the journal page.  Note the same border for a particular type of word problem.  So, since there are 13 different types of word problems, there are 13 different borders.  That way, you can see what type of word problem it is just by looking at the border.

If you are interested in taking a look, check it out in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.