After many years of teaching I have put together a “tool box” of tips and tricks to help students really understand and solve word problems, even the all complicated multistep problems. Today I would like to share some of those tips! Whether you are a teacher, home school parent, or a parent helping your child with homework, these tips should help! Continue reading
Category Archives: hands on learning
Measurement Conversions: Teaching Tips and a FREE Printable
Measurement conversions can be quite overwhelming for some students! This is especially true if they do not understand the relationship between the different units of measurement. Notice I use the word “understand”, not the word “know”. Students can know that 1 foot is 12 inches with out really understanding how they are equal to each other. Below are suggestions for building understanding so that student can be successful with measurement conversions. Continue reading
Making Sense of Decimals
Recently I have been working with my 4th graders on decimals. We have been identifying decimals, naming decimals, comparing decimals, adding and subtracting decimals. For some students decimals can be daunting at first, but I have a few strategies to help them understand and be successful!
 Money! Get out the money and review the relationships between dollars, dimes and pennies. Give students a set amount such as $2.37 and ask them to show you with the money and write it out. Most students will already know how to write the amount of money with the decimal. Help the students who need it. This is a great time to ask the students what “the little dot” is called (decimal point) and what it means. If no one knows, fill them in. Then lead the discussion to the meaning of the words “tenths” and “hundredths” and relate again to money.
Helping Students Understand Fractions
Fractions can be a difficult subject for some students. Even students who seem to “get it” when doing simpler fraction work may become quickly confused by more complex skills such as comparing or adding fractions.
So, what can a teacher or parent do to help students develop a deeper understanding of fractions?

Start with concrete, and real world examples:
How about pizza! Yum! If you are at home you can use a real pizza to discuss how the equal parts of your pizza make a whole. For example if your pizza is cut into 8 equal slices, talk to your child about how each slice is oneeighth of the whole pizza. If you are making your own pizza you can slice it into halves first, then fourths, then eighths and discuss the pattern that you develop. As the pizza is cut into smaller pieces, there are more pieces to make the whole. In the classroom, you can use “pretend pizza” like this one from Learning Resources. Or you can have your students make their own pizzas out of paper plates. Fun!
Skip Counting & Multiplication
It is very important for students to understand the meaning behind multiplication. It is also important for them to master multiplication facts so that they may apply them to other types of math. They need to know the multiples of numbers to simplify fractions, solve large division problems, see patterns, understand algebra, and so much more.
Being fluent with Math is similar to being fluent in Reading. If a student knows his sight words and only has to sound out a few unfamiliar words he is able to read a paragraph or story fluently, and comprehend it. However, if he has to sound out all of the words as he reads, the paragraph or passage will take a long time and fluency will be weaker and comprehension compromised.
Counting Down ‘til the Big Day: Holiday Themed Math
I am happy today to be linked up with some great bloggers for Focused On Fifth’s “Unwrapping Holiday Classroom Ideas”. Every day will be a different topic related to the classroom and the Holiday Season!
As a teacher this time of year can be fun, but also a little challenging. I think the main challenge is keeping the students focused on academics when they are so hyped up about the holidays! This is when I think “If you can’t beat them, join them!” … Continue reading
Using Place Value to Understand Addition
Adding two digit numbers can seem like an easy enough task to those of us who have been doing it for a long time! But for elementary students it can sometimes be confusing, especially if there is regrouping involved.
It is helpful to most students to start with something concrete, like place value blocks. Before I teach students the Continue reading
Getting Ready For Halloween!
Wow! The stores are stocked with Halloween candy already! Last year I bought some ahead of time to be prepared, and “OOPS“, we ended up eating it and had to restock! So, this year I am waiting a little longer to stock up. However, I did buy a small amount of candy corn the other day so we could enjoy a little preHalloween treat!
I’m trying to wait until October 1st to out my decorations, but it is so hard! In the meantime I bought some adorable Halloween themed clip art Continue reading
Top 10 Rounding Activities!
My last post included many resources and ideas for rounding! Today I want to share 10 Activities for rounding!
1.) I love this video from Math Coach on You Tube because it uses number lines to help the students understand rounding. To turn it into an activity, have your students use dry erase boards to solve the problems with the video. Pause the video before the answers are shown to give your students time to work. Continue reading