Early Finishers

tips for early finishers.pngWhat in the world do you do with early finishers? This is a big question for teachers! I think it is important to teach your students to check their work when finished. Teaching students to improve their work when they think they are finished is a valuable lesson. But, after that, there are always going to be a handful of students who will finish their work sooner than the rest of the class. So, back to the question … What do you do? Sitting and waiting for the rest of the class to finish or doing busy work can be very boring and is not giving these students a chance to continue learning. Here are some of my favorite ideas for early finishers!

Set up a system for students so they can find out what to do without disrupting the class or asking you while you are helping other students. I love this display that can be set up at the front of the room.  The signs can be switched out depending on what you want the students to do each day.

 

 

Make sure your students know your expectations so they are not off task or disruptive. This poster is a great example and it is free! You could also make an anchor chart.

Have a place to organize the materials and supplies the students need for the activities to minimize questions such as “where do I get paper for _____ …. ?”

Extension menus are great for independent work. I like this reading menu, but you could make a menu for any subject. For example, if you are working on place value you could have a menu with place value activities for students to choose from.

Bulletin boards such as Boggle or Noggle can be fun! You can change the numbers or letters out every week or two. You could even put some students in charge of updating the board and making the answer key!

Stem Bins are a great hands on activity. Lots of fun while building reasoning skills.

Partner games and centers are a way to let your students interact with others while practicing skills.

Computer games and websites can be great learning tools. Make sure you set procedures up for how to get online and which sites students will go. Here are some of my favorites!

For more great ideas check out my early finishers board on Pinterest!

5 Free Resources for Place Value

Looking for FREE place value resources? Well, here you are! These 5 free place value resources are terrific!

1.  Math Coach’s Corner has a free download for ten-frames and a great explanation of how to use the ten frames for place value understanding!

2.  Check out this free download with printable pages for decomposing and composing whole numbers.

3.  How about a place value game with stacking cups! Seriously fun!

4.  Play Money is so helpful when teaching students about expanded notation!

5. These dice boxes from Undercover Classroom are so cool!  You can download the labels for free!

 

Expanded Notation Made Easy(ish)

I am not sure when I learned how to write numbers in expanded notation, but I am certain it was not in 3rd grade. Students now are expected to learn how to write numbers in expanded notation as early as 3rd grade here in Texas and I am sure that applies to other states as well.  But why?  It is part of a push to help students understand the relationships between places and digits in our base ten number system.  It can seem difficult at times, but with hands on activities and a lot of practice, your students can master expanded notation.

One method I find to be very effective is using play money:

expandedformusingmoney

Give your students a number. Guide them to use their play value money to model the number.

expanded hundred thousands.png

Then ask them “Ask “How many hundred thousands?” Tell “Expanded notation shows the number in each place times the value of the place, so 3 hundred thousands is 3 x 100,000.”

expanded notation money.png

Continue questioning and guiding students to use play money to help them write the numbers.

free place value money

You can download my play money for FREE by clicking the picture above.

 

For more great place value ideas, check out my Place Value Board on Pinterest!

 

 

math help 2

There are many ways to teach problem solving to elementary students. Most students are successful with a well structured problem solving plan.  However, we all have at least a few students who just don’t “get it” with regular classroom lessons. Working one on one or in small groups and applying well planned interventions helps these students find success.  Last week I shared my first three top tips and today I am sharing the next three tips:

help with word problemsSome students understand the questions just fine, but have trouble seeing the big picture, the story or the scenario. These students need extra help laying out the details. Most students will benefit from instruction in drawing pictures or making diagrams, and struggling students will especially need to practice with this.  I like to teach my students how to make part-part-whole and whole-part-part models.   models for problem solving.png

We will discuss each clue and label it as a part or the whole and then work from there.  Strip diagrams and unit bars work well too.  I also like to encourage students to make actual pictures of the clues. I am no artist and the kids like to laugh at my drawings with me!  

shopping word problems.png

 help with mathThis is so important for students who have trouble visualizing the actions in the problem. An example could be using this problem below with Martina and her purse.  I will get play money out and we will actually act out the story with the play money. Another example could be to use colored counters with the apple story below.  Now there are some big numbers so you could use smaller numbers to practice acting it out and then transfer the actions to your paper with the larger numbers.

apple word problems.png

 math helpSometimes students get caught up by the big numbers and can’t focus on the actions in the problem. For these students you can cross out the big numbers, substitute with smaller numbers and have them solve. Then apply the actions to the bigger numbers. If needed, use manipulatives to help build understanding.

 

Missed Part 1 from last week?  Find it here:

more math help 3

Connecting Math to Student’s Interest

 

students interested in math

So, we all have had that one kid that just hates math, or that one kid who is bored because they don’t see the meaning to learning math. Okay, if we are really being honest, we know quite a few of these kids … quite a few each year!  Flash back to my beginning years teaching. I naïvely thought if I was a positive upbeat  teacher I could get 100% of my kids involved and excited! And, boy did I try hard! And it worked … 100% all the time! Just kidding! I did get some students engaged,but  I still had kids that just didn’t like math or see the relevance in math no matter what I did!

Somewhere along the way I had a sort of “aha” moment. I was making a quilt for my friend’s soon to be born baby girl. I was measuring, cutting, moving shapes around and organizing patterns. I realized that I was having FUN and using MATH!  I started thinking about how I could help my students use their own hobbies and interests to understand and see the meaning in learning Math.

Slide3

To get everyone involved, I spent time showing my students my hobby, sewing, and explained how I used Math skills to successfully make quilts, clothing, etc… Then I asked my students about their interests and hobbies and we discussed Math involved.  Afterwards I brought in as much Math “stuff” as I could to make connections!  For example, I went to a few Houston Rockets basketball games with my husband and I would bring the program to school so my basketball loving kids could use them to see the Math in the stats, etc. I found project books and books with records, graphs, charts, etc… related to kids hobbies/interests. As the years went on we got internet friendly computers in the classroom and I was able to find a lot of meaningful websites with statistics on Sports, travel, sewing, music, you name it!

volleyball math

 

There is Math everywhere … crafts, sports, party planning, cars, traveling, weather, current events, cooking, taking care of pets, video games, building, planting a garden, and so much more! I make it a point to get to know my students’ interests and hobbies so I can relate their interests to Math as often as possible! Sometimes this means pulling up a website and giving them a task or assignment, but sometimes it is as simple as just asking questions and being  such as “How do you think decimals relate to basketball?” or “What kind of Math skills do you need to know to raise and take care of a horse?” 

math meaningful

Keeping up with my students interests is important for establishing good relationships and also for finding connections in Math! I can use their knowledge in their areas of interest to help them build confidence in Math! 

 legos and math

Back to School Get to Know You Activities

back to school 10 ideasThe first week of school is an important week that sets the tone for your whole year. Taking time to get to know your students and for them to get to know each other helps build a classroom of community and caring.  Here are some of my favorite ideas for back to school activities. I wish there was time to do them all!

I love to read The Important Book to my students! It is a short, but sweet book with a great message about being yourself. After reading the book, I give my students index cards and have them write important things about themselves that they would like to share me and with the class. Once they have written their cards, I pick them up and shuffle. I read one card at a time without saying whose card it is and the other students guess whose card it is. A fun way to learn about each other!

back to school cards

 

Another activity that would go along great with the book is to have your students make posters about themselves to hang around the room.  This All About Me Craft would be perfect!

 

Who doesn’t love a great selfie?

 

selfie rock and roll.png

You could have your students draw “selfies” or make collages of themselves doing a favorite hobby or activity.  Then have students share the “selfies” with the class.

collage selfie.png

 

 

Another idea for selfies is this selfie project which looks like so much fun! Download it for free!

 

 

Get your students moving while you have a beach ball toss with questions designed to get to know one another!

 

And while you are up, play a game of switch sides if …

 

Student searches can also be a lot of fun! Here is a free download.

 

I remember making an “All About Me” bag for a class when I was in high school.  We decorated the outside with magazine pictures and words and then brought the bag back to school with a few things inside to share. Here is a free download with instructions from A Love For Teaching:

 

 

How cute is this cootie catcher?  Way cute, right!

 

Need ideas for Back to School Math?

 

How about Science?

 

For more great ideas, check out my Back To School Board on Pinterest.

Top 10 Rounding Activities!

facebookRounding

 

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