# How to Have Fun When You Don’t Have Time for Fun!

Some of my favorite memories of my elementary school years involve making crafts and playing games! My favorite craft was making gingerbread scented salt dough ornaments! But, anyone who teaches in this day and age knows we don’t always have time to do the fun stuff, right! So, to make the most of the season I sneak in a little holiday cheer as often as possible! Here are a few of my favorite ways to sneak in some fun when you have too much curriculum to cover or a dreaded math assessment to review for!

As simple as it sounds, white printer paper, colored markers and stickers or stamps can add a little holiday cheer to even the most dull math tasks! Here is an example of a Math Review I did yesterday with one of my Fourth graders. She has a test this week so we needed to spend some serious time reviewing fractions, but you can see that we still made it fun!

I bet you can figure out what my third graders are reviewing this week!  Check out this simple array activity to practice multiplication! This could also be used for fact families!

But what if you have to work on a review with word problems? No problem! You make that into a present too! Take any review or set of task cards and have students make a cheerful answer sheet like this:

Well, if you know me at all, you know I LOVE MATH GAMES, so I will have to mention that you can turn any math skill into a game!  Here is one of my favorites from my TpT Store:

# Very Merry Classroom Ideas for December

### Well, Thanksgiving break was a great time for relaxing and visiting with family and friends. But … Now we have to go back to school?  What on Earth will we do with these excited children while they count the days until their holiday break?  Here are some ideas to help you make the days/weeks leading up to the holiday break fun and educational.

Joy, Sunshine, and Lollipops has excellent  ideas on her blog for celebrating Holidays Around the World!

How about a Grinch Day?  Falling Into First has great ideas on her blog for celebrating Grinch Day!

Get your students moving around the room with this Math Scavenger Hunt! Your students will love solving word problems with partners.

Looking for great Read A Louds for Christmas? The Printable Princess has a collection for you.

How cute is this writing activity “If Santa Was Stuck in My Chimney…”? Check out other related ideas on the blog, First Grade Wow

These Holiday Math Games are perfect for elementary classrooms!

This Gumdrop Math Challenge is a great way to get your students using critical thinking skills while having fun!

More Math??? Here are some great ideas!

If you are having a class party, check out these 15 Class Games from A Girl and A Glue Gun.

Want more great ideas? Check out my Pinterest Holiday Board:

# Early Finishers

What 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!

# Back To School Math

### Guess what?!?  It’s time to get ready to go back to school!  Here in my little world we have less than 2 weeks left until the kids are back in school!

If you are a parent looking for something to use to help our kids brush up on Math Skills before the school year stats off, I have something perfect for you!  If you are a teacher looking for classroom work to help get your students back into gear, I also have something for you! Continue reading

# Decomposing Fractions in Upper Elementary

There have been a lot of changes in Math objectives and instruction over the past few years. One change that I wasn’t so sure about at first was “decomposing fractions“.  At the time I was teaching third grade and there were already so many fraction concepts to teach. But, let me tell you, after working with my students on decomposing fractions, I see that they understand fractions a lot better than when we just labeled the fractions. Composing and decomposing the fractions helps them to really see how the parts and wholes relate. Now that I am tutoring 4th, 5th and 6th graders, I see how decomposing fractions really helps them to understand the “bigger” things that they do. Continue reading