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!

Geometry Center Activities

Geometry is one of my favorite units to teach! Maybe it is because I like to quilt so the patterns and shapes are fun for me! Maybe it is because there are so many hands on activities for my students!  Some of my favorite activities for centers and/or workstations (math workshop) are:

1.  Tangrams:

tangrams

I love to give my students tangrams and let them explore spatial relationships while building patterns and recreating patterns from books like “Grandfather Tang” and “Tangramables”. If you are lucky enough to have plastic sets of tangrams you can set them up in a center with the books and let your children explore with the shapes. If you need to make your own tangrams, you can download a free pattern here. Print on card stock and cut out. You can also find some cute cards for using tangrams here.

 2.  Make 3D Shapes:  

Watermarked 1

Head over to Teaching Ideas For Those Who Love Teaching to See step by step how to make these awesome 3D Shapes with Marshmallows and Toothpicks! Yum!

Foldable-3d-shapes

Or … If you prefer paper shapes, Math Geek Mama has Free Printables to make your own shapes!

 3.  Geometry Scavenger Hunt: 

geo scavenger hunt

Kids need to get out of their seat and move around! One of your best centers can be the scavenger hunt. Place questions around the room and give your students a record sheet to use while they work.  For directions to make your own, see this post:  Making A Scavenger Hunt.  Or to use premade, print and go resources click here: Scavenger Hunt 1, or here  Scavenger Hunt 2.

 

4. Task Cards:

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These task cards are great for starting higher level discussions with your students.  Students work together to answer questions identifying, comparing and analyzing critical attributes of 2 and 3 d shapes.

5. Technology: 

Hopefully you have a few computers in your classroom you can use for a station. Here are two good websites for Geometry:

Sheppard Software:

quadrilateral game

PBS Cyberchase:

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Why & How to Use Task Cards in The Classroom

Why?

Task Cards Save Paper: Using task cards can cut down on the number of copies and paper used because you don’t need to make a set for each student and if laminated or kept in protective sleeves, they can be used for years without printing new copies. 

Task Cards Increase Engagement: They add to student engagement because they add novelty. Paper and pencil practice is certainly useful, but can become dull and routine.  Using dry erase markers on a task card can mix things up a bit.  Also, task cards can be printed with fun colors and clip art to add interest for the students.

How? 

Centers and or Work Stations – Print cards and keep in small containers or baggies.  Have students work in pairs or groups solving problems on task cards and recording on a record sheet.  I like using record sheets for two reasons. One, the students are more likely to stay on task if they know they will have to turn something in at the end of the center. And, the other reason, I like to look over the record sheets to see if students need re-teaching or extra help with the skill/concept worked on in the center.  If you do not have a lot of copy paper you can always have students use notebook paper to create a record sheet.  Have them write the name of the center on the paper and then number or letter their answers.

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Whole Class Cooperative Groups – My suggestions for whole class would be the same as for work stations & centers except you would need one set of task cards for each table group.  After learning or reviewing a concept with whole class, the students could work on the cards with their table groups.   After the group work you could have a class discussion about the task cards as a way to wrap up. Another whole class activity which would require only one set of task cards is a “Scoot” or circuit.  To set up a Scoot you have a different task card on each desk and have the students work in pairs rotating around the set of task cards in numerical or alphabetical offer.  Some teachers will set a timer for scoot and others will let students move as they finish.  For a FREE  “Scoot Record Sheet” that can be used with any set of task cards, click here.

ScootSheetPREVIEW

 

 

 

 

 

 

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St. Patrick’s Day Classroom Fun!

Are your little leprechauns looking for a pot of gold?  St. Patrick’s Day can be a lot of fun and also educational!  Here are a few great ideas!

Crafts!!!

I absolutely love crafts for any occasion! Here are a few fun crafts for St. Patrick’s Day:

Leprechaun Mask  by Abc Creative Learning

Paper Strip Shamrocks by Sugarbee Crafts

Water Bottle Shamrock Stamp by Crafty Morning

Math!!!

I guess it is no secret!  I also love Math!

Lucky Charms Graph by How to Homeschool My Child

Ten Lucky Leprechauns by One Sharp Bunch

March Math Freebie by ME!

And just for fun …

St. Patrick’s Day Joke Cootie Catcher  by Bren Did

Leprechaun Poop by Penny Pinchin Mom

marchmathfreebie

 

Understanding Multiplication and Division in Word Problems

So, the fun and games of learning how to make arrays, skip counting on number lines and using models to solve multiplication problems has lead to the equally exciting task of solving division problems. Everyone seems to be making great progress and making meaning of multiplication and division in real world problems, UNTIL … wait for it … wait for it … We mix the two together!

multiplication-and-division-free

And here the real “fun” begins … A few students usually have an intuition about the structure of the problems and just “get it” with out much help, but the majority of students need direct, systematic instruction paired with hands on or pictorial examples to really, truly, deeply, understand the difference between multiplication and division in word problems.  But where can we start? Continue reading

Top 5 Tips for Decomposing Fractions

As I have mentioned in previous posts about fractions, starting with hands on and pictorial activities is vital for helping primary intermediate level students understand fractions. Today I would like to share my top 5 tips for decomposing fractions. These are mainly focused on 3rd – 5th grade, but may be helpful for some older and younger students as well.

fraction-decompose-tips

1.)  I love using my pizza game for hands on fractions!  If you don’t have a pizza game, you can use plastic fraction circles or make pizza fractions from paper plates. Show your students a fraction of a pizza such as 5/6. After guided them to name the fraction, show them one way to decompose it by giving 2/6 to one student and 3/6 to another student. Point out that 2/6 + 3/6 is a way to decompose 5/6 and ask if they can name any other ways.  Act out other representations such as 2/6 + 1/6 + 2/6 by giving those slices to other students.  Try this with several different students.

decompose-fractions-pizza-game

2.)  Give students color tiles or unifix cubes. Give specific directions such as make a rectangle with 3 red, 2 blue and 7 yellow.  What fraction of your tiles are not yellow? (5/12)  Move the red and blue apart a little to show how 5/12 can also be represented as 3/12 + 2/12.  Do this with a few other fractions as well.

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3.) Give students pictures of fractions and have them cut them up to show ways to decompose the fraction.

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4.) Coloring Practice – Give students pictures of fractions with nothing shaded.  Give them directions on what color to color different parts.  Then guide them to write number sentences to decompose the fractions.

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5.) Play Games!  Make your own games to practice decomposing fractions or try one of the games I have available on my TpT page.

decompose-fractions-match

decompose-fractions-spinner-game

squarecoverfractiondecompose

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?

 

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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.

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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.