Leap Day Sale!

Hello friends!  I'm celebrating Leap Day today with a sale in my TpT store!  Stop by and pick up a few great products to help you get through the spring season!

Do you need a few fun ways for your students to practice math skills with multiple choice questions? 
Check these out:

My students love practicing with these cards!  I love them because we get in a little practice before our state assessment with how to answer multiple choice questions in math!

Or how about this Spring Figurative Language review pack?  It's a great refresher before the big day!

Have an amazing day!


Interactive Science: Water Cycle Bracelets with The Incredible Journey

Do you teach the Water Cycle in your classroom?  One of the ways that I do this is with an activity called The Incredible Journey. In the Incredible Journey, my students pretend that they are droplets of water.  They go through a series of stations based on the roll of a die.  As they travel to each station they collect a bead to make a bracelet.  The stations include Cloud, Animals, Plants, Stream, Soil, Ocean, Mountain, Glacier, and Rivers. Depending on the number that they roll, they either stay in that station and collect a bead or journey to another station and collect a new bead there.

The Set-Up
The interactive activity is pretty easy to set up.  I bought a set of 1000 pony beads from Amazon for $2.95, and divided the beads by color.  I used these awesome containers that I found a Staples a few years ago.
I use cards that show each station.  The cards coordinate the journey with the a number rolled on the dice.  This made it easier than creating a cube with a picture of where students should go next.  

I use a small cup to contain the die. I cut a piece of string a little longer than the circumference of my wrist, and we knotted one end to hold the beads as we traveled on the journey.  I started students at all of the different stations.. seven in all which was a great way to spread them out.  

Cross-Curricular-- Writing in Science Class
I also have students keep track of their journey in their Interactive Notebooks for science.  They write down where they are and then where they are traveling to next.  I usually have them do about 12-15 station rolls.  This helps them to get through several stations within the journey.  The kids get so excited as they travel through the Water Cycle!

When we have finished the 12-15 rolls I have students color code their notebooks with the same colors as the beads.

Then we use the information gathered from the stations to write a story about our journey through the water cycle.  I also have students color code within the story.  I expect them to use water cycle wording as well.  Things like "Next, I evaporated into a series of storm clouds," or "I traveled as precipitation onto the Mighty Alps and skied my way down."  I like to challenge them to use as many science vocabulary words as possible from the units.

It's a perfect way for me to combine writing skills in the content areas.  I would love to hear how you add writing activities to your content areas!  If you want to try completeing The Incredible Journey with your class you can go to Project Wet {HERE} and read an overview of the component lesson.

Have a great weekend!


Ideas for Graphing on the Coordinate Grid and Rene Descarte-- {Mid-Week Math Motivation}

We've been working hard on graphing integers and rationale numbers on the coordinate grid.  I always find this part of the unit to be so much fun.  There are tons of great ideas out there for students to practice graphing and reading ordered pairs.  I wanted to share a few with you today including a way that I incorporate a little history into my math lessons.

I love to begin with this video:  Basic Coordinate Plane-- A Space Odyssey.  It's about 1 minute 20 seconds, and just reviews basic vocabulary, but there is just something about the Space Odyssey music that makes it inspiring.  My students sit up a little straighter, they are ready to become ACTIVE LEARNERS when they hear this type of music.

Here is just the link if you need to copy and paste:  http://bit.ly/1TiYPYp
I start out with some vocabulary basics of the pieces of the coordinate system.  We make a finger foldable for our interactive notebooks, and then a four door foldable for the quadrants.  As always, I want them thinking right away about using vocabulary correctly as we practice.

Do you ever teach your students history in your math lessons?  I try as much as possible to incorporate a cross curriculum approach to learning, so when I can incorporate reading, writing or social studies into math I do it!  During our unit on Coordinate Graphing I teach my students about Renee Descartes.. I THINK.. THEREFORE I AM....  He was a french philosopher who is credited for first quoting the above statement.  He is ALSO a mathematician who created the Cartesian graphing system.. all because of a fly on his ceiling! History says that Descartes was a sickly child, and spent hours laying in bed staring at the ceiling.  Because his mind was always thinking, he wanted to develop a system that would map the movements of the fly, thus the idea of a coordinate grid became reality.  I like to show my students a picture of Descartes and share the story.

You can also read this easy reader with them (link will send you to Amazon)

One great way I've found to practice coordinate grid associations is with Coordinate Grid puzzle pieces and squares.  I know there are a TON of graphing pictures products out there.  They are great, but sometimes I need something that is quick and easy.  The puzzle pieces or squares give me a variety of tools that I can use to reinforce concepts or formatively assess FAST.  I give each student a puzzle piece section.  There are four individual pieces that make a puzzle.  One shows the answer on the coordinate grid, a second section shows the ordered pair, the third a word problem that corresponds with the plotted point, and the fourth contains the correct quadrant.  Student must find each other and complete the puzzle in the room.  They love this type of activity, it gets them up and moving, and gives me a chance to listen to conversations and complete some error analysis with the groups.

I also use this activity printed just as squares... it's easier on me to not have to cut our all the puzzle pieces!!  Students can play this during my math workshop time with a partner, or  I can pull a group to my table.  Students place four corresponding cards together to complete the puzzle.

Sometimes I give them laminated cards that do not have the point plotted, and students will plot the ordered pair on the coordinate plane.  It gives me the ability to differentiate based on what a particular group needs at the time.

You can print the squares multiple to a page and have students cut out one four-squared grid.  Have them mix them up with three other partners and each put a square back together.  We glue these into our interactive notebooks as further examples and practice for graphing and recognizing points.
You can check these puzzle grids out {HERE} if you are interested.

How do you teach the Coordinate Grid in your classroom?  I would love to hear additional ideas!
Thanks for stopping by for a little Mid-Week Math Motivation!


Mardi Gras Books to Share in your Classroom

It's Fat Tuesday friends!

We have been living large here since Mardi Gras began after Twelfth Night, and today our celebrations come to an end.  This is our second season of Mardi Gras, and honestly, we love every minute of it.  The colors, the floats, the bands, the beads, the moon pies, the general happiness.  I loved celebrating Mardi Gras in my classroom last week.  Of course we had to keep it real, and actually work.  It was not a day of pure sloth, but we had a great time wearing beads, playing math games <gasp> and enjoying our Mardi Gras music from Pandora. You can read about our Mardi Gras Celebration and the centers I used to learn history and practice math skills {HERE}.

I wanted to share few awesome books that are great for the Mardi Gras season that you may want to check out: (Links to these will take you to Amazon).

These three are great for younger children.  They are very easy reads for my sixth graders, but the time of year is so festive, they deserve a quick 10 minute read during SSR.

I've introduced a few to the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys Series Classics.  These have been popular this month.

This book is also a mystery, and my librarian couldn't keep it in the library because it is about Mardi Gras in Mobile AL... our area!!  She wants to be sure to order multiple copies, and I've added it to my list of book purchases as well.

Finally, I wanted to share just a few pictures with you of our Mardi Gras season.

I hope you all have a wonderful week!  I would love to hear if you celebrate Mardi Gras in your classroom!  Don't forget, my Mardi Gras Math Centers are on sale through the end of today! Grab them up to celebrate during the month of February!!


Mardi Gras Celebrations in the Classroom

We had a such a fun day celebrating Mardi Gras!  I love when the whole city is excited to celebrate.

I started out the day by giving all of my students several beads to wear.  As they entered my classroom I had fun Zydeco music playing from Pandora.  My students could tell we were in for a great day of fun and learning.  This year I only had a half day with them, we had PD in the afternoon, but I wanted to keep them active and learning, and celebrating!

I set up three different centers to rotate through.  At thirty minutes per station this was a perfect amount.  I also had library and PE, and brunch before leaving.

Center #1:  Mardi Gras Float Board Game:  We have been studying integers, and I wanted my students to practice positive and negative integer phrases.  Students chose a card from the pile, read it out loud, and the group declared if it was a positive or negative integer. All of the cards have a Mardi Gras theme, and the kids loved moving their parade floats to the finish line.  I used bingo chips for markers, but I think I'll be on the look out for tiny cars or Mardi Gras themed hats or masks for future play.  One great thing about this game is that you don't HAVE to use it for integers.  You could just play the game reading the cards.  We happen to be studying integers, so it was perfect for us!

One of the other activities I love with these cards is a sorting task.  Several of my students had a lot of fun just sorting the task cards into positive and negative integers.  They were so proud to put these together!

Center #2:  Number Sense Mardi Gras themed Mental Math Computation:  Our next center was also math related.  I need my students practicing as much mental math computation as possible.  These differentiated task cards give students 4-6 directions to solve a computation problem.  The first set is just addition and subtraction related.  I use a lot of different words for these operations so it is perfect vocabulary practice as well.  The second set includes all four operations, and the last 10 cards include all four operations as well as exponents or questions that include statements similar to "go to the sum of the digits."  

Students can use a hundreds board for help if they need to, as well as a dry erase board.  They love to challenge each other with the more difficult cards, and my more capable students timed each other to see who could get the correct answer the fastest. 

I also love keeping these cards handy for when we have a few extra minutes before heading to a special class, lunch or buses.  When I use them with my whole class they are perfect to practice listening skills as well!

Center #3: The History of Mardi Gras:  Of course I had to sneak in a little reading lesson as well in during the center rotation!  I found a great FREE article from Fourth Grade Shenanigans about the History of Mardi Gras {HERE}. I printed it multiple sheets to a page and added a cover from clipart that I had to make a booklet.  My students did a close read activity with my student teacher, completing a cold read to make connections and practice internal comprehension, then they discussed text structure and historical evidence.  

I had them write down 9 interesting facts on round circles to represent Mardi Gras beads, and we cut them out and created necklaces on construction paper.  I loved their small group interaction with my student teacher.  She will begin teaching lessons soon, and this was a perfect opportunity for her to get to know my students better.

I also had a few students who could not attend PE, so I gave them an added bonus center to complete.  This one was Mardi Gras Float Fractions.  It practiced finding equivalent fractions and percentages by answering 10 questions.  When the questions were answered my students had to draw and color a parade float with the correct information included.  Here is an example:

I think this was one of their favorites, and I had several students who asked me for copies to take home over the weekend!  YAY.. they WANTED to do math!!

Our Mardi Gras Celebration wouldn't be complete without MOON PIES!  I had gotten a TON of them over the weekend at a Mardi Gras parade my family had gone to, so of course they had to come into school for my Smarties.  We had enough for everyone to have 2 moon pies, and they were so funny about flavors.  Banana was definitely the favorite.  I considered doing a graphing activity, but knew I wouldn't have time, so I added my idea to my planning list for next year.

Do you celebrate Mardi Gras in your classroom?  I would love to hear the ways you celebrate.  If you are interested, the above mentioned MATH GAMES are bundled together in my store.  They are ON SALE through Fat Tuesday if you want to start the week with a little celebration!

Laissez les bons temps rouler!--- 
Let the good times roll!


Integer Word Problems: Real World Questions {Mid-Week Math Motivation}

Hello friends!  Thanks for stopping by for a little Mid-Week Math Motivation.  Today I want to share a math lab that I worked on with my students when we were studying integers.  This is a great way to really assess your student's understanding, plus it keeps them up and moving.  You can really listen to their math conversations, and they get to socialize in groups too!
I spend the first few days of my Integers unit working with students on recoginzing integer phrases and graphing them on a number line.  I set up a number line in my classroom from -10 to +10 and then use phrase cards.  My students each get a phrase card and they have to find where their number would be represented on the number line.  We also practice opposite integers and my students get to pick a partner to be their opposite on the number line.  They have to explain the phrase, and their partner has to explain why they are the opposite.  I am specifically looking for understanding that they are equal distances from zero, not that one is a positive and the other a negative number.  I use the task cards and number line from this bundled set for the activity.  We also use foldables for vocabulary, and I come back to the set again for cooridnate grid.

The next day I split my students into groups, and the real fun begins.  I try to keep my students in groups of 4-5.  This way everyone is involved in the writing process, and no one can completely take over the group.  Everyone needs to contribute.  The task for this integer unit was to create a real-world problem involving  two integer phrases.  Students have to graph the integer on a number line and then compare the integers.  

I give my students about 20 minutes to create the problem and put the information down on chart paper.  I use chart paper that is gridded.  If you teach math and don't have gridded chart paper, run, don't walk to order some.  It is perfect for graphing inequalities, integers, creating number lines, coordinate grid, geometry.. you name it.  And it sure beats just using a plain old ruler and trying to keep the number line straight!!  

Here is an example of a problem my sixth graders created:

Next we complete a gallery walk of the problems.  I use a sheet with five number lines.  So if I have more than 5 groups of problems, the students are spread out and still get practice.  Yes, it is ok for students to not do ALL the problems!  With at least five you can still listen to them think, monitor their math comprehension, and complete a formative assessment for the benchmark.  I give students about 3-4 minutes at each poster.  On their recording sheets they have to draw the number line using the scale provided, graph each integer and make a comparison of them.  

This activity is a perfect example of a math lab that gets students up and moving and keeps them on task.  Worried about time?  Draw the number lines on the graph paper ahead of time or have students create the problems one day in class, and then complete the gallery walk as a lesson warm-up the following day.

I follow up throughout the week with warm up multiple choice questions from THIS packet.  They are quick and easy and involve rational numbers too.  We put them in our interactive notebooks and I have students color the questions they want me to formatively assess.
Have a great week!  If you need a way to spark conversations about math in your classroom, feel free to download this FREE card.  I have my students glue it into their interactive notebooks and use it as a reference tool throughout the year.

I would love to know the activities you use to keep integers REAL in math!  

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