Saturday, November 26, 2016

Win a TPT Gift Card

Here is your opportunity to win a Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card. The gift card was given to me to promote the two day Teachers Pay Teachers sale happening on November 28-28. Everything in my Teachers Pay Teachers store will be 20% off, plus Teachers Pay Teachers will take another 10% off that price.

I just finished my second bundle of "Capture the Monster" scavenger hunts and this one is for grades 3-4.

This one is a different set of games than my "Capture the Monster" scavenger hunts for grades 4-6.

I have a free version of one game for grades 3-4 here.

I have a free version of one game for grades 4-6 here.

Each bundle has 15 games and upon completion of each game, a student can earn a monster reward card. These have been a hit in my classroom!  There are 15 monster cards to collect.

Here are the 15 monsters that kids can collect. Which is your favorite?

There are four easy ways to enter. You may enter here. The contest closes on November 20 at 12 am.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Student Notes

I usually don't get notes from my students, although sometimes I find them on the floor like this one that I found last year!

The Friday before Halloween, I did two new things in my classroom to celebrate. I used these Silly and Sweet Reward Cards that I created to have some fun throughout the day and in the afternoon I had my class make "Pumpkin Shooters" as a STEM challenge.

On Monday, I got two notes from different students. I thought they might have enjoyed the afternoon shooting candy corn pumpkins across the room. No, they enjoyed the reward coupons.

OK, we are going to work on spelling my name
and other words!
I had a blast with the reward coupons, too. In fact, I had made a set of Thanksgiving Reward Coupons before I had made the Halloween ones. I can't wait to use these next week. I am looking forward to kids talking like pilgrims, strutting like turkeys, and shaking their tail feathers! I am going to hand them out when each students finishes the Thanksgiving Math Scavenger Hunt that I made. Then I hope things get a bit comical for the rest of the day!

Scavenger Hunt Reward Card Bundle
Sweet and Silly Classroom Reward Coupons
Thanksgiving Math Scavenger Hunt

I did say that I rarely get notes from my student's, but I often get letters from the students in the Mathare Valley slum in Nairobi, Kenya that I have visited with three times now and help sponsor. One boy, Gregory, sent me a picture he drew of me riding my ElliptiGO. This week, ElliptiGO did a feature article on my ride up Mt. Washington and my work in Kenya, including Gregory in the article.You can read it here: So Much Depends Upon... You can read more about the poems I used in while Kenya here: Storytelling through poetry writing modeled after "The Red Wheelbarrow."

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Teaching The Constitution and The Bill of Rights

A new fifth grade year is off to a start and like most recent years, there is a lack of materials to teach the new standards developed by my district. We have starting using Engage NY for math, but so far I have not been given my materials more than one month into the new school year. I am also on my own for finding and making social studies and science materials for my students. It is hard work, but I do enjoy creating better learning experiences for my students.

I wanted to improve the way that I have been teaching the unit on the
Constitution and the Bill of Rights. I had resorted to assorted reading passages, worksheets, and interactive notebooks that I had purchased on Teachers pay Teachers in the previous year.

On thing, that my district did do this year is purchase about 15 books related to social studies content for each classroom. Two of the books were by Norman Pearl with illustrations by Matthew Skeens. One was on The Constitution and the other was on The Bill of Rights. Both books were great introductions to these two important documents that can be hard for students to understand. They covered the basics in an easy to understand way without being too cumbersome for my fifth graders.

With only one copy of each book for my entire class, I needed to something to do with my students besides just using them as read-alouds. I created a review "I Have, Who Has?" game for each book: The Constitution, "I Have, Who Has?" game and quiz and The Bill of Rights "I Have, Who Has?" game and quiz. After reading and discussing each book, we played the corresponding "I Have, Who Has" game. Each game has 24 questions related to each document and facts surrounding the documents. My class enjoyed doing the game, because it kept them thinking and involved. We played the game a couple of times together as a class for the repetition of facts and for the reading practice. I then had them play the game again a couple of times in small groups of four the next day.

Along with each game, I included a 10 question quiz. Some students wanted more practice with the game before the quiz, so I let them take a set of cards home.

I found this to be an effective way to introduce my students to these documents and they enjoyed the activities.

The Constitution, "I Have, Who Has?" game and quiz

The Bill of Rights "I Have, Who Has?" game and quiz

I also found other ways to keep the class interested, such as these videos:

Actors reading The Declaration of Independence:

Two songs on The Bill of Rights (I had to remind my students about the Point of View of the first video):

I also created a similar game for The Declaration of Independence.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Learn About Lions Math Review Scavenger Hunt Game

Lions are the King of the Jungle (or so you have heard)? Well, they don't even live in the jungle and I am not so totally sure that they are the King of the all African animals anyway! I have been to Kenya three times now to work in the schools of the Mathare Valley Slum in Nairobi, Kenya. After each trip, I took a short safari to see the magnificent animals that live in Kenya and of course was always thrilled with each lion that we encountered.

I wanted to bring more of that experience home to my students, so I started making math review scavenger hunts that more deeply explored these animals while developing math questions along with the facts that I researched and learned. I first came out with The Gigantic Giraffe scavenger hunt and this summer I created a companion African Lion scavenger hunt.

I never fully feel finished with the creation of these scavenger hunt games until I see them in action with my own class, so my class played the scavenger hunt on the second day of school last week. I was thrilled that everything went so well and the question were right on for my new class keeping them engaged for the whole period. They also enjoyed learning the many facts about lions.

I had fun creating this scavenger hunt and also feel accomplished that the photos for each question station included color photos that I took while in Kenya. It was satisfying to see these photos hanging up in my class as the students worked on the questions.

Realizing that all teachers do not have color printers, I also created black and white versions of the questions with a simple drawing of a lion. The scavenger hunt comes with an answer sheet and a student worksheet for answering the questions.

To celebrate the success of this scavenger hunt, I am offering it for 1/2 price for a short period of time. Get it now for only $1.25 here. It makes a great review activity for any time of the year. I based the questions on the fourth grade standards, but for review purposes it will work well with both 5th and 6th graders. It is easy enough to put together for an fun Friday activity or for use when a substitute is in your classroom. You can find the companion Giraffe scavenger hunt here. You can find my Teachers Pay Teachers store here, where I offer many varieties of math scavenger hunts and other products.

Here is one reason I don't think lions are the King of the African animals. This is a video I shot of a group of elephants walking down two male lions. Yes, I know I am not really using exact words like a teach my kids in all the excitement, "Oh look, the elephants have their stuff up!"In my scavenger hunt, you will learn about another animal that lions are afraid of.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Capture the GO Monsters Math Logic Scavenger Hunt Puzzles

There is a great feeling you get when you work hard for something and you achieve your goal. As an athlete, I know that feeling well from the many marathons and Ironman triathlons that I have completed in my past. Most recently, I rode my ElliptiGO up Mt, Washington in New Hampshire on what has been called the toughest bicycle hill climb in the world. There is a great satisfaction is seeing all your hard work and training pay off no matter what the endeavor and I get that same satisfaction from creating activities to use in my classroom and seeing how successful they can be with my students.

I spent countless hours this summer creating math logic puzzle scavenger hunts with a "capture the monster" theme that is similar to the idea of Pokemon GO. Being that is was the summer, I had no idea how it would go over with my fifth grade students. Yesterday was the third day of school and while our district has a new math series, they failed to give me the materials for my students. I thought that this would be a great time to start using these scavenger hunts with my new class. Much to my satisfaction, everything worked perfectly just as it was designed and my students were thoroughly engaged and enthusiastic.

Here is a quick summary of the games from the full bundle of all these Capture the Monster games:

GO and Capture the Monsters Scavenger Hunt Game Bundle" is a complete "Move Around Math" puzzle solving game that gets students out of their seats as they use number strategies to solve math problems. While designed for fourth and fifth grade classrooms, it would also work well in many sixth grade classrooms. 
Your students must be intrigued with the popular new game where they use their phones to go outside, hunt for, and capture anime characters. You know they will be missing playing this game when they are in school. These "Capture the Monsters" games will allow your students to have fun, think critically about math, and capture anime characters at the same time and they can do it during class time.
There are a total of 15 unique animal monsters that students can capture as they finish each game.
There are three game plays for each scavenger hunt set for a total of 15 games. Each game set uses the same 10 station cards (which can be taped on the walls of the classroom). Students can play each game three different times in order to reinforce their thinking and to capture all three monsters. Each game can be played on different days or weeks and in any order. Students can be given different monster cards and can be working on different game plays at the same time as their classmates. 
This game includes directions as well as the story of the monsters. There are stations and student worksheets for all versions of the game. Answer sheets are included as well as color and black and white versions of each of the monsters in card form to hand out when students "capture a monster". There is also cover pages for making a booklet for the captured monsters as well as extra bonus cards for your students to earn.\ 
Each game set is also sold separately

I wanted to start with the addition scavenger hunt with my class. Here is what I became excited about. First, every student was very into the game after I gave the instructions and we did a sample problem together on the board. As the students went around the room solving the problems at the different stations, they were at first a bit unsure of how to solve the puzzles. Most caught on quickly, others needed a little support from myself or the classroom para. Not one kid showed frustration with the difficulty, but all students were challenged. At times they thought there was a "mistake" with a puzzle because the number they chose did not add up. I was able to show them that they had to try a different way to solve the puzzle if it didn't work correctly the first way. As they went along, the "buzz" in the classroom was one of discovery and excitement.

I used about an hour of class time and the kids still wanted to keep working on their puzzles, but we had to go to lunch. About one half of the class completed the 10 logic puzzles that they had been assigned and earned a monster card which they were able to color in and place in a monster card notebook that they created. The rest were told that they could finish the puzzles in their free time and before school and then get their monster card. They were enthusiastic about this.

The kids liked the monster cards and I heard many of them commenting on their favorite monsters.

I was most enthusiastic about the fact that it all worked so well after all my work. I was also thrilled that all the puzzles were right on target for my grade level and that every puzzle I made was accurate. This was satisfying as each of the games has 10 stations with the same logic puzzle card, but there are three different versions of each game. I divided the three different puzzles evenly with my students so there were three different versions of the game going on all at the same time. This was difficult when creating the puzzles as I had to get everything to work together and they did! It also upped the enthusiasm level as kids soon realized they were solving different puzzles than their friends and were going to earn different reward cards.

Next week when the students complete the other two versions of the addition puzzles, they should be able to solve them much quicker and with greater ease as their ability to reason out the solutions will be increased. Mission accomplished!

Each set of games is sold separately or you can purchase the whole set as a bundle. I also created a free version of one of the games if you would like to try it out with your class. The addition monster game set that I used in my class will be on sale for 1/2 price for a few days. You can find it here.

Here is a free version on one multiplication game.

Here are the Candy Monster Mixed Operations games.

Here are the Fire Monsters Multiplication Games.

Here are the Water Monsters Addition Games.

Here are the Wind Monsters Division games.

Here are the Light Monsters Subtraction games.

Here you can get the complete bundle at a reduced price.

I am real proud of creating this series of scavenger hunt games. It was very hard work. It felt like I was working harder than I do when I am in training for an endurance race! There are a couple of things I learned as a Teacher Pay Teacher creator that helped make my job easier.

When I first thought of the concept of this game there was one thing I knew I couldn't do well and that is create the monster characters. I was fortunate to find an artist who created the characters and I was able to license them for use in this product. Her characters were just perfect for what I had in mind. Tip #1 Find and pay for the resources that will make your job easier when creating a new product. I have gone on to purchase more of her clip art for other TPT products that I have created.

One of the most difficult steps in creating a product like this is getting everything right, including the math problems! I used up a couple of pads of paper trying out different number combinations and checking and rechecking my math and numbers. I was becoming math weary when I remembered that I had a Amazon Echo. I knew that I could ask my Echo questions and it would respond, so I tried it with my math questions. It worked! I was able to double and triple check my math using the Echo and it made my job that much easier. Last year I got a project funded through Donor's Choose to purchase an Amazon Echo for use in my classroom. I was thinking it would work for spelling and fact type questions. My students were fascinated that it could do math. Of course, I hit the button to turn it off, when my my students were doing these puzzles! Tip #2 Be creative with techology!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

End of Year Math Scavenger Hunt: The Gigantic Giraffe

I had fun putting together another math scavenger hunt. I have geared this one more to the fourth grade common core standards, but my fifth graders not only enjoyed it, but were challenged by it. I have been to Kenya three times since 2011 to help teach in the Mathare Valley slum of Nairobi. On each trip, I have gone on a weekend safari to the either Masai Mara or the Amboseli National Parks. There I was privileged to see the beautiful African wildlife in all its natural glory. I will be making a few more math scavenger hunts using these African animals as my inspiration to write interesting articles with embedded math problems. You can find my giraffe scavenger hunt here: End of Year Math Review Scavenger Hunt Grades 4-5 Gigantic Giraffes.

Last summer, while I was in Nairobi I visited a baby elephant sanctuary and a giraffe sanctuary where I took the time to get kissed by a giraffe. One thing that I learned before letting the giraffe get his lips close to mine is that the giraffe's mouth has no germs as it is anti-septic. It still didn't make the experience a bit weird.

I also learned how heavy a giraffe's lower leg bones are. The fibula and tibia are fused together and the bones are solid. They can kick in any direction, which keeps all but the hungriest lion away as they can kill a lion with one kick!

Here you go!

I learned plenty of other interesting facts putting this scavenger hunt together. I found what a giraffe can do with its long tongue pretty fascinating. Those facts are included in the scavenger hunt. Here are a couple of facts that I did not include.

The first fact reminds me of the compression socks that many kids wear today. They think they are being trendy and don't realize that the purpose is to not let blood pool in their legs. The giraffe has high blood pressure because the blood circulation has to go 2 meters  higher than the heart to reach the brain. The skin on the legs below the knee of the giraffe is tight, otherwise that high blood pressure would cause a giraffe’s ankles to swell. It has natural compression socks!

The other fact that I found bizarre and probably unsuitable for elementary kids has to do with their mating habits.  A female giraffe will pee into a male giraffe's mouth so the male can check and see if she is ready for mating. Then the male giraffes will go into their "necking" behavior as the battle over the female. The necking more often than not turns into the two males having a bit of romance together.

Now I feel just a little weird for letting a giraffe kiss me! Here is a short video I took in 2011 on the Masai Mara showing some giraffes running. They are quite the majestic animal!

You can find my giraffe scavenger hunt here.
You can find my Teachers Pay Teachers store here.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Five Fantastic Facts about the Eiffel Tower and what l Learned while creating my Math Review Scavenger Hunt

Koechlin's first drawing of the tower.
It is very interesting doing the research for my recent math scavenger hunts. I have made one for The First Ferris Wheel, The Titanic, and now The Eiffel Tower. While researching facts on the Eiffel Tower, I found some interesting things that were fun, but didn't go into the scavenger hunt.

1) Most people assume that Gustave Eiffel designed the Tower named after him. The design of the Eiffel Tower was the product of Maurice Koechlin and Ă‰mile Nouguier who worked for Eiffel's engineering company. Eiffel didn't approve of the design until the head architect Stephen Sauvestre added decorative arches to the base of the tower and other improvements.

2) The tower is painted in three shades of color. It is lighter at the top and gets progressively darker towards the bottom to match the Parisian sky.

3) It is illegal to publish photographs of the lighting on The Eiffel Tower at night. You need to get permission from France to do so. The lighting is considered a work of art and under copyright. Photos of just the Eiffel Tower are in the public domain.

4) Winds can make the tower sway from side to side by about three inches. Heat and cold can make the height of the tower vary by as much as six inches. It is taller in the summer and shorter in the winter!

5) Hitler wanted the Eiffel Tower destroyed when the German army abandoned Paris in 1944. He  ordered the Nazi military governor of Paris to destroy the city and the tower. The governor decided not to do it because he loved Paris too much.

I made a math review scavenger hunt based on other facts and numbers related to the Eiffel Tower for students in grades 4-6. You can find it here.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

The Titanic Math Review Scavenger Hunt

The Titanic is another scavenger hunt that I created and used with my class. It reviews many of the 5th grade common core standards and can be used with fourth graders who need a challenge or with 6th and 7th graders as a review. I am still amazed at how my students respond to scavenger hunts. These thinking word problems with questions based on the Titanic require a lot of problem solving on their part, but they feel like they are in a game so they give it a great effort and become highly engaged.

A couple of tips that I have found helpful when doing these review scavenger hunts, such as this one or my First Ferris Wheel scavenger hunt, is that I may need to preview or review certain questions as some kids may not be secure remembering how to do something taught earlier in the year. As the kids are doing the scavenger hunt, I make sure that I am available to answer a student's question or give support when needed. While other students are participating on their own, I get to reteach mini-lessons with those who need it. I never grade the scavenger hunt answers. We review all the questions and answers together. This is why it is a review. It is a learning experience. Students can explain how they got an answer and this is a great time to reteach a point if many students struggle with a question.

You can find The Titanic scavenger hunt here.

Speaking of the Titanic, one of my best investments ever was a postcard I had bought at a roadside junk store in Maine when I was in 8th grade, It had a photo of the Titanic and a short message about  the disaster on the front and the back had a postmark and note (non Titanic related) showing it was sent six days after the sinking. I had just finished reading the book on the Titanic A Night to Remember and I thought it would be cool to purchase the postcard for 25 cents. Years later, when the Titanic movie came out and eBay was sort of new I sold it for $350.

My grandmother immigrated from Sweden alone when she was 16 year old. She always said that she was supposed to be on the Titanic, but missed the departure. This cannot be confirmed, but she said she took the next boat out and talked about seeing the iceberg. When my parents researched our genealogy, sure enough, my grandmother was on the next boat that left port. Thanks for being late, Grandma!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

The First Ferris Wheel Challenge

The first Ferris Wheel was built for the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. It was Chicago's answer to the magnificent Eiffel Tower built for the 1899 World's Fair. I first learned about this enormous structure when I used to teach fourth grade and used it as an introduction to multiplication of double digit numbers. I felt my students could visualize the concept better when they drew a Ferris Wheel with 36 boxes (cars) on it that each held 60 people. As a have been working on building scavenger hunts for my students to get them moving and solving math problems at the same time, I decided to move away from just solving problems to learning facts about the Ferris Wheel as they circulate around the room. I feel that it is my best scavenger hunt yet, and it kept my kids really engaged in the problems. They had to do some deep thinking as the solved these, which I really like to see! Like my other scavenger hunts that can be found at my Teacher Pay Teachers store, you can purchase The First Ferris Wheel Challenge to be used with your class. It was created as a review for my fifth grade class and would work fine as a sixth or even seventh grade activity. It could also be used as an activity for fourth grade students who need a challenge (the scavenger hunt stations can also be used as task cards). You can see my kids enjoying the challenge at various stations in these photos. I have a freebie of 15 permanent scavenger hunts stations that you can find here to make placing scavenger hunt cards easier for my students ( I let them do this) and to keep the room looking more organized.

Here is a quick video introducing the first Ferris Wheel.

Here is an actual video of the first Chicago Ferris Wheel although after it had been moved from the original site in Chicago.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Student Responses to Movement Based Activities

This week I asked my students their impressions on using one of my movement based activities in the classroom as self -regulation and movement based activities are part of my three year goal for my district. They reflected on using the classroom spin bike, the bouncy bands that each student has on their desks, and the "Move Around Math" scavenger hunts that I have been creating.

Move Around Math Reflections
I have created many "Move around Math" scavenger hunts to get kids up and moving while doing math. You can view all of them here.

Previous posts:
How to get your students moving during math class: Host a classroom Scavenger Hunt

Move Around Math Classroom Fraction Scavenger Hunts Grade 5 Common Core

Here are some responses:

"Move Around Math" helped me during math by letting me move around and not just being cooped up at my desk doing a work sheet. It's a lot more fun too! I also get to walk around the room and it's an extra challenge trying to find them. KO

"I like "Move around Math" a lot because.I thought that math was not fun but when Mr..Hansen showed us "Move around Math" I thought it was so much fun. There are three things you are doing when you do "Move around Math". You are getting excercise, having fun, and doing math. EL

The scavenger hunts are my favorite because when we do them I get the chance to move around to find and do math problems. It is also fun at the end when I can figure out the joke or riddle. When we do the scavenger hunt it helps me solve the problems by moving around to do them. That is why I like the scavenger hunts DA

"Move Around Math"scavenger hunts helped me during math class Because it helped me to understand multiplying and adding and subtracting fractions.It also made me active and helped me pay attention more in math. Even I thought math was just doing tests and doing worksheets, but when Mr.Hansen showed us "Move Around Math" it was so much fun  JJ

I like when my class does scavenger hunts because when I work I like to move around to concentrate on my math, science, and social studies because I work a lot harder. NS

I liked the "MAM" ("Move around Math) because instead of sitting down and doing a worksheet, we get to get up and move around. This is good because it is good exercis, and it is more fun. Plus there's a joke/riddle to solve once you complete all the problems. It also helps me focus more. That's why I like "MAM". LS

I love "Move around Math" because I never could remember how to solve a simple math problem, but when I got up and moved my legs I just remembor things that I learned in 3rd and 4th grade. RW

The "Move Around Math" scavenger hunts helped me in class because when I am sitting at my desk I cannot think well but when we get up and move around the classroom it gives me exercises and math becomes easy. Also moving around the classroom is much more fun than sitting at our desks and doing worksheets. CT

Scavenger Hunts help me because I get to move around. They are a lot of fun. JB

Spin Bike Reflections

previous post:
Using a Classroom Spin Bike to Learn Self-Regulation

“The spin bike has helped me by moving my legs to get anger out or stress. Also it has helped me by paying attention in class when there is a test. It has helped by calming down when I am high or when I do something that I shouldn't have...That is how the spin bike helps me.” LN (not sure about the “high” comment)

“I have math anxiety so when we take a test I usually get very nervous. When I am stuck on a problem in a math test and am very frustrated or nervous I go on the spin bike. This helps me calm down. Sometimes I pedal fast which gets the frustration out of me. Other times I pedal slow and think about other things besides math.  Both of these help me very much. I ride the bike for 5 minutes only and then go back to my math test. After my rides on the bike I feel more focused and ready to attempt the hard math problem.” CB

“When I have used the spin bike, I've noticed some improvement in my ability in math. I've noticed when I've had a math test or quiz, I would struggle sometimes. Then, when it's my turn to use the bike, I go on the bike and start riding while I'm doing the test. When I don't use the bike and I take a test, I usually get a P. But, when I do use the spin bike, I usually get Ms. I've also noticed improvement in math because of the bouncy bands. When I don't use the bouncy band, I usually get stressed out and I don't do so well. When I do use the bouncy band, I don't get stressed out and I do well in math. The bouncy bands and the spin bike really helps me out in math class and I always get good grades because of it. The movement helps!” JT  (P= progressing towards standard. M=meets the standard)

“I have realized that when we are doing math and I’m frustrated  the bouncy bands make me calm. Also I have realized when I go on the Spin Bike and we are doing math it makes me more confident. And last of all when I do "Move Around Math" it helps you do better in math.” AC

Bouncy Band Reflections

previous post:

Facilitating Focus and Reducing Stress Through Bouncy Bands

“The thing that helps me the most are the bouncy bands. During a lesson when I put my shoes on the bouncy band they help me because, I feel like I focus more when I bounce. Also I tend to get nervous when we do math. Like, I feel like I'm going to fail and have to stay back a grade.  But the bouncy bands help me and my anxiety calm down.” LP

“The bouncy bands helped me during math because when my legs move around it gets me active and ready to learn and if I go into another classroom that doesn't have bouncy bands then i don't focus as much.” LM

“The bouncy band really help me because when I’m trying to learn I have to move a lot to be able to listen and when I use the bouncy band i find it so much easier to listen and way more fun. Another reason is because during math I don't really like to have a lot of papers and numbers in math but my mood for math changes when I use the bouncy bands.” JL

“The bouncy bands help me so much when I’m going a hard math problem. I get all nervous and shaky. Then I remember that I can just put my feet on the bouncy band and there off and moving. I calm down a lot. I also use it for math tests. I love them they work so well and other kids will love them to. I use them all most the whole day! Mostly math class. Even though math is one of my best subjects. (I think.) With the bouncy band my grades went up. I just love it so much.” AC   
“The bouncy bands help me during math by giving me a chance to move my feet (also not to tap on the ground, 'cause sometimes I "stomp" on the bouncy bands). It also gives me a place to rest my feet when I'm too tired to bounce around.” JT

“The bouncy bands are a great stress reliever when you have too much energy. It is great for tests.” JM

“Not Just a Foot Rest-Bouncy bands are a great way to get your feet moving during a math lesson! Scientists say "kids who are moving during a lessons, studying, or a test will do better". Last year I did and experiment on memory before and after exercising. If you’re moving during a lesson you will remember more. “HR

“The bouncy bands helped me because when I am nervous that I will get a math problem wrong  I start putting my feet on the bouncy band and then I start to focus and get the math correct. “ LC

“The bouncy bands help me during math class by helping me when I'm stressed out.  When I'm stuck on a math problem moving my legs helps me not get stressed.  Also the bouncy bands help me think better, they help me focus on the things I have to get done.” VM


Saturday, March 12, 2016

How to get your students moving during math class: Host a classroom Scavenger Hunt

Students should not be sitting in their desks all day long. Scavenger hunts are a fun way to get them moving while working on their math skills.  Studies and experience has demonstrated that students who move learn more effectively than sedentary students. Rather than hand your students a worksheet or asking them to solve problems on a computer site like IXL (the downfall of having acquired a Chromebook for every student in my class is that can make them even more sedentary as they sit in front of a screen), I have been creating and using math scavenger hunts for my students. They solve similar problems that they would be working on at their desks, but now the problems are posted around my classroom and they have to get out of their seats to move from problem to problem. The awesome thing about the scavenger hunts is that the kids now enjoy doing the work. My students get all excited when they see a new hunt being posted around the classroom.   

I have been creating a variety of math classroom scavenger hunts for my fifth grade class and you can find them all here at my Teacher Pay Teacher store. I call it "Move Around Math." There are 15 problems to solve in each scavenger hunt as well as a hidden message. The numbered problems are placed around the classroom and the kids have to move around finding each card before solving the problem. They can start anywhere and go in any order.  I include a blank student worksheets and a worksheet with the problems listed (for modified work or to be used if projecting the problems on a white board when you check over them with the class). I also include an answer sheet. It is an easy no-prep way to keep you students active and working at the same time. 

I have also created scavenger hunt number stations. I laminated these and have hung them in permanent spots around my the classroom. It makes my room look more orderly and it saves me work. Now when I do a new hunt, I have my students take down the old cards and tape the new ones on the number stations. You can find the number station cards here.

Here are some variations to try. 

1) You can tape problem cards to the walls or on other visible surfaces or you can tape them under desks or other unlikely places if your students really need to move and explore. I did the "under the desk"  game on a day they needed some extra movement and it worked quite well. I had them move all chairs to the sides of the classroom and reminded them not to poke their eyeballs out with their pencils when moving on the floor.

2) Tape a card to the back of each student (print out more than one copy of each card if you have more than 15 students). Just tell the class when they have one problem left that they can look at the problem on their own back and solve that one. This was fun because the "problems" were always on the move and they had to cooperate with each other to read the problems.

3) Use the activity as a whole class activity during class, as a free time activity when other work is done, or as a “before” school or class  or as an activity when all other work is done.

4) These problem cards can also be used in a math center, but it defeats the “moving around” purpose. 

5) Place your cards in the hallways or outdoors when the weather is warm.

I strongly believe that we need to allow movement in the classroom.
I have my own classroom spin bike to help my students with their focus and anxieties as they learn self-regulation. You can read about it here.
I have also added bouncy bands to each student's desk. More information here.

Here are my current 5th grade math scavenger hunts (more are being developed and classroom tested). 

4.NBT.7   Adding Decimals

5.MD.1     Measurement Bundle

5.NF.4     Multiplying Fractions
                Fractions Bundle

                Permanent Number Stations