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

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