Friday, October 2, 2015

Marvelous Maniac Math!!!

Hi, mathematicians!! I am so excited to be linking up with Ashley from Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd and Angie from Lucky Little Learners to bring you some math games and strategies with their monthly #2getherwearebetter linky party!!!! 

I love teaching reading, science, writing, and social studies, but I think most of the time my favorite thing to teach is math!! There are just so many amazing things you can do to really make math come alive for your kids! I'm super thrilled to talk about my fave five math strategies that I use to engage learners, make content exciting and memorable, and have fabulous first grade fun while learning!!! So, here we go....


There are few things in the world better than opening the classroom door in the morning and seeing my firsties' mouths drop, their eyes light up, and hear them giggle and chuckle at the sight of me in costume! (I wish my neighbors felt the same way -- they seriously think I am crazy as I leave the house trying to precariously balance my purse, school bag, lunch bag, extra clothes, word card ring box, lamination, etc. -- you know what I'm talking about -- all while sporting a crazy tutu costume.)

The immediate engagement, wonder, curiosity, excitement, and novelty that my students experience not only helps them pay attention, learn content, but also just be excited about learning!! However, I have also found that having a "theme" to a lesson (dinosaur dates, pizza fractions, greedy gator inequalities, secret mission operation perimeter, etc.) helps them to have a placeholder for their learning. I can mention "Nelson's neighborhood number lines" or "race car rounding" and they know exactly what I'm talking about, how to solve problems, strategies we learned, etc.

Above are some of my favorites from last year! Top row from left to right: race car rounding, pizza fractions, Nelson's neighborhood number lines; bottom row from left to right: secret agent operation perimeter, greedy gator inequalities, and soccer score math.

While I don't dress up for every lesson, I try for at one math lesson every 2 weeks (I do the same for reading and then social studies/science, so that's 1-2 times each week there is some exciting costume/theme involved in learning). The kids love it, look forward it it, and I have seen their learning increase because of it!!


Kids love to move and wiggle, so I endeavor to incorporate dances and kinesthetic activities into learning math! These activities not only get their bodies moving and brains thinking, but also helps the kinesthetic learners in your class as well...and it's just plain more fun!! Below are two photos of some dances/kinesthetic activities we did. The first was our greedy gator dance. As we were learning about inequalities, students learned a greater than/less than dance that they did as we were solving inequality problems! The kids faces say it all...who knew math could be so much fun?!?!

Another lesson we did was about vertical, horizontal, and oblique lines. As we were learning about the different types of lines we acted them out with our bodies. Afterwards, we played a challenge game where two students competed to see who could act out an assigned line the fastest. My adorable firsties look like I do when I do yoga (i.e.. hilarious), but they had so much fun!!!

Also, singing is one of the top ways to retain learning, so we love to sing about everything from math terms, odds and evens (see video below), and subtraction with regrouping! We refer back to these songs (or just specific lines from them) all year long and parents tell me their kids sing them at home as they do their homework!! We do whatever it takes to help get the content into them and singing is a fabulous way!! Here's a clip of our odds and evens song! If you'd like more info about the Odd Todd & Even Steven lesson, check out the post here!


We all know that hands-on learning is awesome, but I've also found that mouths-on learning is a ton of fun as well!! When we do lessons like pizza fractions we enjoy pizza bagels or when we learn area and perimeter we measure and enjoy with Cheez-Its! Activating and engaging students' senses like taste and smell can help make lessons and content more memorable for them! Also, it's a huge motivation if they know they may get to enjoy a special treat if they're on task and working hard! For a blog post all about freshly-baked fraction pizzas, check it out here!


While this is similar to kinesthetic activities in math, there is just something about scavenger hunts and scoots that kids love!! They are both easy to implement and are just an awesome way to get kids up and moving as they work. One of my absolutely favorite scavenger hunts we did last year was Operation: Perimeter. The students and I were all secret agents on a covert mission to search around the room for different clues to solve perimeter problems! The lights were off, they got their own secret agent badges, gloves, and glasses and music played as they worked to complete their missions to earn a secret agent badge! It was a much more exciting and engaging way to practice perimeter and the kids had a blast! Here's a video below that invited them to the challenge of surviving Operation: Perimeter!

#5 -- GO BIG!

Go big or go home!!! Go over the top for lessons, activities, costumes, songs, etc. and even use larger-than-life manipulatives! As mentioned earlier, manipulatives and hands-on (or mouths-on) learning is terrific!! Take it up a notch with HUGE manipulatives!! There is just something about massive dice, over-sized playing cards, etc. that just make learning and math more fun.

A few things we use in our class are massive dice (I have inflatable ones from Oriental Trading Company and medium-sized ones from the Dollar Tree), huge playing cards which we use for fact practice and number games, we use hula hoops for venn diagrams, we create huge graphs that cover our classroom floor, and much more. A few photos below are our huge number line that helped with race car rounding as well as a large hundreds chart with ball, dice, and frames that we used when we talked about 10 more and 10 less.

Anytime I can find something oversized, it is alway's a big hit in our classroom!!

Those are my fave five math activities that we use in our classroom to get the firsties excited and engaged about learning!! They take the fear and intimidation out of math and turn our lessons into fun experiences they remember!

A special thanks to Angie and Ashley for organizing these monthly linky parties! They are both incredible teachers who facilitate the sharing of tips and strategies each month! I have learned so much from them and all those who participate!! It's so true -- 2getherwearebetter!! Thanks, Ashley & Angie, for helping so many teachers be better together!!

If you haven't already, link up with us! Can't wait to get some exciting new math games and strategies from you all!! Thanks so much, fellow mathematicians!!


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