Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Pirate Shares! A Division Game

Merry Christmas to all!  Hope that you had a wonderful holiday, and are enjoying a restful break!  It’s been really nice just snuggling with my dog, watching movies with my daughter, and having some days with nowhere to be and nothing on the schedule! J

And maybe that’s why I finally had some inspiration hit me today… J  Not that I’ve been lesson planning at ALL, but an idea came to me out of the blue so I ran with it!  In January our next math focus will be on division, as well as keeping those multiplication skills polished.  I started to kick around ideas of how to teach that concept… what do kids connect to that has to do with division?  What would make this often complicated skill fun and meaningful to my kiddos?  Somehow the answer that came to me was REALLY outta nowhere:  pirate treasure! J 


Pirate Shares, the game that came from this crazy brainstorm, is really fun!  Kids will “sail” their pirate ship across a treasure map game board, meanwhile trying to collect the most pirate gold.  On each turn, they turn over game cards that ask them to evenly divide a number of gold coins among a given number of pirates—hee hee.  J  If the number divides evenly, players get to keep a “share.”  If not, no gold is collected on that round.  There’s even wild cards mixed in to help players earn bonus coins or have coins snatched by “Parrot Pete.”  For extra fun, you can play with those plastic gold coins (saw some at the dollar store the other day).  Kids who struggle with division concepts can use the coins for hands-on manipulatives as they play the game.

I’ve added this game to my TPT site.  It includes the treasure map game board, all of the playing cards, a set of student-friendly directions, teacher directions, and even pirate ship game piece printables!

Looking forward to having something motivating and fun for students to jump into in January.  But until then…back to my dog, a movie, or perhaps even a book?   Wishing a very restful break to teachers everywhere! J

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Gingerbread House Math!

What’s more childhood Christmas than GINGERBREAD houses?  Next Saturday I’m starting a new tradition, inviting some friends over for a cookie exchange and make-your-own-gingerbread-house  party.  Time to get out the graham crackers, frosting and candy!

This week my class will be making “gingerbread houses” too—using LOTS of math!   The kids had so much fun with this activity last year, and took a lot of pride in their paper house creations.  I loved it because this simple activity had them multiplying, adding, subtracting, and doing real-world math!

So just how can a simple gingerbread house connect to math?  I give each student a gingerbread house template and the challenge to decorate it beautifully—with one twist.  They have a candy-spending budget, and each peppermint, gumdrop, and candy cane has a cost.   Students have to plan which candy decorations they will use, total their cost on a “receipt” worksheet, and solve for their change.  Real-world, right?  Then, after they’ve done the math they take out crayons, markers or colored pencils and start decorating!  It’s LOTS of fun.

I’ve put this file, My Gingerbread House Multiplication Activity Pack, on my TPT store.  There are two different versions included, one for learners just starting out with multiplication (facts 3-11) and one for more advanced students (double-digit multiplication).  Directions, the gingerbread house template, and a rubric are all included!

My kids will be creating these math masterpieces this week, and who knows?  Maybe their teacher will bring in some gingerbread cookies to munch on while they work…. J  

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Technology Advent Calendar

For today’s post, I’d just like to start by saying….go get your flu shot.  Run—do not walk!  Of course that’s not official medical advice, but after being very sick since Sunday I just want to shout that from the rooftops!  J  Seriously, stay well this time of year!

After being out sick a few days, it was GREAT to be back at school.  The highight was getting to observe several flipped classrooms at a school in our district and to talk with teachers there.  I’m trying flipped for the first time this year in 3rd grade and LOVE it!  Yesterday was inspiring!  I love getting to see other educators teach! 

Speaking of inspiring teachers, our FANTASTIC tech teacher found and shared this awesome resource.  It’s a Web 2.0 Advent Calendar for the 25 days ‘til Christmas!   What a BRILLIANT idea,!

There’s a different educational tech tool for each day in December.  How fun would it be to take a look each day at a new website for inspiration and ideas?  Simply click on the bird at the left to return back to the calendar view. 

Of course just like the kids, I had to “peek” ahead at a few days on the calendar because I’m impatient like that… J  I’m sure you can take it one surprise at a time!  Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Christmas Around the World

Are the holidays REALLY on the way?  I have to say the unseasonably warm weather these last few days has kept me referring to the Christmas lights around town to be sure that it’s December!  This Ohio girl is missing the snow now and then! However, I won't complain, will I?  :)

I LOVE this time of year, and the excitement in the air.  It’s so fun to relive Christmas through the eyes of the kids, and to celebrate meaningful traditions all over again.  So, it is time again to bring out my favorite Christmas activity: “Christmas Around the World.”  Coming from a community where there is rich diversity and learners from all over the globe, I love learning with the students the many special different ways that cultures celebrate this time of year.

A few years back, I created this Smart notebook “Christmas Around the World.”  Designed for the primary grades, this highly interactive Smart notebook explores how Italy, Germany, Mexico, Sweden, Israel and Holland celebrate the holidays. This 24-page notebook includes information on peoples, homes, people, and foods from each country, and includes web links and even sound clips! Students can touch the menorah to light the candles, "unwrap" presents to see hidden pictures--even play the dreidel game and learn to say "Merry Christmas" in different languages! This lesson also highlights map skills, and can be used to supplement a Social Studies holiday unit. I use this in the classroom in combination with art projects and literature.  It's lots of fun and can be enjoyed at once, or over a series of days as students study the various countries.

One quick note:  there are several web links embedded in the notebook and at first they may appear to be uncooperative.  Opening Firefox as your browser should do the trick, and they should all work fine! J  Allow a few seconds to load, but each link is worth it!  Check out my TPT store to see more and hope you enjoy it as much as I do! :)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Christmas FUN Math Scavenger Hunt

I had to do it… In keeping with my Fall in Love with Math and Halloween Fun Math Scavenger hunts, I had to make a Christmas version!  My students love this activity so much, and I’m excited to incorporate it into my holiday math lesson plans in the next few weeks! J  Here is Christmas FUN Math Scavenger Hunt!

Just like the other scavenger hunt versions, this is an engaging math problem solving activity that gets kids up and around the room.  It's self-checking and can be done independently or with a partner.  This version focuses on multiplication facts to 12, and includes several multi-step problems as well. 

I’ve posted this in my TPT store along with several other great holiday activities.  Hope it’s something that you can use too! J

Reminders Made Easy!

The holiday season is here in full swing!  That means parties, gift exchanges, school Christmas programs, projects, and many other FUN things for students and families!  My classroom calendar already is looking pretty jam-packed with fun things.  The challenge is remembering them all myself and reminding parents so that they can be a part too! 

If you find yourself sending frequent emails and notes home to remind parents about things to bring and dates to remember, I’ve found a GREAT website for you:  Remind 101.

Remind101 is a free website that lets you send quick text reminders to parents.  It’s super easy to use, and saves a LOT of time!  Simply set up your class account, give parents the link to sign up, and you’re set to go!  There’s even a PDF set of directions that guides parents on the sign-up process.  It’s quick and easy!  I  had the site open on my classroom computers during Meet the Teacher Night, and asked parents to sign up that night.  It took just minutes!  

From there, just type a quick message on the site and it instantly sends the reminder text to everyone on the contact list!  Best of all, your phone number and all those on the contact list stay confidential.  It’s brilliant!  You save time getting those reminders out, the needed cookie trays and gift exchange gifts make it to school on the right day, and families remember those precious Christmas program dates and times!  It’s really helpful for reminding parents of things like upcoming tests and projects, too!

In addition to the website, Remind 101 also has an app for both iPhone and Android.  Here’s hoping this helps to SIMPLIFY the school fun of the holiday season for parents and for YOU!