Archive | September, 2012

Race for a Quarter

26 Sep

It goes by many names, but I find the math game “Race for a Quarter” to be one of the best beginning of the year math games. I first learned this game when we had an Everyday Math adoption and a similar game is included in our Investigations Units.

This game is about so much more than counting money! On the simplest level, it can be used to assess one-to-one correspondence, counting, and coin identification. At the higher level, it reinforces equivalencies as children trade their five pennies for a nickel, two nickels for a dime, and so on. Also, they are constantly practicing their addition to keep track of their totals and practicing their subtraction as they see how far they are from 25 cents.

For a classroom, it couldn’t be simpler. A couple of dice and a handful of change is all you need!


Parents in my class, I’m happy to pass along the instructions for practice at home!


A Freebie from Allison!

23 Sep

Many teachers were interested in my portable word walls.  The document was created by my teammate, Allison.  For any teachers who are interested, Allison is sharing her awesome work!  Click here for her word wall document!


17 Sep

I include a great game, Bananagrams , as an opportunity for word study. It was introduced to me by a colleague several years ago, and I love it! In my last post I mentioned my reasons for using math games in the classroom. Many of the same reasons apply in this area as well.

First, and most importantly is student engagement. One of my favorite features of Bananagrams is that the students are working on their own “crossword puzzle” the entire time. There is no waiting for the other students to take a turn. Students are working with their own letter tiles putting together and taking apart words.


In addition to the rules of the game lending themselves to engagement, it also provides differentiation. One child can be forming words with regular spelling patterns while another is working on more tricky words!

Also, we’ve learned how important instant feedback is to children when they are working. While the students are hard at work, I am monitoring and providing corrections when needed. If I look at the example below, I see some great work.  I also know to work with the student on ck digraphs and long a sounds.


Bananagrams isn’t an every day activity, but it is valuable and lots of fun!

Math Games

13 Sep

My first few years of teaching, I rarely let my students play games in the classroom. This was serious business, they were here to learn, not play!

Today, math games are a daily occurrence! Each day, students are engaged in math games as I teach small groups at my teacher table.

Math games greatly increase the level of student engagement in a task. Not only are the children keeping track of their own turn, they are watching their classmates too! As with any skill, repeated practice is very important. Give a child some number cards or dice, they will add, subtract, or manipulate those numbers for as long as you will let them.

I also use math games because they differentiate so well for different levels of learners. Some of my early learners may simply be figuring sums and keeping score. They are developing the very important early number sense. Those students who have these skills mastered are noticing the patterns and strategizing.

We know that teaching a skill to someone else requires a deeper level of understanding. Those games give strong math students the ability to teach their classmates. As they work to find ways to accurately communicate their math thinking, they are actually deepening thinking of their own!

I love Marilyn Burns games as well as the games that are included in our Investigations units.

I’d love to hear any other thoughts on math games!



Portable Word Walls

4 Sep

Here they are!  Thanks to my wonderful teammate Allison for creating the document.  We use the Sitton list of high frequency words for our word wall words.

Here’s what I like about the portable word walls:

  • It’s easier for some students to transcribe words from sources on their desks rather than a distance in front of them.
  • Although we will focus on a few words each week during word study, students have access to these high-frequency words right away.
  • There is plenty of room for additional words to be written in with a Sharpie.
  • I made two for each table, so many students can be referring to the word walls at one time.

I set them on their tables before I left on Friday.  We’ll work with them tomorrow at school!  I’ll keep you posted!

File folder and lamination magic!