Thursday, October 30, 2014

Doing Math the Routty Way: Engaging Activities from A to Z (Day 23)

X-word PuzzlesCrossword puzzles are a fun and motivating way to practice important skills and content. There’s something about the puzzle aspect of this task that is appealing to students. Crossword puzzles can be created to assess a variety of skills. They are easy to make and the students love them! 

Check out these student created puzzles!

Resources to Get You Started: 
  • The Armored Penguin Crossword Puzzle Maker is an excellent teacher resource for creating crossword puzzles. The program is free and allows you to create a puzzle as a PDF or you can copy and paste the puzzle into another document, such as Microsoft Word or PowerPoint. 
  • The free puzzle maker at Discovery Education is an easy tool for students to use to create their own puzzles. Student-created puzzles can be added to math menus or used as fast finisher challenges (see the picture above). The students love creating them and seeing their classmates try to complete them!
There are many ways to use crossword puzzles. Try taking a worksheet that has numerical answers that can be represented with a single word and converting the task into a crossword puzzle. For example, in the puzzle below, students simplify each numerical expression and write the word form of each number to complete the puzzle. 

This crossword puzzle is part of my Order of Operations Pack at my Teachers Pay Teacher store. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Doing Math the Routty Way: Engaging Activities from A to Z (Day 22)

Word Wall Activities- Make your word wall come alive! Learning math vocabulary and terms is essential to students understanding the skills and concepts necessary for mastery of the content at each grade level. As we very well know, vocabulary can make or break a student on an assessment. If they do not understand the words, they cannot make sense of the question. It's important that students interact with the vocabulary words on a regular basis in order to truly understand them.

Math word walls can be organized by topic or letter. A word wall can even be organized by both letter and topic using colored word strips. Individual word walls can also be used to highlight a specific set of words (see the picture below) or to better show connections and relationships. 

Word Wall Activity Ideas: 
  • Once a week, take 5-10 minutes out of the day to review the words. Choose a word to define and say, “I’m thinking of a word wall word that means (insert the definition here).” Ask students to raise their hands to respond. Repeat the process for 5-10 words. Over time, with regular use of this activity, students will become more proficient with their math vocabulary.
  • Ask two students to pick a word from the word wall. Have student groups determine how the words are related. After all student groups have had the opportunity to discuss the relationship, share out as a class. This is a great way to have students think about the relationship between words. 
  • Give each student a whiteboard. Have students create a visual definition, illustration, for each word. Then, have students discuss how their visuals match the definition with a partner or classmate.

The vocabulary cards pictured above are part of Mrs. C's Classroom's Multiplication and Division Word Wall Pack from Teachers Pay Teachers. It's a freebie!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Doing Math the Routty Way: Engaging Activities from A to Z (Day 21)

Vocabulary SWAT-it!- This has been my class' favorite way to review vocabulary for years! It's a great way to get the students to learn all of their important vocabulary words. It's both engaging and fun and all of the students want to volunteer to be a swatter. 

Check out a sample Swat-it! board below!

Here's how to set it up: 
1. Use an 8.5 inch x 11 inch size paper to program a 3 x 3 unit rectangle with 9 vocabulary words.  
2. Project the rectangle onto your classroom whiteboard so that the students can reach all of the rectangles with a fly-swatter. 
3. Ask for two volunteers to come to the front of the room and stand on the left and right side of the Swat-it! board. 
4. Hand each student a fly-swatter. 
5. Read a definition. 
6. The students use the fly-swatter to swat the word that matches the definition. 
7. The first student to swat the correct word is the winner. 

Variations: Instead of vocabulary words, use numerical answers and read number sentences.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Doing Math the Routty Way: Engaging Activities from A to Z (Day 20)

Use Bulletin Boards to Promote Challenge- One of the biggest challenges for teaching mathematics in the classroom is attending to the multitude of skills and process that must be emphasized each year. One way to utilize the extra minutes that we end up with throughout the day is to use your classroom or hallway bulletin boards as learning centers. Students can complete the activity as part of a station rotation, a menu activity, or as a fast finisher challenge. Boards can be interactive and involve students contributing solutions to one problem or situation or students can use the bulletin boards to complete the problems and then submit an individual task sheet. 

Ideas for bulletin board learning centers include: 
  • problem solving
  • puzzles
  • function tables
  • real-life mysteries
  • Who Am I? challenges
The picture below illustrates a Boggle Math board in use. I found this idea on Krista Wallden's Teachers Pay Teachers website. Students create number sentences using numbers that are touching in some way, i.e. sides or corners. This activity is a great way to differentiate for students because the length of the number sentences they create is based on their individual ability and understanding of the task. This activity can also be transformed into a class game where teams of students complete to create number sentences and earn points based on the length of the sentence. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Spooky Math Problem Solving

Looking for some great problem solving to get your class in the Halloween spirit? Check out my new "Spooky Math Problem Solving Pack." You can read a product description and see sample pages at Check it out!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Doing Math the Routty Way: Engaging Activities from A to Z (Day 19)

Tune Time- Math songs are a great way to differentiate instruction for your auditory learners, as well as, present your math curriculum in a fun and engaging way. There are a variety of ways to integrate songs into your everyday math program: 
* teach/ reinforce a concept
* provide a brain break for the students
* encourage the memorization of a skill 
* extend a challenge for students to create their own math songs

There are many resources available for songs. A quick Google search will bring up a plethora of songs and videos. Here are a few resources that I would like to share
  • Kay Smitherman also has some great song books called Math Notes. You can check them out at I love her measures of central tendency song. When I assess this skill, I can see and hear some of the students singing it to themselves. 
The song below is from Lory's 2nd Grade Page. It's a great song to reinforce the different ways that we represent time. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Doing Math the Routty Way: Engaging Activities from A to Z (Day 18)

Salute- This is one of my favorite activities! It's a great way to reinforce math facts and have some fun at the same time. 

Here's how to play: 

1. Use a set of large playing cards or create a set on large index cards. For this activity, Aces = 1, Jacks = 10, Queens = 11, and Kings = 12. The Jokers can be removed from the set or you can make them another one of the numbers. (Be sure to write the value of the face cards on the board for the students to see or take the face cards out of the deck if your students are not able to recall the values.)

2. Call two students up to the front of the room. Hand each student a playing card. 

3. Ask the students to hold the card face down in front of them. Students should not look at the card. 

4. The students then stand next to each other at the front of the room. 

5. On the teacher’s cue, the students hold the card up to their foreheads with the front of the card facing the teacher and the audience. 

6. The teacher looks at the students' cards and tells them the product of their numbers.  

7. When the teachers says, “Salute!,” both players face each other, look at the other person’s card, and try to guess the number that is on the front of their card. 

8. The first player to guess their number correctly is the winner of the round. 

a. Use addition for younger students. 
b. Try using three cards/digits for a multiplication or addition challenge. 

Clipart courtesy of:

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Doing Math the Routty Way: Engaging Activities from A to Z (Day 17)

RACE and JUSTIFY Problem Solving Model- Many of our students struggle with word problems and problem solving. To better help them, I developed a more concrete structure for guiding students through this process. I have two packs available at my Teachers Pay Teachers Store to support this goal.

For more information about these models, please read below.

This problem solving model uses an acronym for the word RACE to guide students through the problem solving process. This model is designed for lower elementary students. You can find more information about this pack, as well as, a link to a sample freebie here.

This problem solving model uses an acronym for the word JUSTIFY to guide students through the problem solving process. This model is designed for use with older students. You can find more information about this pack, as well as, a link to a sample freebie here.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Doing Math the Routty Way: Engaging Activities from A to Z (Day 16)

Quiz Ball- The quiz ball is a great brain break strategy when your students need a kinesthetic movement break! 

Here's how to create one: 
1. Get a soccer ball. 
2. Label each section of the soccer ball with a computational fact or a question using blank labels. 

Here's how to play: 
1. Have students make a circle around the room. 
2. Toss the ball to a student and have him/her catch it with both hands. (The section where their right thumb lands is the question the student needs to answer.)
3. The student reads the question or problem aloud. 
4. The student answers the question or problem. 

The quiz ball works great for reinforcing many skills. Here are some ideas: 

  • Program the ball with single-digit numbers. Have students add or multiply the numbers in the spaces where their thumbs land.
  • Program the ball with subtraction or division facts.
  • Program the ball with numbers that can be rounded to a variety of places. 
  • Program the ball with vocabulary words.
  • Program the ball with integer problems. 

The quiz ball below has integer addition and subtraction problems. I actually just wrote on this soccer ball with a dry-erase marker. For this activity, students could answer the problem under their right thumb or the left thumb if the right thumb is covering a black space.  

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Doing Math the Routty Way: Engaging Activities from A to Z (Day 15)

Puzzle Box- We all have those fast finishers who seem to finish all of their work well before we need them to be finished. If not managed carefully, these situations can become discipline problems. One of the strategies that I use to manage this issue is called the Puzzle Box. I use a file crate with labeled file folders to maintain the puzzles and place the crate in a central location in the classroom. 

When students are finished with their work, they choose a puzzle from the box to complete. Some of the puzzles are quick; others take much longer. I always try to have a variety of different puzzles available and replace them periodically. When students finish a puzzle, they submit it to me for review, and I give them a reward of some sort, like classroom cash. I've also included the puzzles on my math menus, so students will collect the puzzle along with their other artifacts until they have completed the menu board. 

My favorite puzzles come from the AIMS website. Click here to look through their problem solving and puzzle books. I use the Solve It! book series, Puzzle Play book, and Blockout! book to fill the box. (I'm not advertising for AIMS, but they are transitioning from print materials to digital copies and are offering all of their print books for a substantially discounted rate, 60% off in most cases. Be sure to check it out!)  You can also sign up for their free newsletter here. It includes links to free activity and puzzle downloads, usually sent out once a month. 

In addition to the puzzle box, the students have access to manipulatives and other tools that may be needed to complete the puzzles. For example, for the Blockout puzzles, I provide overhead color tiles so that the students can cover the squares with the tiles to test their solution before they color the squares with markers. Some of the puzzles also require the use of toothpicks, which I make available as well. 

View examples of the puzzles in action below: 

The activity above is from the Blockout! book. This activity challenges students to create the number at the top of the page using the numbers in the large square. All numbers must belong to an arrangement of adjacent, touching, small squares that equal the number. The large squares get bigger in order to continue challenging the students. 

The activity above is from the Solve It! 4th book. This activity challenges students to complete the boxes with a designated set of numbers that match the clues below each square.