September 2015 - Amber from TGIF (Third Grade is Fun)

Fall in Love with Teaching Blog Hop

Well, most of us have made it through one month or more of teaching.  Congratulations!  We have survived thrived through the most exhausting part - back to school.  Now that you are starting to establish a routine, it is time to let loose (okay, don't let the reins loose on maintaining discipline) and fall in love with WHY we chose teaching as a profession in the first place - helping students.  

Do you have students who struggle in math?  Recently I had a student who struggled with adding ten to any number (9 + 10 more).  Since we were adding multiple numbers and numbers in the hundreds, I knew I needed to intervene and soon!  Number sense is crucial to students becoming fluent mathematicians.  Students need a good grasp on strategies when counting, estimating, measuring, adding/subtracting, and multiplying/dividing.  Without number sense fluency, students struggle with all math concepts. Out of this struggle, came two number sense activities.  

The following two number sense activities are available in my TpT store.  Click here to see these Number Sense Activities from my TpT store or create your own following the instructions below.   

1. Race to 100

Materials needed:  two different color dry erase markers, laminated 100's chart and cards that say "10 more", "10 less", "1 more," "1 less."  

Students will shuffle the cards and lay them face down.  Partners will take turns drawing and moving their way up or down the chart.  (If you are at 1 and draw a "ten/one less" card then you lose a turn.  Players use their color of dry erase marker to mark their new spot on the board.  The player who reaches 100 first is the winner.  

Number Sense:  This activity was a huge help to my struggling mathematician, since they finally started to recognize the patterns (10 more means that the tens place changes but the ones place stays the same) after repeated play.  

2. Pentomino Puzzles to 120

Materials needed:  2 Pentomino sets per puzzle you want to make.

The two Pentomino sets need to be constructed in two 6x10 arrays (click here for a link to an image).  Number the Pentominoes from 1 - 120.  Deconstruct and put them in a Ziploc bag.  Students will construct the puzzle using the numbers as clues for the placement.  This will be harder than you realize for your students who struggle with number sense (patterns, mental math, making math judgement).

Challenge your students who master this concept by making more challenging puzzles.  Try writing only the even and odd numbers or just random numbers.     

 Number Sense:  These Pentomino Puzzles help students become familiar with place value, ten more/less, one more/less and number patterns up to 120.  For those that struggle, these puzzles can help their number fluency with repeated practice.  Encourage your students to not just complete one, but to also try to beat their time!  I am especially glad I spent time on this when my students get to elapsed time.  It is a huge help when they have to add 20 minutes to 4:23.  

Science Fun AND Learning - Lava Lamps

This lava lamp lesson is so quick and easy!  Bonus points!!!!  The students love it and are so engaged with lots of discussion.  Solutions, mixtures, suspensions, density, molecules and polarity - oh my!  This lesson has it all.  Yes, even the teacher will love this lesson.

any clear plastic bottle with a lid, vegetable oil, water, food coloring, funnel, duct tape and Alka-Seltzer tablet

1.  Fill the bottle 3/4 full with vegetable oil, and fill the rest (almost to the top) with water.  (Make this step go faster - you can already have this step done since it has potential to be the messiest.)
  •  If you would like to, let the students put their caps on tightly and let them shake the two substances.  This is a great opportunity for a discussion on suspensions (see below).
  • Make sure you give enough time to let the oil and water separate again before adding the food coloring in the next step.    

2.  Add 3-5 drops of food coloring.
3.  Break the Alka-Seltzer tablet in half.
4.  Add the half tablet to the bottle and watch in amazement!  When the bubbling stops, add the second half.
5.  When the bubbling stops again, put the lid on tightly and put a piece of duct tape over the lid and the neck of the bottle to secure it.  
Science Discussion Questions
When adding the water to the bottle with the oil:
  1. Why does the oil float to the top and the water sinks to the bottom?  (the oil has a lower density - a teaspoon of oil weighs less than a teaspoon of water)
  2. Are the water and oil a solution, mixture or suspension?  (suspension because they separate over time)
  3. Have you ever seen a sheen (rainbow colors) in a puddle?  That is oil floating on the water. Or have you ever seen an oil tanker spill in the ocean?  What happens to the oil? (floats - but can be cleaned up since it is a suspension)
When adding the food coloring:
  1. What happened when we added the food coloring?  (the food coloring slipped through the oil and began to spread out and mix with the water)
  2. Why did it mix with the water and not the oil?  (Food coloring's main ingredient is water.  Water molecules are polar and the oil molecules are non-polar.  They are attracted to the molecules that are similar, so water molecules "hook-up" with other water molecules.  Oil molecules "hook-up" with other oil molecules.)
  3. What do I mean by "polar?"  (Polar means that the water molecules have a negative end and a positive end.  The positive and negative ends hook together [+-+-+-] just like magnets do.  That is why when we shake the bottle, the oil and water seem to mix up, but they pull back together - just like if you pull two magnets apart, but the snap right back together.)
  4. Is the water with food coloring a solution, mixture, or suspension? (solution - you cannot separate the water from the food coloring again) 
**  Magic School Bus Meets Molly Cule is a great book or video to explain molecules.  **

When adding the Alka-Seltzer:
  1. Why is the Alka-Seltzer creating the bubbles?  (It is creating a gas - carbon dioxide.  As the gas rises, it takes some of the colored water along with it.  When it reaches the top, the gas escapes and the water floats back down because it has a lower density.)

Don't forget to take a few pictures to share with parents.  They love knowing their kids are learning through activities and not just in the book!

Add Adventure to Your Math Class!

Using a math curriculum helps us focus and prepare as teachers, but let's face it, using that book every day can be BOOOOORRRRRING!  Let me be clear - I DO use the book, but every chance I get, I ditch the book and we try to get our hands a little dirty (using the book lesson as a framework).  Here are some ideas to add a little adventure to your math class:

1.  Use dice.  
In this picture, my students were practicing subtraction with and without regrouping.  Instead of completing all of the problems from the textbook, I showed my students a few examples, left them on the board and then paired them up!  Each student received 3 dice (yes, that's a lot of dice, but Dollar Tree has cheap "eraser dice" that don't make noise) and laminated paper with subtraction frames so they could use dry erase markers.  Both students rolled all their dice and they would write the larger number in the top frame and then subtract the smaller number.  I just floated from group to group and helped reinforce any concepts or clarified when the partner answers didn't match.  
They can also use dice to multiply two numbers  (roll 2 and 4, then multiply).  Write fact families by rolling two numbers (2 and 4)  and write them as fact families.  (2+4=6, 4+2=6, 6-2=4, 6-4=2)  

2.  Add a manipulative.

Food is always a great motivator!  In this case, my textbook had a lesson that was mixed addition and subtraction as a review before the test.  Rather than complete the whole page, I had them fold a paper in fourths, and we wrote two problems in each of those fourths with a circle (about the size of a quarter) between the two math problems.  Here's where the MAGIC took place.  I opened a bag of candy corn (peanut free - yeah) and placed one in each circle.  (Cheap motivation!!!!  4 pieces of candy corn per child.)  I asked the students to make the candy corn show which problem they thought was greater than/less than (making estimates) AND THEN do the math to figure the sums and differences (exact amounts).  They could then change their greater than/less than symbol (candy corn) if they needed to.  I was able to hop around the room checking each student's paper.  If they received a star on that section, they were allowed to eat one piece of their candy corn and move on to the next two problems.  

You could also use pretzels or Bugles.  If food is not an option, use triangles from your pattern blocks.  

3.  Get them up and moving.
I have found one of the best ways to keep my students focused is with lots of movement.  In this case, I was using 3 Digit Addition with Regrouping - Pirate Riddles task cards, but you can simply cut a worksheet up and post the numbered problems around the room or in the hallway.  Give your students a clipboard and a sheet to record their work and watch them focus.  I can't quite figure out the allure of it all, but when the students walk around from math problem to math problem it is sort of like a mini brain break between each task.  I have NEVER had students off task while doing this activity (shhhhh, don't give away my secret - we do it a lot).  Most of the time, I pair students up (since we are usually practicing concepts) and I just walk around, answer questions, and check random problems.  That's right!  I don't check every answer!!!  Woot woot.  However, you could use this idea as an assessment and have them complete it as individuals.  
Some of my rules are:  1.  You must whisper since you don't want to give the answers away to your neighbors.  (Haha - I trick them into being quiet.)  2.  You don't have to complete the task cards in any order, but you must write the # down so you make sure and visit ALL the task cards.  3.  Only one partner group can be at a task card at a time.  

I hope this inspired you to ditch the worksheets for an occasional lesson and have a bit of adventure!  Your students will be so engaged, you will wonder why you didn't try it earlier.

4.  Sort, Sort Sort!

I love using math sorts in the classroom.  It makes math hands-on and the students can reuse the sorts again and again!  This is such a HUGE time saver for me because after the original copy work, we can use the sorts for days (or even months when I stick them in my centers)!

Why math sorts?
- It helps your students think critically.
- It makes math meaningful and more engaging.
- The sorts can be used multiple times.
- The kids don't even realize they are learning.  It is more like completing a puzzle.
- Math sorts works well for your visual and kinesthetic learners.
- Did I mention, it saves the teacher lots of work and minimizes copies?

Want to give them a try for FREE?  Check out these sorts:

This free multiplication sort was a HUGE help to my students who were really struggling with the vocabulary.

1.  I made copies on cardstock and then had my students color the candy corn with markers.

2.  Next we stamped (or used stickers) to make the cards self-checking.  Since there are 3 sections (word, math representation, and definition), we put 3 matching stamps on the back.

3.  Now we cut the 3 sections apart.

4.  We mix up the cards and have them facing up.  The students read the cards and try to match the 3 sections up correctly.

 5.  When they think they have them sorted correctly, they can flip them over to see if their picture match!

6.  We will put them in a bag and sort them once per day for at least a week.  I also put one of the sorts in my centers for continued used throughout the unit.

P.S.  Can you find the mistake in the pictures?  Oopsie!  It has been fixed.

Here's a equivalent fraction freebie sort!

At the beginning of using these sorts, I give my students a white board and dry erase marker with these sorts.  This way they can draw pictures of the fractions before sorting them.  As they practice them several times, they are able to begin sorting them without drawing and just visualize.

Do you want to add lots more sorts to your centers?
There are more sorts available in this 3rd Grade Math Centers bundle.

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