Sunday, 8 September 2013

Those first few days...(part 3)

Week one down!
I'm a little late on the last post of my 3 day series, and that is likely due to the fact that I was utterly exhausted on Friday, and just needed a little down time.
So here I am today, feeling somewhat refreshed on a beautiful Sunday morning.

So moving on to my last goal...

Goal #3

Now that I know a little more about my students and they know a little more about me, I want to get them interacting with each other, using Math of course.

I love presenting my students with a challenge that requires them to work in groups to determine a solution. Here's the challenge:

I first read the problem to the students and then provide each group with their own copy to re-read. Then they are on their own to come up with the solution. It doesn't take long before some get instead of solving the problem they start coming up with creative ways to get around the problem.

Here are some of my favourites:

"Why can't they just throw the flashlight across the bridge?"
"Why can't the 5 minute guy give the 25 minute guy a piggy-back ride?"
"What can't one guy stand in the middle of the bridge and shine the flashlight?"

I have done this challenge with grade 7's and 8's, as it is pretty challenging. Usually most students are not able to find the solution before time is up, so we solve it as a class. I ask for 5 volunteers - the 5 min guy, the 10 min guy, the 20 min guy, the 25 min guy, and a recorder to add up the time on the board.

The four explorers come up to the front of the room, and we act out the scenario (I even turn the lights out to make it authentic). I ask for a volunteer student to attempt to solve the problem. I ask them, "who should have the flashlight?", "what 2 explorers should go first?", we go until each explorer has crossed the "bridege" and we have added up the time. In most cases the total will end up being 65 minutes. By the end of the class, and some guidance on my part, we are able to discover the solution.

There is a solution, but I'm not going to give it to you...

For the first person to solve it and write a detailed explanation in the comments, I will send you my Team Challenges for FREE! Remember to leave your email.
Put your thinking caps husband was actually reading the problem this morning and wasn't able to solve it before asking me to just tell him the answer.

Unfortunately, I do not know the original creator of this challenge, I found it in a pile of stuff from my collaborating teacher 10 years ago. I searched online and found a few similar word problems. Another one I love, with a similar challenge is "The Chicken Crossing".



  1. #1 and #2 cross first (10 minutes)
    #1 returns with flashlight (5 minutes)
    #3 and #4 cross (25 minutes)
    #2 returns (10 minutes)
    #1 and #2 cross (10 minutes)

    10+5+25+10+10 = 60 minutes

    I just feel bad for all of the other explorers waiting on either side without flashlights. I hate the dark! :)

    This was really challenging. I tried so many different combos before getting it. I teach 5th, this may be too hard for them but I love the challenge!


    1. You got it Kori! Great job. I hope it didn't take up too much of your Sunday ;)

      It is pretty challenging for grade 5, but I bet they would love to act it out and solve it as a whole class. Might be worth a try.

      Check your email and have a great week,


  2. You beat me to it Kori! I guess I'll be buying the rest of the challenge pack :). I just downloadeI d the skyscraper activity, I wonder if it would be worth it to put together kits for my five classes - this seems like it would be great to leave as emergency supply plans. I even have a class ipod-touch, so I could leave instructions for them to take pictures and email them to me.

    I love your spot the imposter activities, and can't wait to try the other warmups - they are just the right length. Other warm ups I have tried are either too long or too easy (and short) for most of my class. These ones are open so it keeps the early finishers busy while I take attendance.


    1. Hi Sarah,

      Thanks for the awesome comments. They made my night!
      Putting together kits for 5 classes is definitely doable. I usually keep a stock pile of random supplies on hand so I can do the challenges at any time. I usually send the kids on a scavenger hunt at the beginning of the year to find "junk" that I can use in my classroom. The student who brings in the most "junk" gets a prize.
      I love the idea of emailing a picture of the final product to you.

      I hope you and your students have fun with some of the other challenges. Let me know how they go.