Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Amazing Math Giveaway

My good friend Jamie, a.k.a., Miss Math Dork is having a giveaway! There are lots of prize packs to be won, all jam-packed with amazing math resources! Be sure to head over to her blog and enter (just click on the image below). You don't want to miss out on this one!

Good luck!

Friday, 24 January 2014

DIY Dice - Idea #2

I am continuing on with my series called "DIY Dice". If you haven't seen my previous post you can find it here.

My main goal is to provide you with some alternative ways to make Math manipulatives without breaking your budget, as well as some interactive activities for using your new hand-made manipulatives.

So, another week, another idea. Here is another way I use "do-it-yourself" dice in my Math classroom...

DIY Dice - Idea #2

Fraction Dice 

As I have said before, the thing I love most about using these dice is it allows for easy differentiation. These activities allow students to develop their understanding at their own rate, thus becoming more confident learners. Each set of dice can be slightly different to accommodate each student's abilities. One group could be working with unit fractions, one with fractions with common denominators, one with mixed numbers, etc.

I also love that the possibilities with these dice are endless. Here are a few ways to create your fraction dice.

1.      Unit Fraction dice – All fractions on these dice will have a numerator of one. You can choose which denominators you want to include. I usually stick to 2 main groupings. Either, 1/2, 1/3, 1/4, 1/5, 1/6, and 1/7 or  1/2, 1/3, 1/4, 1/6, 1/8, and 1/12. Depending on what level your students are, you may want to only include 3 different fractions per die; therefore each fraction will appear twice on each die. I.e. 1/2, 1/3, 1/4, 1/2, 1/3, 1/4.

2.      “Most commonly used fractions” dice – Randomly select commonly used fractions to put on each face of the die. Use any of the following 1/2, 1/4, 3/4, 1/5, 2/5, 1/10, 1/3, or 2/3.

3.      Numerator and denominator dice – I use these most often as I find they provide the most variety in terms of fractions rolled. Students will roll two dice to determine their fraction. One die represents the numerator (the whole number), and the other the denominator. There are multiple ways to use these dice.

a.      Proper fractions – create proper fractions by keeping the whole number low, I use the digits 1, 2, and 3 twice on one die, and you can choose the denominators based on your students’ abilities. The only time they might get an improper fraction is if they roll a 3 and a */2. If they are capable of working with it great, if not, simply get them to roll again.

b.      Improper Fractions – create improper fractions using higher single digits, or double digit numbers for the numerator die.

c.      Common denominators – When completing any adding and subtracting activities (or ordering), you will need to decide whether your students will work with common denominators or not. If you want your students to work with common denominators simply tell them to roll the denominator die once, and the numerator die twice (or more).

4.      Mixed numbers Dice – create mixed numbers by rolling a single digit number die with a die option from either #1 or #2 above. 

Here is a sample activity and a sample game I do with fraction dice.

You can find the whole collection of activities and games using DIY Fraction Dice here. There are over 15 activities and printables included in the pack!

Stay tuned for another way I use DIY dice next week!

Saturday, 18 January 2014

DIY Dice - Idea #1

In a previous post, I talked about filling your classroom with math visuals and manipulatives for little, to no money. One of my suggestions was making your own dice...quiet dice that is!

I found some great foam cubes at my local Dollar Tree, grabbed myself a fine-tip Sharpie, summoned my creativeness, and came up with a few different ways to use them in my math classroom.

So I've decided to start a little series called "DIY Dice".

Once a week I am going to tell you about an activity that I use in my own classroom that uses some form of "do-it-yourself" dice.

DIY Dice - Idea #1

Number Dice 

This certainly isn't anything new, using different digits on the side of dice, however by creating your own, you aren't limited by what digits you use. You can easily get your hands on multiple sided dice with 2 digit numbers, but they come with a pretty steep price tag, and this is all about making Math manipulatives for cheap, cheap, cheap!

The other thing I love about using these dice, is it allows for easy differentiation. Each set of dice can be slightly different to accommodate each student's abilities. One group could be working with single digits, one with a combination of single and double digits, one with double digits, one with triple digits, etc. Plus, you can easily keep them organized by color-coding them, i.e. single digits are red, double digits are blue, etc.

There are a few ways to create your number dice.

1.      Single digit dice – Obviously you only have 6 sides to work with, and 10 possible digits (0-9). It all depends on what you want your students to be working on. Ex. A student needs to work on his/her multiplication facts for 2, 3, and 4. On one die, you only put the digits 2-4 (each digit will appear twice on the die), the other die has random digits between 2-9 (a couple will get left out, but that’s why you have more dice)

2.      Double digit dice – Again, with only 6 sides you are quite limited in what numbers you can use. To give my students more variety for the activities, I have tried out a few different techniques.
a.      I make a set of dice where each die has the same value in the tens place. Ex. One die has random numbers between 10-19; another has random numbers between 20-29, etc.

b.      Roll 2 single digit dice to make a double digit. Ex. A student rolls a 5 and a 9. He/she can choose to use the number 59 or 95.

c.      Increase number sense skills my incorporating what your students know about expanded form and place value. 1 die has single digits (your choice of 0-9), the second die has multiples of 10 (10, 20, 30, 40, etc). Ex. If a student rolls a 30 and a 4, he/she will use the number 34.

          3.      Triple digit dice, and so on…
a.      Use techniques b and c from the double digit dice. The amount of dice the student rolls will depend on how many digits you want him/her to work with.

Here is a sample activity and a sample game I do with number dice.

You can find the whole collection of activities and games using DIY Number Dice here. There are over 15 activities and printables included in the pack!

Stay tuned for another way I use DIY dice next week!

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Secondary Giveaway

My friend Jennifer, over at Teaching High School Math, discovered the awesomeness of Teachers Pay Teachers just over a year ago and has decided to celebrate with a giveaway.

There are 2 prize packs to be won, including a lot of great math resources!

One geared towards middle school teachers...


...and one geared towards high school teachers.

Make sure to head over to her blog to enter. Good luck!

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

How to fill your math classroom with visuals and manipulatives...on a budget

As some of you know from previous posts, I am a very frugal person. If there is a cheaper way of doing something, I will find it! This not only helps me out in my personal life, but also my teaching life. I know I am not alone, when I admit to often looking at something destined for the garbage and think "How could I use that in my classroom?" Anyone else guilty of this?

When it comes to teaching math, I find using any kind of visuals and/or manipulatives to be a huge benefit to many of my students. However, a lot of these hands-on items cost a small fortune in the Math supplies catalogs and teacher stores. So....when I can, I make my own, or enlist the kids to help make them.

This is my "Math Cart" (made by my talented husband), and almost everything in it is made by me, except for some dice, cards, and cube-a-links. Looking at this picture, reminds me that I really should label each bin accordingly.

Here is a quick list of some of the things that fill up this cart.

- all my centers (including directions, and any supplies required to complete them)
- all my number lines
- all my bingo cards (one for just about every concept I teach)
- all my matching games and concentration/memory games  (one for just about every concept I teach)
- all my "I have, who has?" cards (one for just about every concept I teach)
- all my task cards ( I've just started this collection and hope to have a set for each concept I teach by the end of the year)
- all my 3-D shapes for my geometry unit (paper ones used to represent solid shapes, and wire ones used to represent the skeleton of the shape)
- all my place value tents for teaching expanded form.
- film canisters filled with numbered bingo chips (used for my Making Numbers warm-up)
- 2 bins are filled with magazines, as the students are always using them for activities in their Math Scrapbooks
- and more...

Looking at this list, I wonder where I ever found the time. These items have all been collected over my almost 10 years of teaching, and most were done before I had my own children. But, let's face it, creating, cutting, gluing, laminating, and cutting again, takes time. Since discovering TpT, adding to my math cart has become a lot easier and less time consuming.

Two things I use constantly in my room are cards and dice.

Decks of cards are easy enough to come by and are fairly cheap. What's better than cheap? FREE! Call up your local casino and ask if they would be willing to donate their used cards to your classroom. Did you know that they are only allowed to use a deck of cards once? After that, they usually get hole-punched to signify that they have been used, and they are free for the taking. Luckily this year I have a parent who works at a casino, so I get them delivered right to my class by one of my students. She politely pointed out that my decks were looking a little worn and thought I could use some new ones.

*Helpful tip - To make sure your decks do not get mixed up (especially if they are all the same brand), make sure to number them in the top-back corner. Makes for easy re-organizing, when those random cards inevitably get left on the desk or floor somewhere.

Dice, are also fairly easy to come by and also reasonably priced. I love all the different ones you can get these days. 10-sided, 20-sided, etc. However, they are still pretty limited in what you can do with them, especially when you get into the higher grades. So I started making my own dice.

My mom, a retired elementary teacher gave me the idea for quiet dice! One of the disadvantages I find about dice, is they are noisy, and half the time the kids roll them so hard that they roll off the desk on to the floor...sometimes never to be seen again!

I realized that if I made my own dice, the possibilities are endless, as I can put whatever I want on the 6 sides. I started by making them out of old toothpaste or cracker boxes, wrapping, and "laminating" with packing tape. Here are the directions from a resource of mine.
I found these fairly successful, but even with the laminating they don't hold up long term.

Last month I found a fantastic alternative. I came across these foam blocks (50 in a pack) at my local Dollar Tree for $1.25! They are basically the same size as standard dice, maybe a bit larger, and I can make them into whatever kind of dice I want with a fine-point permanent marker! I was sold, so I cleared the shelf of them!

Over the next couple of weeks I will be posting ideas on DIY dice that can be used for specific topics in your math classroom.
I would love to hear your ideas as well.
Stay tuned!

If you happen to be heading to the Texas Middle School Association Annual Conference, you just might get your own set of DIY dice. My blogging friend Michele Martin Luck from A Lesson Plan for Teachers, will be there with a great display of TpT products and has graciously offered to put some of my dice packs in the goodie bags for those who stop by her booth. Make sure to hunt her down if you are there!

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Currently January 2014

It's that time of year. Time to think about things and set some resolutions for the new year. So, one of my goals for this year is to spend a little more time blogging. By that, I don't mean solely on my own blog, but keeping up to date on some of my favourite teaching blogs out there. There are so many amazing ones, that it is hard to keep up to date with them all.

One way I have decided to keep on top of the blogging world is to link-up to some of the great regular posts out there. So today I am linking up with Farley's Currently party over at Oh Boy 4th Grade.

Makes for a great read on the weekend with a warm cup of tea in hand, while the wind howls outside and the temperature is around -40 degrees Celsius! I just love reading about what my teacher friends around the globe are up to.

So grab a cup of your favourite hot beverage, have a seat, and enjoy the last day of holidays.

Friday, 3 January 2014

It's a New Year Math Linky

I don't know about you, but school has been the last thing on my mind lately. With all the business of the holidays, we've barely had a chance to relax.

We had a great Christmas this year! My son, now almost 3, finally understands the concept of Santa. His face was priceless when he saw the stockings filled and the presents under the tree Christmas morning. Definitely made for some memorable moments.

Then Boxing day came, and both my husband and I got hit with the flu, with our son following shortly after...more memorable moments...just not good ones.

So here I am, back to my old self, and realizing that school will be back in full swing before I know it...and I still haven't touched that pile of marking I brought home. Sound familiar?

Well I thought I would try and help you out a bit with the planning part. With the new year upon us, I am looking for some new ideas to try out in my Math class, and I would love to share all these wonderful ideas with you!

So here it is, my first ever Math linky...and if you keep reading there is also a chance to win a shopping spree in my store!

I would love for you to share some of the amazing things you have tried in your own Math classroom. Whether it be a great blog post or a freebie, please leave the link below and include the appropriate grade level (preferably 3-9). I look forward to finding some new ideas for the year ahead and I hope you find some too!

Happy New Year everyone! I wish you all the best in 2014!

P.S. Fourteen just happens to be my favourite number, so I have a feeling its going to be a great year!

We already have one exciting event happening in 2014, the first person to guess what it might be will win a $10 shopping spree in my store! Leave your guess in the comments below along with your email.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Math is Real Life - Janunary 2014 Edition

Happy New Year!
I hope everyone is recovering nicely from their New Years Eve celebrations. We spent ours at home (we are still under extreme cold weather conditions up here in Winnipeg, so going out had zero appeal), ordered Greek take out, and because I am a wonderful sister, babysat my 2 nephews. It was my son's first sleepover and they were very excited!
So welcome to 2014! What better way to start off, then with a "Math is Real Life Post"!!

 I am happy to once again join up with the fabulous linky hosted by Miss Math Dork, 4mulafun, The Teacher Studio, and Teaching to Inspire in 5th! 
So here we are, the first day of 2014 and also the first Wednesday of January, and I am willing to bet that a lot of people are in the same boat. Your bank accounts are a little emptier and your credit card statements are a little higher.

This is the norm for this time of year, and I know for me, that paycheck at the end of January can't come soon enough. So here I am wondering how I can avoid this feeling next year. There are already several things I do to try and save money year-round - I coupon, I pay attention to sales, I try to buy presents throughout the year when I see a good deal, and the one I find the hardest, I try to stick to a budget for Christmas shopping. I think I am fairly good at sticking to a budget, but my husband is not, and seeing that I have to let him run free to do his shopping I have no say in the matter. I know I shouldn't complain, he got me some great gifts this year, but...the money all comes from the same place, and unfortunately there are these things in life called bills!

So, while I was browsing Facebook one day, I came across this post, labeled 52 day challenge. Within the comments, people had mentioned that after completing this challenge they were able to buy all their Christmas presents in cash, and not rack up their credit cards bills. Sounds good to me, so I checked it out.

Seems pretty easy. For each week of the year you put aside, the amount of money corresponding to that week. So, week one you put away $1, week 2 - $2, and so on until week 52 you put away $52. If you follow this routine, you will have saved just under $1400 by the end of the year. What you decide to do with that money at the end of the year is up to you - buy your Christmas presents, save up for a trip, down payment on a car, or the not-so-exciting pay off some debt.

So I decided that I am going to try this challenge. I read a few more comments and found a few alternatives that might work better for some people.

Option A - Follow the chart above.
Option B - Work backwards. You are likely a lot more gung-ho to save money at the beginning of the year, then in December, so start with week 52 and end with week 1.
Option C - Cut the above chart into strips and place in a jar. Each week you draw a strip and put aside that amount of money. Print out an extra list, so you can check off the amount you put aside and keep track of how much you are saving.

I really like option C, as it spreads out the money a little, making it a little more manageable to save. It's easy to put aside $10 one month, but might not be so easy to put aside $202 another month. Plus, I like the element of surprise! :)

So, here I am putting my resolution in writing, and showing you the jars as evidence. This is my plan, and I am sticking to it!

Money to be Saved

My Checklist to keep track of my progress

Money Saved

So far, I have saved...{drum roll please}...$21

Hopefully I can follow up this post in December 2014, with a success story...hopefully writing it from somewhere a heck of a lot warmer!

I would love to hear your money saving tips, or if you are going to join me in the 52 week challenge. Who's with me?

Need a quick problem solving activity for the first week back, while teaching your students the importance of saving money? Here is one from my Rate Centers package. Enjoy!

Happy New Year! Wishing you all the best in 2014!