Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Scoop Em Up!

Does your school use Responsive Classroom?  Mine does and that means morning meeting time each day.  Last year, I purchased this great book for the teachers in my school.

This book is full of great ideas that are quick and easy and some that are a little more involved.  It ranges from grades K-5 and has ideas for adding math into your morning message or morning meeting.  

I have seen this book used greatly in some classrooms and less so in others.  To encourage more use and to get more math into morning meeting time, I have been visiting different classrooms during their morning meeting to demonstrate an activity from this book.  Check out this post about how I used an activity from this book  to work on counting money with third graders or this post to see how I used an activity to work on coin recognition with first graders or this post where I combined addition fact practice with counting quarters.

Today I want to share with you an activity called Scoop Em Up.  It is from the first grade section but I made adaptions to it and did it during a second grade morning meeting.  It is the PERFECT follow up to the counting and estimating routines I do in grades K-4.  It takes what they have learned in a whole group setting during a counting and estimating routine and asks them to do it more efficiently and to work with a partner instead of the whole group.  It was also a great way to get kids to generate their own strategies for 3 digit addition.

Here is the morning message they saw upon entering the classroom

Each student was paired up with another student as they came in.  I have several large buckets of buttons and gave kids a fairly large scoop.  I wanted each pair to have more than 100 buttons. 

A student gets ready to scoop buttons
Second graders need to be comfortable with numbers to 1000 so I chose a small object and a large scoop.  If I was doing this with younger children, I would choose bigger objects and/or a smaller scoop.  If I was doing this in grade 3 or 4, I would choose very small items like popcorn kernels or elbow macaroni noodles and give them a big scoop.  

Each pair dumped their scoop on the floor and figured out how many they had in all.  There was a lot of arranging into groups of ten and one hundred.

Here a group has two piles of 100, several piles of 10 and some ones left over
As students finished counting, we erased the morning message and had kids write the amount they had on the white board.  Amounts ranged from about 180 up to 290.  We talked about why if everyone used the same scoop we got different answers.  Kids who scooped from the bottom of the bucket definitely got more.  

We only had about 6 minutes left at this point and I wanted to review a few concepts with them so I choose two numbers, 188 and 270 to focus on for our discussion.

Here we found which number was larger and used the less than and greater than symbols to compare the numbers

Then we wrote the numbers in expanded notation and discussed how expanded notation matched their piles of hundreds, tens and ones

I finished the meeting with this BIG idea question about putting the two groups of buttons together.  Kids had about two minutes to think and then we discussed strategies.  There were several ways but most involved starting by adding the hundreds and then the tens.  I took some quick notes above on one of the strategies.  The student added the 70 and 80 by taking 30 out of the 80 to put with the 70 (because it makes 100!).  This is a great illustration of why knowing combinations of 100 is so important for a second grader!
This morning meeting was so much fun and we squeezed so much extra math out of the morning!  This book is giving me so many new ideas!


  1. You packed so much math into that little lesson. Love it!
    ❀ Tammy
    Forever in First

    1. It is amazing how much math can be squeezed out of a few extra minutes!

  2. Amazing!! I've put this book on my must-buy list!!
    Thinking of Teaching

  3. Very cool! You can never spend too much time on estimation and mental math. I need to check out that book...it looks awesome!

    1. I find even older students need more time on estimation and mental math!

  4. I love the ideas from the book. Going to put it on my list. Love how you squeezed so much into your morning meeting. The mental math picture is a great exercise, but some of the common core standards I feel make things so lengthy. Does your state test the kids on the different methods? I live in Florida, and they do here. It makes me sad. I love the idea of teaching different methods of getting to an answer, however, I dislike the fact that they assess ALL methods. It makes it difficult for young minds, or students with learning disabilities.