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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Winter Themed Addition and Subtraction Word Problems Task Cards

It is official!  My second and third graders need A LOT MORE HELP with all of the different addition and subtraction situations they are supposed to have mastered under the Common Core.  I wrote about using my fall themed task cards to work on these ideas herehere and here.   Despite the hard work these kids did with these fall themed task cards, they still need more practice.

These addition and subtraction situations that I am talking about come directly from Table 1 in the Common Core glossary.  If you haven't yet seen this check it out below!  First graders are also responsible for all these problem types, but with smaller numbers.  Check out these great penguin themed problems representing all 12 problem types for help meeting this standard with first graders!  Second and third graders are responsible for all of these using 2 and 3 digit numbers.  It is a big job and requires some practice, especially if your students are not used to so many different situations.  
When most teachers write story problems for their students, they tend to only represent 2-3 of the problem types.  I think I was guilty of this several years ago so the kids I currently have in second and third grade probably didn't get the exposure to all the different types of problems they should have when they were younger.  Now I do a better job with younger kids and hope it will pay off down the road!

Anyways, here is what I have been working on for my current second and third graders to give them more practice with these ideas.

Winter Themed Addition and Subtraction Word Problems Task Cards

There is something about a seasonal theme that works with this bunch of kids so I am sticking with it.  I wrote 16 different task cards representing all 12 of the Common Core addition and subtraction equations.  

Take a look!

Check out this post about how I use task cards in the classroom!

I also like to follow up task cards with some formative assessment so I created some follow up questions to see how kids are doing independently on these types of problems. 

Of course I like my task cards ready to use so there are several options for record sheets and a full answer key.

Ready to try these with your students?  They are available at my TPT store!

Want to win a free copy?  The first 3 folks who leave a comment below with their email address and their favorite tip for using task cards will get the full set for FREE!!!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Monday Math Literature Volume 16

New to my Monday Math Literature posts?  Click here to start at the beginning.

Two weeks ago I wrote about some of my favorite candy math books.  This week, I want to tell you about a few more of these.

Again these candy math books seem to go in and out of print so they are not always available in the new market.  I have found over and over again shopping for used ones on Amazon to nearly a sure bet of getting one for under 5 dollars even if it is currently out of print. (Sometimes they are as low as $0.01)

I love using this book with second, third and fourth graders.  It is a great way to introduce multiplication in a friendly way and does a good job of showing different ways to represent multiplication including the equal groups and area model.  It is definitely best used at a fact level and I ALWAYS read this book to third graders during our first big intro to multiplication unit.


I often use this book with Kindergartners, first graders and second graders.  It has some great ideas about adding 1, adding zero and turn around facts.  I often pick parts and pieces of this book to read to a whole class or small group.  I rarely read the entire thing from start to finish all at once.

I love this book because I find kids often need more help with conceptual ideas around subtraction than they do around addition.  Teachers and programs tend to spend more time on addition and this book does a great job of helping kids conceptualize subtraction.  Also who doesn't love the idea of subtracting chocolate kisses, by eating them of course!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Adding and Subtracting 10 from any Number

In the Common Core Standards for first grade there is this little standard about students being able to find 10 more or 10 less than any two-digit number.
  • CCSS.Math.Content.1.NBT.C.5 Given a two-digit number, mentally find 10 more or 10 less than the number, without having to count; explain the reasoning used.
I find this standard an important one to make sure first graders can do.  It forms the foundation for important work thinking about adding and subtracting two digit numbers later in grade 1 and into second grade.  The strategies and ideas kids share when adding or subtracting two and three digit numbers start with making sure your students master this important standard.

Here is a quick and easy routine I do with mini ten frames to ensure students have this important standard down.  The ten frames I use in this activity are available as free downloads here and here.  The first link takes you to a sheet of full mini ten frames and the second to a sheet of partial mini ten frames.  I use one vertical strip from each sheet for each kid.  This gives them each a 1-9 mini ten frame and 10 full mini ten frames.

I start by putting out one of the partial ten frames.  I ask kids how many dots they see.
Then I place a full ten frame next to the partial one.  I ask kids how many dots they see.  Some kids will instantly know it as a teen number and others will need to count on from one of the numbers.  Kids who are very unsure might count all the dots one by one.  If they need to count each dot by ones, I know they need more practice with adding ten to a one digit number and will go there instead of going farther with this routine.  
I place another full ten frame next to the first one and ask kids how many dots they see.  Some kids will know immediately and others might need to count some or all of the collection.  
I continue placing another full ten frame next to the previous ones.  I vary my language some and use a few different phrases as I do this.  Sometimes I say "Now how many dots?"  Other times I might say "Add ten" as I put down the card or I might also say "What is ten more."  Kids need to hear the same question asked in different ways.  

Once I have gotten as high as I wanted to go with that student.  (which is often in the 100+ range) I pick up one ten frame card at a time and ask questions such as "Now how many?, What is 10 less? or Subtract 10."  By doing this, kids are getting the idea of 10 less and also the idea of counting backwards by tens starting at a non-decade number.  
Varying the start number will give your students more practice with these big ideas
  • How do you work on this important standard with YOUR students?  Respond in the comments below!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Monday Math Literature Volume 15

If you are new to my Monday Math Literature posts, click here to start from the beginning. If you missed last week's post about my favorite candy math books it is a great one to check out!

Today I want to share with you 2 of my favorite books to use with students in grades 5-8.  When I first introduce decimal or fraction multiplication, there is a big idea that I also must introduce with it.  When students' experience with multiplication is limited to whole numbers, they are used to the product being bigger than either factor.  For several years they have been under the impression that multiplication always makes numbers bigger.  When we start talking about decimal and fraction multiplication, that idea needs to to change and needs to be addressed directly.

My favorite way to address this?


This is a book by Pam Calvert who also write the Princess Peepers series.  It is based on the story of Rumpelstiltskin and is a very funny look at what happens when a wild man runs around multiplying by fractions less than one.  Things keep disappearing and Rumpelstiltskin causes a great deal of havoc before he is stopped.  Once he is stopped they have to figure out how to use his multiplying stick to turn everything back to the way it was.  This leads to a great discussion about how multiplying by a fraction less than one makes the product smaller than one of the factors and how to undo fraction multiplication.

Much to my great delight, several years ago another book was written for this mini series.


In this story, Rumpelstiltskin returns along with his evil accomplice the witch.  He has a division stick and is going around the kingdom turning things into frogs and dividing by whole numbers and fractions.  When the witch gets her hands on the stick, she tries to divide by zero.  This is an AMAZING way to introduce kids not only to fraction division but also to the idea of division by zero being un-defined.  

Some really BIG mathematical ideas can be addressed with these fun stories! 

Click here to head to Volume 16 where I have reviewed some of my favorite Hershey's chocolate math books!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Decimal Operations QR Code Scavenger Hunt

I have been working hard with my sixth graders on decimal operations this fall.  We have looked at models and developed conceptual understanding and are now working toward procedural fluency.  As we were wrapping up our decimal unit and getting ready to move onto fractions, I wanted to provide kids a fun way to get a little more practice with all of the decimal operations.

This summer I started using an iPad and playing around with QR codes.  I spent some time learning how they are used and how to generate my own.  I decided to design a QR code scavenger hunt and since I am loving this fall weather (and the fun fall clip art I have!) I made them fall themed.  We did the scavenger hunt in the gym last week and the kids had so much FUN!!!  They acted like it was a great and interesting adventure when it was really just routine practice.  I see a lot of QR codes in their futures!  There are even a few students who have been making up their own scavenger hunts using QR codes and are having a great time sharing them with their classmates!

I decided to do this activity in the gym and really get kids moving around.  I would have liked to do it outside as track math but the weather did not cooperate with me.  I spread the cards out on the floor around the perimeter of the gym.  Kids grabbed clip boards and pencils.  I created a record sheet to go with this activity that I absolutely love but ended up not using it because my pile of scrap paper (copy paper that is printed on one side and no longer useable for whatever reason) had really been piling up and I like to recycle when possible.

I borrowed a few iPhones and a student brought their iPod touch as well as using my iPad and a few other tablets.  The kids got into groups of 3-4 and got busy.  I did stagger their start times a bit so that they wouldn't all be crowded around the same card at the same time.  

Students work on the QR code scavenger hunt while getting great practice with decimal operations.
 The kids had a great time and did a fantastic job of working together.  When they disagreed on an answer, they worked together to check each others work and come to a consensus. They thought this was amazing and keep asking to do it again.  I have already started creating more QR code scavenger hunts for these and other students.

We went green and recycled scrap paper instead of using our record sheet.  These are very honest kids and not to large of a class so I was still able to monitor their progress very nicely despite not using the record sheet I created.
A student scans a QR code while group mates look on.  The person with the digital device got named team captain and took their job very seriously.  I did not have to take a device away from any student. 
My folder with everything I could ever want with this product.  I have record sheets, an answer key and my follow up homework as well as a check-in/quiz all copied and ready to go

Here is my QR code scavenger hunt organized and ready to go in its own folder.  Check out this post for more ideas about keeping task cards and similar items organized and ready to go.

Ready to try this with your students?  Head over to TPT and get yours right now!

Working on fraction operations?  Check out this post!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Addition Double Facts

When I am working with first, second and third graders on addition fact fluency, one of the first things I push for is fluency with the double facts.  There are always some kids in any class that struggle with these so I make them a custom set of flash cards with picture clues to help them.

Here is a set I made for a group of second graders I work with.  The facts they were struggling with were 6+6, 7+7, 8+8, and 9+9.

I give them either 2 bead sticks or a 2 string rekenrek (you can also take a picture of them with the virtual number rack).  This day we were using 2 string rekenreks so that is what you will see in the pictures.

I chose 1 student to model each addition fact on their number rack and take their picture holding the number rack with the fact modeled.

Here are a few close ups of what I mean
This student is showing 7+7.  See how the rekenrek helps students see  different ways to  calculate the answer.
This student is showing 9+9

Then I print the pictures and use sheets of construction paper to create a large set of flash cards.  Fold the paper in half the hamburger way and glue the picture inside.  On the outside, write the fact on the front and the answer on the back.  

Front View

Inside View
Back View

Front and back of another card

Inside view

I show students the flash cards and if they don't come up with an answer within 3 seconds, I show them the picture for a few seconds to remind them of the visual image.  After a few days of using these for a couple of minutes per day, there is a great increase in students' ability to recreate the image themselves and figure out the answer without peeking at the picture or counting on.  It really helps them transition from using a counting strategy to using a thinking strategy.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Using Dominoes for Subitizing

Last week, I posted here about two games I was working on with some K students who were struggling to connect pictures to numerals and words.  This week I was again working with the same students and decided they still needed a little more practice, so I made up this activity.

Here is what you need:
-The first 6 cards from the Numbers to 120 Place Value Deck
- Some double-six dominoes
- A piece of cardstock or paper (I used fancy scissors on the edge of mine because they were what was handy!)
- A handful of 2 color counters

Here are a few simple steps:

Step 1: give the student 6-10 dominoes and have them place them face down in front of them.  You can choose the dominoes randomly or more strategically depending on what you want them to work on. Also give them the cardstock with a line down the middle which will be their blank domino for building on and a handful of counters.

Step 2: Student flips over a domino and builds what he or she sees on one side and then the other.

Step 3: Student finds the matching numeral cards and places them below each side of the domino.

Repeat the steps until all the dominoes are used!  Simple, fun and effective!  

Click here to check out this post about the games I used leading up to this activity!