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Monday, April 20, 2015

Mathematics Through Play Book Study: Part 4

Welcome to the final week of our Math Through Play Book Study!  I have been doing a lot of thinking and planning about how to get more play into math class.  I started a Pinterest board with #MathPlay ideas and it is quickly approaching 100 pins.  I will also be starting a weekly series on #MathPlay ideas here on my blog.  

Here is the posting schedule for this book study:

Without further ado, lets wrap up this book study!

Chapter 8: Planning, Organizing and Assessing Independent Play

The ideas in this chapter about planning and organizing independent play reminded me a great deal of how I try to organize and plan math centers during Guided Math time.  One of my favorite ideas is the idea of a play menu that shows kids what is available that day and helps keep them focused on the areas that are open for them to use during this time.  This has been a huge help during Guided Math and other choice times in my own practice.  Also with various adults in and out of the rooms I work in, having written prompts and key questions posted in stations has been a huge help to making sure everyone is on the same page.  The idea of assessing through observation is certainly not new to me either and the idea of creating a notebook full of observations is something I have found beneficial.  A few years ago, I saw another teacher used post it notes to jot down observations and then stuck them in a notebook with a page dedicated to each kid.  I moved to this model 2 years ago and haven't looked back!  I love how the post it note system lets me move and organize my observations and assessments as I am reviewing what I know about a child.  

Chapter 9: Parents as Partners: Involving Parents in Mathematics and Play

As a teacher who spends a huge percent of her day teaching math and thinking about teaching math, it is so disheartening to me when I hear parents say in front of their children how they are not good at math or do not like math.  So much of a students' ability to do well in math seems to come from their perception of it and we need to stop letting students hear parents (and teachers!) say that they do not like math or are not good at it.  I believe that passion and enthusiasm for math are the 2 things that make me a good math teacher and make my students good learners.  I know math can have a bad reputation and not everyone has had a positive experience with learning math but it is certainly my mission to change that.  

Almost 10 years ago, a colleague and I did our first Family Math Night and it has continued to grow and evolve.  It has helped tremendously to have this positive experience for students and parents to share together and has really helped parents in our school see how much fun our students have learning math.  I have been thinking a lot lately about Family Math Night and how it can continue to evolve in our school and what our next steps might be.  I think we need more parents in the school and would love to have more classroom volunteers.  I am thinking about how I can use Family Math Night to help with this mission and would love some suggestions from other teachers and parents about what makes classroom volunteers work in their schools.  

It's never to late to join this book study!  Grab a copy of the book and leave comments as you read! 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Mathematics Through Play Book Study: Part 3

Welcome to week 3 of our Math Through Play Book Study!  I have been thinking a lot over the past few weeks about getting more play into the classroom and have some great ideas.  I will be sharing some of these in the next few weeks!

Here is the posting schedule for this book study:
Sunday April 12th: Chapters 6&7
Sunday April 19th: Chapters 8&9

If you are just joining us, head to this post for more details! 

Chapter 6: Shape and Space

3-D Shapes

I love 3-D shapes and find that they are an easy thing to incorporate into play.  My students have access to a large about of block play and construction kids such as Lincoln logs, polydrons and legos.  I would love to add Magna tiles to my rotation as my budget allows.  These toys are fun and engaging and kids can build and play with them for hours.  They are the perfect way to introduce 3-D geometry vocabulary and for kids to explore ideas about movement and symmetry.  

When reading this chapter, I did think of some other ways that I could increase students access to 3-D shapes with other materials.  The book talks a lot about modeling dough and working on 3-D shapes through this medium.  I certainly have plenty of access to modeling dough and could absolutely spend some time encouraging kids to explore 3-D shapes with this medium.  The other idea from this chapter that really excited me was using recyclable materials.  Several years ago, I worked with a second grade class to build 2 robots out of recycled materials and they got so much good hands on math out of this experience.  Much of what I put into my recycling bin each day is a 3-D shape and the possibilities of how kids can use these to build and create are almost endless.  The best part is that I don't have to wait for budget money to be there or spend my own money on these materials. 

Using a Camera

Just a few years ago, we had one digital camera to be shared by everyone in the school.  Now with a few iPads in most classrooms and the way cameras have improved on cell phones, I have all day access to a good camera.  This chapter made some excellent points about taking pictures of students' creations with 2 and 3-D shapes.  Seeing shapes from different angles and perspectives is a great way to talk about geometry concepts.  This is something I definitely would like to do more of.   

Chapter 7: Measurement

Volume and Capacity

I have always been a big fan of sand/water tables and this type of play in classrooms.  While I still see these in almost every preschool classroom, they have been disappearing from primary classrooms in many elementary schools.  I think this is a huge lost opportunity for the development of measuring volume and capacity.  Kids can learn so much from these experiences.  I particularly liked some of the suggestions in the book for going beyond just sand and water in the table.  In my online research for more sand and water table ideas, I came upon this awesome website which really takes the sand/water table to a whole new level.   


I really don't think I have ever thought about how to incorporate learning time into play.  I love the idea of giving kids a calendar or plan book to use in their play.  The calendar would be great to include in their play around doctor or vet offices or anywhere where appointments need to be made.  A planner would be great if they are playing school or something that requires a schedule on an hourly basis.  I also love the idea of providing a clock (analog or digital depending on level) that they can use to play train station or other activities where the tickets might have a time written on them.  

Looking for more ideas for math play?  Check out my new pinterest board where I will be collecting ideas from all over the internet! 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

10 Frame Cut and Glue Freebie

I made this quick little cut and glue worksheet to use as an assessment with some of my youngest students.  It would also work great as a homework assignment or a math center.  All you need is some scissors and glue.  (Have you tried glue sponges yet?)

Grab this freebie from my TPT store!

My new set of spring theme playing cards featuring 10 frames and numerals is 50% off for another 24 hours. This is a set of cards you can prep once and use 15 times!  Read more about it here or head to my TPT store to grab it while it is 50% off! 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

More Ways to Use 10 Frames

Last fall, I wrote about 10 different ways I was using 10 frames in the classroom.  I love using 10 frames in the classroom and keep things fresh by changing out which ones I am using as the season changes.  In Kindergarten and grade 1 I get so much mileage out of 10 frames and they really help build a solid foundation for early numeracy and additive reasoning.  I also love my 20 frame playing cards and wrote about how I use them in my classroom here!

Compare or Flip and Add

War was always my favorite card game as a young child and I often play versions of war (also called compare) with 10 frame cards as well as my other place value decks.  To play this game, mix up a few sets of playing cards and give each player an equal number of cards.  Then have them flip over 1 or more cards and compare the result.  I have very young students start with flipping over one card and saying the number represented by that card.  Then whoever has the largest (or smallest) number after every player has flipped over a card gets all the cards in that round.  As kids get older, you can have them flip 2 cards over and find the sum.  You can also have them flip over 3 cards if you are working on adding 3 one digit numbers.  Ready for subtraction?  Have them flip over 2 cards and find the difference.  I love how this one seemingly simple game can be played in so many ways!  Your entire class can look like it is playing the same game but different pairs or small groups can be playing different versions customized for their skill level.  You can further differentiate this game by mixing 10 frame cards with numeral cards or having some kids playing with 10 frames while others use numerals.  You also do not need to spend a lot of time going over the rules to a "new" game because kids already know how to play!

Close to 15 (Or another number of your choice!)

This game is a great way for students to practice multiple skills at the same time.  I have students create their own record sheet for this game which is a great way to use up scrap paper from the copy room.  Flip over two cards and find the sum.  The person who is closest to 15 (or some other number of your choosing) "wins" that round.  The winner can circle their answer.  This allows students to practice addition facts and at the same time practice comparing two numbers (subtraction).  The game can end when kids run out of cards or you can have them re-shuffle and keep playing!  You can also change this game up by having kids flip just one card and see who can get the closest to 5 (or another small number).  Ready for a challenge?  Have them flip over 3 cards and see who can get closest to 20 (or another number of your choice!). 

Compare with Gameboard

I used to teach the greater than and less than symbols toward the end of second grade.  As standards and expectations have shifted, I have moved to teaching these symbols and the language of greater and less than earlier.  A good way to do this has been with a compare board and playing cards.  Kids can start at a very basic level by comparing 2 ten frames.  As kids gain proficiency with number, I can mix in numeral cards or other representations.  Using a small piece of a colored index card and some brads, I can make a game board that will make the <, > and = symbols.  The kid with the larger (or smaller) card gets to keep both cards.  It is fun to mix it up and not always have the kids with the largest number win.

Flip and Fill

This is a great game for helping kids make the connection between a written numeral and a 10 frame card.  They use a blank 10 frame and a set of numeral cards to play this game.  The blank 10 frame gets laminated so they can write on it.  Give them a dry erase marker and they are set to go!  Flip over a numeral card and build that number on the blank 10 frame.  As kids get more proficient with this, you will see them erasing from or adding onto what they had previously built instead of starting from scratch each time.  

Want to try these out today?  You can grab the playing cards featured in this post here. (50% off for the first 48 hours!) Looking for a different theme?  Check these ones out

What is your favorite way to use 10 frames in the classroom?  Let us know in the comments section below! 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Mathematics Through Play Book Study: Part 2

Welcome to week 2 of our Math Through Play Book Study!  I love seeing my students excited about learning math and engaged in doing mathematics.  I love seeing how young children work on big math ideas through play and am so excited to be reading this book.  After being just a few chapters into this book, I already have a few ideas for how I can incorporate more math into my own children's play as well as set things up at school to have more math play time.  

Here is the posting schedule for this book study:
Sunday April 5th: Chapters 4&5
Sunday April 12th: Chapters 6&7
Sunday April 19th: Chapters 8&9

If you are just joining us, head to this post for more details! 

Chapter 4: Counting and Using Number

Several years ago, I realized that my students were not getting enough experience with counting things and I began my Counting and Estimating Routines.  These have really helped me come a long way toward meeting the goals outlined in this chapter.  There are a few things this chapter inspired me to work on.

Things to Count

I need to do a better job of rotating the stock of items to count.  I try to tie into classroom themes with math work and this is a great opportunity for me to also keep a fresh box of countable items in classrooms.  As themes change, I can change my buckets of countable items to match the theme.  

Number Lines/Number Paths

The classrooms I am in all have number lines or number paths on the wall.  Many of them are high up on the walls where kids can not reach them.  The idea of using numbers in play makes me want to put a number path right on the floor.  I would love to make this a permanent feature in a school gym but if that can't happen, I think painters tape on the floor or a roll of paper that can be rolled out whenever kids want would be ideal.  I would love to hear from others who have a number path where kids can access it and how they make it work!


In the debate over real money versus paper money, I am firmly in the real money camp.  I always use real coins with my students.  The plastic ones are just not as true to thickness and detail.  That being said, I am a huge fan of play money for any bills.  I find that laminating paper bills makes them much more useful in play situations.  They hold up better, stack easier and lay flat.  

Chapter 5: Patterns

With the shift from our state standards to the Common Core standards, many teachers in my area think that pattern is no longer something that needs to be taught.  The classic repeating patterns of blue, green, etc from the past are no longer specifically spelled out in the math standards.  That  being said, patterns are still the basic foundation of math and it is important for kids to see and recognize patterns in object and number.  Also, don't be afraid of growing patterns!  Many of the patterns in our number system are in fact growing patterns and I have found even very young primary students can be successful with growing patterns.  

Ordering Words

I have seen first hand that some kids do not come to school with a firm grasp on ordering words such as first, second, after, before and in-between.  Through play, these words can easily be developed and will form an important foundation for later when I am asking kids to tell me what number comes before or after or between a given number.

Number Patterns in Hundreds Chart

Again I was struck by the fact that my students don't really have access to a hundreds chart they can play on.  I have some hundreds chart stickers that are going in the writing center (graphics area) immediately.  I also am thinking about how I can get a hundreds chart on the floor in the classroom or school gym or outside on the playground.  I have big ideas about painting a 100's chart along with a number path and a ten frame out on the playground.  I definitely have more research to do on this but I have high hopes for turning part of our black top into a math learning station.  

Patterns in the Arts

Of course pattern is all around us and there are so many opportunities to talk about it outside of math class.  I think it would be great for our Unified arts team (art, music and P.E.) teachers to do a unit on patterns.  There are so many patterns to be found in art, music and movement, and it would be great to see the students connecting all these areas.  Definitely something I want to look into more! 

What are your thoughts about counting and patterns through play?  Any great ideas to share?  Sound off in the the comments below!

Addition Facts: Adding 9

Hi All!  One of my oldest TPT freebies just got a major update.  I love this game for helping kids develop fluency with adding 9!  If you have 10 sided dice and bingo chips all you need to do is print and play!

Head over to TPT to grab this freebie!