Friday, April 27, 2012

Math Game Organization

I have tried a million different ways of organizing my math games and activities. I have tried putting them in a cabinet, sitting them around the room, and only putting out certain things. However, my current method seems to be working quite well.

I have the games organized by math topic (number sense, patterns, number operations, measurement, etc.) The students have been introduced to the games throughout the year. They are allowed to play math games when they are finished with their math work or sometimes a certain topic is assigned as part of their assignment for the day.

Students know where to find the games, based on the skill that they are practicing. They know that they are expected to put them back where they found them, so they stay really organized. Also, when I am starting to plan for a certain topic, I can pull that tub of games to put out for them to practice with. I also use the games to review skills right before testing.

So, how do you organize your math games and activities?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Last Few Minutes of the Day

     I was recently reading all of my favorite teacher blogs and ran across one that listed some things to do with that 5 minutes at the end of the day when you are done with your curriculum and the kids are starting to bounce off the walls. I thought that was a super idea and decided to share some of the things that I like to do with that time. I also use these as little "brain breaks" when the kids are starting to squirm and get fed up with sitting.

Short Activity Ideas:

1. 4 Corners: This is my students' favorite! They love this simple game. It begins by assigning a number 1-4 to each corner of your room. For example, my students know that the corner by the door is 1, the corner by the window is 2, the corner where my desk is, is 3, and the reading corner is 4. All students get up and chose any corner to stand in. I then take a die and roll it. Whatever number I roll, is out. They have to sit down. Now, every other child still standing can either stay in their corner or switch corners. (My students have a theory that you have the best odds if you go to the corner that was just rolled.... that doesn't always work out the best for them.) We continue doing this until there are only two children left standing. They each pick a different corner and the one I roll, loses. The last one standing gets a prize, or in my class, gets to add a dollar to their class account.

2. Man the Lifeboat: For this activity you just need some music to play... anything boat or water related makes it that much more fun! Students meander around the room while you play music. After 30-50 seconds, stop the music. Students then freeze. You call out "Man the lifeboat.... and then any number." Students must hook arms and create a group that is made up of the number of students you called. For example, if you called out "Man the lifeboat, six," students would get into groups of 6 by hooking arms. If they are not in a group or if there is not enough people to make a complete group, they are out. You can continue this a few times until it gets down to just a few people. As the number of people left gets lower, I find my students guessing what number I will call based on what the multiples of that number are. They know I want a few people to get out each time. This game makes students group-up with kiddos that they may not normally hang out with or like. They have to befriend anyone around them to make their lifeboat!

3. Black Socks: This is a game that I learned through a "Great Expectations" workshop. I am not sure where it originated.
The students start by sitting in chairs, in a circle. One student is in the middle, without a chair. They sing the following song aloud:

Black socks
They never get dirty.
The longer you wear them,
The stronger they get.
Sometimes I think I should wash them,
but something inside my keeps saying
Not yet, not yet, not yet.

Then the whole groups says: 
Child's name, Do you love your neighbor?

The child says:
Yes! But especially my neighbors who.......

At this point, the student in the middle names something that the group may have in common such as wearing purple. Then, anyone wearing purple must get up and switch chairs with someone else that is standing. I have rule that they must go at least one chair away. By stealing chairs, one child is always left standing to be in the middle. Some children will intentionally not grab a chair so they can be in the middle. A few other ideas for the child in the middle to call out are: neighbors who love pizza, hate spelling, enjoy fishing, wearing a necklace, etc.

4. Dances: This one is a no-brainer, but my kiddos love them! There are so many songs that have dance moves the kids already know! Some of the ones that my kids love are: The Cupid Shuffle, Peanut Butter Jelly, Ice Cream and Cake, and Cha Cha Slide. If there are any of these that you don't know, you can always look them up on Youtube and find the music and dance moves for you. There are also a lot more if you Google "line dances." Just be sure to listen to the music first to be sure it is school appropriate. You can also look for a chipmunk version, in which you can't understand the words, but can still hear the music.

So, do you have certain games that your students love to play at the end of the day or during a few free moments?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Math Olympics

Testing Time! My class is finally done with testing... other than the few that were absent and have to take make-up tests this week. I am so relieved to be done with them! I know the kids are too. 

In order to prepare for our math test on Tuesday, I let the kids play a little Mathematical Olympics on Monday morning. The way this worked is as follows:

I have my math games/activities organized by topics (number sense, fractions, probability, algebra, etc). These are in cubbies in my classroom so that it is easily accessible to the students. The students have been introduced to all of the activities and games throughout the year.

Students began their olympics by receiving a simple sheet of paper that had the topics listed, along with a minimum number of activities they must accomplish from that topic. They were encouraged to do more than on the list, but had to at least accomplish the minimum. They were awarded one point for each activity completed. I didn't attach the paper because it would vary depending on what topics you have to cover and what topics you have games for. 

I then let the students loose to begin. Some students chose a partner to work with all morning, whereas others worked with a variety of different students in order to accomplish as many activities as they could. They had so much fun! I don't think they even realized they were reviewing everything we had learned this year! I monitored behavior, clean-up, and rule following by walking around the room as they worked. If they were caught doing the wrong thing, I took away one of their activity points.

At the end of our allotted time, I had all of the students clean up and return to their seats. I then gave out Olympic medals that I picked up at the party supply store for cheap! You would have thought I was giving them real gold. They were so proud. I also gave a small candy prize to the students that completed the most activities.

Reflecting back on this, there are a couple things that I would change. I would probably take the time to list out specific activities I wanted them to do under each topic rather than letting them chose. I would also have asked them to get me to sign off on each activity when they showed me they had completed it. 

Overall, it was a fun morning and a great break from the traditional test-prep practice tests. I know the kids loved it!