Bee My Valentine: Craft Idea for Kids

This is definitely not a “normal” post for me…but since this week has not really been a “normal” week at school with all our Catholic Schools Week activities, I figured I’d mix things up on my blog, too!

Yesterday was our “Buddy Day” at school, where all the older kids were buddied up with the younger students in the school to work on a craft project together.  My homeroom (fifth grade) was partnered with kindergarten, so I had to find a project that the fifth grade students could help the kindergartners create.  Of course my first thought was to look online for ideas, and I found this great website with different Valentine’s Day crafts for kids.  I liked the “Butterfly Love Bug” craft on the site, but decided to turn it into a bee and make it my own.

The craft was a perfect activity for the classes to work on together since it was so simple.  The bees are made up of 6 congruent large hearts (2 yellow, 2 black, and 2 pink/red), 4 congruent small hearts (pink/red), and 2 skinny strips of paper (black).

bee before

I gave each pair (kindergartner/5th grader) a large heart stencil, small heart stencil, half a sheet of yellow construction paper, half a sheet of red or pink construction paper (they chose which they wanted), and half a sheet of black construction paper.  The fifth graders helped their kindergarten buddies trace the stencils onto the construction paper to make all 10 of the hearts and cut them out.  The partners then glued the pieces together, the kindergartners drew faces on them, and the 5th graders wrote “Bee My Valentine” on the finished products.

bee finished

The kindergarten students are taking them home as Valentine’s Day presents for their parents.  I think they came out really cute (especially considering that this is the 1st craft I have ever done with younger students)!


Thanks for reading,


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Personal Percent Problems

Next week is Catholic Schools Week.  I love Catholic Schools Week and all the fun and events that go along with it!  What I don’t love, though, is putting together bulletin boards to display student work for our Open House on Sunday.

I know many teachers really get into decorating their classrooms and putting up fun bulletin boards.  I am not one of those teachers.  I love to teach and plan meaningful lessons, but coming up with bulletin board ideas is soo not my cup of tea!  I don’t do a lot of artsy projects in my math classes so I find it challenging to come up with student work samples to display.

I have been working on percents with my 7th graders for the past couple of weeks, so I decided to turn my absolute favorite aspect of math (problem solving) into a bulletin board idea.  I had the students write their own, original percent word problems that related to something in their lives in class on Friday.  They had to type the problems for homework, title them, and add pictures that related to the problems.  I had them solve the problems, as well, showing all of their work.

I got a great variety of problems from the students and they were very creative with them!  A couple of examples of the types of word problems I got were:

  • From a girl who just got a new dog –  Which is the better buy: a puppy that costs $399, but is on sale for 15% off or a puppy that costs $335 plus 7% sales tax?
  • From a boy who plays baseball – If I get a hit 24% of the time I go up to bat, how many hits would you expect me to get if I went up to bat 80 times?

They came out really cute with the pictures, too.  I haven’t gotten around to hanging them up yet, but it’s on my to-do list for tomorrow.

If you are interested in the project, click on the image below to download the assignment.

percent project pic

Anything that gets the students to make real-world connections to the math they are learning in school is good in my book!  I’m thinking about putting some of the students’ word problems on their percent test next week, too.


Thanks for reading,


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My Spin on Symmetry

Today’s 6th grade lesson was on rotational symmetry.  I have found that students tend to be less familiar and less comfortable with rotational symmetry than they are with line symmetry (and sometimes mix the two up), so I try to find ways to make it more clear and understandable to them.

I had several different shapes cut out ahead of time: an equilateral triangle, isosceles triangle, rectangle, square, rhombus, regular pentagon, irregular hexagon, etc.  I had the students each pick a couple of different shapes and trace them on a piece of paper.


After tracing the shapes, the students were told to use their pen or pencil to hold down the center of the shape.  I had them rotate the shapes and count how many times the cut out shape lined up perfectly with the traced shape (until they got to a full turn around).


I asked the students to try to figure out how many degrees they were able to turn the figure to have it line up with their tracing.  They were able to reason that since a full turn was 360 degrees, they had to divide the number of times they could turn the shape into 360.

Their finished notes for the day looked like this:


As an extension, I gave each of the students an angle measure.  They have to draw, color, and cut out their own figure that has that rotational symmetry.  (For example, the student to which I assigned 120 degrees is not allowed to draw an equilateral triangle.  They have to create their own, original figure that also has 120 degree rotational symmetry).

I am excited to see what they come up with!

Thanks for reading,


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A Little Sum-thing about Triangles

I started my unit on Geometry with my 6th graders before Christmas break.  We got as far as the basic vocabulary and different types of angles.  I decided to begin with polygons after break, so my first post-Christmas lesson was on triangles.

We started off by discussing the different ways to classify triangles – by their sides and by their angles.  The students made a chart in their notebook listing the different types of triangles and we did some example problems.

[Before the lesson, I had made up little slips of paper with different triangle types on them.]  After going over the basics, I had each student pick one of the slips at random.

triangle types


They had to draw whatever kind of triangle they picked on construction paper and then cut it out.  This served two purposes – it showed me if they understood the first part of the lesson, and it provided me with a wide variety of triangles.  I had each student number the angles in their triangle (1, 2, and 3).  I then asked the students to rip off each of the angles of their triangle.  Finally, I asked the students to line up their three angles so that they were adjacent to each other, and asked them what they noticed when they arranged their angles in that way.  A few students noted that they formed a straight line.

triangles wholetriangles cut






angle sum

When I asked the students how many degrees the three angles must be in all if they are forming a straight line, the light bulbs went off!  Since everyone had started with a different triangle, the students were able to conclude that the angle sum of ANY triangle is 180 degrees.

All in all the lesson went very well.  We finished by going through an example of finding the missing angle in a triangle.  The students’ notes for the day ended up looking like this:


At the beginning of the class when we were first going over types of triangles, one of the students had asked why an acute triangle has 3 acute angles, but a right triangle only has 1 right angle and an obtuse triangle only has 1 obtuse angle.  I posed the question back to the class and their original answer was that the triangle wouldn’t close if it had 2 right angles or 2 obtuse angles.  At the end of class, however, one of the boys in my class said “Oh, that’s why there can only be 1 right or obtuse angle…there’s only 180 degrees in all so if you already have 90 degrees, if you had another 90 degree angle you wouldn’t be able to fit another angle!”

Don’t you just love it when students can reason out the answers to their own questions?!


Thanks for reading,


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New Year: New Blog


With the start of 2014 and (sadly) the end of Christmas break, I decided that it is the perfect time to start my blog!  I am excited to share my middle school math teaching ideas and activities here with all of you and hope to get ideas from you, my readers, as well.

Let me begin by introducing myself…

My name is Christina.  I have been teaching middle school math for 6 years.  Over the course of those 6 years I have taught both regular and advanced level math classes to 5th – 8th grade.  I currently teach 6th grade Accelerated Math, 7th grade Pre-Algebra, and 7th and 8th grade Math.  I don’t want to bore you with my whole life story…but if you want to hear it you can check out my “About Me” page! 🙂

I look forward to sharing my first “real” teaching post with you soon !

Thanks for reading,


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