Fun Algebra Easter Egg Hunt Activity

Just a quick post today to share a fun, quick Easter activity I’ve done in the past with Algebra/Pre-Algebra classes in case you want to try it…

Fill up an odd number of Easter eggs with pennies (put the same number of pennies in each egg).  Hide the eggs in the classroom before class begins.

When the students come in, ask for 2 volunteers.  Have those 2 students search for Easter eggs.  Since you have hidden an odd number of eggs the two students obviously will have found a different number.  Tell them that you want to be fair so you are going to even out the amount of money each student has by giving them some loose coins.

In the picture, you can see student A only found 1 egg and student B found 4.  So, I gave student A \$0.25 and student B \$0.04 to even out the total amount of money each student has.

Ask the class to figure out how much money is in each egg.  (You can give the money to the first student to get it correct as a prize if you want.)  Discuss how they figured it out and prove they are right by opening the eggs (in this case there is \$0.07 in each egg).

There you have it – a fun way to have students solve equations with variables on both sides (without them even realizing that’s what they are doing!)

Enjoy!

Christina

Fun (Free) Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day in the Middle School Math Classroom

With my school going from pre-k – 8th grade, I have always felt kind of bad for the “big kids” on Valentine’s Day because it is business for them as usual while the lower grades are having parties.  That’s why I always try to do something a little different than a normal math class, but still academic.  I thought I’d share a couple of the things I have done with my students on Valentine’s Day for other teachers who are looking for easy, free, no-prep ways to bring some holiday fun into their math classes.

I have shared before that I LOVE problem-solving and give my students word problems daily.  (You can read about my daily problem solving here).  On Valentine’s Day I use a set of Valentine’s word problems on fractions that I made a few years ago instead of the normal problem of the day.  (Download them free from my TpT store by clicking on the picture below).  The word problems are a great challenge because they combine two areas students typically struggle with – fractions and word problems.

I break the class into groups of 4 and have them work together on the problems.  I make it a contest – either the first group to get all the problems correct wins, or any group that gets at least 5 problems right within a set time limit wins, etc.  Students don’t necessarily love working on word problems (the understatement of the century), but working as a group and making it a contest definitely ups the fun-factor!

After the word problems, play a game of “Attack”, reviewing whatever concept you are currently studying.  On Valentine’s Day I have them draw hearts as the thing they are attacking and have them attack by drawing arrows on the hearts.  (If you missed my post explaining how to play, you can read it here – trust me, it’s worth the read because students absolutely LOVE this game!)

Finally, show your students some love by giving them a homework pass.  You can download mine free by clicking on the picture below.  (Write the student’s name on the 1st line and sign the 2nd line.)  Either give one to every student as a Valentine or use them as a prize for the groups that won the word problem race and “Attack” game.  (I use the point system of grading, and homework counts as 2 points a day in my class, so I personally allow my students to either use the homework pass to get credit on a night where they didn’t do their homework or they can turn it in at the end of the marking period for 2 extra credit points.)

I hope you are able to use some of these ideas in your class.  Please feel free to share what you do to have fun with your students on Valentine’s Day in the comments below!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Christina

A Review Game That Students Love – ATTACK!

Today I am writing about my absolute favorite (and my students’ favorite) review game: Attack!  Let me start by listing the reasons I love this game:

• It requires NO PREP
• It requires NO MATERIALS (other than a chalkboard/whiteboard)
• It can be used in ANY SUBJECT
• It is easy to change up for different HOLIDAYS/SEASONS or ANYTIME
• The students LOVE it!! They get very competitive
• It’s FREE
• It can be used with a WIDE RANGE of GRADE LEVELS. I have played with 5th graders – 9th graders and they have all loved it.

Here’s how you play:

Pick something that you want students to “attack”.  Since we are coming up on December, attack the snowman is a good one to play…

Break the class up into groups (any size works, but I usually make groups of 3 or 4).  Have one person from each group go to the chalkboard and draw a snowman.  (I give them exactly 60 seconds to complete their drawing so that we don’t waste a lot of time with this).  Then have them sit back with their group.

Ask the class a review question and have all groups work together to solve the question.  Then choose ONE group at random to answer the question.  If they get the question correct, they get to “attack” 3 different snowmen.  I just have them draw a snowball (circle or x) on the snowmen they are attacking.  If they get the question wrong, you attack their snowman by drawing a snowball on it and then give another group a chance to answer that question.

Then ask another question and pick a different group to answer and repeat…

Once a snowman is attacked 5 times, it is “destroyed” (erased), but that team is still in the game so if they get a question right they can still attack other groups’ snowmen and get revenge. J

When you get to the point where there are only a couple of snowmen remaining, only allow students to attack one snowman when they get a question right.

The last snowman standing is the winner!

Try it out with your class – I have never had a class that didn’t love this game!  It’s easy to change up based on the amount of time you have….you can change how many snowmen they attack each time they answer correctly and how many hits until a snowman is out.  Every time I play I change up the “thing” they are attacking, too…I have played attack the turkey, reindeer, boat, castle, etc.

Want a printable version of the rules?  You can download the complete instructions & tips free by clicking on the picture below.

Christina

Back to School Icebreaker Idea for Middle School

Each summer I like to take time to reflect on the past school year…what went well and what I would like to change for the coming school year.  I decided that this year I will share these reflections on my blog, so each of my next several posts will include ideas for the upcoming school year.

Today’s post is about the first day/week of school.  I am going to share an icebreaker that I did last year, which worked out really well for me.  In my small Catholic school, most of the students know each other really well as many of them have been in the same class since preschool or kindergarten.  Because of this, most traditional getting-to-know you icebreakers don’t really work for me in my classroom.  The problem is, though, that even though the students know each other really well, I don’t know my homeroom students well at all coming in to the new school year, so I had to come up with a way to get to them a little without boring them since they already know each other.

So….I designed this worksheet.

I had the students fill in the top half (which is all about them) when they first came in to keep them quiet and busy as I collected supplies and took care of homeroom “stuff”.  I had them write down their guesses for the questions on the bottom of it (all about me) to see what they already knew (or thought they knew) about me.

When they were finished (after about 15 minutes or so), I had them cut the bottom section off and hand in the top half to me.  I then went over the questions about me.  Just about every student wanted to guess the answers to each of the questions, so I called on a bunch of kids to share what they thought the answer was and then I told them the answers.  It was sort of like a show-and-tell time for me as I showed them a picture of my dog and my family when we got to those questions.  They got really into it and seemed to really enjoy getting to know a little bit about me.

As much as they enjoyed learning about me, their favorite part was what I did with the top half of their papers that they handed in to me…

For the whole first week of school, any time we had a few spare minutes, I would pull out those papers and we played “Who am I?”.  I would read about 3-4 of the answers someone wrote down and the kids in the class would have to guess who it was.  For example I might look at someone’s sheet and say “I had a great time in Disney World this summer.  I love the color yellow and hate eating broccoli.  Who am I?”  I would then call on students to guess whose paper I read.  If after 3 guesses no one got it correct, I would read another fact or two from their sheet, and call on other students to guess who it was.

The kids got so into this game and begged to play every day!  It was a great way for me to learn a little bit about my students and it was fun to see how well they really knew each other.  I am definitely planning to do this activity with my homeroom again this year since it was such a hit.  If you would like to use this activity with your class, just click on the worksheet above to download it.

Christina

Pi Day: Ideas for celebrating 3.14

Pi Day (March 14th)  is fast approaching!!  With standardized testing all week, I really haven’t been doing much teaching, so I thought it would be fun to share how I plan to celebrate the biggest math holiday of the year with my classes next week…

My Pi Day celebration begins with a little prep work at home:

– I make a couple of pies to bring in for my classes.  I usually make Oreo Cool Whip pies as they tend to be a hit with the kids (and only take about 5 minutes to make)!  I also allow my students to bring in their own pies so that there is  a variety and something for everybody.

I always use my special pi plate for one of my pies! (A student gave it to me as a gift years ago).

– I also make a bunch of chocolate pi symbols in my pi ice cube tray.  (Another gift from a former student).  I use these as prizes for the games we play in class.

This ice cube tray makes the perfect chocolate pi mold!

– I tell my students a couple of days ahead of time that I will be holding a pi digit memorization contest on Pi Day so they can study the digits if they plan to participate in the contest.  I also do a pi poetry contest where the students who are interested type up a poem about pi ahead of time and bring it in on the big day.

On Pi Day I do different activities with each class

– I have my 6th graders bring in cylindrical objects on 3/14.  I have them “discover” pi by measuring the circumference and diameter of their objects using a string and dividing the circumference by the diameter.  We keep track of everyone’s results and come up with a class average which is (usually) pretty close to pi.  We eat pie during class and the students who entered the poetry contest read their poems to the class.  I then do the memorization contest with them.  The student with the most digits memorized gets one of my chocolate pi’s that I made in the ice cube tray.

– My 7th graders have already learned circumference and area so I have them do a page of challenging pie-themed word problems dealing with circumference & area.  I give a chocolate pi to the student who correctly completes the 5 word problems first.  After the word problems, I play circle bingo with the kids.  The bingo game requires them to either find the radius, diameter, circumference, or area of a circle.  The winner of the bingo game (you guessed it…) gets a chocolate pi!  I then have students share their pi poems and do the memorization contest with my 7th graders.  The kids, of course, eat pie during class, as well.

– I like to play Pi Trivia with my 8th graders while they enjoy their pie.  I break the kids up into groups of 4 and ask them a bunch of random facts relating to Pi.  Each group holds up their answer on a mini whiteboard and I keep track of the score.  The members of the winning group each get a chocolate pi symbol.  Some of the questions are academically focused while others are humor-based.  I conclude class with the poetry reading and memorization contest with them, as I do with my 6th and 7th graders.

– During my lunch, I have some of the other teachers vote on the best pi poems and come up with a winner for each grade level.  The winners, of course, go home with chocolate pi symbols!

– I like to celebrate pi minute with whichever class happens to be in my room at 1:59, too.  We start cheering loudly (and sometimes some of the nearby classes pick up on it and cheer, too)!

All-in-all it is a very fun, exhausting, and FATTENING day….but well worth it!  It’s always a great day!

This bundle contains the Pi discovery activity I do with my 6th graders, the Pi bingo game I play with my 7th graders, and several other circle-themed activities –  Circumference, Area, & More: A Circle Bundle.

I would love to hear ideas of how other teachers celebrate 3.14, so please feel free to share in a comment below!

Wishing you all a very happy Pi Day!!

Christina

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).

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.

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)!