Monday, 15 December 2014

iHeart Math Holiday Hop

Image Map

Note - Use this image to help you "hop" around. The advent calendar has a link to each day of the month, HOWEVER, just like a real advent calendar, the posts do not "unlock" until 9 pm EST the night before the calendar date.

I am so excited to be joining in with this amazing group of math bloggers to bring you a few stocking stuffers and gifts for the holidays. I hope you have been enjoying the "iHeart Math Holiday Hop" so far. If this is your first time reading about it, make sure to go back up to the top of this post and check out the previous 15 days for some amazing ideas and freebies from your favourite Math teacher-authors!

Stocking Stuffer #1 - Giving Back

I am always finding different ways to give back, especially around the holidays. I make it a big deal in my classroom, and really emphasize the importance of empathy to my students. In today's world it is so easy to lose track of how fortunate we really are, especially for teenagers!

The things you do for yourself are gone when you are gone, but the things you do for others remain as your legacy.  – Kalu Kalu

As some of you know, I am not in the classroom this year as I am enjoying my maternity leave with my sons. So, I wasn't in a position to organise anything at school. That doesn't mean I wasn't going to find a way to give back..while instilling a sense of empathy in my 3 year old son as well. He helped me organize two boxes of gifts for "Operation Christmas Child", he donated his boots and snow pants that no longer fit to "Koats 4 Kids", and we also collected hamper items for the "Christmas Cheer Board". 

Stocking Stuffer #2 - Holiday Math Tip

The holidays are all the students are talking about this week, so use that to your advantage. Bring in some flyers and have students make a wish list of items they would love to receive. Once they have compiled their wish list have them calculate just how much their parents will have to spend, including tax, to make their dreams come true!
To add a little more excitement, and math, the next day tell them that all the items have been marked down for a final pre-Christmas sale! They need to re-calculate the cost with the new discount. I randomly have students pick a task tag, then assign a value to the color card they picked. I always get a kick out of how excited the kids get who end up with the biggest discount.

When the students come back from their holidays, have them write about their experiences in their math journal, the only catch is that they have to include as many numbers in their journal entry as possible! Call it "My Holiday in Numbers"!

...and finally, a little something from me to you. Click on the present below to "open" it! Enjoy!

Hopefully my gift will help keep your students engaged in math class these last few days.

Blair at One Lesson at a Time is the next stop on the hop! Make sure to check out what goodies she has for you tomorrow!

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Math is Real Life - December 2014 Edition

 I am happy to once again join up with the fabulous linky hosted by Miss Math Dork, 4mulafun, The Teacher Studio, and Teaching to Inspire in 5th! 

Last year was our first Christmas in our new house, and when it came to putting up the Christmas lights...our house looked a little sad. The amount of lights it took to decorate our old house, covered a small fraction of our new house. My husband and I started to dream of creating this winter wonderland, but I wasn't about to shell out hundreds of dollars on lights when I knew they would be going on sale within a month! So our dreams of a colourful lit up house would have to wait a year.

Fast forward to this year, we have a lot more lights...thanks to hitting up the clearance racks after Christmas (additional 60% off!!)...but do we have enough?

When standing before the clearance rack my husband and I did a little estimating to determine how many boxes of lights we would need. Each box of lights was 33 feet, 3 inches long. We knew we wanted to put lights up along the eavestroughs and peaks of the roof, but of course we didn't think to actually measure how much we would need before hitting the stores.

My husband had a rough idea of the dimensions, so using a little mental math and estimation, we decided upon 4 more boxes, on top of the 2 we already had. That gave us 199 feet and 6 inches to work with.

So up on the ladder went my husband while I nervously held the bottom steady. Attaching the lights to the eavestroughs wasn't so bad but I was holding my breath while he put them along the peaks of our roof.

Did you's estimated that more than 15,000 people end up in emergency rooms from injuries resulting from hanging holiday decorations?!?!
I didn't want to become one of those people!

Turns out that one set of lights was exactly the length of the peaks on our roof.

In the end we had enough lights that we even brought them down one side of the house and ran them along our foundation. I'd say our estimation skills were on target.

Once the lights were up and my husband was back on solid ground...we still weren't quite happy with how it looked...we needed more. So off to the store we went and bought 2 more boxes (luckily on sale...this time only 25% off)

The extra lights we wrapped around the railings of our front porch.

Voila we have lights!

I still might hit up the clearance section again this year. I think lights around the garage door would really give it a finished look!

How did you use math this month in your life?

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

DIY Dice - Idea #4

In a previous post, I talked about filling your classroom with math visuals and manipulatives for little, to no money. One of my suggestions was making your own dice...quiet dice that is!

I found some great foam cubes at my local Dollar Tree, grabbed myself a fine-tip Sharpie, summoned my creativeness, and came up with a few different ways to use them in my math classroom.

If you want to check out the previous DIY dice ideas, you can do so here.

This idea is about 8 months overdue. The resource mentioned in this post was about 85% done...then I had my son...and now you understand the long delay in between this post and my last DIY dice post...

DIY Dice - Idea #4

Algebra Dice 

Again, the thing I love most about using these dice is it allows for easy differentiation. These activities allow students to develop their understanding at their own rate, thus becoming more confident learners. Each set of dice can be slightly different to accommodate each student's abilities. . One group could be working with single digits, one with double digits, etc. Plus, you can easily keep them organized by color-coding them, i.e. single digits are red, double digits are blue, etc.

I also love that the possibilities with these dice are endless. For this set of activities, all you really need are some different number dice, but just for fun I also create some variable dice.

 Create dice with different letters on the sides to represent variables, or 3 x’s and 3 y’s. Students can roll them along with the number dice to create a whole equation.

Here is an activity my students complete with algebra dice.

Students roll the dice to determine the value of x. Using substitution they then solve the equation. If the students are working in partners or groups they can race each other, and then compare answers in order to correct. I think a little competition always helps keep them engaged.

...and here is a game my students play with algebra dice.

Similar to the game of war, students have to use their skills of substitution to determine who has the highest answer.

You can find the whole collection of activities and games using DIY Algebra Dice here. There are over 10 activities and printables included in the pack!


Saturday, 15 November 2014

Bright Ideas Round-up

Welcome to the November edition of the Bright Ideas Link- Up! This one is a special one! Over the past 10 months, we have shared thousands of great ideas through our monthly Bright Ideas event. This month, we're recapping all of those great ideas, just in case you missed any! 

Below you will find some of my bright ideas from the past several months: 

I love using Number chips to add a visual and kinesthetic component to a math lesson. 
Find out how easy these are to make and use here.

I always establishing a math routine in my classroom right from the beginning of the year. It really helps with those transition times, and makes the most out of your class time. Read about my routine here.

Back in March, I wrote about how I set up my student-led conferences, which you can read 
all about here.

If you want to take a look at all my bright ideas, just click here.

I hope that you've enjoyed these bright ideas, and that you have found an idea that you can use in your own classroom. Be sure to check out the link up below for tons more bright ideas from my blogging friends! 

Thanks for visiting! 

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Math Teacher of TpT Volume 2

Did you grab a copy of the "Math Teachers of TpT" CD a couple months back?
It was packed with an awesome assortment of resources from your favourite math teacher-authors!

Guess what???

We just released VOLUME 2!

That's right! There is a 2nd CD with an all new collection of fantastic math resources for grades 3 - 9.

 The total value of all of these resources is over $125, and you can grab it for only $25
That's an 80% savings!

What did I add to the mix?

{Click on the image to read the full description in my TpT store}

Want to know more about what you will be getting on this exclusive CD bundle? 

Head on over to to check it out and grab your copy!

There is a very limited quantity - once we're sold out, they're gone forever!

Don't miss out! 

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Math is Real Life - November 2014 Edition

 I am happy to once again join up with the fabulous linky hosted by Miss Math Dork, 4mulafun, The Teacher Studio, and Teaching to Inspire in 5th! 

Did you survive Halloween?
I think all teachers breathed a collective sigh of relief when they realized that it was on a Friday this year!

My Halloween was a little hectic. Why? Two days before Halloween I still didn't have a costume for my son. I couldn't find anything in the stores, at least nothing that was worth spending any money on, so I thought I could just make him a costume. I consider myself to be a pretty crafty person, so why not give it a shot? My son said he wanted to be a why not make him into a truck? 

First I needed some sort of plan, since I had no idea how to construct a truck out of thin air...Pinterest here I come.

Below is a picture of the different stages of construction.

First, I needed to find a box. Luckily with kiddos in the house, I just happened to have a few diaper boxes kicking around. After a quick measurement of my son, I determined which box would be the best fit. Keeping in mind that a requirement of trick or treating in Winnipeg, is that the costume must fit over a snow suit!

Second, I needed to make a few measurements, trace my wheels, cut away the excess cardboard, and reinforce the whole thing with tape.

Third, we needed a few coats of paint. Primer, then about 5 coats of blue paint! Luckily I had some little hands to help with the painting!

Fourth, we added the finishing touches - traced out the doors and windows, added bumpers, licence plates, and working headlights. 

Fifth, I made a last minute call to my husband with the width of the front end and the diameter of the wheels so he could quickly cut out a grill, rims and a few decals. This is what made the costume! Thanks goodness my husband is a welding instructor.

Lastly, I created some shoulder straps out of blue duct tape, and VOILA, we have a truck!

I was pretty happy with how it turned out and my son was too! It was definitely a learning process and there was some problem solving involved, but in the end it came together pretty easily.

What math was involved in this frantic mom's DIY costume? Definitely measurement, as well as time constraints. I was watching that clock! I kid you not, this costume was finished the second we walked out the door to join the neighbourhood kids for a night of trick or treating!

Luckily I will have this costume ready to go for my younger son, but my oldest already informed me he wants to be a truck again next year...I guess I better find a bigger box!

'til next month!

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Reading Numbers

I recently joined up with a group of math teacher bloggers to bring you a blog hop about squashing mathematical misconceptions. This hop's topic was about place value. You can read my earlier post here.

I believe that place value is so important it deserves more than one post, so I have a few to share with you over the coming weeks.

Today I would like to talk about place value and its importance when reading numbers.
Without a solid understanding of place value students will never be able to read/write numbers properly.

Even in grade 8, I still have students who struggle with reading numbers. Anything over 4 digits takes a little more thought...throw in a decimal and YIKES!

Introducing... THE NUMBER GENERATOR 2000!!

I know, I know, it looks super students are always in awe when I unveil it! ;)

However, all it is, is a large poster with the numbers 1-6 printed on it (you could do more, or switch up the numbers) and a magnet with a large black circle to represent a decimal.

I tape the poster up on my whiteboard, which is magnetic, and I can make any number I want by moving around the decimal. Amazing isn't it?

Now, I know what you are wondering...what does the NUMBER GENERATOR do??

Well, it has the ability to change into a variety of different numbers...just move the decimal. As the decimal moves, the place values change, creating a new number!

One thousand, two hundred thirty-four and fifty-six hundredths

One and twenty-three thousand, four hundred fifty-six hundred thousandths

Using the poster, we practice reading numbers as a whole class.
Each time I move the decimal the students need to re-evaluate the place values of the digits in order to determine how to say/read the number.
I also have an identical set of smaller posters that I use when I hold math interviews with individual students.

This number generator visual would also work great when working with powers of ten or scientific notation, as the students can actually see the decimal (magnet) move places.

Need some help getting your students to remember how to read decimals? Here's a great anchor chart from Fabulous Finch Facts.

If you were interested in using place value tents, like the ones I mentioned in my earlier post, I just posted a set covering millions to millionths in my store. You can check them out here.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Fly on the Math Teacher's Wall - Place Value

Join me and my fellow math bloggers as we squash mathematical misconceptions, while offering you some insightful tips and tricks!

I teach 8th grade and the first thing I emphasize every year is place value. I think a lot of teachers are under the misconception that place value is a concept taught in the early years and does not need to be focused on in the higher grades.

Is place value a part of my math program? YES!
Is it technically part of my curriculum? NO.
Is it important to my students' understanding? YES!

Place value is so very important, and should be addressed every year, even into middle school and beyond. One of the first activities I do every year is a review of place value. You can grab a copy of my review here.

Without a firm comprehension of place value, students will never truly develop a strong understanding of numbers.

Why is place value important?

As I was trying to write an answer to this question, I decided to take a look around and see what other educators had to say. I love this explanation from Ruth Rumack.

"The concept that numbers can be broken apart and put back together gives the student a more solid understanding of how different operations work. Not only that, but the student can also figure out how to solve problems independently by playing with the numbers. Once a child has a good understanding of place value, he or she will have an easier time with addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, expanded notation, etc. Place value is the "why" behind the basics of mathematics; it teaches beyond memorization and repetition."

I love the wording she uses - "playing with the numbers".

I am all about making math FUN, so I thought I would use this post to share some fun place value activities, that allow my students to "play with the numbers".

Place Value Tents make a great visual and really show students what a number is "worth". The best part is the fact that they get to "play" with the tents and move the numbers around...all while strengthening their number sense!

 I've seen a few similar ideas like this one on Pinterest using cups.

Games will always win over your students. Here are two that I use when teaching place value.

This game can easily be played with a few students or as a whole class.

If you have a 10 sided die, that works best, as there is the possibility to roll any digit from 0 - 9.

It is a game of chance and I always love seeing those risk takers waiting desperately until the last roll for me to call a 9 to put in the highest place!

This game is easily played with 3-5 players and makes a great activity for those early finishers. All you need is a deck of cards and you are ready to play.

Both of these games, and many more, are found in my Number Centers - Set #1.

I hope I have convinced you that place value is an important concept to emphasize, no matter what grade you teach. I also hope I provided you with a few ideas that you will want to try in your own classroom.

I could go on and on about place value, but I think I've said enough for today. I do plan to expand on this post and share some more ideas about place value in the days to come. I hope you come back to check them out!

For now, head on over to see what Meg has to say about place value misconceptions over at The Teacher Studio.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Pumpkin Math

It's fall time and Halloween is just around the know what that means??

Pumpkins are EVERYWHERE!

Why not incorporate them within your lessons next week and have your students do some pumpkin math?

Here are some links to my blog series on pumpkin math that I did with my students last year.
I hope it is something you can see trying in your own class this year. I bet your students will have a blast!