Fun and Games

You already know that I think games are a great way to teach math because they are a repeatable activity. Students are willing to play the same game repeatedly but they are not willing to do the same worksheet over and over.

I recently read an article ( that explains that quality educational games need to balance engagement (they’re fun), assessment, and learning.

I was recently with a group of first grade students playing “Cross out,” the first game on the second page of the attached document   dice.  
  • The first student to arrive was given the job of writing the numerals 2 – 12 on strips of paper.  She was able to start working while we were waiting for the other students to arrive.
  • I rolled the two dice and the students took turns determining the total.
  • Everyone got to cross out the total on their piece of paper.  There wasn’t going to be a winner and they were OK with that.
  • By listening to how each student determined the total, I was able to assess – 
    • Which students needed to start from one and count all the dots
    • Which students were able to count on
    • Which students didn’t have to count when they got doubles – they know their doubles
Everyone was actively engaged and they were learning from listening to each other.

Consider playing “Cross Out” or any other game.  Look for engagement, opportunities to assess, and opportunities for students to learn from each other.

KenKen Puzzles

KenKen puzzles are a great way for students to work on addition/subtraction/multiplication/division skills in a fun, engaging way.  You can learn how to solve a KenKen puzzle here

“KENtertainment” is a new feature included in the weekly KenKen puzzles.  These extra problems/brain teasers will give students an extra challenge.

You can get free KenKen puzzles each week by signing up here

Things That Come in Groups

I’m sharing a picture from a teacher in our district. Consider how a chart like this can be used with different grade levels and abilities.  Many students will be able name some things that come in groups.  As skills advance, you can have students practice skip counting, thinking about the different items that come in groups.  Eventually, you can use the listed objects to talk about multiplication using models generated by the students.


Math Fluency – Modeling Mathematical Ideas

This is the last in a three part series about mathematical fluency.  The first learning experience for mathematical fluency was Number of the Day.  The second learning experience was solving word problems.
The third learning experience is modeling new mathematical ideas.  I want to emphasize that I’m not necessarily talking about the teacher modeling new mathematical ideas.  We don’t want to impose our thinking on students.  We allow students to model mathematical ideas by providing manipulatives and showing them how to use pictures to model their thinking.  Teachers might demonstrate the use of manipulatives and/or drawings to illustrate children’s thinking as the children are explaining their thinking.  Even if children are explaining incorrect thinking, modeling that thinking can help children see and understand their mistakes. Students who are not able to explain their thinking, may be able to use materials or drawings to show their thinking.
Modeling mathematical ideas also fits with one of the Guiding Principles of Bridges in Mathematics,Visual models help us remember and construct important mathematics.”  
Teaching students to use drawings to model their thinking will not only help build understanding but it will also give them a good strategy to use in testing situations

Math Fluency – Word Problems

Last week’s message was about mathematical fluency.  The first learning experience for mathematical fluency was Number of the Day.  
The second learning experience is solving word problems. Students should be encouraged to act out, use manipulatives, and/or drawings to model and solve word problems.
Here are some resources for word problems:
Bedtime Math posts a new story each day.  The story is followed by a series of questions for “Wee ones,” “Little kids,” “Big kids,” and “The sky’s the limit.”
Math Playground Word Problems – Click on the “Thinking Blocks” for Addition, Multiplication, Fractions, or Ratios to see problems with guidance for using the bar model to solve problems.  Thinking Blocks also has a free apps for iPads.  There are other links for word problems as well.