States & Capitals Memory Game

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img_0564I love to incorporate games into the day. I mean, we begin the day by playing board games! So why not use games to help students learn their states and capitals?

We have been playing a few games in regards to this subject. Using a few items that I have collected through the years, students are practicing their knowledge of U.S. geography.

Most recently we have been using cards with a state or capital printed on each one to play memory. I have 5 groups of cards so that students can play in small groups. Each group of cards is printed on a different color. I have separated each deck of cards into groups of 4. This way the students are familiarizing themselves with approximately 12 – 14 states and capitals at a time. Students use the aid of a few maps that I acquired along the way. Fortunately, the maps were from an old curriculum set and there are several sets in the classroom.

This is such a fun and easy way for students to learn. They are really getting into it! One student even begged to play it (I had it in the plan for later in the day). She was NOT happy to hear that we weren’t playing it at that moment. THAT is how you know you have a winner on your hands!

Cootie Catcher Math

Playing with the Cootie Catcher

I am so over our math program! It’s soooooo boring! And if I’m bored, the kids are too. So today we did ‘Cootie Catcher Math’ aka ‘Fortune Teller Math’. This was not completely my idea. The original paper came from Scholastic. I liked it, copied it, and added to it. So simple, so fun, so NOT boring!

I copied the Cootie Catcher from a book by Scholastic. This was interesting because my students aren’t really into them at the moment so neither of us knew how to fold them properly. After a brief refresher, we were on our way! This was a very simplistic one. We needed to practice subtracting fractions. This one had like denominators so it was perfect for the first go-around.

The students worked in pairs. They had 2 tasks to complete for each round. Round one had them answering a subtraction problem while round two had them answering a more difficult word problem. But, because I know how 5th-graders work, there had to be some accountability attached otherwise it would be a free for all.

Students were tasked with solving all problems on their whiteboards. Then they were to take a photo and insert it into a slideshow that I shared with them via Google Classroom. Essentially, the students had a 2 slides presentation to complete. Problem 1 and challenge went on one slide show while problem 2 and the attached challenge went on slide two.

It was a success! All students completed the task successfully. I plan to do it again! I’m feeling better and better about math as I stretch what can be done outside a textbook. Last week we did an Iron Chef, Math Style.

Elementary Mornings

I HATE busy work! I am done with the ridiculous morning routine of giving the kids something to do – usually a worksheet – while I take attendance, check in on certain kids, and take lunch count.

So many of us give our students a ‘spiral review’ sheet to work on. Which we then have to check. Which sucks up more precious time during our day. And since we assigned it, we want the kids to at least pretend to take it as serious as we do and actually complete it. Which leaves me being the drill sergeant getting after the ‘usual suspects’. You know, those same students that talk and never complete the assigned morning work.

Yeah, I’m done! My mornings are so much nicer and more relaxed. Over the summer, a colleague and I were talking about things we were going to change in our classroom. She relayed an idea she had read in a blog post. Have the kids do low risk, NO paperwork, play type activities.

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So now my students come in and play games: Uno, Connect 4, Snap Circuits, checkers, or geometric shapes. I will switch out certain items throughout the year, but for now, everyone seems happy. And most importantly, I don’t have to get after anyone for not completing a paper that no one really cares about.

As I said, my colleague gave me the idea. She is using this in her 1st-grade classroom. She allows her students, by table, to choose their daily activity. By contrast, I set out an activity for my students. They have the same activity for a week. This allows them to dig in or really learn strategies of a game. Many of them are learning to play checkers or Uno properly for the first time.

This is a great way to start the day!

NOTE: I would like to give credit to the teacher who originally wrote the blog post, but I don’t know who it was.

UPDATE: Credit goes to Brown Bag Teacher (@brownbagteacher) for the idea and conversation starter.

Mathbowl 2016

WMathbowl 1hile our school didn’t win, we had a lot of fun! I have never seen my students so focused and determined. One student asked if I could assign MORE challenges! Yes, MORE! How awesome is that?

In the midst of it all, we were challenged to participate in a Fai-To! This is where our school and another go head to head. Considering that our Internet went down twice in the past week, I was pleased to learn that we WON the last Fai-To!

There aren’t many classrooms at my school using Mangahigh, so to have 136 points is pretty big for us.

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To top it all off, I had an IEP for a student on Friday. The parents commented how much the student, who struggles academically, enjoys Mangahigh. The student often asks to try, “Just one more time,” in order to achieve a higher score, beat another student, or gain another medal.

Just another reason to love this program! And to all the winners, congratulations!