13 November 2017

5 Tips for Stress Free Holidays in your Classroom

5 Tips for Stress Free Holidays in Your Classroom

The holiday season is very near.  There will be plenty of excitement and activities to go around.  But do you ever find yourself completely worn out from all the festivities at school that by the time you get home you can't enjoy your own family holiday activities?  I have some ideas to share with you that I have learned in my long teaching career that has helped me survive the holiday season.

Don't Try to Do it All

Between Pinterest and what other teachers around you are doing you will feel like you need to be doing it too.  DO.NOT.DO.IT!!!   You will drive yourself crazy and tired trying to squeeze it all in.  Trust me, I have been there and done it.  I suggest to pick 2-3 activities and focus only on those.  Yes, the paper plate Santa is cute, but is there another themed activity you could do that would be more meaningful?  Do you have an activity that would correlate with a standard being taught?  Choose only a few activities and make those meaningful.

Stick to a Schedule

With all the activities and programs going on it is easy for your class to get off schedule.  Remember, kids thrive and love a structure routine.  It is very important during this busy time to stick to your REGULAR routine.  When programs arrive and throw your schedule off just resume back to regular schedule activities once you are back in the classroom.   I have seen a lot of teachers who just stop teaching or do fun activities the rest of the day once a disruption happens.  Usually their class is also being very disruptive.  Trying to keep to a schedule will keep everyone in the classroom sane!:))

Get the Wiggles Out

I know we are sticking to a schedule as much as possible, but don't forget to let them get their wiggles out.  In most places the holiday season bring dreary and cold weather.  If it is not possible for them to go outside and play, then be sure your activities or breaks involve movement.   Maybe during math or reading play a game of scoot that correlates with your lesson.  Also, you could have the students coming up to the board to workout answers more frequently.   A movement break does not always have to involve Go Noodle, although it is a plus to have on dreary days!

Take Care of Yourself

With everything going on during the holiday season it easy to become very exhausted.  Remember to take time for yourself.  I know this is easier said than done! Try to stick to your sleep schedule and if possible try to catch a few extra minutes.  Try to find a few quiet minutes to yourself each day.  Also, remember to stay hydrated.   Dehydration can cause headaches and exhaustion.  If you try to do at least a few of these everyday it will make the hectic schedule much easier to handle.

Don't Spend a Fortune

Save your money!  I know how hard it is not to buy all of those cute cheap items in the Target Dollar Spot for your students at Christmas, but trust me SAVE YOUR MONEY.   All of those dollars add up when buying for an entire class.  Through my teaching career I have seen some kids who love to get a small gift from their teacher, but most children will love you the same whether or not they get a gift.  If you do want give them something how about an inexpensive item such as a picture of you, their favorite teacher, and them together or make cookies for the class.  Just remember the money you could save could be spent on your own family, kids, or saved up to help pay a bill off.   Most children will lose or break those small trinket items in a matter of weeks.   

What are some ways you stay sane in your classroom during the holiday season?  I would love to hear some of your ideas.  Please leave a comment with your best tip for staying sane.  I hope I was able to give you some tips.  Thanks for stopping by and taking a peek!

12 October 2017

Teaching Math with Lego Bricks

I was recently asked by Brick Math: Using Lego™ Bricks to preview their math curriculum using their Teaching Addition manual.

I have to say I was impressed with what I saw and implemented.  Each teacher manual is thin enough to use with ease.  Brick Math also offers student workbooks to correlate with each manual.  Currently there are 6 topics to teach, with more coming in 2018.

Brick Math Series
The 6 topics currently available using Brick Math.

Naturally I wanted to start with something easy, so I chose Teaching Addition.

Using Legos to teach math - Brick Math

The teaching manual is very easy to follow.  It gives you a step by step guide on how to implement Brick Math in your classroom.   You may be wondering how would I teach this in a classroom setting.  You start by SHOWING THEM HOW.   Build the models, show them to the students, and ask questions.  The teacher manual will direct you when it is time for the students to build the same models.  Once they have mastered the modeling process you can then move to Part 2.  Part 2 has the students to show what they know.  Students complete each of the problems using bricks and drawing their models.  If using the student books that correlate with the teacher manual there is room for the students to complete their work.

Teaching Place Value with Legos

I started by teaching what each block represents.  1X1 Lego™ Brick represents the ones, 2X1 Lego™ Brick represents tens, and a 3X1 Lego™ Brick represents the hundreds.  Most students are able to grasp this concept quickly.  From this point we made numbers using Lego™Bricks.

Teaching Place Value with Legos

The last step my class and I worked on is putting the numbers together and adding!

Teaching Addition with Legos

That is it!  Students manipulate the Lego™ Bricks into numbers and practice adding.  If you still need guidance and help you can visit Brick Math website to catch some easy to follow videos!

I think this is a fun, engaging, and interactive way to teach math.  Students who learn by manipulating objects will do very well this curriculum, because it allows them to use objects they already know and love to reach their answer.  Overall I found this to be a fun math curriculum.  In my opinion it works perfectly for learners who may not be grasping a concept the traditional way and need another strategy.  I found it beneficial to use during my small group rotations.   Plus, I used what Legos™ I already had in my classroom.  

If you or your school are looking for a math curriculum to use, you can find more info on it HERE!

Teaching Addition with Legos

Brick Math is currently having a giveaway! From now until October 31st, Brick Math is holding a giveaway for brick sets designed for the program.  They are currently giving away a brick set to three winners.  The sets are worth $60 and are designed for two students to share.  Visit Brick Math Series Giveaway for a chance to enter.  They are also offering Teaching Fractions PDF version for FREE.  If you would like to sample the Teaching Addition manual, you can check it out HERE!

And to make this an even sweeter deal, Brick Math is offering to give one of my lucky followers a FREE teacher manual of their choice.  You can enter for a chance to win by clicking on the Rafflecopter.  

Feel free to share this giveaway with friends!

I would love to hear from you!  In the comments below tell me if you have ever used Brick Math before, and if so what is your favorite part about the curriculum?  Thanks for stopping by and taking a peek!

16 September 2017

Digital Writing Prompts for the Classroom

Do your students complete digital activities in your classroom?  Last year was the first year that I really truly started incorporating digital activities in my classroom.  Yes, in the past we played learning games and such on computers and tablets, but what I mean is incorporating digital assignments through Google Classroom.  My parish just started using Google Classroom a few years ago, so it took me sometime to figure it out.   It actually is not that hard to use, but it was a matter of finding the time to play and learn the ins and outs.  The more I have used it the easier it has become. Now I like to give my students assignments to complete through Google Classroom.

I recently created a Digital Writing Prompt set that can be used the entire school year.   I am really excited about this because now my students can use the computers and tablets to turn in writing assignments.   I am not a 1:1 school, so I designed a set which would allow plenty of time for the class to complete the writing assignment. Plus, let's face it, sometimes it takes a few days to get through the writing process.

There is one writing prompt per week and they are grouped by months.   The prompts are generic, so they can be used for a variety of grade levels.  I recommend second through fifth grade.  What I love about this resource is you don't have to be a technology expert to implement this activity in  your classroom.  However, if you are technology savvy then this set is perfect for you too.  I am using the writing prompts during small group rotations (remember I am not a 1:1).  This way students will work on the assigned prompts throughout the week and it still ensures I have enough tablets or Chromebooks for everyone.

After you download, you will make a copy and save it in your Google Drive.  From there you can send out whichever weekly writing prompt you want to use to your students through Google Classroom.  Because you have saved it as a copy, you can go in and move the Google Slides/Writing Prompts in whichever order you choose.

I hope you see something you could use in your classroom, whether if you are old or new to implementing technology into your classroom.  I would love to hear what other ways you are incorporating technology in your class.  Drop me a comment below.   Thanks for stopping by and taking a peek.

28 July 2017

Supply Caddies: DIY Simple Project

Do you use caddies to help organize your students supplies or to place in the center of a group?   I know a lot of teachers use caddies for various reasons in their classroom.  I wanted to try them out this year, but I could never find the color I needed.   My classroom theme is currently in black and white polka dots with teal.  So, I was in need of solid black caddies.  Sounds simple enough right?  Well, I could not find black caddies anywhere.  I found  a lot of bright or primary colors, but not just a simple black.  The closest thing I found was giant sized industrial caddy on Amazon and that was not going to work because it was way to big.

So, I decided to use Sonic's drink holders and make my own.   I wasn't really sure how they would hold up, but let me tell you, once they are spray painted they are very strong.

Black Supply Caddy

This ended up being one of the most inexpensive items I have ever made for my classroom.   It calls for a limited amount of supplies.  The Sonic drink holders are free, spray paint, duct tape, and plastic cups.

Black Supply Caddy

Black Supply Caddy

First you spray paint the drink holder whatever color you wish.  It took me 2 cans of spray paint to completely coat 6 drink holders.   After you let them dry get printed duct tape or washi tape.  I used a wide Scotch washi tape to wrap around the entire holder.   I made labels on the computer and color coded them to go with my classroom theme.  Last, I tied the labels on with coordinating ribbon.  That is it, you now have a supply caddy that matches your room.  The spray paint helps the cardboard become thicker and sturdier.  The tape not only looks good, but it also acts as an additional reinforcer. I am so happy with how these turned out and I have already received a lot of comments.  I do want to mention, I use black organizers and baskets for everything.  The reason I like black is because it hides dirt/stains, it goes with everything, and you can always use tags and ribbons to coordinate with your theme no matter the color!

I hope you found and idea that you can possibly use.  I would love to hear from you.  Thanks for stopping by and taking a peek.

18 July 2017

What are Formative Assessments and Why You Should be Using Them

                       How to Use Formative Assessment in the Classroom

We all use summative assessment in our classroom in some form or another.   Summative assessment is used after a unit or time of period to assess how much learning has taken place.  We use summative assessments after a chapter or topic has been taught.  We use them on our weekly test.   But how much FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT are you using in your classroom?

I am sure you use some form of formative assessment without realizing you are even doing it.  When we walk around our classroom and monitor learning, when we ask our students higher order thinking questions, or when we have students to give us an explanation to their learning.  These are all types of formative assessment.   But we must ask ourselves as educators is there more we could do to assess the learning taking place in our classroom.

Formative assessments are different in that they are taking place during learning and do not need to be graded.  Formative assessments are used to check for understanding along the way during teaching.  They can be used in all content area and both teachers and students can use formative assessment.  They help us as teachers to see if we need to backtrack and reteach a part of a lesson. Also, it helps us to see which learners in our class are grasping the concepts being taught and which are not.

With the ever growing list of things a teacher has to do, formative assessments should not consume that much time and should not cause a burden on the teacher or the student.  It should be a quick and simple check that is:

          1.  Engaging
          2.  Meaningful
          3.  Provides Feedback to Both Teacher and Student

So, what are some different ways you can provide engaging and meaningful formative assessments in your classroom?  Below are a list of my favorite formative assessments to use in my class.

Exit Cards

I have seen a variety of ways to present these and heard them called different names.  But they all have the same purpose.  The teacher poses a question, the student answers, and gives to the teacher when leaving the room.   They can post it on the door, slip it in a box, write it on an index card, or many other ideas.  The teacher then quickly glances through the answers and sorts the results into two piles, the ones who understood and the ones who need more instruction.

In the image below I posed the question 300-129 to my class.  I wanted to check their regrouping skills.  The exit card/ticket allowed me to clearly see where each child was messing up and where they were performing the skill correctly.

Exit Tickets


Teacher walks around the room whiles students are either working independently or in groups and marks on a clipboard a simple check by each students name.  They put a check in the column for yes if the student seems to have grasp the concept, or put a check in the not column in they need further instruction.

Beach Ball Throw

Students love this activity and it gets the kids moving.   You purchase a cheap beach ball at your local party store.  Write questions on the ball.  Toss the ball to a student.  Where their right hand lands, they answer the question about their learning.   Then, they toss to another student in the class.   This continues until everyone or most everyone has had a turn.

Beach Ball Throw - Formative Assessment

Idea Graffiti

Students are placed into groups of 4-5.  Each group is given a piece of butcher paper.  Each student is given an different colored marker.  They write a complete sentence about something they learned about the lesson.  The different colored markers help identify the students in each group without using names.

The image below shows how my students use the formative assessment of Idea Graffiti when responding to the novel, The War that Saved My Life.

Idea Graffiti Formative Assessment

Yes or No

This is just putting a spin on thumbs up or thumbs down.  Glue yes and no on popsicle sticks.  Have a series of questions ready to ask that pertain to the lesson.  The students will hold up yes or no to answer the question.  Also, if you prefer you could glue true or false.  If this is to time consuming to make, white boards would work just as well.

Four Corners

Assign each corner of the room either A, B, C, D.  Ask a question with four possible answers.  Students then move to the corner they believe to the correct answer.  This is not only a great formative assessment, but works as a brain break too!

Roll the Die

Each student is given a number cube.  They roll the die.  Based on where they land they write their response on a sticky note or index card and turn in when leaving the room.  There response is based on the following:

Roll a 1:  Write a question that someone should be able to answer after this lesson.  Give the answer to the question.

Roll a 2:  Explain the lesson so a preschooler could understand.

Roll a 3:  Draw a picture to represent the main idea of the lesson.

Roll a 4:  List three things that you learned today about this topic.

Roll a 5:  What was the most interesting thing you learned to today?

Roll a 6:  Tell which part was the most confusing.  Why?


Students will quickly draw a picture of the topic learned instead of writing it out in words.

Doodling with Formative Assessment


This is a great tool to use for all you technology lovers!  It provides instant feedback and the students love it!  You will need iPads, Chromebooks, or some form of mobile devices for the students to use. The teacher poses a question and the student answers.  Kahoot will provide immediate feedback to show who is on track.  Don't worry if your not a 1:1 classroom, I am not either.  However, I do currently have 6 iPads.  I place my class into groups of 6, and they rotate the iPad around within their group.  Instead of having names listed in Kahoot, I have it listed as Groups.  It works just as well.


This is another great tool to use to for formative assessment.  What is even better, you are using technology, but not everyone needs it. Only the teacher does.  You print out ahead of time a QR code for each child.  When you are ready ask your question and the kids hold up their sign. You use your device and hold it up to scan their codes.  Just like Kahoot, Plickers will provide instant feedback too! The kids love this just as much!

So, there you have it some of my favorite forms of formative assessments.  I hope you found something you can use in your classroom that will help you assess your students learning along the way.  Remember we want to work smarter, not harder!  Formative assessments should not be more work for you, but something you can easily fit into your lesson.  I would love to hear from you if you have any other neat ideas that you are using in your classroom!   Thanks for stopping by and taking a peek!

31 March 2017

We're All Wonders: Teaching Companion

I was so excited when the book, We're All Wonders showed up at my doorstep a few days ago.  Yes, I preordered my copied early, because I knew it would be a good book and I couldn't wait to share with my class. After reading R.J. Palacio first number one seller, Wonder,  with the beloved character Auggie I was hooked.  (Wonder is geared for fourth grade and up).  So, naturally as a second grade teacher I was so excited when she was coming out with picture book version for young children.

If you are a kindergarten through third grade teacher, then this is a must for your classroom library.   There are so many lessons you can teach with this book and the beloved character Auggie.  Auggie is an ordinary boy who likes to do ordinary things, but the one thing that make him different is he was born with facial deformities.  So, sometimes kids can be mean to Auggie.  They forget just because someone may look different or act different that they still have feelings too.  My favorite quote in the book is, "We are all wonders".

R.J Palacio started the trend #choosekind with her first book, Wonder.  This trend can be continued with this picture book.   How do you teach kindness in your classroom?

I knew as soon as this book arrived I wanted to use it as a center piece for talking about kindness and how we should treat others.  I created a book companion resource to use with this book.  It includes comprehension response questions,  book club for the classroom questions, writing prompts, kindness poetry writing, bookmarks, vocabulary match up, word search, and brag tags!

We're All Wonders:  Book Companion

The writing prompt is my absolute favorite.  In the book Auggie says that everyone is a Wonder. What he means by this is know matter what you look like we are all unique in our on way.   In the writing prompt, I have my students explore why they are "Wonders" ... What makes each one of them unique.  Plus I love the fact I have something awesome to display in the hallway.

We're All Wonders - Book Companion Resource (Writing Prompt)

I wanted to end my lesson with this book with a reminder the students could keep.  I want to encouarage my students to treat ALL people with kindness on daily basis.  I made them bookmarks. I printed the bookmarks on cardstock and tied with cute ribbon.  The resource pack does include brag tags too if this is something you use in your classroom.

We're All Wonders - Book Companion Bookmarks and Brag Tags

If you are looking for a way to teach kindness in your classroom I would highly recommend this book.  Students not only explore what it feels like to be on the outside but on the inside too.

Thanks for stopping by and taking a peek.  Remember to #choosekind!

16 January 2017

Teaching Chinese New Year vs. New Year in America

Teaching Chinese New Year vs. New Year in America

This past week we headed back to school for our first full week after Christmas break.  I had a dilemma, we came back to a full week of Benchmark Testing and I was not 100% prepared for what to do after testing was completed each day.  Benchmark Testing can be long and painful on many levels.  First, we only test for the first half of the day.  Second, my team and I need things to keep the students busy and engaged the rest of the day.  We follow a pacing guide in our parish, so we do not move ahead with our usual teaching.  So, basically during a benchmark week my day starts off with math, then benchmark testing, and then .....  Well you get the idea.  This was the big dilemma.   So, this year I decided to teach my kids a mini unit on New Years in America vs. Chinese New Year.  I know technically it is not Chinese New Year yet, but I knew this was the perfect week to dive into the topic and really teach all about it!  Let me tell you, it was a HIT!

We started off talking about New Years in America and all the traditions we celebrate.  We made resolutions and discussed what the top resolutions in America were.  Did you know the #1 New Year resolution in America is to lose weight?  My students thought this was hilarious.  I told them this is why they will see so many cars in the gym parking lot on their way home. ;))  Then we discussed why so many people (myself included) seem to not be able to keep their resolutions, but how we could really try to work on doing better this year.

Next, I introduced Chinese New Year!  We looked at our maps and located China.  We talked about where it was in the world and compared it to our continent and country (bringing in our map skills). Also, we discussed how New York City and San Francisco  both have big communities called Little China Town were these cultures can be celebrated.  We found these two areas on the map and looked at pictures on Google.  The kids were very intrigued by this point. We googled pictures of people celebrating Chinese New Year in China and the compared it to people who celebrate Chinese New Year in America.  Kids are always fascinated to learn that many traditions and celebrations we have in America are brought to us from other cultures.

After we looked at our maps and pictures we read a closed nonfiction reading passage about Chinese New Year (the passage can be found here).   Next, the students were placed into groups and we used our iPads to look up 4 interesting facts about New Years in America and Chinese New Year.  They wrote these facts in their writing notebooks.  There was not a cute graphic organizer for this, just plain writing notebook paper - remember this unit was done on the fly!  We came back together and we compared and contrast the two cultures and how they celebrate the holidays.  We made a Venn diagram in our notebook comparing and contrasting.   Next, they wrote a two paragraphs about this topic.   I was so impressed with their writings.   They must have really been paying attention, because they had some really great details in their writings.

Teaching Chinese New Year vs. New Year Paragraphs or Writings

By the end of the week we had learned so much.  I had brought in map skills, group work, technology, compare and contrasting, and writing.  We needed something fun to end this mini unit. We learned about the Zodiac Calendar and we made a rooster for, "The Year of the Rooster" (craft can be found here).  The roosters turned out so cute!   My students loved, loved them.   Also, we made Chinese New Year hats that turned out super cute (hats can be found here).

Chinese New Year Rooster Craft

Chinese New Year

Lesson learned for me - Sometimes pulling something together very quickly, but  putting just as much energy and enthusiasm into it can still lead to a great lesson.  I will definitely be teaching this again next year!  Will you be teaching Chinese New Year in your classroom?  I would love to hear what ideas or lessons you will teach.  Thanks for stopping by and taking a peek.

30 December 2016

Setting TpT Business Goals in 2017

Teacher Pay Teacher Business Mindset 2017
Most of us are are organized in our teaching lives.  Everything has a place in our classrooms.   We have a place where papers are turned in, crayons are stored, backpacks are placed, lunch money is collected.   We follow a system!   But do you follow a system in your Teachers Pay Teachers business? Do you even look at your adventure on Teachers Pay Teachers as a "real" business or a "hobby"?   I must admit, I am so guilty of this myself.  As a mother of two kids, a 10 year old and an almost official teenager, I stay so busy.  I am running the roads nonstop.   I constantly joke that my car should have a taxi sign on the side of it for all the driving around I do!  But this year I really want to make some changes at how I look at my TpT business and how I focus on it, even if time is not on my side.

To answer your question, yes, I do consider my own store a business.  I file it with my taxes and I keep up with my receipts (although they are thrown in a drawer).   However when it comes to being "TRULY" organized with my TpT, I am not!   You might not know this about me, when you see my products.  My products look very organized.  This is because it has taken me months to complete just one product (literally MONTHS). But I am constantly asking myself could I have saved myself time if I was more organized?   Over my break, I have really been thinking about this.  Maybe time is not the only thing holding me back.  Maybe, just maybe, it is my organization with my store too!

I am a very organized person.  My classroom is organized.  My home is very organized.  So, why is this part of my life not organized?   I know I am not the only one out there!  I don't have the actual answer to this, but I have decided to make this a goal for 2017.  I am going to focus on keeping track with my TpT and social media much better.  Not only am I going to keep track of it, I am going to do some comparing and see if by me keeping track if it helps improve my sales and numbers (I have a funny suspicion it will).   Currently my Tailwind sits unscheduled, my Facebook does not have any posts schedule, and this poor blog of mine - well, I will just stop there!

Let me show you a preview of how I use to sort my ideas down - a notebook with random jots here and there not making any sense whatsoever!  Here is the worst part, I also design digital papers and I keep up RGB numbers for color codes.  I will write random RGB codes down, but will not have a system for what number goes with what set.   I can't even begin to tell you how many times I have had to go back and spend countless hours trying to figure out custom RGB codes because I didn't keep this more organized.

Setting Teacher Pay Teacher Business Goals in 2017
You gotta' love the random sticky note thrown in there!!
Like most of you, I can't afford a VA (virtual assistant) at this time.  So, guess what?  I am my virtual assistant.  I am going to set aside one day and the end of each month and schedule all my stuff for the following month ahead of time.  Also, I purchased a binder with dividers (trying a new system), and I am going to keep all my ideas and TpT business related stuff in one spot.  As far as keeping up with my STATS, I created a chart to keep up with my followers and sales from month to month!  I also created a Current Project guide to help me try and keep my ideas in ONE SPOT!   I wanted to share these organizers with you.  You can download them for free here!

Teacher Pay Teacher Business Goals

Teachers Pay Teachers Business Goals
Teachers Pay Teachers Business Goals

How do you plan to organize your Teacher Pay Teacher store in 2017?  I would love to hear your thoughts.  Thanks for stopping by and taking a peek!

10 October 2016

Top Five Math Manipulatives to Use Now in Your Classroom

We all have some form of math manipulatives sitting around our classrooms.  But did you know you do not necessarily need those top of the line, super expensive manipulatives to get the job done? Some of the best math manipulatives are easy to use objects, many of us have stashed in the back of our cabinets or laying around the house.  Read below to find out my favorite top five math manipulatives and if you stay with me until the end their just might be a Freebie that makes it worth your while.

Top Five Math Manipulatives to Use Now in Your Classroom


Top Five Math Manipulatives to Use Now:  Dice

Once considered only for gamblers is no longer the case (just kidding)! Dice are seriously some of the best math manipulatives you can find.  Not only can they be bought just about anywhere and are super cheap, the things you can do with them are endless.  To review basic addition and subtraction roll two dice.  For addition add the two die to get the sum.  For subtraction take the two die and subtract to get the difference.  Dice are not just for younger children, the same concept can be used to teach multiplication too.  Need a few more ideas?  I love to use dice to teach place value.  I teach second grade, so I teach into the thousands place.  When I need a time filler or want a quick review, I place students into pairs and give each student a die.  They roll the die four times making a number and logging it on their record sheet (the recording sheet can be found in the FREEBIE).   They then write the number in expanded, word, and model form.

Top Five Math Manipulative to Use Now: Place Value Roll Freebie

Another number concept to teach with  dice is before and after.  You can even take it a step further and then add 10, 100, or 1000 to those numbers depending on how many dice you use.  I usually just make two digit numbers, because again I work with second grade.  However, the numbers could be larger for upper grades.  

Top Five Math Manipulatives to Use Now:  Before and After Freebie


Top Five Math Manipulative to Use Now: Cards

I love, love, love cards! I actually have a huge stash of playing cards stored in a box in my closet (guilty as charged).  This is my go to whenever I need a math time filler.  I pair my students up, give them a deck of cards, and let them play.  My favorite quick game to use for a time filler is to have students to each throw a card down and add.  Whoever reaches the sum first, wins that round and keeps the cards.  The player with the most cards at the end of the round wins the game.  It is a quick game of practicing facts, requires no paper, and is entertaining.  I have also played this same game with subtraction and multiplication.  It is just as effective with these math skills too!

Math Manipulative to Use Now

Have you ever heard of the game Salute?  It is a fun math learning game to play with your class using cards.  In this game your students are given practice with their addition and subtraction facts, while working on their problem solving skills.  Here is how you play:  Place students into groups of three and give them a deck of cards.  One student is the "general" and the other two are the "soldiers".  When the general calls salute, the soldiers raise a card to their heads.  The general quickly gives them the sum of the two cards, and the soldiers compete to determine the values of their cards, by looking at what the other player has (it is kind of a version of Head Bandz, but with a deck of cards).  The roles rotate, so each student gets to practice both with subtraction and addition facts for the numbers one to ten.  

I have made a Saluting with Addition and Subtraction score sheet to be used during this game.  Each student would get a copy of the score sheet to keep up with their points and to help them see the numbers they are working with.  The score sheet can be found in the FREEBIE.  

Math Games and Printables

For upper grades a fun math game to play using a deck of cards is called Fraction Draw.  Here is how you play:  Put your students into groups of four and give them a deck of cards.  The students will place all of the cards face down.  Each play draws two cards and creates a fraction with their cards, by placing the smallest number on top of the largest number.  All of the fractions are compared.  The player with the largest fraction, wins that round and gets to keep ALL of the cards from the other players.  The game continues until the deck is emptied.  The player with the most cards wins the game.  


Math Manipulatives Counters

Besides the fact  I use counters for almost all my game boards and game pieces, the flat two sided colored objects have more purpose than game boards alone.  When I need to review 10 facts or basic addition and subtraction with ten frames these math manipulatives are my best friends.  They are the perfect size for  fitting in a ten frame.  Plus, the students are able to see what it is being added and taken away, making the basic addition and subtraction problem much easier to solve.  Counters are perfect for those just learning their facts. They work great for making 5, 10, 15, or 20.

Just as unifix cubes work great to make patterns, you can actually use counters to make patterns too! Although you are only working with two colors you can still set up many pattern types such as: aabb, aba, and aabba.

For upper elementary students counters can come in handy to help teach basic fractions.  The Math Manic, has an easy no prep game for teaching basic fractions and showing how fractions can have equal parts.   Be sure to visit The Math Manic to see the easy instructions on how to play.  This is a perfect game for students who may need a little extra push or intervention with fractions.  

Unifix Cubes

Unifix Cubes Math Manipulatives

Unifix cubes have been around for a long time.  I remember my teachers using them when I was in elementary school, and I can assure that was longer than I care to remember.   Yes, they are great for teaching lower elementary kids how to count and sort into groups of colors.  But unifix cubes can be used for other mathematical concepts too.  Clear the Board is a great game to play with upper elementary that helps develop the concept of probability.   Each kid is given 10 unifix cubes and two dice.  They randomly place 10 cubes on the board wherever they choose.  The student the rolls the 2 dice.  If they roll a number that has a unifix cube on the board they remove it.  They play until the first player CLEARS THE BOARD!  This game is included in the FREEBIE!

Top Five Math Manipulatives to Use Now:  Unifix Cubes Clear the Board Freebie  
I also love the game I found on Primarly Speaking's blog called, Walk the Plank.  All you need is a wooden paint stick, unifix cubes, and your all set to practice you basic addition facts.  You can read all about the super easy, but fun game here.  

Unifix cubes can also be used to teach patterns.  You can start with simple patterns such as:  aabb, abab, or abc.  Once the student has mastered simple patterns, then have them approach more difficult repeating patterns such as:  abcdd, abbccda, or abaccdd.

Top Five Math manipulatives to Use Now:  Unifix Cubes Patterns Freebie

Top Five Math Manipulatives to Use Now

Base Ten Blocks

Base Ten Blocks are must for the grade I teach, which is second.  I know they are a must for the first grade teachers at my school too.  Place value is a skill which must and has to be taught correctly.   It is the foundation for most other math skills such as:  addition and subtraction (with and without regrouping), rounding, multiplication, division, decimals, and much more.  If a child does not have a clear understanding of place value it will lead to problems in other math areas.   

Top Five Math Manipulative to Use Now: Base Ten Blocks

Base Ten Model Worksheets

What is really great about base ten blocks is that you can find them just not as manipulatives, but in technology and video explanations too!  Below is a video that shows regrouping using Base Ten Models.

Below are digital deck cards you can find on Boom Cards.  Many TpT authors have put their task cards on this digital platform.  Kids love to practice their place value skills using the digital platform. 

Boom Learning Cards Place Value

Base ten models can be used to build numbers.   One of my favorite things to use base ten blocks for is to build numbers.  For the younger elementary students they will build numbers with one or two digits.  However,  you are not limited to just younger students, older students can benefit from base ten models too.   They can practice building number in the thousands, ten thousands, and so forth.  Also, it is great practice for them to trade ones for tens, tens for hundreds, and so forth.  

Top Five Manipulatives to Use Now

Although these math manipulatives are not new and have been around for a while, I hope you were able to find a new idea or a new way to implement them in your classroom.  Remember sometimes we don't necessarily need the top of the line materials to get our point and lesson across.  We just need to make learning fun!  If you would like to get some of these games and printables for FREE click on the image below and visit my TpT store.  

Math Games and Printables Free


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