Friday, August 29, 2014

Multiplication STINKS!

There are SO many kids who go home from school thinking, "Multipication STINKS!" But it doesn't have to be that way. The old tried and true use of flashcards gets old fast, and when fun evaporates, so does learning! What to do?  Put the fun back into practice with online games and activities! First of all, it can be done in pairs (kids LOVE that) and it's fun! I loved to hear my own students giggling and really truely enjoying math games. I knew they were learning...LOTS! Multiplication takes lots of practice, not only when kids are first learning them, but all the way through elementary school (and often longer...sadly). For older students who are struggling, practice is vital. It's not a skill that can be glossed over either. No matter what our students do when they grow up, knowing those math facts is going to make life much easier.

The problem starts with math books. The math books give one page of discussion about a set of math facts (like the 6s) then gives a page of practice. The next thing you know they are asking kids to mix it up with every other fact that was just presented. How long do you teach multiplication (according to the book), about two weeks. I'm still laughing. Multiplication takes review, and review and review. And it's got to be fun, or kids won't do it!

That means games! I have included some great links to games that are tons of fun and great for centers or stations. If kids come into the classroom early in the morning, that's a great time to use them too! Some of the games below are perfect for individual practice. We all need that too! I've also included a freebie sheet to use when reviewing the 5s. It has a fun picture to color when they are finished. Coloring often helps students keep the stress down that often comes with learning multiplication facts. It's taken from my resource, "Bird Brained Multiplication".

Ready for some great multiplication games! Check out the links below:

This is only one of the great games on this great site!

I love the sound on this multiplication game, but it can be turned off! : )

It doesn't have to be Christmas to play this fun game!

OMG! Don't miss this one! It's called Diaper Derby. Kids can customize their baby and the walker she uses, then use their multiplication skills to race to the finish line. Terrific!!!

Multiplication Station is great for practice

This is a simple one that one student can play alone. He or she shoots the pies that answer the multiplication expression. 

The 4s can drive kids and teachers a little insane. This game is a BIG help!

Zombies are kids will love this one called "Zombie Prom". They get to play the part of an intern for a costume designer getting actors ready for the latest movie "Zombie Prom"! Kids have to answer multiplication questions to do things like, get past security, then they can use the arrows to change the way the actor looks. Fun and good practice! Yes...boys will like it too!

Alien Munchtime is a fun one that can be played by one student. It's a fun way to paractice the facts. I love the little song that goes with it...and yes it could drive you nuts...turn it down or off. 

Picnic Multiplication is terrific! It comes in two levels and is really good for those who are beginning multiplication (level 1) as it also shows the addition fact. Sound is cute, but can be turned off.

This great game is good for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts. Plus it comes in easy, medium and hard! Love a good game of Bingo!

If you would like to check out a different way to teach multiplication that really works, click on the picture below:

I hope you enjoy the games....and your kids learn tons!!! And may not ONE of your students think that multiplication stinks!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Can Math ACTUALLY Be Fun?

Have you ever been to a math workshop and the presenter was so overly enthusiastic he made you think he was just a little bit crazy? "Math is fun! Kids love math! Yea! Yea! Math!" When just yesterday you had two kids yell out, "I hate math".  Take heart! I'm not going to jump all over the page yelling, "Yea Math!" but 30 years of teaching experience have taught me how to not only make math easier for kids, but makes math a lot more fun to do.  It actually just takes adding the one thing that grabs your students' attention faster than anything else...PLAY!  I love games and task cards to teach math! Worksheets are fine in their place, but to really LEARN about math it takes some real thinking, playing with numbers, and a receptive brain to really BOOST that mathmatical understanding. Sometimes those brains shut down, as that next worksheet lands in front of them. But give the same kid a game, a set of task cards, or a math activity and they are on fire! Often, games phase out after third grade, and that's when kids need them the most! Concepts get more complicated, and need more practice. With that in mind, I've included a number of really fun online/offline math games that are fun for centers/stations or even free time. You might even want to send the link home to parents, so their child can "play" their homework!

LOVE this site! It's for upper elementary, and gives supplies and procedures for playing math games in the classroom. Simple, but very effective! Nine games are included.

There are LOTS and LOTS of games here! Logic games, word problem games and much more!
This one is called "Space Raider X"

This one is called "Cash Out" and comes in easy, medium and hard. 

If you haven't found Cool Math for Kids yet, do it now! It has lessons (yes, lessons) and games. Great for remediation or extension!!

If you want a great spot to find LOTS of great math ideas, games and freebies…this is the spot!

One of my favorite game sites…these games are lots of fun and SOOOO full of learning!

LOTS of great games here specifically for fifth grade students. Covers fractions, decimals, divisions and so much more!

If your kids need practice with multiplications, don't miss these great games!

It's always good to have some pre-made games ready for centers or group work. This site is full of great games that are easy to make and fun to play!

For great quick (5-15 minute) games that need little or no preparation, don't miss these great games that are also good fun fillers for that extra few minutes at the end of the day. 

Finally, this PDF is full to overflowing with lots and lots of games for all age levels that are super easy to do with little or no prep.

Monday, August 25, 2014

10 Ideas to Help You Teach About Elections!

It doesn't matter if it is an election year or not, students need to know about elections. It's what makes our form of government work! Make learning about elections a lot more fun with these fun ideas:

1. If it's an election year, watch TV advertisements for two candidates running against each other. Ask students to do some research on each candidate on their own, then evaluate the truthfulness of the advertisements. Once your students have come to their own conclusions, check out what has to say at: Then discuss what was learned. How hard is it to find the truth?

2. Have a discussion on the influence of outside groups giving money to candidates, rather than relying on voters to donate money.

3. Have a classroom election

4. Hold an election scavenger hunt. This site has a great lesson plan for that: Education World: Election Scavenger Hunt

5. Research the rules for running/holding office in your state.

6. Choose a candidate at any level, and get into groups to form an election campaign

7. Research to find the most relevant issues in this election

8. Play Election Term Bingo. Get everything you need here: Election Term Bingo

9. Have groups of students choose one candidate and make a video TV advertisement for this candidate.

10. Create a flyer called: Why you should vote! Have students give their fliers to their parents before election day.

Lots of activities on this site to help your students understand about voting:

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Can Fractions Be More Fun?

Fractions can be so tricky for kids!  I have to admit, I think games are the best way to teach math…kids have fun (no drudgery with a game!) and learn lots! The links below are all games…that makes them great for centers and stations! If you need a fraction freebie for assessment…it's here too!

This fun game is available in easy and hard...terrific practice!

To get the ideas of smallest to largest fractions across to students, you can't beat this fun game!

This game called Scooter Quest Decimals is all about less than, more than and equal to. Students help Jimmy earn money to buy a scooter by giving the correct answers.

Kids will LOVE this one! It's called Dolphin Racing and uses fractions to give the needed power to your dolphin to win. Comes in easy and hard.

Time for a game break!
This fraction freebie is taken from one of my resources on fractions.

Factors Millionaire is a really fun one! If you go to this site, there are MANY great fraction games!!

I love Hooda Math! This site has 5 great fraction games!

I must be hungry…here is another great pizza game!
                                                                   Pizza Game

This game is great and is for up to for people or this one!

If you are not familiar with Cool Math 4 Kids, you need to look it over. It's great for remediation (the lessons are visual and TEACH the lesson, plus it's great for kids to review if they are still confused!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Power Up! All About Energy!

Teaching energy is FULL of so many fun activities!  It's one of those units that kids can really get into, plus I love teaching energy! Would you like some free energy resources?  First I've provided a fun freebie to kick off your unit, then some great sites that give you online activities, as well as fun experiments to do with your class!


This great site includes sections on: what is energy, energy sources, games and activities and more!

Your kids will love this one! Full of sounds, great pictures and lots of information!!

This is a really fun one! Energy games, coloring pages and activities!

Need an online energy game for centers? Try this one!

Energy 101: How is Electrical Energy Generated? This is a great video that goes over the many ways of getting electricity. It starts with the question, "How many people does it take to turn on a light bulb?"   The answer is, more than you would think!

How about some great energy task cards, and even a game for centers or stations? Check out my resource below at my TPT store

A PowerPoint of the same full color task cards as in the resource above is also available:

It's Time for Guided Reading….HELP!


 I struggled with guided reading for more years than I care to mention. I went to one inservice after another trying to find one that gave me the whole picture. Instead, I got pieces, pieces that just didn't fit together. I shared my frustration with other teachers, and was not surprised that they felt the same way. It was totally through trial (and much error) that I finally knew I had it right. It's SO much easier when you finally reach that sweet spot!

    To help other teachers who are struggling like I was, or for old pros who just want more ideas, I have a freebie, terrific videos and a useful website to help you out. The best advice I can give is to just keep reaching, looking, reading, and experimenting. When you least expect it, everything will fall into place.

    The freebie has one worksheet page for each reading level grades 1-5 to use with your guided reading groups. I know in my class there were usually at least four (five- six!!) reading levels represented. I've included just two of the pages of the freebie in the pictures below. I hope it is helpful for you. Click on the link below the pictures for your freebie.

If you would like a great Pinterest board just full of Guided reading, reading workshop, and just plain great reading ideas, check out this site called "Guided Reading (and More) Ideas and resources

I don't know about you, but I think seeing guided reading being taught is often better than reading about it. Here are a few great guided reading videos that are particularly helpful.

This first one is about guided reading teaching in general. A question is asked, then answered about how to do guided reading. Although this is a second grade class, it is applicable to all elementary grades.

This video is actually a guided reading training video. Very Helpful! What I REALLY like about this video, is it also shows what the rest of the class is doing!

This site is from WatchKnowLearn and has a number of videos looking at each part of guided reading. If you are just starting out, or are an old pro there is lots to learn on this site.

This video is guided reading in a third grade classroom. Really helpful to those just getting started with guided reading. 

This is a great video on how to improve reading comprehension and is directed at students. It's especially fun for upper elementary students

This is a great site with terrific information on setting up guided reading groups, and how to run them.