Friday, March 18, 2011

Spring Fever!

I don't know what the weather is like where you are, but here in Georgia it is starting to get WARM!  Really warm.  That, combined with the fact that there are 2 weeks until spring break, is sure to make every classroom teacher go crazy!
I always liked this time of year as a teacher because there is a lot of excitement in the air.  By now, you know your students and you're comfortable with them.  You can have fun and relax a little bit.  But, there is still a lot of teaching to be done, and there are lots of distractions.  What are you to do on those days when all everyone (including you!) wants to do is sit outside and soak up the warm sunshine?  It can be hard to strike a balance between requiring attention and appropriate behavior from your students and letting them just be kids and enjoy the springtime!
I always tried to send a note about spring fever home to parents this time of year.  Sometimes, all it takes is a few reminders and/or threats from mom and dad to get your students back to minding their p's and q's.  After all, spring comes with lots of fun activities at home and the threat of losing those is sometimes enough to have a little more self control at school.  However you communicate with parents (website, e-mail, newsletter), you might want to put a reminder in there of how important it is for children to continue to show appropriate behavior until the last day of school.  Suggestions for how to encourage this would be helpful.  You might want to suggest that parents review their expectations for behavior with their children, and what the consequences are if they don't.  Parents may want to talk with their children about some new rewards for showing good behavior at school.  They might also want to allow their children to have some time outside after school before starting homework.  A chance to soak up fresh air could really do them good!
You can try some of these things in your classroom as well.  Add a new incentive for your students to behave between now and spring break, and then between spring break and the last day of school.  One teacher I know made giant bubble letters to spell out the word "popcorn" or "coke".  If her students were well-behaved for an activity or class period, she would color in all or part of the letters.  When they were all filled in, she would let them have a little party with popcorn and/or coke.  You could also give them some extra outside time on pretty days, especially if they are able to show better self-control the rest of the day.  Even just five minutes to run or walk outside could be all it takes to get them to re-focus.
Try to also look for educational ways to enjoy the beautiful weather!  Can you do writing outside today?  Grab some clipboards, and let your children find a spot outside to write and/or read.  What about math?  Look for examples of math in the environment!  If you're studying geometry, you could go on a scavenger hunt for different shapes in nature.  Multiplication?  Look for things that come in twos, threes, etc.  Here are a few more outdoor math activities.  With a little creativity, I'm sure you could find more.
What about science?  I found some great suggestions for outdoor science experiments online.
Most importantly, remember two things...
#1-They are kids. Kids are only kids once, so let them have a chance to enjoy it!  With some careful planning, you can get all your teaching done and leave some time for fun!
#2-Summer is just around the corner!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Fun Homemade Math Games

I found a cool link today for a pizza math game.  This looks pretty easy, and I like the idea of using felt because it would be pretty durable!  I think you could change the rules to cover a lot of different math skills with this.  My mind immediately went to dividing the pizza up into 12 or 16 slices and then doing fractions with the toppings.  You could make a die with a wooden cube and put different fractions on it.  When they roll the fraction, they have to cover that fraction of the pizza with a topping.  Then, they could also name the equivalent fraction(s) to that section.  For example, if you had 16 slices and they rolled 1/4 they could talk about 2/8, 4/16, etc.
This post got me thinking about some other math games I made.  Here are some ideas...

  • Money Dominoes-use 3 x 5 cards and divide them in half like dominoes.  On one side, stamp, draw, or glue coins.  On the other side, write a money amount.  Play like regular dominoes.  What a great way to practice counting change!
  • Equivalent Fraction Concentration-Make cards with various fractions on them.  Be sure you have pairs of equivalent fractions.  Play like a typical memory/concentration game.  If the kids flip over a pair of equivalent fractions, they keep the pair!
  • Making Change Match Game-Make some cards with a dollar amount and a price on them.  Make other cards that show the change.  When it's their turn, they have to try to match the dollar/price card with the correct change.  You could easily play this as a "Go Fish" style game as well.  "I have $5.00-$2.25, who has $2.75?"
Those are just a few that come to mind.  None of them take too long to create, and if you laminate the cards you can use them over and over again!  All of these games are great ones to pull out when you have extra time at the end of math or after a test.  My kids were always begging to play games!