With the growing trend for children to use tablets, PCS and other types of computers for entertainment, it is no wonder that the common math lesson or worksheet may not exactly excite them, let alone grab their attention. Whether we love or hate the fact that computer type games are a large part of our student's lives, we can’t change the reality that it exists and is almost always available at their fingertips outside of school hours. As teachers, we are faced with the challenge to constantly come up with innovative and fun ways to engage our students. Some days we might nail it and others we don’t. Then there are some students who are continuously reluctant to get on board with their work; we may not always have the right technology at hand to use for that type of lesson; so what’s a tired teacher to do? You’ve tried many tricks, felt like you’ve encouraged and praised lots, yet, still no luck? In this post, I will share with you an activity that will engage even some of your most reluctant learners. I’ll also explain why you should try it, before dismissing it as another ‘gimmick.’
What Sort of activity engages learners?
So, back to the wonderful world of gaming that plays a part in many of our students every day lives. Why is it so addictive? Leveling up, gaining experience, earning ‘brag titles’ or special items. These games that our students play frequently give them a sense of purpose, and achievement. Whether it is passing a difficult level, conquering a challenging boss or solving a mindboggling puzzle, most games have one thing in common, and that is a purpose and a reward. As a gamer myself, I could see how games easily hook kids into this world and can also be addictive. I’m totally guilty of falling into a Candy Crush craze to only realize that I was actually upset my lives were over, and I had to wait before I could attempt a level again. This was when I thought to myself if only I could get my students to be this addicted to math or reading in class. How awesome would it be to have them feel sad that math was over just like when lives were over on a game like Candy Crush?
Well, yes we can play games. I'm sure we all do that at some point in our classrooms. But, what about the pencil and paper activities? Is it possible to make the good old math worksheet as fun as a game? YES, it can be done!
“My class loved this activity! They enjoyed math and wanted to know if there were other activities like this to finish! Will continue to use in the future!” Wendy Y. July 29, 2017 (Case of The Super Bad Superhero)
“This was AWESOME. My 3rd graders were HOOKED with the video and worked quietly and diligently for an hour trying to rescue the groundhog. The best compliment to you from one of my sweet kids..."can we do another one for Valentine's Day" Yes, yes we can!” Melissa H. February 4, 2018 (Case of The Kidnapped Groundhog) “Students are HIGHLY engaged when working on this task. The hardest thing is getting them to stop! Thanks” Basic Ideas February 4, 2018 (Case of The Selfish Elf)
The Math Mysteries in my range follow a similar concept as a game, there’s a purpose in every story along with the exciting opportunity for discovery and reward. Students don’t even realize how much math they are doing in some of the clues because they are so focused on discovering important information to crack the case. The process of eliminating possibilities adds to the excitement as students keep trying to guess who the culprit is, or where they must go, or what they need to solve each mystery.
WORK HARD, PERSEVERE & CONQUER! Believe it or not, what appears to look like regular math worksheets to a teacher, the game purpose feel to these pages changes the kids’ perspective to what would normally be a drill sheet. I’ve found kids keen to learn or do an extra lesson to master a skill they need to conquer a challenging clue. So if you ever come across a clue that is particularly difficult, take the time to ‘stop and learn’ as a class to get through the page together. When a clue gets too tough, I find it important to teach students perseverance and compare it to a hard level in a popular game they are all familiar with. Keep trying, learn the skills needed to pass, and aim for success! OTHER EXTRA MOTIVATORS To give these math mysteries an extra gamelike feel, we’ve added extra motivators so that you can engage even some of your most reluctant learners:
Whether it’s a break from your usual routine, or you might need something easy and fun to leave for a sub. These math mysteries will keep your kids learning and practicing important skills. Try a complete Math Mystery for FREE! All you will need to do is print, photocopy and go! Have the video hook (optional) below ready for student viewing to set the stage to engage. Then challenge your kids to the task! See who can solve the mystery!
I would love to hear how this goes with your class. Enjoy!
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I used a simple brownie mix and kept it in one piece to first explain that the cake in this tin is a whole. We spoke about that it is ONE whole brownie cake.
Next, cut up the brownie cake into 20 equal sized pieces. Then discuss that 20 pieces of brownies make up one whole in this cake tin. So 20 is the denominator for our fractions in this brownie tray.
I tried my best to keep the size of each brownie the same  point out that when working with fractions each part needs to be equal.
Then to start practicing writing fractions, use some different candy to decorate the individual brownies. I used jellybeans, coins, m&m's, and monster wrapped candy.
For example in the image below: 1. Ask students how many of the brownies are decorated with M&M's? There are 5 brownies decorated with M&M's. 2. Ask how many brownies are in total? 20 3. How can we show this by writing a fraction? The number decorated in m&m's is the numerator, and the total amount of brownies is the denominator. 5 20 4. If doing this with older grades, you could also further discuss simplifying the fraction as an answer. 1 4
Then continue to do the same with different types of decorations.
And then you can also do fractions for brownies without decorations.
I didn't put icing on the brownies so that I could easily change the decorations on top and keep practicing fractions as many times as needed. Decorating some delicious treats is a fun way to help kids build an understanding of fractions. Grab a sweet differentiated fraction FREEBIE down below. CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE FREE RESOURCE 'Decorating with Fractions'
In the free download, you will receive TWO sets of the same three worksheets.
The first three are in easy mode, keeping the denominator the same as the total number for students to work with. Great for beginners.
The second set of the three worksheets, works best for students who have an understanding of equivalent fractions. The fraction rules are given in simplified form.
Find Decorating with Fractions for Free here.
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This week I'd like to share an anchor chart I made to teach addition with regrouping. I found the use of place value blocks helpful in explaining the concept of carrying the ten over.
The different colors used are intended to help highlight and show the steps throughout the process.
Step 1  Look at the ones first!
Count the one blocks to find the total. Draw them. In the chart example, there are 15 one blocks. Step 2 Explain that we can't put 15 in the ONES position, so if we have 10 ones, we must regroup them and turn them into a ten block. Demonstrate that this new ten block formed from the ones is CARRIED over to the top of the other ten blocks. In the numerical form, we represent this by adding a '1' to the top of the column. Step 3  Then add the ten blocks together (including the carried over ten block). In the chart example we have 10 + 50 + 30 90. Or 9 ten blocks which equals 90. Take the 9 (in the tens position) to sit in the TENS position of the answer. So, the answer for the chart example is 95! . If you are looking for a fun way to get lots of addition practice in, you may like to try this fun addition math mystery 'Case of The Angry Adder' Available in different difficulty levels. Click on a grade cover to find out the addition skills covered in each.

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AuthorA 21st century School Teacher, Mother, and Wife. 
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