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Math Night 2012


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Seasonal Ideas

Happy Independence Day!

Don’t miss the opportunity to see the lunar eclipse tonight! This is great if you are studying the phases of the moon! In case you found the eclipse imperceptible in the midst of fireworks or you miss this opportunity, learn about the eclipse and see it here and here.

More Free and Editable AMI—Electricity

So, before the rest of the year became virtual, my students wanted to learn about electricity. I was rather disappointed that we wouldn’t get to learn about electricity, so I decided to give them my best effort at a week with AMI electricity learning. Below are my plans. You are welcome to copy, paste and adapt them for your students.

Learn About Electricity


1.Unsafe electric conditions.
Watch this.
Now, look around your house. Do you see any unsafe electricalconditions in your house? Tell your parents

2. How does electricity get to your house? Watch this.

3. Again with your parent’s permission turn on all the lights andmany items that use electricity. Go back and read the meter. Writedown the number. How did it change, and what did you notice?

4. Ask your parents if they can let you see all of the electric bills. Make a bar graph or line graph to show the cost of electricity foreach month for the last year. Which month was most expensive forelectricity? Why do you think so? Discuss this with your parents.

5. Build a lemon battery. This is a rather involved project, but youcan get all the materials at Wal-Mart. You can find alligator clipsand small light bulbs in the automotive section.

6. Read your electric meter outside. Write down the number, Beforeyou do this, turn off as many lights and appliances as possible. Askyour parents’ permission before you go outside, if you’re not surewhat your electric meter looks like or how to read it watch this.

7. Take a picture and post it to Dojo. Did you get the lemon battery to work? Do you think other fruits or vegetables would work? Which ones?


I know number 7 is a little steep to ask of parents, but some students might accomplish this and what a much better idea than playing video games all day!

Quick and Easy Thanksgiving Enrichment Lesson for K and 1st

First, get a small box. I have a small glittery box I bought for a dollar at the Dollar Tree. With the mystery box students have to guess what is inside. They have to ask me 10 questions that have yes or no answers before I will let them guess what is inside the box.

At one school I work at the students are quicker to guess items and so I gave them no hints. At the other school, the students required hints. You will need to do the mystery box activity with them several times before they get the hang of how to ask good questions. Anyways, so I put a feather in the box.

Next, I tell them to imagine they have a pet turkey but that he got very sick and lost all of his feathers. As a result he will be very cold this winter so what will we do to keep him warm?

Then I give students a picture with a turkey that has no feathers. I honestly found some black and white turkey clip art and then printed it. I would share it with ya’ll but I literally cut it with scissors and pasted it on a white sheet of paper and ran copies. I told students to draw a picture of what they would do for their turkey and they did. I also told students I was looking for original ideas about how to keep the turkey warm. I got plenty of non original ideas like feathers, a blanket, a cover etc. The original responses were such things as give him medicine for his feathers to grow, build a fire, put him in the oven, build him a house, and a HOT TUB (which was my favorite).

After this I show them the story of this bird who lost all her feathers. This bird gained lots of fans and people mailed her sweaters from all over the world. Now, I have tried this lesson showing the video before I have the kids come up with their ways to keep their turkey warm and I like showing the video last because it doesn’t influence the students’ originality.

In closing have the students with original ideas show their work.


Ahhhh! Spiders!

Now, I must say, I had some absolute fun teaching spiders during the month of October. I did about four 30 minute enrichment lessons and I pulled resources form everywhere. I am going to tell you about what I did because it may give you some ideas to teach your own students.

Lesson 1: I had students write and draw a spider with the body parts they knew to get a general idea of what they already knew. Then I showed students a spider video which tells about whether spiders are poisonous or not and some other spider information.

Lesson 2: I then taught them a spider song which I got from Deanna Jump’s spider resource here. I sang the spider body parts song to the tune of “Are You Sleeping” instead of to the tune of Head Shoulders Knees and Toes. I didn’t really use a lot of her content since I am not a classroom teacher, BUT what I did use I LOVED! During this lesson, I had students point to the spider body parts as if they were a spider. I also pulled a spider diagram from the internet to explain where the spider body parts were.

With our remainder of time, we went outside and the students became “spider hunters”. They were super excited about this. I gave each child one of those cheap plastic magnifying glasses from oriental trading for searching. Prior to searching for spiders, I give a talk about being very careful not to touch, pick up, or damage spiders. Kids will try to smoosh them sometimes if you don’t tell them this. Another important thing to tell students is that they are very big and if they want to see spiders, they need to be slow and quiet. Remind them that is someone 100 times their size was looking at them it would be scary and they would want to run, too.

Lesson 3: We built spiders similar to what Deanna Jump did, but I used black construction paper and modeled how to draw a large oval. Students cut out the black oval and I cut out black circle on the die cut at school. I also cut out strips of black for the legs. Students glued their parts together and labeled the parts with label parts I made. I made labels so that the young students didn’t have to spell the complicated body part words. Depending on the group this took up to two 30 minute slots. Here are some of our finished spiders. We decided not to do Google eyes for time’s sake.

The bows…I totally got from the Deanna Jump resource. In order to get a bow for your spider, you had to have your parts labeled correctly. Not everyone got a bow for their spider 🙂 and they definitely wanted one.

Lesson 4: I read Hey Little Ant which is a story giving students perspective about the size of an ant and of them. At the end of the book, it asks if the ant should be smooshed or stepped on. I used this as a writing prompt for children to write and draw what they would do except I ask them to think about what they would do to a spider. (I did have some children reporting someone smooshed a spider on our spider hunt :(. ) Time overdue for a lesson on empathy.

I hope you can take some of what I have done and use it in your own lessons :). Happy Teaching!

Happy Independence Day!

Make Snowflakes and Learn Math!

What a great way to sneak math into a fun winter activity!  Have students figure out how many degrees will have to be in each angle if a hexagon shape is cut into a snowflake.  Well. 60 degrees of course because 60×6 angles would make 360 degrees.  You can also discuss symmetry after they are cut out to see if the snowflakes truly did turn out symmetrically.

I had students cut these out for a fun enrichment activity.  First of all, I read a portion of this book to them since it is about the science behind snowflakes.  Did you know snow is NOT MADE by freezing raindrops?  Me neither.  It is made by frozen water droplets smaller than the tip of your hair.  It takes over 100.000 water droplets to make one snowflake.  This information and more are included in this unique book which gives the science behind snowflakes.

After I read students a portion of this book, we made snowflakes.  I will show you below.  The more you do it the better you get!

Step 1:  Get a pair of scissors and a sheet of 8.5 x 11 computer printer paper.

Step 2.  Fold the paper in half “hamburger style” or the fat way.

Step 3.  Fold the paper in half again. Make sure the open corners are facing you.  If they are not facing you then your snowflake will be cut in half unintentionally, and you will be left wondering why this happened.

Step 4: Fold the top corner down until it is slightly over the bottom of the rectangle above.  I have not changed the orientation of the paper to accomplish this.  The open corner are still in the same location as above

Step 5:  Finally fold the bottom triangle over the other triangle in a waffle cone type of configuration–(that’s what the kids called it)

Step 6.  Slide the end of the “waffle cone” off of the rest of the figure.  and you will be left with the bottom of the “waffle cone” which is a triangle.

Step 7.  Cut any type of figures you like into the triangle and experiment with different patterns.

Step 8.  Open up your snowflake and see what you have created!

Hang them up  in your classroom for a festive winter theme!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Lessons on snowflakes coming soon! 🙂

Fun Christmas Lesson While Learning a Little History!

This year just for fun I let my students experience the “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” song during a 30 minute enrichment lesson. First, I let the students watch this video in which Gayla Peevey sings the song.

Then I give the students a copy of the words, and I rewind it to the beginning so the students can sing it with the words. At about 2:34 I stop the song and ask the students to tell me what they think happened to Gayla later in her life. I’ve heard students say several things ranging from Gayla became famous all the way to Gayla died. Then I ask them how old they think Gayla is today. I give students a few minutes to figure out how old she is (Gayla’s age and the date of the video show on the video). Then I play the remainder of the video for students to see Gayla all grown up at 73 years old.

Next, I read students a little history of Gayla’s life from this website. Then I follow up with having the students write an acrostic poem with the word hippopotamus. Students were so proud of their acrostic poems! If time, sing the song again! I always like singing the song because it makes me happy and makes the kids happy, too. Here are a few of the student’s acrostic poems. Enjoy!

Fun, Free, Halloween, Pumpkin Activity!

I just learned about this fun, free, Halloween, pumpkin activity this year!  The kids absolutely love it!  I used it with kindergarten and first graders.  All the teachers that have seen it love it too!  First stock up on some orange paper!  I used copy paper.

Read this Story.  A teacher friend gave it to me, but I changed out the witch and ghost for a mouse and a cricket. ( i don’t know who wrote this story, but if I knew I would give credit.

As you read the story the children will fold and cut as the directions in the story tell them to.

Once upon a time a very small mouse was walking in the woods. The cold wind was blowingthe dry leaves all around her. The little mouse was frantically searching for a house for the winter. She could not find one. Suddenly a piece of orange paper, blown by the wind landed at her feet. She picked it up. The little mouse looked closely at the paper and then she said, “I shall make myself a little house from this piece of orange paper.”

She folded the paper in half.

Then she took her scissors–she always carried a pair in her pocket.(Cut off the two corners to make a roof. Cut the construction paper as a story indicates.) 


This will do just fine, she said as she looked at her new house, but I will need a door. With her scissors she cut a door. She cut a special door for her pointy nose.(Cut a rectangle shape with one endpoint up more towards the bottom of the folded edge.)

The little mouse walked through the door into the little orange house it was very dark inside. She quickly hurried back out. I will need to make windows to let in the light in,”she said. The little mouse cut a front and back window (cut a square shape in the middle of the paper opposite end of the paper than the door. Cut through both sides of the paper. I have students fold the paper a bit to get their scissors in the paper.) 

Oh it was a very fine looking house. Her very own little house with a roof, a door, and windows was all finished. But just as the little mouse started to go inside for the winter, she saw a tiny cricket come down the wind- swept path. As the cricket came to a stop near the little house, the little mouse saw that the cricket was crying. Why are you crying asked the little mouse? The tiny cricket stopped crying and answered, “it is cold and windy. It is getting dark and I have no place to spend the winter.” “You may spend the winter with me in my new house,” said the little mouse. “Oh thank you!” the happy tiny cricket said as she peeked in through the window. “This is a very nice house!” “First,” said the mouse, “ I will need to make you a little door of your very own.” She took her scissors again and began to cut. She cut a very tiny door.(Cut a triangle on the fold of the paper between the big door and the window. Make a longer part of the triangle point up)

The two happy friends went inside. The tiny cricket went in the very little door, and a little mouse went in through her own special door. All winter long they lived happily together inside a little orange house. Do you want to see inside their little orange house?  Just open your piece of paper and surprise!


Before you open the paper, take predictions from the students to see if they can tell you what the inside of the house will look like.

What do you see? A pumpkin of course!

I hope your children enjoy this as much as mine did!

5 Fun Activities for Halloween

  1. Halloween Oronyms/MadGabs.  In case you don’t know oronyms are phrases that are that sound like another phrase.  These would be most appropriate for third, fourth or fifth graders.  My students absolutely LOVE these.  For example, COUNTER ACT YOU LAW = COUNT DRACULA.  Check these out by sawdust girl.
  2. Pumpkin Logic Puzzles with ordinal numbers:  Check out this fun logic puzzle by KinderIRick on Teachers Pay Teachers Pay Teachers.  This would be perfect for your kinder or first students!
  3. Don’t forget Super Teacher Worksheets!  You can find this fun crypto riddle for free! This would be great for K-2. 
  4. Halloween Hink Pinks.  Hink pInks are rhyming words that answer a riddle.  They are usually one syllable.  For example, ghost toast would be the answer to a Hink Pink riddle.  These would be most appropriate for third-fifth graders.

5.  Pumpkin Patch Math Investigations.  These are different activities to do if your class goes to the pumpkin patch and brings back pumpkins!  This is the only paid item on the list for $3.50.  These come from my own classroom of third graders several years ago–most appropriate for grades 3-5.





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