Math Lit: Counting on Pablo

One day recently we were exploring multiples of five in our math lesson. After working with a hands-on activity where we were putting 5 pennies into a given number of piggy banks and then working with a 50 chart (in a plastic page protector) to look at the patterns created by the multiples of five we gathered for our math meeting and I read this book to them:

The math concept in this book is skip counting, and in the story the produce for the market is counted by 1s, 2s, 5s, and 10s. I had students bring their 50 charts to the rug and put them on clipboards. As I read the book we circled numbers to show the counting. I probably should have put a 100 chart in the page protector also just to make it easier (note to self for next time). I felt that using the story really enhanced our exploration of number patterns in multiplication.

Do you have a favorite books for skip counting? Comment below.


October STEM

We had fun with October's challenge, and a couple of the students came to me later to say they thought it was the most challenging activity we had done yet (they are starting to see my plan of beginning with simple activities and upping the ante!).

This month I used this wonderful activity from Get Caught Engineering. This product is found at TPT for just $3; I purchased it during the back to school sale this year.

If you are interested in some simple to put together STEM ideas, check out this store; they have several free items.

We started the activity about a week ahead, because this one required students to gather outdoor materials. Rather than take them out during the school day I chose to give each of them a one gallon zip bag and have them gather their materials at home. The instructions were simple - gather materials you think birds could use to build their nest. They gathered dried grass, leaves, twigs, sticks, spanish moss . . .  and filled up their bags.

When the day for our challenge came I put down newspaper at their desk and gave each pair of students some type of tray to build on. To mix things up, I used Class Dojo to generate random names and paired them up very differently :) One thing I really enjoyed about this was that the two boys that others seemed to think would not be very successful (you could tell by some eye rolling and body language) were be far the best engineers! Here is a picture of their completed nest:

The only thing I supplied was balls of string and yarn; they could cut off as much as they wanted. This nest was awesome - you can pick it up and it holds together. There are three small stones in it representing birds' eggs and they were completely secure. 

Some other engineers came up with these variations:


We had a lot of fun with this challenge, and definitely a new appreciation for the engineering genius of birds! We followed up with a short video clip about birds' nests that showed different types of nests and talked about whether the males, females, or both did most of the nest building.


Math Lit: The Great Graph Contest

This is another wonderful book by Loreen Leedy. It was a new purchase during this school year, and my third graders gave it a big thumbs up!

Gonk and Beezy (a toad and a lizard) get into a contest to see who creates the best graphs. Along the way they demonstrate collecting data and displaying it. This could be a great introduction to data concepts. I chose to use it after we had some experiences with data, letting students identify what type of organizer was being used (the book has Venn diagrams, circle graphs, picture graphs, and bar graphs). At the end of the book there are ideas for using the content also.

The story is told with cartoons, thought bubbles, even photographs. My kiddos were very engaged with the action. This year we revisit this topic during each math unit, so this is a great resource to come back to throughout our learning.

Do you have a favorite book about graphing?


Math Lit: Two of Everything

This is a book that has been in my classroom for a couple of years, but somehow I had overlooked it until about a week ago! Never again -- this old Chinese folktale is a fun book for introducing multiplication with a factor of 2.

Mr. Haktak finds a pot buried in the earth while digging vegetables. It turns out that anything that goes into the pot gets doubled. Mr. and Mrs. Haktak realize that they can keep putting in gold coins, and soon the floor is covered with coins! However, in a small accident Mrs. Haktak falls into the pot and is doubled -- and then Mr. Haktak also falls in. Don't worry -- it all works out :)

This book is great for primary students working on doubles facts and for intermediate students working on multiplication by the factor 2. To give my students practice relating the new multiplication concept to the doubles facts that they already know (OK, several of them don't), I gave them gold coins to double. They wrote the addition fact first, then the multiplication fact.

This can be done with counters, but I also made some cards for them to use. I'm sharing them with you today to use with this book. If you can't find a copy, you could make up a story about the magic pot and still use the cards. Just click on the picture below to get a set. With twelve cards, I just made a set for each table to work with. Rather than use up copies for a record sheet, students wrote in their interactive math notebooks.

Do you know any other great books for doubles / twos?


Math Lit: Sir Cumference and the Off The Charts Dessert

I enjoy reading books by Cindy Neuschwander to my students. I've already written about Sir Cumference and all the King's Tens here; today I am sharing my newest book.

I recently used this book to introduce collecting and displaying data (3.MD.2.3). The story of a contest between two bakers to prove who has the best sweet treat provides the context for keeping track of the votes for each product. It is an engaging story which my students enjoyed. The story includes picture graphs, tally charts, pie charts, and bar graphs.

To help my kiddos learn about these ways to display their data I put together a simple page for them to complete as we read the book. They gathered on the rug for our math meeting with their pencils and clipboards. We filled in the page as we read, then they put it in their math notebooks. I'm sharing it with you today for use with this book. If you don't have the book yet, you can click the picture below to pick it up from Amazon.

To get your freebie, click this picture:


Fun With STEM

When my grade level team met for pre-planning the math teachers had to discuss and set a goal to meet the objectives laid out by our district and school. We decided that our goal will be to begin doing STEM activities on a monthly basis.

I'm really on board with this; I had already determined that I wanted to do this over the summer. So, we had a learning activity in both August and September.

In August we did this awesome cup stacking challenge. Students worked together to build the highest tower they could. It was a great opportunity to get them working together in a team.


At the end they concluded that the foundation made all the difference in being successful builders.

Our September challenge also involved building a tower but it was very different from the first challenge. This time each team was given 20 pieces of spaghetti, 1 yard of tape, 1 yard of string, and 1 large marshmallow. The challenge was to build a tower that would hold up the marshmallow. Also, the tower had to stand up by itself! I teach two classes, so a total of 8 teams attempted this challenge and only two were successful. It was even better than the first -- so much problem solving going on, lots of great discussion about what to try. They had 18 minutes to complete their tower.



Both of these challenges were found online at other blogger's sites. Check out my Pinterest STEM board here to see these and other ideas I have pinned.

Are you incorporating STEM this year?
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