Monday, January 28, 2013

Heads and Tails Games: 
Using Coins to Help Kids Develop Math Concepts

At home, most kids have coins available. Kids are highly motivated to learn about money!  So - I love to use coins in math games. 

Heads and Tails is probably my all-time favorite math game.   Here are a couple variations that kids love to play at school and then go home and teach their families.  It is so flexible - kids can learn to play as they are learning to count and keep on playing variations of the game as they learn increasingly complex math skills. 

Basic Game - Getting Started with Counting Pennies:  Kids work with partners.  To start, one partner calls heads or tails.  The other partner drops the coins (either from his/her hand or out of a cup).  The child who has heads works with all the coins that land on heads.   The child who has tails works with all the coins that land on tails.   Each student counts his/her coins and the student with the coins having the highest value wins the round. 

As our Pre-K parents come in for orientation, we suggest this as a great game to play while waiting at the doctor's office, etc. 

Addition within Ten: Kids repeatedly play with a given number of coins.  They write the addition fact for each round.  

Adding More Coins: We start with all pennies, then add additional coins as students are ready for the challenge.  (Playing with all dimes is a great way for kids to practice counting by tens!)  

Comparing Numbers: As kids learn about <, > and = , we add a whiteboard and kids write their problem. 

Working with Two Digit Addition: When we work with 2 digit addition, kids work with coins worth one dollar.  They play Heads and Tails, then add their collections to make sure they each counted accurately.  (If their total is not equal to $1.00, they re-check their work.)

I hope you find these games useful.  Thanks for stopping by!   Anne

Thursday, January 24, 2013

You Can Bulldoze a b - Clearing up b/d confusion

Here's a little trick that helps my kids distinguish b from  d.  Once kids are confident working across a line of text from left to right, they are ready to "bulldoze" from left to right.   (If they need help remembering to start at the left a green sticker, for go, at the left  and a red sticker, for stop, at the right often help.) 

As they approach a b, they will find that you can bulldoze a b.   

Many kids who have started to get frustrated by issues distinguishing b and d really enjoy this activity.    

If kids try to bulldoze a d, it just tips over . . . .

Once this activity is introduced in a small group, kids enjoy independently "bulldozing each b" during literacy center time.  
Each time they bulldoze the letter b into a new box they say, "You can bulldoze a b!"   It really sticks with them!   

MatchBox and HotWheels often have small, inexpensive bulldozers available.  This one belonged to my son and I "inherited" it when he grew a bit old for it.  

Many of my kids love this activity.   I hope you find it useful!    

 :)   Anne

P.S. -  Do you have favorite ways to help kids distinguish b and d?  I'd love to hear about them!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Addition Concentration Game 

My kids love playing math games with cards. I like these games because most kids have the materials they need at home to keep on playing and practicing. Addition Concentration is one of my favorites. 


Kids work with a partner.  They look through a deck of cards and find pairs of cards that add up to their target number.   In this picture, the target number is ten, but we play with a variety of numbers.    

For a traditional game of Addition Concentration, players place cards on the table face down.  Partners take turns flipping two cards over.   If the numbers on the cards add up to 10, the player places the cards into the addition sentence and writes the addition fact.   Their partner then reverses the order of the cards and writes the related addition fact.    (I like to use whiteboards, but using Magna Doodles or paper and pencil also works well.)  

To switch it up a bit, try "Clean Sweep" memory.  The sweeper says, "I can sweep the board with 3 pairs."   Their partner then puts 3 pairs of cards, face up, on the table and gives the sweeper a few seconds to study the pairs.  The partner then flips the cards face down and the sweeper attempts  to find all the pairs that add up to the target number.  Partners switch roles and play continues. 

I like this variation because players are not guessing where numbers may be; they study the cards and build memory skills as they try to recall the location of pairs of cards.   If a child is able to sweep the board with 3 pairs, he/she can try to sweep the board with 4 pairs during his/her next turn.   Kids take great pride in sweeping the board with an increasing number of cards.

Because cards are readily available with so many different pictures, this can easily work into a variety of themes just by changing the deck of cards.

I also love to play with ten frame cards!

I hope you find this game useful.  Do you have favorite addition card games?   
I'd love to hear about them!          Anne  

Monday, January 14, 2013

Fun with Flash Cards

I've been focusing on fun ways for students to develop fluency with math facts while actively using flash cards. Here are some of my students' favorite ways to work through a pack of flash cards. 

Kids work with a partner.  One student "builds" the addition problem while the other student answers the problem using magnetic numbers. The final step: Kids check to make sure their answers match one another. 

Here's a variation on the idea above.  Kids work with a partner. Each child "builds" the problem using unifix cubes.  Kids compare their answers to make sure they match. 

I'm lucky to have this great floor number line!  My kids love placing their flashcards on the number corresponding to the answer on the number line.  (If I didn't have this number line, I'd improvise by placing numbers on the floor for kids to work with.) 

My kids find everything a bit more fun while they are working on a Magna Doodle.  One child places the flashcards; the other writes the answers and then they trade roles. (Chalkboards or whiteboards also work well for this activity.)

Kids place their flashcards in the "parking lot" for the answer. Placing flashcards into numbered cups also works well. Click here to download the Parking Lot sheets. 

The classic game of Compare (or War) is also a favorite with my kids. Kids just split the deck and put their cards facedown in a pile. Each player puts his/her top card in the middle, and the player with the highest answer keeps both cards.  (The classic games just never go out of style.) 

The cards shown in this post are for addition and subtraction within Five.  I run them off on colored cardstock.  To download a copy of these cards, click here.

Updated 12/28/14:  I've just added free flashcards for addition and subtraction within ten to my Teachers pay Teachers shop.  You can find the addition cards by clicking here.  For the subtraction cards, click here

Do you have a favorite way of working with flashcards?  I'd love to hear about it!

Thanks for much for stopping by!
:) Anne Gardner (NBCT)