Thursday, March 1, 2012

Math Games; An FYI Post

I wanted to give more information about how I do my math games.  The math games I design are what I am using in my classroom with my kiddos.  As the year goes by, the games get "harder," meaning that we are no longer working on those early math concepts from the beginning of the year (such as part/part/whole,  and number combinations for 10, etc).  The games match how we (myself and another first grade teacher in my district) created our curriculum this past summer to match the First Grade Common Core Standards and how we thought the pacing should be.  We created the pacing, keeping in mind what our kiddos had struggled with in the past and making sure we had plenty of time to teach it and have our kids master what they need to.  (ex... place value and double digit adding with regrouping!!)  We were SO relieved when money was removed from our standards.  It has become such a difficult task to teach our kiddos such an abstract concept---especially in a world where that uses credit cards 98% of the time!  I would always have those kids who got it right away and those that are in second grade now that still have no clue....

Right now in math, we are working on place value and the 120 chart (soooo weird to say that instead of the 100's chart..)  :)  I do have to say that I absolutely LOVE the new standards.  I feel that it ups the game for our kids and I am quite anxious to see how it plays out and how the kids take to it.  (I have a love of math too----I'm always thinking about numbers, patterns.....  just another reason I don't sleep at night!!!)

One thing that I had created and have on TpT for free is a game that helps kids understand the concept of the equal sign.  What an important concept that we never really STRESSED so much to our kids.  They really do think that the equal sign meant the answer, when really we need to be teaching them that it's kinda like a balance.  One side is the SAME as the other side.  A game that I used to first introduce it was my True/False Equations.  They are looking at the number sentences and deciding whether they are true or false...  Really thinking about if it's the right answer..  It still has them seeing it with an "answer" but it is the beginning of getting them to evaluate what's there.  In some of my math games (which, I actually eliminated from my St. Patrick's Day and April Showers-- I believe--but it will resurface in May's games) is having 2 number sentences on both sides...  (ex.  2+3=4+1)  and having the kids decide if THOSE were true.  That sorting IS included in my Dr. Seuss Math Games packet.

Click on the picture to take you to my TpT store to grab yourself a free copy of my True/False equations.  It's an arctic animal theme again, but it could still work in your classroom for a few more weeks! :)

Last, I just wanted to say that I've only been doing this for the last 7 weeks.  Crazy to think about what all I have created in that time.  That being said, I do not have anything for the beginning of the year to post.  (well, the first half of the year!)  I will be working on those once I finish with the year.  The last concept we teach will be Geometry and Fractions.  We felt that we wanted our kids to end with a "fun" concept, that is FAIRLY easy for most students.  (Plus there are SO many hands-on activities that we will have to do with the Geometry one specifically, to cover the standards!  When better to do that than the end of the year when they are ready for summer!)

Thanks for reading!  I know that I tend to get a bit wordy.....  I'm working on that!  (and trying to get better at uploading pictures from my camera so that I can share those with the world!!)


  1. Having taught firsties for 26 years, I second that emotion!! It's so difficult for 5-6 year olds to conserve number so teaching money was simply a memorizing activity for them. One thing I learned in a math inservice is to substitute the words "is the same as" when using an equal sign. For instance, 2+4 is the same as 6. It seems to help. Thank you so much for the freebie!

    1. We were soooooo happy to see that last year when we first peeked at the common core! :). I totally used that saying this year---a LOT more with my kiddos and it did seem to stick better---we never really taught it that way, nor did we have equations with the answers first. My kiddos were doing well with it till I threw a subtraction problem with the difference first AND having a missing part. (talk about combining standards) :). So, that's where I need to head with my group now and come up with some more hands on stuff. :). Thanks for taking time to comment! (and for stopping by!)

  2. I'm a student teacher, so conceptual mathematics is VERY VERY fresh for me and the ONLY thing I know in terms of pedagogy. When my Kindergarten kiddos and I were working on addition, we read "Equal Schmequal" to talk about the many ideas of "equal" and then used a primary balance scale and teddy bear counters to do addition and subtraction. So all at once, they were viewing the equal sign to mean "balanced" (I put it in the center of the primary balance), were counting on, and were constructing knowledge. I then introduced using the phrase "is the same as" because they could see, when the primary balance was balanced, that it WAS the same as.

    It made SUCH SUCH a difference to them, and you could really tell that they were thinking critically!

    1. It is SO important for them to actually SEE with that balance scale :) There is a GREAT website we used this year: scroll down to number balance. It was fabulous how it tied in the number sentences and equal sign as well as show it being balanced. The problem is that when the kiddos start to work on their math fluency, like 99% of all worksheets show equations with the = at the end. They then start to go back and just think that = means the answer. I actually have seen that this year with my kids. I have the high kids in first grade, and while they understood this concept when we taught it, we have since used workbooks and things that I had not created--which means the equal sign came last in a problem. I just gave them a sheet with it first, and some of them forgot what to do! I have to make sure to keep exposing them to the different ways we can use the equal sign, and it will stick. :) Thanks for stopping by and commenting! Good luck with your student teaching! :)

  3. Angie,

    We don't have the Common Core in Texas yet. I have learned so much about it from reading other blogs. One thing I have done is like the example you gave with two number sentences. I had the kiddos use an actual balance to "prove" their answer. This was a great visual to help them physically understand what the "=" means.

    Heather's Heart

    1. I love the balance scale. I wish I had more of them, but our budget has shrunk again. I'm trying to figure out a good grant idea with them for our district grants... ;)

      I found that my kids have gained quite a good understanding for the sign. At least I thought. Now, I have to remind you we group for math and I have the high math kids. They were getting PRETTY good looking at equations with the = sign first or last, etc... We had looked at number sentences on both sides, and they were doing fairly well with that too---but all of the sudden, they have reverted to thinking it just means the answer! I threw some addition on one side and subtraction on the other-and it was like we were speaking a different language! Guess this will DEFINITELY be a topic that needs reviewing all year! (it doesn't help when parents only see it as one way at home with them... we need to change their thinking too!)

      I LOVE the common core standards-at least for Math! Since i was part of the committee to redo our curriculum, I know it best. I'm just diving in the LA core, and it seems pretty good too. I'm interested to get into it more next year. I have a little this year--but we will be in full speed ahead next year! :)


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