Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Keep Math Minds Active All Day Every Day!

Hi, Teaching Friends!

I'm a big believer in making the most of "down" moments during the school day, like when your students are lining up to leave the classroom or when everyone is trying / struggling to find a page in a textbook, except for those three students who were there almost before you finished saying the number. Keeping all kids' minds active all the time sets the expectation that school is where you're always learning something new!

Where do these moments happen in your building? 

* Outside your classroom door, as students line up to come in.
* Inside your classroom, as students line up to leave throughout the day
* In the cafeteria line
* Wherever your students line up for buses at dismissal
* Outside Specials classrooms, like Art and Music, as you and your students wait for the previous class to come out
* If you take your students as a class to use the boys room and girls room, soooo much time can fly by! I know that other teachers have given me funny looks when they pass by and hear me challenging my students with things like, "Give me five names for 10" as I hold up five fingers for them to "knock down", but the kids actually love it!

Long ago, I started a list of times and places like that, which then led to another list of what I refer to as "quick think" activities to fill those moments.

Here are a few math ideas that are on the "quick think" list.

* Play mental math games while you're in waiting mode, like "I'm Thinking of a Number". This game is so easy to differentiate for any level by varying the difficulty of the clues, from "It's two more than 5" to "It's $.45 less than $3", right on up through fractions and decimals. Plus, it's 100% no-prep!

* Use math logic riddles!  Enlarge a riddle task card and post it inside and outside your classroom door, or post a bunch of them around your building, especially in those spots that often keep students waiting!  As your students solve these, they're not only practicing math skills, but inference and deductive reasoning, too!

* Post Hink Pink math riddles around your building, especially in those "waiting" places. Do you know about Hink Pinks? I first heard about them from my college roommate. A Hink Pink is a riddle with a two word answer, with each word having one syllable.  So the answer to "What do you call a much-loved 3D shape that has no edges or corners?" is "Dear Sphere".  There are also Hinky Pinkys (two-syllable words) and Hinkety Pinketys (three-syllables).  

How about "a chewable answer to an addition problem"?  It's a gum sum!

"A straw to use with a six-sided solid"?  Cube tube!

Yes, Hink Pinks are silly, but they're such a fun way to keep your kiddos thinking, and to make learning math vocabulary fun!

* Are you responsible for a shared bulletin board in your hallway?  Keep it easy by loading it up with math challenges!  Post math riddle cards, Hink Pinks, or do a quick search for math riddles for kids.

Q: If two's company and three's a crowd, what are four and five?
A: Nine!

Keep math fun handy for early finishers by putting a math brain teaser up on your interactive board, or by creating a challenge board or box in your math center.

The idea is to not waste those waiting times (the minutes lost add up quickly!). Instead, fill those moments with short "quick think" activities that will keep math fun for your students!

If you like the math task cards that were shown in this post, you can get the set of 24 two-digit pirate riddle cards here in English and here in Spanish, plus lots more kinds of math riddle task cards in many topics at levels K-4 here.

Looking for more Hink Pinks?  Barb Evans at It's About Time, Teachers blog is the Queen of Hink Pinks!
Looking for an all-school math activity that's super-fun? Read about Yohaku, a math game that has The Elementary Math Maniac's whole student body and even the teachers involved!

Happy Teaching!



  1. I enjoyed this blog post. It is inspiring and informative.


  2. Your blog is great. I read a lot of interesting things from it. Thank you very much for sharing. Hope you will update more news in the future.
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