I am back in the swing of things this week and I am even AHEAD of schedule (for now, until I realize what I have forgotten!). I had to get boxes out of the way in order to think more clearly. Now that we are almost unpacked, it is much easier for me to create! This week’s topic is algebra. I know, a scary word for many! When I think about my experiences with algebra as a child, I know I didn’t hear that word until junior high, when I took Pre-Algebra. Now, I may have been exposed to some of the concepts of algebra, but I know I did not use that word! With the new standards that are coming out (Common Core as well as other state standards), algebra concepts are expected to be taught to students as young as kindergarten! Fortunately, they aren’t expecting 5 year olds to solve problems such as 3y + 6 = 48 / 2, solve for y. But, as much as I think we are pushing our kids with new standards, I also believe that they are up for the challenge! I think it is all about balance…if we are going to push them that hard, we need to give them extra time to PLAY and be kids.
Okay, rant over! 🙂 On to the algebra ideas. I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a Hands-On Equations training several years ago. I had always heard about the wonderful products they offered and had even seen them, but the training helped me understand the WHY behind the ideas. Now, they offer class sets, SMART board activities, and even iPad apps to bring their products to your classroom. They offer free webinars too, so you can see some of their products in action for yourself. No, I don’t work with them, for them, or get any profit from saying this. I just love their products!
For the younger kids, they need to start with basic facts. Remember this thing? It has the same idea behind it as Hands on Equations, but for the younger students. You could do the same thing with a simple scale and weights. Students could add different weights to each side to see what numbers BALANCE out with another set of numbers.
After the teaching, kids still need lots of practice with these ideas. Here are two things I made to help with the practice. First, is my Diving Under the Sea file folder game. I made this so it can be differentiated for all the levels in your classroom. The first set is for addition and subtraction. There are 4 sets of animals and colors so you can have the kids work on the skill they are ready for. For example, the orange fish set has basic addition facts (0-9) while the blue octopus has higher subtraction facts (10-20). You can have them work on one skill at a time, or they could mix and match. Here is how I put mine together.
I glued the cover on the front of the file folder and glued the small label to the tab of the folder so when it is put away, I can see what it is. Then, I glued the large TRUE and FALSE circles on the inside of the folder.
I glued the answer key and the larger label on the back cover so students can check their own answers.
I added velcro to the inside under the TRUE and FALSE labels. (I grabbed velcro from the Dollar Store and cut each piece in half to make it go further).
By the way, the game pieces were created inside a grid for easier cutting, but you could make it “cuter” by cutting right around the animals too if you wanted. A little bit of velcro is all that is needed on the back of each piece. See you next week!