September 30, 2019

4 More Fun And Easy Ways To Practice Multiplication Facts

When it comes to math facts, drill and repetition are necessary, but the challenge is making the task interesting and fun for students. The key is to mix up the practice and try some new activities. You'll know which ones the kids like best because they will ask to play them over and over again!

Before The Activity

Ask students to focus on remembering one fact at the conclusion of the activity that previously has been difficult to memorize.

1. Play Rock Paper Scissors Math

I can't take credit for this game! I've seen it in a few places online, but I will explain how I adapted the game for my classroom.

Students walk around the room with hand raised until they find a partner. Each student high fives another student with hand raised and the pair begins to play. Together they say "Rock, paper, scissors, math!" On "math" each student puts out any number of fingers two through nine. No ones or zeros allowed because there's always that one kid! Students then multiply the two numbers of fingers that they each put out. The first student to say the answer correctly gets "wins."

The teacher rings a bell to signal the end of each round. Students again raise hands, find a different partner, and repeat the process.

This activity is great when you have limited time for practice and/or the kids are antsy and need to move about!

2. Use Write and Pass Notebooks

Using cheap notebooks, write the facts to be practiced on the cover of each notebook such as x7. Attach a multiplication chart to the back of the notebook. Some school notebooks already have one of these printed in the back! You will need as many notebooks as students.

Decide on and explain the direction that the notebooks will be passed around the class. Students should be able to reach the student who they will pass to without getting up with the exception of the one student at the end who will need to get up to give a notebook to the student at the beginning.

Give each student a random notebook and have them turn to the first blank page. He/she will write out the facts indicated in that notebook until the teacher indicates to stop.

7 x 1 = 7
7 x 2 = 14
7 x 3 = 21
and so on

You can ring a bell when it looks like most students are finishing up to signal that it is time to check answers and pass the notebooks.

Allow students a minute to check their answers with the key in the back of the notebook.

Notebooks get passed to the next student as explained and students start on the next set of facts. Continue as time permits. Collect the notebooks and store to use again for a quick review.

3. Grab the Sidewalk Chalk

Nice enough to go outside? Break out the sidewalk chalk and bring the flashcards and learning outside!

Separate into small groups of about 5 or 6 with a teacher, aide, or student leader for each group. The teacher, aide or student leader holds up flashcards and the students answer on the sidewalk or blacktop with sidewalk chalk.

If using student leaders, switch up the student leaders after a bit so everyone has the opportunity to practice with the sidewalk chalk.

 Multiplication Facts Wheels

Multiplication Facts Wheels

4. Print and Go Math Wheels

Ready for some calmer practice? Try these printable math wheels. Use as morning work, daily practice, or small groups.

Follow Up

After the activity, students share which fact stuck by writing it on a sticky note and sticking it up on the board or in a place designated by the teacher.

Click here for 3 Additional Ways to Practice Math Facts

What are some creative ways have you practiced math facts? Feel free to share your own ideas in the comments below!

September 22, 2019

A Plan For Successful Tutoring

After school tutoring can be a great way to use your teaching skills and strategies to reach students on a different level while earning a little extra income along the way.


Legal Stuff

1. See Your Accountant

We do not offer tax or legal advice so be sure to consult your accountant and/or attorney to make sure that your tutoring business is set up correctly in your state or region before starting out.

Getting Ready

1. Securing a Place

Secure a place where you will conduct your tutoring. I have found the public libraries in my area to be good places to meet with students for tutoring because they offer a quiet area away from major distractions. As a bonus, being at the public library can open up possibilities to you and your student that you may not have known about! 

If tutoring at your school, make sure that you get permission from the administration or board. 

2. Getting the Word Out

Does your school secretary or guidance office keep a list of tutors? Will you leave business cards in prominent places? Will you use social media posts? 

Many clients seem to come by word of mouth and social media recommendations once you get established. 

3. Your First Student

As soon as you have your first student lined up, it's time to prepare. Preparation is the key to a successful tutoring session!

Talk with the student's parent or guardian to set up a time and place for tutoring. Exchange contact information. Talk about expectations, specifically where help is needed, and payment options.  Inform the parent about any materials that the student will need to bring such as homework and school materials. Ask about any allergies. If permitted at the tutoring location, consider having healthy snacks available for the student. Snacks are welcomed by students who are coming straight from school or practice. Finally, ask about the child's interests.

Contact the student's teacher to get some background information about strengths and where he/she needs the most support.

4.  Planning

Overplan! It's better to have too much to do than not enough! 

Plan time for your student to work on any assignment such as homework that the parent or teacher has requested your help with. 

Next, plan games and hands-on activities. These types of resources will keep your student engaged and having fun while learning.

Keep your lessons relatable to your student. For example, if your student is into art and you are working on descriptive writing, consider bringing in a print to discuss and write about. For a student into soccer and working on cause and effect, play a game clip, discuss, and have the student write about the cause and effect in the clip. For a student into the theater and working on ending punctuation, provide part of a script with missing punctuation marks. Have the student read the script and add in the ending punctuation.

Make a list of suggestions for ongoing practice. To maximize the interaction between you and your student, consider saving any online game or activity for last as a possible follow up suggestion and form of practice. 

5.  Materials

Consider having a designated bag just for tutoring resources. Keep a supply of pencils, erasers, scissors, glue sticks, and colored pencils in your bag. Keep an iPad, Chrome Book, or Laptop in the bag. Add specific materials to the bag for each tutoring session after your plans are done.  Keep a notebook or binder such as these in your tutoring bag.



The Tutoring Session

1. Greeting

Greet the student and spend a minute or two asking how the day or week went. Include both school and after school activities. If agreed upon and allowed, this would be the time to offer a healthy snack.

2. Five-minute warm-up

This activity should be a review of a previous lesson. Keep it short and simple.

3. Requested Help

Help the student with any assignments that the parent or teacher has requested your help with. Doing this first ensures that you won't run out of time.

4. Games and Activities 

This is the fun part! Break out all the games and activities that you found and prepared to support learning.

5. Closing

Use an exit ticket or another form of assessment to track student learning.

6. Follow up Suggestions

Use the last few minutes to discuss how to practice and apply skills. You may want to include the parent for this part.

7. Next Meeting

Set up the next tutoring session.

Use this freebie to summarize your session!


8. Keeping Records

Add follow up appointments to your calendar or planner. 

Remember to record financial information as directed by your accountant.

How do you plan for a successful tutoring session? Feel free to share your own tips in the comments below! 

September 12, 2019

How To Manage Reward Coupons In The Classroom

There are many ways to use reward coupons in the classroom. Kids love to receive and use reward coupons, and they can easily be part of your classroom management.

3 Ways To Use Reward Coupons In The Classroom

1. Class Store or Treasure Box

Keep the reward coupons in your class store or treasure box and integrate them into your existing classroom management system. Students can have the opportunity to buy coupons with the points, chips, tickets, or classroom dollars that you already use. Try keeping 3 or 4 different coupons available and change them up from time to time to keep students interested.

2. Stand Alone Reward

Use reward coupons as a stand-alone reward for the attainment of a specific goal. For example, when students improve their individual multiplication facts mastery to a specified level, they get to choose a coupon.

3. Game Prizes

Use reward coupons as game prizes. Sure, sometimes we play class games and the only thing the kids win is bragging rights, but sometimes it's fun to play for prizes! Consider using reward coupons for prizes when you play games like review bingo.

Click here to get a set of 27 reward coupons to use in your classroom!

 Reward Coupons

Managing the Reward Coupons

I have found that the 2 best times to allow students to cash in on their reward coupon are:

1. During Morning Work Time

For example, you could allow students to have "drawing time" instead of completing a morning work assignment. Of course, this is at your discretion and you know your students best.

2. During Indoor Recess

Using reward coupons during recess is very popular with students when there is inclement weather and they will not be going outside. They seem to prefer to return to the classroom during indoor recess to complete a coupon activity such as "painting time."

For my own sanity, I only allow 3 or 4 students to use a coupon at one time. Also, students may only use one coupon per day.

Reward Coupons are fun prizes and can easily be part of your classroom management plan!

How have you used reward coupons in the classroom? Feel free to comment below to share your own suggestions!

April 30, 2019

Fidget Spinner Day!

Once testing is over and the school year is winding down, holding special events in your classroom can be fun for the kids as they apply skills they have been learning throughout the year. 

Fidget Spinner Day is a favorite! You can pick and choose the ideas that will work for your class. The link to the resource used to manage Fidget Spinner Day is at the bottom of this post.

I find it helpful to begin by having the students make the project cover so they have a place to keep all of their tasks as they complete them. The cover is made by folding the 2 edges of a regular file folder to the middle. The spinners on the cover are made with brightly colored card stock, black paper, aluminum foil, and 3 paper fasteners. The name tag is printed on brightly colored paper. The outlines to make the cover are included in the resource (link below!)

Here is a sample of some of the tasks that you can assign.  The kids glue the task cards that they complete inside the folder. Loose papers for other activities can be tucked inside the folder.

You may want to build excitement and anticipation by having the students complete a few activities prior to Fidget Spinner Day. Others can be assigned as follow up. 

Kids love to break out the fidget spinners and try out the station activities in this resource. I always have a few extra spinners on hand for the kids that forget or do not own one. I have also found that some students love to share their extra fidget spinners with classmates. 

Here is the link to the printables:

 Fidget Spinner Activities

                                                            Fidget Spinner Activities

Fidget spinners were extremely popular in 2017. The kids love hearing about fads from when their teacher was growing up! I always tell about the pet rock craze and how my mom would not spend money on a rock! This story prompted my co-teacher to give me one as a gift. So now I have my very own pet rock after all these years! Now if only I had saved my mood ring...

As new fads come along, sometimes we can use the craze to teach and apply skills! 

March 31, 2019

Spring Fever? Take Learning Outside!

As you enthusiastically teach your carefully planned lesson on multiplying fractions, you scan the room and notice squirmy kids gazing out the window. Some are obviously ignoring your lesson and some are politely trying to hide the fact that they are more interested in what’s going on outdoors than what’s happening on the Smartboard.  The kids have a case of spring fever and well, so do you! Take the signal from the kids and take the learning outside!

Here are 5 outside activities with suggestions that fit into different areas of the curriculum. Use the suggestions or adapt to fit your own curriculum needs. The activities are low prep and use materials commonly found in your classroom or school. (Our Phys. Ed. teacher is quite used to me borrowing balls, hoops, jump ropes, and the such!)  Remember to let the office know that you will be outside in case they need to reach you!

Let’s play!

Playground Ball Games

Materials Needed:
Playground Balls or Soccer Balls (half the number of students in your class)
For spelling practice, a Spelling List

For this game, students review curriculum content by throwing, bouncing, or kicking a ball back and forth with a partner. This game works well with counting by multiples to reinforce multiplication facts. For example, the first student says, "2" and passes the ball to his/her partner. The other student says "4" and passes the ball back and so on. Students can start with 2’s and work their way up to the 12’s. This game can also be used to practice spelling words. Have students bring out a spelling list on a clipboard. One student starts by calling out a word. Students can bounce the ball back and forth while saying each letter in the word.

Measuring Practice

Materials Needed:
Tape Measures or Meter Sticks
Recording Sheet and Pencil

Students work individually or with a partner to measure various items in a defined area. Decide on items to measure as a class. You can also allow some choices. Give students boundaries for your playground area as you see fit. Distribute tape measures or meter sticks and head outside! Students measure items and record their answers and units. This FREE recording sheet is ready for you to download, print, and distribute. 

Click HERE

Sidewalk Chalk Ideas

Materials Needed:
Sidewalk Chalk
Curriculum Content

I’ve used sidewalk chalk in 3 different ways. The first is for writing out multiplication facts. The next way is to practice spelling words. The third way is to study for an upcoming quiz or test. To study, students would partner up with study guides in hand. Students would take turns asking each other questions from the study guide. The other partner would write the answer with sidewalk chalk. The pair would then reverse roles. 

Hand Clap Poems

Materials Needed:
Notebook and Pencil

Move over Miss Mary Mac! Before going outside, have students share any hand clap poems that they may already know. Challenge them to partner up and create their own handclap rhyme. Students write down their poem and routine in their notebooks. Allow students to share their hand clap rhymes with the rest of the class. Alternately, you could have the kiddos create jump rope rhymes! 

Nature Scavenger Hunt

Materials Needed:
Recording Sheet and Pencil

Give students time to get out and observe spring! A simple FREE checklist for a quick scavenger hunt can be found HERE

If desired, use the checklist as a starter for a writing assignment or for creating math word problems. 

Spring is such a fun time for learning!

February 15, 2019

3 Fun and Easy Ways to Practice Math Facts!

Integrating fact practice into your daily math routine is easy! Here are 3 fun ways to have your students practice their facts every (or almost every) day.

1. Musical Math

Put some music on and let the kids dance!

Print out any fact practice worksheet that you want the kids to work on. A worksheet with 50+ problems works well. There are plenty of free fact practice worksheets out there or just use any that you already have.

Place a fact worksheet on each student's desk. Explain the rules to your kiddos:

- You will be working on your own fact worksheet until you hear the music playing.
- When you hear the music, get up and dance about. (No running!)
- When the music stops, sit in any seat and continue the work on that worksheet.
- Work until you hear the music play again.
- We will continue until everyone's worksheet is finished, or just about finished.
- Then you will check the answers on your own paper for completion and accuracy.
- Finally, we will check the answers together, with a small group, or with a partner.

I have the students use the pencil at the desk they are working at so that they are not dancing around with pencils!

Keep the pace quick. Students work for about a minute and then play the music. Continue until the worksheets are nearing completion. Decide how you want to check answers.

*Option: Use a bunch of different worksheets so that no 2 are the same or have several of each operation and have the kids work on any of them during the musical math practice. Students can then check answers with their operation group (addition group, subtraction group, multiplication group, division group).

Brain break and practice all in one!

2. Play Hot Seat!

WARNING! This game gets loud and competitive!

Grab a chair and a stack of flashcards. Explain the rules to the kids:

- One student will sit in the hot seat. The rest of you will line up behind the hot seat.
- The student in the hot seat and the one student right behind the hot seat will compete to answer a fact. The student who answers correctly first gets to sit or stay in the hot seat. The one who does not answer correctly first goes to the back of the line
- If the 2 kids tie, we will repeat with another flash card until one student is first.
- Your goal is to try to sit or stay in the hot seat!

Choose one student to sit in the chair and have the rest of the group line up behind the chair. Begin play. Once the kiddos get the game, divide your group in half and have 2 games going at once to increase engagement. If you are a solo teacher, choose a student to be a leader of the second group and handle the flashcards. The kids love to be a leader!

I have often played this game outside on a nice day!

3. Math Exit Tickets

Get a FREE sample (featured in the TpT newsletter!) HERE.

A full set is available HERE.

One teacher writes:
"Love these! I use them as an end of the day exit ticket while they are packing up to leave. They pack up quick so they can be the first to choose a fact!"

I think this is such a creative use for this resource!

How do you fit in math fact practice?

March 19, 2018

3 Whole Group Games

Have you ever planned a lesson with the best technology integration only to have the technology fail as you begin the lesson?  My favorite technology fail story to tell about is the time I was teaching math. I was writing the word "associative" when the Smartboard froze immediately after a particular letter...I'll let you figure out which letter that was! Can you hear those 4th Graders giggling? may be a good idea to have a few games up your sleeve for those times when technology doesn't work or simply when the kids need to get up and move. At other times, you may want to have your kiddos practice some social skills! Here are a few games that require no prep and can be used with multiple levels simply by differentiating your questioning.

7 Up with a Twist

(for any content other than long math problems)

Choose 7 students to go to the front of the room. The remaining students place their heads down on their desks and their thumbs up. The 7 students silently walk around the room and push down a thumb of one of their classmates and return to the front of the room. When all 7 students are back to the front of the room, say "Wake up sleepy heads!" The students who have their thumbs pushed down, stand up. The teacher asks each of the 7 chosen students to answer review questions one at a time. If the student gets the answer right, they get to guess a classmate who may have pushed down their thumb. If the student guesses the classmate correctly, the guesser and thumb pusher trade places.  If the guesser does not correctly answer the review question, he/she sits back down. You can differentiate your questioning based on the needs of your students. Repeat the process as time allows.

Sink or Swim

(for any content other than long math problems)

Split the class in half, and have students face each other on opposite sides of the room. (If you assign your kiddos numbers, you could have evens on one side and odds on the other.) Pose a question to the first member of the first team. If the student answers correctly, he/she gets to sink someone on the opposing team. When sunk, the student sits down. If the student answers their question incorrectly, he/she is sunk and must sit down. Next, pose a question to the first student on the opposing team. If the student is correct, he/she may opt to save a kid on his/her own team, and that student would rejoin the team. Another option for a correct answer is to sink someone on the opposing team. I like to add a rule that a student can only be sunk once until every member of a team has been sunk once, and then everyone is fair game again. Play continues in this manner until one team is completely sunk. The team with members standing wins!

4 in a Row with a Twist

(for vocabulary in any content area)

Write 16+ words on the board from the content being reviewed. Students copy the vocab words in random boxes on their 4 in a Row board. They may not use a word more than once. (Blank board FREE for you below!) Need the game, but forgot to print? No worries, simply have your kiddos fold a blank sheet of paper until they have 16 boxes. Then they can trace over the fold lines and add words in the boxes. While students are preparing their boards, prepare prizes. Prizes for 4 in a row get written individually on sticky notes. Try starting with about 5 low cost or no cost prizes such as erasers, pencils, drawing time, etc. For a twist, add in gag prizes such as pencil shavings, a plastic spoon, etc. Kids love to hear the prize to see if it is real or fake as they call the gag prizes. So many laughs! Pile up the sticky notes listing each prize and keep them up-side-down. Hand out chips, and play. Teacher reads the definition of each review word. Students cover each word that they have on their board. For an added twist, instead of yelling, "Bingo," have students perform an action such as pretend to shoot a basketball, call out something funny such as "Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street!?", or sing a few lines of a song such as Let is Go.....when they win. Then have each winner call out their winning words. All winners for the round come up to the teacher where the prize is revealed to students from the first sticky note.  Students remove chips from game boards and play again. Continue until you have distributed all of the prizes or run out of time.

Get your FREE blank 4 in a Row board HERE!

Consider writing down these 3 games on an index card for those times when your lesson includes technology that just won't cooperate or you and your kiddos just need to interact!