# Creative Math Strategies

Discussion in 'New Teachers Archives' started by DNordlander, Jun 26, 2006.

1. ### DNordlanderRookie

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Jun 26, 2006

My 4th grade Math team uses a lot of creative ways to keep the students interested. We rarely use pencil and paper worksheets. I am looking for any other suggestions of ways to make doing a worksheet fun. For those first year teachers, here are some of the things we currently use:

-Easter Eggs: Cut up problems and put them in Easter eggs. We hide the eggs around the room. Students find an egg, work the problem, and then re-hide the egg for another student.

-Battleship: Students work with a partner. They are given problems to work. They start by working the first problem. When they have both reached an individual answer, they check to see if they're correct. If so, they get three trys to sink their partner's ships. We don't use the game from the store, as that would be costly. Instead, we have reproduced a game board onto paper.

-Rubber Ducks: The teacher cuts out blue butcher paper in the shape of a pond. In the pond, there are a number of rubber ducks. (We use rubber ducks from the dollar store.) The student chooses a duck, looks at the bottom (where a number is written), and that's the problem they work on from their worksheet. **This is just a way to get them up and moving...a fun spin on a worksheet.**

-Casitas/Offices: We have casitas that we use when students are testing. We also use these in the classroom for a fun activity. We put three problems inside of each casita (one on each flap). Each casita at the table has different problems. We play music and do sort of a musical chairs movement. They walk around their table. When the music stops, they stop at the seat they are closest to. They then choose one of the problems from that casita to work on. We give them 4 minutes and then re-start the music.

These are just a few of the ideas that we use on a daily basis in our classrooms. I am just looking for other ways to make doing a worksheet fun. Any alternatives to the boring pen-and-paper routine would be appreciated. And if you would like any further ideas of things we use, let me know.

Dana

3. ### BeezusCohort

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Jun 28, 2006

WOW!! These are some really fun activities! I'll check my brain and see what I have in my arsenal to share with you....but judging from your post, they may be old hat for you!! Any more you can post?

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Jun 28, 2006

We do a problem of the week school wide, with different problems for each grade level. It is called Power Club and we keep track of the kids' points and announce the quarterly winners per grade and the year-long top 3 winners at an awards assembly in May.

5. ### DNordlanderRookie

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Jun 28, 2006

More Ideas...

Hmmm...let me pick my brain and think back to this year and some of the other things we have used in our classroom. Like I mentioned, we are pretty limited to doing "worksheets" and are always looking for new and clever ways to have the students complete them. Here are some more ideas:

-Jukebox: We did a disco music week. One of the activities we did had to do with a jukebox. We took a black piece of posterboard and decorated it like a jukebox. (We used the metallic markers, so it would show up on the black.) We then took 16 paper CD covers and glued them to the posterboard. We took 16 old CDs and wrote a number on the back of each one. We mixed them up and put them into the sleeves on the jukebox. The students would take turns coming up and choosing a CD. They then had to go back to their seats and work the problem number that they had chosen.

-Valentines: Around Valentines Day we bought actual silly Valentines cards from the dollar store. We wrote different rewards on the back of each one (shoes off, sit on the floor, get a drink of water, skip a homework problem, etc.). The students were asked to work any 3 problems from their packet. When they had completed 3 problems CORRECTLY, they were allowed to go to the bag and choose a Valentines card. They then got to do whatever it was that was on the card they chose. They had just as much fun reading what the Valentine said as finding out what the reward was. So with this, I would suggest to have MANY different Valentines...for their enjoyment.

-Sports: We made a set of little cards for each table that had different sports pictures on each one. We had the cards laminated. The room was set up with the same pictures (only a bigger version) posted around the room. There were the word problems laying on the floor under the pictures. The student would choose a card and then find the corresponding picture and get the problem. They would go back to their seat and work the problem. They would return the problem to the proper place and then choose another card. They continued this until they had worked all of the problems. (This could be adapted for any type of picture.)***To add some more fun for the kids, we had paper printed that was divided into one section for each problem. In the corner of each section was a small version of the pictures from the cards. The student was asked to work each problem in the correct section. This way it way MUCH easier for us to grade, since the problems aren't numbered.

-Board Games: We would put a board game in the middle of each table...either a homemade one or one donated from the kids. We used easy games that needed no rules (sorry, trouble, connect 4, chutes and ladders, candyland, etc.). The students were asked to work a certain number of problems (i.e. 2). Once they had their 2 problems worked, they would raise their hand. If both problems were correct, they were able to take a turn at the game on their table. Not only does this cause them to learn to work quickly, but it's important to get the CORRECT answer before you get your turn.

-Fly Swatters: We would put laminated cut-outs of flies all over the floor in the front of the room. They would have answers to the problems from the worksheet on the face-up side and the problem number on the face-down side. There would be several fly swatters on each table (with double-sided tape on each side). After the students had the answer to the problem, they would take a fly swatter and find the answer on the floor. They would "swat" the answer and check to make sure they had the answer to the correct problem. (I hope that makes sense.) You could have several flies with the same answers, just so students aren't all searching for the same fly. And to make it tougher, you could put out some "wrong" flies.

-Beach theme: This is something that we had planned for the end of the year, but never had time to squeeze it in. We will do it for sure next year. We came up with several ideas for this week. We had one activity similar to the "musical casitas" where we would play Beach Boys music as they moved from one seat to another. We also were going to have one of those small kiddie pools with sand in the bottom. We were going to have shells in the sand that had problem numbers written on the bottom of each one. The students could go up to the sand and choose a shell. They would go back to their seat and work that problem. During this activity, we would have beach towels spread out on the floor. There may be certain shells that are marked differently. Students who choose these shells get to work their next problem while laying on a beach towel.

I hope that some of these ideas are useful in your classroom. Even though I teach 4th grade and these are PERFECT for my classes, I think that they can be adapted to work well in both older and younger grades. Enjoy! And again...any other creative ideas you may have would be appreciated and put to use in my classroom!

Dana