Math Inspiration

Happy Sunday to all of you!   

So I was wandering around blogs yesterday as I'm apt to do, and I came across Cara's post at The First Grade Parade, and then I stopped.  Bam!

She had all this great Math stuff going on because she loves math.

(I don't.  Not really.  If I'm being honest.  Apparently I'm being honest this morning.  Maybe it's because I'm headed to the late service at church.)

Cara posted a video of her class (and herself) showing all sorts of skills - counting, greater than-less than, building towers, matching cards to numbers, etc.  This was all done with snowballs so the kids were super engaged.  You can check out the video {here}.  

Well, she totally inspired me for what we've got coming up - especially since our district is making the first grade teachers take a District Assessment on the math common core standards in a month or two (I should probably look up the date--for all I know, it's next Friday or something scary and unreasonable like that.) 

Here's where we are right now in math.

On Friday, we practiced counting forwards to 120.  I've never had to teach this before so it was new to me, too.

It went well.  Really well.  Which is surprising because I was all over the place in my presentation of it, and what was supposed to be simple and straight forward turned into "And look at these tens! And then see these ones?  And this here thing is called a hundred!  Look!  Let's count it!  Wait!  Let's back up.  Do you see a pattern?"  

I knew it had gone a little south when one of my girls raised her hand and asked a question.

"Are those hard or soft?"

She was asking me about my foam manipulatives.

Oops.  Yeah.  So.  Maybe I should have started with letting the kids EXPLORE the manipulatives.

(I'm not making you think I'm a bad teacher, am I?  This happens to everyone, right?)

We're going to play with those manipulatives tomorrow as soon as they walk in, I can promise you that.   (Well, that's actually not true because I have to teach Language Arts for two and a half hours, but you know what I mean.)

SO!  That's where Cara's lesson is going to come in.  With a first grade twist.

I'm going to write down numbers on pieces of paper - 45, 36, 98, 72, etc, etc, etc and then I'll crumple them up into snowballs.  I'm going to let a few kids at a time come up and have an actual snowball fight with the snowballs.  

And then I'll call time or whatever.  Probably as soon as someone gets hit in the face and starts to cry, or as soon as someone starts crying about the fact that they can't ever get a snowball, or when I start to cry.  

Then they'll have to pick ONE snowball, uncrumple it, and read the number.  


Meaning:  if they have the number 53, they will need to show 5 tens and three ones WITH THEIR MANIPULATIVES.

Genius!  Thank you, Cara!

Later on, I can extend this lesson with greater than-less than (in the way Cara did) because I know that's a common core standard.  I think.  Well, I'm pretty sure.

So, people, wherever you are this week or whatever you're doing, rest assured that at least ONE of my math lessons is going to be well thought out with no hiccups in the road.

Well, that is, unless someone actually gets hiccups in which case, I'll have to allow them to get a drink IN THE MIDDLE OF THE LESSON which will, in turn, cause four other kids to start having fake hiccups just so that they can also get a drink.

Yeah, um, I don't think I'll be videotaping my lesson . . .  


  1. LOL! I love your way of thinking! You guys are so brave to try a snowball fight. I can't just picture how it would go with my students........south very quick!

    Extra Special Teaching

  2. I love when the genius of others opens the door for the rest of us! I HATE math, a lot. I HATE manipulatives even more. I guess I will have to rethink using them, because as much as I hate to admit it, they work! Thanks for always allowing me to see the lighter side of teaching!


  3. I'm with you about teaching math and that might be because math was not my strong subject in school.

    Cute idea! I just read Cara's blog myself and I always love her ideas and how they fit a theme. Where I teach in Maryland we are using Investigations math, so I don't feel that I can do as much with themes and such because I'm stuck using a math manual. The good thing with Investigations is that there are a lot of games and hands on activity that the kids enjoy. Right now we are moving into measurement, so this unit will (should) be fun.

  4. You're so funny!!!! I pretty much figure if I can teach at least one good and engaging math lesson for the week, it was a good week! ;) Enjoy the rest of your weekend!!!! And make sure to let us know how your snowball fight goes! :)

  5. You're so sweet. I love that you're so honest about how things are in your room. I saw Cara's post too and loved her ideas and I love your way of expanding it for first. I may incorporate that as a challenge for some of my higher kids. Good luck with your snowball fight!

    Carolina Teacher

  6. I demand a video. Come on you'll be a youtube sensation.
    It's freeing to let people see the REAL you. :)

  7. I'm with Reagan...I want a video!!! Great idea with a first grade twist. Definitely doing this when we begin studying place value!!

    First Grade with a Cherry on Top

  8. What a fabulous idea! I am totally like you, I will NOT be videotaping myself and posting it for all the world the see. Heck to the NO!! Hope your kids having playing with the manipulatives tomorrow. All mine like to do is make towers with the 10's rods and 100 flats! :)
    Kerri B
    Teacher Bits and Bobs

  9. I learned the manipulatives lessons with my kinders measuring this week. After a demo on balances, I divided my kinders into teams and sent them to various balances around the room to measure different manipulatives against cubes. After 10 minutes of walking around and redirecting, I decided that they needed to play with the balances for a while. Yes, we play with our manips so they were good but they needed to pile as much as they could on both sides and see what happened. :) Hiccups aren't big in my room but ...spontaneous dancing does break out in room.
    prlhrbr@hotmail com

  10. Hahaha! What a great idea for a snowball fight! It fits perfectly with my current place value unit. I am a bit nervous to try it with my kiddos, but maybe if they have a good day or week, I will go for it.

    Compassionate Teacher

  11. Hi Kristin!
    You describing when the math lesson will end CRACKED me up! :)
    I am so doing this! I have had a "snowball fight" for years in our gym using our sight words. I don't know why I never thought to do it for math too!! Have fun with it and you should post a video! :)

  12. Do you know what people would pay to have that on video!!! And the field day the lawyers would have... ;P
    Love the snowball idea and think I will have to make some snowballs of my own for our math lesson tomorrow. Love it! Thanks for the idea!
    Fluttering Through First Grade

  13. If you give Mrs. O a new math idea she'll probably ask for...

  14. Thanks for sending me over to Cara tonight. I loved her lesson! I've been doing missing addends with snowballs we hide some white pompoms under a cup) and this will be a great next step! We need to practice more and less. I like the idea of writing numbers on the snowballs. My guys need to practice number recognition and I may have to steal that idea too.

    Terri Izatt

  15. You are a crack-up. I love your honesty! What a great idea- I'm going to try it with the "snowballs" too. Hope it goes well for you! Carol

  16. That's the best Kristin! I love your perspective and especially the lesson.
    Traditions Laughter and Happily Ever After

  17. ummm totally agree with ya' on the Math teaching. I feel like I don't always do the *best* I can with it! eeeek! I borrowed your idea and did this with my kiddos today..just on a smaller number scale. Thanks for the inspiration!!
    Rowdy in Room 300

  18. Brilliant! I love this! I hate teaching math. I get night sweats for a week before we start regrouping! But I love this! Thanks for sharing.

  19. Love, love! I watched the video too, and was thinking about writing numbers on the snowballs too. But, I love the added detail of building the number. Math is not my favorite either.