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I’m looking forward to playing this traffic lights game during the first week of school with my new 9th graders. Yes, I am teaching 9th graders for five of my six periods again this school year. As I wrote in my giant Ideas for the First Week of School post, I learned of this traffic …

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Another one of my favorite math-y games is SET. If you are not familiar with SET, it is a card game that can be played alone or with a group that relies on pattern recognition.  Here’s the basic rules courtesy of the SET company.   Though I now love the game of SET, this has …

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Sprouts is a mathematical game that was invented by two mathematicians: Conway and Paterson in the 1960s. I remember reading about this game as a kid in a book of mathematical games that lived on the bookshelf in my family’s living room. I have used it as a fun activity for the first week of …

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In February, Mary Bourassa wrote a blog post about Skyscraper Puzzles.  As soon as I read the post, I knew I needed to use this puzzle in my classroom.  I even sent my husband a link, gushing about how amazing these puzzles were! The puzzles from the brainbashers.com website weren’t quite the right size to …

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I’m excited to introduce you to the 5-4-3-2-1 Challenge. On Sunday morning, Nancy Swank tweeted me a link to a puzzle on NPR’s website.   This shouldn’t come as a surprise because Nancy is the entire reason why NPR spent an entire day in my classroom in 2014. I followed the link and started reading …

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I created this interactive Witzzle Bulletin Board to make it easy to play Witzzle throughout the year with my students. I love using the game of Witzzle as a beginning of the year activity or as a brain break or early-finisher activity throughout the school year. Not sure how to play Witzzle? I’ve got a …

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Build It is a cooperative, team building activity that encourages students to work together, communicate, and think logically as they construct a geometric object to satisfy a set of given clues. If you’re looking to work on vocabulary, this activity introduces/reinforces words such as “face” and “edge.” I learned about Build It from Stanford’s website.  The …

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Count to Ten is a team-building activity that I like to use at the beginning of the school year in those random five minute pockets of time that tend to pop up. I usually try to share on my blog where I got the idea for an activity from, but I honestly have no idea …

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The Thirteen Game is a Nim-style counting game that I originally learned about from Julie Morgan’s lovely blog. It’s the perfect time filler game for the first week of school when schedules can be weird and classes tend to be regularly cut short. I use this game whenever I have a few extra minutes with …

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Late last week, I spent some time prepping for another first-week activity inspired by Elizabeth Cohen’s Designing Groupwork: Strategies for the Heterogeneous Classroom.  It’s called “Guess My Rule.” Y’all are probably tired of hearing me gush about this book, but I seriously learned so much about groupwork this summer from reading it.  It made me …

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Rainbow Logic is a cooperative group work task designed to give students practice with both spatial reasoning, deductive thinking, and communication with group members. One group member designs a 3 x 3 colored grid. The other group members must work together to determine the placement of each of the tiles on the grid. Origin of …

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Inspiration/Origin of Broken Circles I was introduced to the classic Broken Circles activity when I read Elizabeth Cohen’s Designing Groupwork: Strategies for the Heterogeneous Classroom. This is one of the most practical and applicable education books I have ever read. As I continue in my journey to engage my students in productive group work, this …

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I want to share a growth mindset quiz foldable I created to use with my students at the beginning of the year. This past school year, we focused on growth mindset for Day 2.  We talked through SBG and how we learn math. I introduced my controversial A/B/Not Yet grading scale.  Any assignment or test …

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This Happy Numbers Activity is a fun lesson which introduces students to the concept of happy numbers and sad numbers. I have used this activity with students of various ages. Any student who understands the concepts of square numbers and addition can participate in this happy numbers fun! I originally ran across the concept of …

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Petals Around the Rose is a fun and frustrating dice-based brainteaser. It makes a great activity for the first week of school in math class! I first learned about Petals Around the Rose from Annie Forest in her blog post on 8 Ideas for the Last Minutes of Math Class.  Usually, I read a post …

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I love using IQ Circle Puzzles in my classroom on the first day of school to teach my students about the importance of having a growth mindset. IQ Circle Puzzles are meant to be used as a party favor. My mom happened upon this entire box of these puzzles at a garage sale for a …

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I was first introduced to the Witzzle Pro Math Game at a meeting of the Tulsa Math Teachers’ Circle in 2014. I knew instantly that I had to use this game in my classroom. If you’ve spent anytime on my blog at all, you know that I adore puzzles. Witzzle is a combination of the …

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This year, as a getting to know you activity, I had students complete a half-sheet entitled “Numbers about Me.”  Well, actually, the paper said “Numbers about __________________________,” and students had to write their names in the blank.  This Numbers About Me Activity was the perfect closing activity for the second day after my students had …

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31-derful is fun and easy-to-implement group problem solving activity that is a perfect activity for the first day or week of school. The only supplies needed to implement this activity is a deck of playing cards for each group. I used the 31-derful activity with my Algebra 1 students for the first day of school. …

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Let’s just say that day two of year two was amazing!  The $2.95 I spent on supplies for the marshmallow challenge activity was money well-spent!  I hope this becomes an annual activity for the first week of school. When my students entered the classroom, they saw this message on the Smart Board. The Marshmallow Challenge …

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