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DIY Flip Chutes

I was first introduced to the idea of flip chutes via Pinterest.  I saw them and thought they were cute, but I dismissed the idea as being too elementary for my high school students.  With one year of teaching experience under my belt, I’ve learned that nothing is too elementary for my high school students.  They love stickers and cheesy awards.  They enjoy (for the most part) cutting, glueing, coloring, and folding.  They may make fun of the silly math songs I have them listen to, but I hear them singing them for the rest of the year.

Earlier this summer, I attended my first OCTM (Oklahoma Council of Teachers of Mathematics) Annual Summer Conference.  I had a blast, and I left feeling inspired.  The first session I attended was Making High School Math Fun, and it did not disappoint!  The session was led by Tracy Slate.  (Tracy is a Regional T3 Trainer, and she has posted some of her resources on her website.)  She showed us a lot of hands-on review activities that she did with her students.  One of these was a flip chute.

diy flip chutes from saltine cracker boxes

She passed the flip chute around the room, and we all had to try it out.  The premise is simple.  Put the flashcard in the top slot.  The card will travel through the chute and exit through the bottom slot.  The card will land on the table with the answer facing upward.  Words cannot really express how fun this is.  It’s the type of thing that you just have to experience to understand.

Yes, you could just flip the flashcard over to get the answer.  But, believe me, this way is a whole lot more fun.  I enjoy it, and I think my students are really going to enjoy it, too.  I made two of these for my classroom, and I look forward to having these as an option for students to use.

I can see my students using these to practice integer operations, vocabulary, important formulas, parts of an expression, etc.

Instructions and templates are available online to create your own flip chute.  The PDF I used is no longer online, but here’s a similar template available to print. You’re supposed to make these out of empty milk or orange juice cartons.  I didn’t have any of these cartons at my house, so I ended up improvising with saltine cracker boxes.

diy flip chutes from saltine cracker boxes

My dad was kind enough to spray paint my boxes for me.  I’ve only spray painted one thing in my life, and it turned out terribly.

diy flip chutes from saltine cracker boxes

Because I used a wider box than the template called for, I had to cut some Styrofoam to fit in the sides.  Otherwise, the cards will turn sideways and get stuck instead of flying out the chute.

diy flip chutes from saltine cracker boxes

Next, I cut out my chute templates out of card stock and glued them in.  My mom helped me take colored electrical tape and cover up where the paper was glued to the outside of the box.  I’ve seen a lot of cute pictures online where people have decorated theirs using patterned duct tape.  I simply used what I had, and I really like how they turned out.  My school’s colors are red and white, so they are very fitting.  (And, I ran out of white, so that’s why one also has yellow tape…)

diy flip chutes from saltine cracker boxes
diy flip chutes from saltine cracker boxes

Kathleen Nicole.

Wednesday 21st of September 2016

I am a biology/chemistry teacher who has also picked up an Algebra class. I so appreciate your blog! Thank you for everything you write!

Sarah Carter (@mathequalslove)

Saturday 15th of October 2016

Thanks for reading my blog!


Sunday 25th of October 2015

Just found your blog. Love the function machine idea, but the PDF is no longer available on how to make the machine. Do you have it saved somewhere? Thank you!! Cyndy

Sarah Carter (@mathequalslove)

Monday 9th of November 2015

I don't think I do. Sorry! You should be able to find another similar template by googling.


Thursday 16th of January 2014

This is a super idea!!

Sarah Carter (@mathequalslove)

Tuesday 21st of January 2014

Thanks! Be on the lookout for my latest project involving these flip chutes some time this week!


Thursday 26th of September 2013

I've used this idea for the past 7 years. My favorite use for it is evaluating functions. I call mine "Bob" and the kids race to see if they can evaluate f(5) faster than Bob does. It's always a huge hit.


Friday 26th of July 2013

I nominated you for the Liebster Award! Find out more at:

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