Mixed Numbers and Improper Fractions 2012

At the little country college that I went to, I was never really taught “how” to teach the different concepts in math. I’m not sure how other colleges’ math education programs are, but for me it was all about the “math” and very little about how to teach any math concepts. I learned a lot of general information about behavior, how to run a copy machine, how to make tests, blah, blah, blah. There were so many things that I still had to figure out on my own. I learned all of the different ways to differentiate equations and all other concepts that jr high students won’t be learning for years. By the time I finished college, I had totally forgotten all of the basic math that I would be teaching. I had forgotten how I had actually learned it as well. Either way, I can promise you that I never learned the “why’s” of what I was learning for sure. It took me several years to finally figure out all of this teaching business. Once I got out of the “traditional” teaching methods, teaching became so much more fun. Over the last few years, I have learned that if you teach students concepts starting from scratch….. they understand it without frustration and without confusion. Almost all of my lessons start with a concrete hands-on activity, a pictorial activity, and then a fun game to play. By the time we get to the pictorial representation of whatever concept we are learning, I have several students asking for “hard” questions. It always makes me smile when I am able to tell them that they don’t get any harder.

The same goes with how I teach students how to change mixed numbers to improper fractions and vice versa. I use fraction strips. We use the fraction strips, then we draw the representations, and then we play a game. I see so many lessons for fractions that use circles. I use rectangles. Maybe I’m not as talented as some, but I have a difficult time dividing circles into larger, odd numbers.  I can easily divide a rectangle into any number of pieces with little difficulty. I have written up the way I teach this lesson, I made printable fraction strips, and an extremely cool file folder game for sale in my Teachers Pay Teachers store and here on my blog. Here are a few pictures and explanations of the things I did this last week.

We’ll start with the super cool fraction strips I made to use for my whiteboard. Here is a picture of the final product.


I printed, laminated, and cut out the pieces. At the beginning of school, I found an amazing product…….. magnet tape. I found it at Lakeshore Learning Center and at Mardel’s. I’m sure they probably have it at Hobby Lobby as well. I put a small piece of that magnet tape on the back of each of the pieces. I wrote numbers on the board and had students come up and model it with the pieces. Students, especially in my co-taught class, absolutely loved doing this! Click on the picture below to download these fraction strips for your magnetized board for FREE!!

Here are some pictures of my process……..

Magnet Tape


Magnet tape and the backs of the pieces


 To prepare my students to learn about fractions, I printed out fraction strips. I totally meant to  print them on colored card stock, but forgot to go buy some. I didn’t have enough colored paper to copy all of the pages I needed (over a hundred students, and three pages a student is a lot). I bought quart size baggies and double-sided tape.


Before class, I put a piece of double-sided tape down the sides of each of the baggies. I left the white strips on until I was ready to put them in the back of my students’ spiral notebooks.


 As my students were cutting out their fraction strips, I had them bring me their spirals and I taped them onto the back cover.


Here are a couple of pictures of what one of my students put in her spiral notebook for the lesson.


Here is a link to buy my lesson for teaching students how to change mixed numbers to improper fractions and vice versa. It also includes a super cute and fun file folder “board game” to help reinforce the concept.


This is a picture of the game that is included in the pack. You can buy it from my Teachers Pay Teachers store, or here on my blog for only $3.00!

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I hope your students enjoy learning about mixed numbers and improper fractions as much as mine did!!




Divisibility Rules Foldable 2012

One of my most searched for and read posts is my foldable for divisibilty rules. The foldable was just a flap book that I had students write the rules under the flaps. I decided that since it was such a big hit, that I needed to “outdo” that post this year.

This year, I used the same fold as my “Back to School Foldable.” I made a printable for the different numbers that I wanted the students to know the rules over. I totally meant to print these out on colored paper for my students. I even took the colored paper down to the copy machine, and completely forgot to put the paper in the machine. For my class, I used the numbers; 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, and 10.


Here are the following rules I used for each of the numbers:


  • A number is divisible by 2 if: it is even. If it ends with 0, 2, 4, 6, 8

  • A number is divisible by 3 if: the sum of its digits is divisible by 3

  • A number is divisible by 4 if: the number formed by the last two digits is divisible by 4

  • A number is divisible by 5 if: it ends with 0 or 5

  • A number is divisible by 6 if: it is divisible by 2 and 3

  • A number is divisible by 9 if: the sum of the digits is divisible by 9

  • A number is divisible by 10 if: it ends with 0

Click on the picture below to download the free foldable template.


This is a little bit of a tricky fold. I have a great “Back to School” post in which I have a video that explains how to fold it, and it also includes pictures of each step. Click here for a link to that post.

 We went through each of these divisibility rules together and gave examples. After we finished, we taped the foldable to the bottom of a page in their math spiral notebooks. We titled the page “Divisibility Rules.”

To give my students practice, I put the students in groups of two. I gave them three ten-sided die per group. I had them take turns rolling the dice to form a three digit number. After they got the number, they went through each of the divisibility rules and circled which of those that number was divisible by. Here is an example of their spiral notebook page.


 I hope your students enjoy this lesson as much as mine did! After downloading this great freebie, please head over to my Teachers Pay Teachers store and “follow” me. You can also go “like” my facebook fan page. Here are the links to those places. Thank you so much for your support!





Multiplying Integers 2012

We’ve learned comparing and ordering integers as well as adding and subtracting integers, so we’re on to multiplying integers. I teach multiplying and dividing integers in the same fashion as I do adding and subtracting integers. I didn’t actually hand out the counters, but I used the counter magnets on my white board to demonstrate. Here is a picture of those.


For multiplying integers, here is how I show them:

1. 1(3)  means one group of three positives. I show them one group of three yellow counters on the board. You are left with three positives.

2. 1(-3) means one group of three negatives. I show them one group of three red counters on the board. You are left with three negatives.

3. 2(3) means two groups of three positives. I show them two groups of three yellow counters. You are left with six positives.

4. 2(-3) means two groups of three negatives. I show them two groups of three red counters. You are left with six negatives.

5. -1(3) means the opposite of one group of three positives. It is important to explain that negative actually means “the opposite of.” Even in the second problem 1(-3), you could say that means one group of the opposite of three positives. With this one, I say “the opposite of one group of three positives.” One group of three positives is three, so the opposite of that is three negatives.

6. -1(-3) means the opposite of one group of three negatives. Again, you would thing of one group of three negatives, and then the opposite of that which is three positives.

7. -2(3) means the opposite of two groups of three positives. Two groups of three positives is six positives, so the opposite is six negatives.

8. -2(-3) means the opposite of two groups of three negatives. Two groups of three negatives is six negatives, so the opposite is six positives.

I tried to keep from teaching them my integer song, but my Pre-AP students were still having a hard time of remembering how it went, so I went ahead and broke down, and taught them the song.

The second verse of the integer song is to the tune of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.” It goes like this:

Multiply or divide

It’s an easy thought.

Same signs are positive,

Different signs are not.


The next thing we did was play “I Have/ Who Has.” My students LOVE this game. I make sure that all of my students work each problem as we go. I make sure that they are given a few seconds to work the problem before the “answer person” stands up and reads their card. I have them record the problem and answers if their math spiral notebook. If someone doesn’t stand up and answer within a good little bit of time, I start slowly kind of explaining the answer. It would go something like this, “are the signs the same or different? So the answer would be positive or negative? __ times__ is ? So your answer would be?” I go about it slowly in the hope that someone will stand up before I get to the end. My students will do thirty-one integer expression without one bit of disgruntle. Try giving them an assignment to take home and see if you get 100% participation and return like you do when you play this game.

The “I Have/ Who Has” set that I made for integers is a bundle of all operations. It costs $4.00, and can be bought here on my blog or in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

Notice the cute “fish eye” lens on some of my pictures? I think it gives the pictures a little character. It was a great Iphone app.

Buy this set of adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing integers I Have/ Who Has cards for only $4.00. I promise, your students will thank you. Buy them here or in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

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Playing the “I Have/ Who Has” game first gives students the confidence to play any additional games with partners. One game that I let the students play is “Integer War” with a deck of playing cards. I have them find a partner and give them a deck of playing cards. I write the following on the board:

red = negative

yellow = positive

Ace = 1

Jack = 10

Queen = 11

King = 12

In their math spiral notebooks, I have them put the title “Integer Multiplication War.” They make two columns down their paper and head one column with their name, and the other column with their partner’s name. At the same time, both students will flip over two cards each. They work both their problem and their partners problem. The problem is formed by their two cards. For example: if player A flips over a red nine and a black six, the problem is -9(6). They write both problems in the appropriate columns in their notebook, and find the answer. The student with the highest value wins that round. Play continues until the teacher calls time, or until they have run out of all their cards.

In one of my classes, I had more students than I had decks of cards. Because of this, I modified the rules. I placed them in groups of three. Points were assigned to greatest value down to least value. If the students answer was the greatest value, that student was awarded three points. Second highest was awarded two points, and the least was awarded one point. The student with the most points at the end of game wins.

To give them additional practice, and to give them some independent practice, I also have them “make” their own problems using a spinner I made and a twelve-sided dice. They spin the spinner to decide the sign of the first number and then roll the dice to get the actual number. They do this twice in order to form two numbers, then they multiply those numbers together.  I have them work twenty problems (or however many you see necessary). Students get a kick out of getting to role the dice. Throw some dice into anything, and they’ll love it, especially if they’re not the normal six-sided dice.  I printed them out, laminated them, and cut them out. Students use a paper clip with a pencil through the center to spin the spinner.


Click on the picture below to download the pdf of the spinner to be able to make your own. You could also use them for adding and subtracting integers as well.


Here are a few more games that I have for sale here on my blog or in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

This one is my “Go Fish” game using Integer Multiplication.

You can buy it here on my blog, or in my Teachers Pay Teachers store for only $2.50.
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The next is my “Integer Operation Fortune Teller/ Cootie Catchers.” These are always a favorite. There are two fortune tellers per operation.

You can buy this bundle for only $2.00 either here on my blog or in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

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I hope your students enjoy learning about integer multiplication as mine did!! Thanks for your support!!

Make sure to go to my Teachers Pay Teachers store and “Follow” me! You’ll be the first to know when I post new products or freebies! Click the button below!

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You’ve Been Thunderstruck! Math Game

If you’ve followed my blog at all, you know how much I use games in my classroom to reinforce the lessons I teach. I love games, and the kids LOVE games.

For one of my stations I made last week, I made a game that I was inspired by on Pinterest. Click here to see the inspiration for this game. That game was for very young students, so I modified it to work for my students. The great thing about it, is that you can use it for almost any skill. I used it for adding integers. Here is a picture of the whole game itself.

I went to Hobby Lobby and bought a bunch of craft sticks. I also bought blue, orange, and black paint pens. I first tried to paint the ends with the paint pens, but then decided that it took too long so I went and bought some acrylic paint and sponge brushes (much, much faster). I did still use the orange and black paint pens though. I painted one-half of one side of twenty-six craft sticks blue, and I painted four of them orange. I then wrote “Thunderstruck” on the orange sticks and I wrote different adding integer expressions on the blue ones. I also put a “point value” on each stick.

Students were placed in pairs. One student pulls a stick out of the cup. Both students find the value of the expression. If the student who pulls out the stick answers correctly, that student receives the number of points that I had written on the stick. The other student then pulls out a stick, and does the same thing. If a student pulls out the orange “Thunderstruck” stick, that person loses all of the points they have accumulated at that time.

You could actually play this several different ways. You could have students keep the sticks out of the cup as they pulled them and the game would end when they had pulled all of the sticks or you could have them replace the sticks and work until you called time.

My students LOVED this game. Where did I get the name and colors for this game you might ask? Well I’m from Oklahoma, and if you’re an Okie……you’re an OKC Thunder fan!!

Because these took so much time to make, I only made five sets of them. I made three different games; Thunderstruck, Go Fish, and Whack-a-Mole. They played each game for about fifteen-twenty minutes, and then rotated stations.

Here are the other two games that my students played that day. They are for sale here on my blog, or on my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

This is my “Go Fish for Adding Integers” game. It is only $2.50!! Get it here or at my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

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This is my “Whack-a-Mole” game for adding integers. You can buy it here or on my Teachers Pay Teachers store for only $2.50.

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I hope your students enjoy this activity as much mine did!!





Adding and Subtracting Integers 2012

Integers, integers, integers…. I could go on and on about how my students enjoy learning about integers. Why, you ask? Because I make it FUN and extremely simple. I keep the numbers all twenty and below. I want them to develop the concept of negative and positive integers down pat before I attempt to give them larger numbers. Once they have the concept down, then you can start introducing them to larger numbers. The following is basically a step-by-step of what I did to teach the unit of adding and subtracting integers. I am including both adding and subtracting in this blog because they go hand-in-hand with each other. The concepts they learn with the manipulatives in adding integers must be used for subtracting integers.

1. The first thing I did was to give them a cup with two-color counters in it. Why the cup? Because I found them on sale at Target. Four cups for $0.50. I figured I could use them for a lot of things, putting my counters in them was the first thing. I allowed them a little bit (about a minute) to shake around the cups and “play” with the counters. If you let them do this now, they will will not play with them “as much” as if you don’t give them the time. I then taught them to add integers the way I show it in this video I shot this summer.

In that video, my plan was to make enough of those magnets for students to share. I didn’t end up doing that because a) it would have taken forever, b) it would have cost me an arm and a leg, and c) while integer operation is a skill required for Oklahoma sixth graders this year, we move to Common Core next year where integers are a seventh grade skill. I gave my students two-color counters, and I used the magnets I made in the subtracting integers video on my magnetized white board. Here is a picture of it.

My students always have to mess with them before the bell rings. They try to make different arrangements with them.

Here is a picture of my two-color counters, the cute and cheap Target cups I used to keep them organized, and the integer mat that I printed out and laminated for them to use as their “place mats.”



Here is a link to the freebie I followed for adding integers. I followed it basically word-for-word, except that I used more examples based on how I felt my students were grasping it. Some classes needed more examples than others.

I’m telling you now, I have taught integers the old fashioned way by just telling them the rules and teaching them the song (which the song really worked, but didn’t get show them the “why” for the rules), and seeing unmotivated students, seeing learning disabled students, seeing students who STRUGGLE in math totally and completely understand how to add and subtract integers is the MOST amazing feeling in the world. I have taught integers using two-color counters for the last three or four years now, and sitting back and watching students work these problems with ease never gets old.

After the students work a few problems with the two-color counters, I have them put the counters away and I give them dry-erase markers and a napkin. I have them draw circles with positive and negative symbols in them to model the integers. It is really important for them to go from that concrete model to drawing them. Drawing them gives them a tool in case, for some reason, they get confused with a problem. Some students may still have to draw them for a while to catch on. That’s ok. They’ll eventually evolve from it.

After the students got the hang of adding integers, I passed out a set of integer cards. I had the students stand up and travel around the room until I counted down from five to one. When I got to one, they were to find a partner near them and write an addition expression with the two integers and find the value. We did that for four or five rounds. Here is a copy of the integer cards I used. It’s totally free!

After students did their “traveling”, we came back together and I passed out my set of “I Have/Who Has” cards for adding integers. I had students write the question and answer to each problem in their math spiral notebook. This ensured all students working the problems and paying attention. I had no problem having students participate. The times you have students who won’t participate are when they don’t understand. Having them do the models and play the “travel” game, most all students understand by now. Below you can purchase the “I Have/Who Has Integer Operation Bundle.” It actually has a set of cards for each operation. It is for sale for $4.00.

You can buy this from my Teachers Pay Teachers store or here on my blog for only $4.00.

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 The following day, we spent the whole day playing games that reinforced the skill of adding integers. I had students pair up, and had three different games that they rotated through. One game was my “Whack-a-Mole” game for adding integers, another was my “Go Fish” game for adding integers, and the third was a “Thunderstruck” game that I made with popsicle sticks and paint. The “Whack-a-Mole” and “Go Fish” games are for sale here on my blog or in my Teachers Pay Teachers store for only $2.50 a piece. The “Thunderstruck” game I made and will have a blog post on it later this week. My students LOVED playing all of the games. For some of you who are concerned about printing the games out using all of the color, you don’t have to use color. For this set, I printed them out with just black and white. I didn’t even laminate them, because I won’t be teaching integers next year and didn’t want to spend that much money and time on something I won’t be using for a while. The students still loved them, and they made it through four different classes just fine. Below is the opportunity to purchase those two games.

Here is the Whack-a-Mole game that I made. It is actually very colorful, but I printed it out in black and white. This great game is only $2.50. You can buy it here or in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

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Here you can buy the “Go Fish Adding Integers” game here or in my Teachers Pay Teachers store for only $2.50.

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Here is a picture of the “Thunderstruck” popsicle stick game the students played.

For subtracting integers, I followed the following video and freebie. I again varied the number of examples according to the understanding of my classes.


I then played “I Have/ Who Has” using the subtraction set of the integer bundle that is at the top of this post for $4.00. We also played “Biker Frog Bingo Subtracting Integers” game. The students really enjoyed it. I bought cute little trophies from Party Galaxy for very cheap. I used my label maker to make a label that said “Biker Frog Bingo Champion” for the student who won a bingo first. Students really got a kick out of that. After the first student won the bingo, we then would play “black out” just so the students would continue to get practice. I had the students write the questions and answers in their math spiral notebook.


You can buy “Biker Frog Bingo Subtracting Integers” here on my blog or in my Teachers Pay Teachers store for only $2.50.

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In my remedial math class, that is an additional math class student must take if they failed their state test from the year before, we play these games again and I also have them play together with the integer operation cootie catchers. You can use these in your regular math classes, I just ran out of time. Here you can buy those cootie catchers as well for only $2.00.

 You can buy it here or from my Teachers Pay Teachers store for only $2.00.

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Here is a “Go Fish Subtracting Integers” game similar to the one I used with adding integers. Again, I ran out of time during this lesson set to play the game, but I will be using it to reinforce and review subtracting integers later on.

Subtracting Integers Go Fish Picture

You can buy this game here or in my Teachers Pay Teachers store for only $2.50.

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If you have any questions about how I teach integers or how I use the games or activities, please feel free to ask! I hope you enjoy integers as much as I do!!! Thank you so much for your support!!



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