Category Archives: 3-12

One-Hole Punch Puzzles

I am so not proficient when it comes to spatial reasoning.  This makes sense to me because I can’t think of ever really practicing it as a child.  I didn’t build with Legos or blocks, and I wasn’t really into jigsaw puzzles.  Mostly, I read a lot.  That means I’m generally a decent speller, but when I try to sew a face mask you will have to turn it right side in to make it right side out.  Or something like that.  Let’s just say my very un-straight stitches are very visible on the side of the material that you would normally want people to see.  And, yes, that is with a sewing machine.

So, as I spend the second half of my century of life trying to visualize what comes naturally to everyone else in my family, I would like to re-iterate that spatial skills are pretty important, and aren’t really a big focus in most schools.  Regular readers will know that this isn’t a new theme on this blog, and here are some past posts that I’ve done with other great resources: Spatial ReasoningSpatial Puzzles, and a bunch of reviews of apps and games.

Today’s spatial reasoning resource would have been so fun to do with my engineering students.  It comes to us from Mark Chubb (@MarkChubb3), who offers these One-Hole Punch Puzzles on his blog, Thinking Mathematically.  I’ve seen puzzles like these on some aptitude tests, but usually the questions show how a paper was folded and punched, and you have to select from the multiple-choice the subsequent result when unfolded.  In this hands-on twist, Chubb produces the results, and students have to use their own pieces of paper and one-hole punch tools to demonstrate where the paper must have been folded and punched.

In a pre-Covid class, we could have shared hole punchers and then had a huge confetti party.  Sadly, this may not be an option for any teachers anytime soon, but I encourage home-schoolers, parents, and anyone who can’t sew a mask to give these puzzles a try.

Hole Punch Confetti
Image by Monsterkoi from Pixabay


Charty Party – All Ages Edition

Charty Party is a game based on charts. (H/T to @MsMessineo for tweeting about this!)  Played like Apples to Apples, a judge is selected who turns over a card with a chart on it.  Only the X-Axis is labeled.  Players look at their own cards, which have potential labels for the Y-Axis, and choose one from their hand that they think the judge will find the funniest.  The player whose card is chosen by the judge collects that chart, and a new person becomes the judge.  The game ends when someone has collected 5 charts.

The creators of the original Charty Party, which was designed for ages 17+,  received a lot of requests for versions that would be appropriate for classrooms and young families.  So, after interviewing many people, including teachers, they are back with an All Ages Edition on Kickstarter.  The good news is that the game has already been funded, so production is guaranteed.  The even better news is that for every $5,000 the team raises from backers, they will donate 10 Charty Party All Ages games to a school.  As I am writing this post, they have already raised over $56,000. (Their original goal was $10,000.) The kind of hard-to-swallow news for those of us eager to play it is that delivery of the games will not begin until January, 2021.  😦

You can get the original Charty Party right now, and add on your All Ages Cards when you receive them.  I read some of the Q&A on the product’s Amazon page, and in response to, “How many cards would I have to remove before I could allow my high school students to play this at school?” one person answered, “About half.”  Personally, I think it would be fun to have your students make their own cards to go with the charts for the time being.

If you teach math, I envy you, and definitely think you should check out this game.  For other math fun with charts and graphs, see my posts on: Slow Reveal Graphs, Dear Data, and What’s Going on in This Graph?


Charty Party All Ages
image from Charty Party All Ages Kickstarter


In April of 2020, as much of the world had fallen under the pall of the pandemic, more and more people were resorting to Zoom video as a replacement for socializing in person.  A few organizations (not affiliated with Zoom) decided to organize a “#ZoomJam,” with the challenge to create innovative games that could be played in this new context.  You can read more about the organizers of #ZoomJam and its origins here.

The competition has ended (though you can still submit games), and you can see the top winners on the #ZoomJam home page.  For a full list of games, you can visit here.

Looking at the games with the lens of an educator, I can see many that could be adapted for teachers to use either as class bonding activities or for academics.  Some of the notable ideas that I could see using with students are: Aardvark, Dance-Off, Hot-Seat, Mute-iny, Night at the Museum, Split Decision, and Zoom Spot.  Of course, you may see many more opportunities on the list that I missed!

Put on a parent lens, friend or family member lens, and you may discover some other #ZoomJam games that you want to attempt – or maybe submit one of your own!

Video Conference
Image by Alexandra_Koch from Pixabay

Texts for Talking About Race

As I continue to educate myself on anti-racism, I have vowed to devote a weekly post to this cause.  I have been curating resources for this at a rate that is impossible to sustain, and it has been a bit overwhelming.  I don’t want to dump a lot of links on you because you can basically get any list that you want from social media.  Following the tradition of this blog, I will attempt to share no more than a few quality resources with each post.

Today’s very useful resource is brought to you by CommonLit.  I’ve written about CommonLit a couple of times on this blog, and it is heartening to see that this website has continued to improve.  Provided by a non-profit, CommonLit also has remained free for teachers.  As you know, (and I mentioned in yesterday’s post), quality ed tech tools are difficult to find, and sometimes don’t last very long.

CommonLit has compiled 59 texts for talking about race.  It appears that the grade range is from 4th-12th.  Here is an example of a poem called, “The Child,” by J. Patrick Lewis, that is suitable for 4th grade and up.  As you can see on the right-hand side, activities are provided to go along with the text, including questions and discussion suggestions.  Students who are logged in on a computer (not a mobile device at this time) can also annotate the text.  They can have the computer read it out loud, or translate to another language.

At the top of the page, you will see tabs for paired texts, related media, and parent/teacher guides to go along with the specific text.  You must be logged in for some of these resources – but remember it is free to register!

If school is already out in your neck of the woods, be sure to bookmark this resource for next school year.  Parents, you don’t need to wait, since there are guides for you to use if you want to start the discussion now.

Stop Racism
Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

Graspable Math

I’ve been in the process of gathering recommended tools and strategies for distance learning, and bookmarked a spreadsheet started by Fawn Nguyen (@FawnPNguyen) where she is collecting “Distance Learning Best Practices for Maths.”  One of the resources entered on the sheet is Graspable Math.  Intrigued by the title, I decided to check out the website.

Graspable Math is a free website that allows students and teacher to manipulate the terms in algebraic equations easily online.  You can see how it works by going directly to the canvas, and typing in your own unsolved equation.  (Go to Insert – Math Expression.) Then, just click and drag to indicate each step you would go through as you attempt to solve it.  A neat feature of Graspable Math is that only the results of your most recent step will show on the canvas.  However, at any time you can click the handle on the right side and drag it down to show any or all of the previous steps as well.

Here is the short video that was included on Nguyen’s spreadsheet that summarizes Graspable Math:

Once you are ready to create assignments (there are specific lessons on the site you can use if you need help getting started), head over to this page for a quick tutorial on how to design lessons for your classes.

For those of you who are elementary teachers with students who may be ready to move on to algebraic thinking, Graspable Math also has a projects page that includes interactive games that scaffold the topic.  One of the games is specifically appropriate for elementary students.

Whether using an interactive whiteboard at school or teaching remotely, educators will find that Graspable Math is a nice way for students to demonstrate their understanding of algebra.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The Creativity Project

The Creativity Project is a book edited by Colby Sharp, a 5th grade teacher in Michigan who is one of the co-founders of “The Nerdy Book Club Blog.”  For this book, Sharp reached out to forty-four authors and illustrators of children’s books to ask them to send him two creative prompts.  After receiving these, he mixed them up and mailed two of the prompts to each contributor, who could then select one to which they would respond. The chosen prompts and results are collected in this book, along with the forty-four unused prompts.

As you read the book, you will be astounded by the imaginative collection of short stories, comics, poems, and illustrations that the creators chose for inspiration, as well as the responses they whimsically crafted.  You may feel like you are immersed in an exposition of improvisation that appears on the pages instead of the screen.

I wanted to list some of the authors and illustrators who participated, but then I felt like I would be granting those names more importance than the ones omitted.  For the full list, you can look at this page on Sharp’s website.

If you know someone who struggles with choosing writing topics, this book is a great gift to give or share!

Image by Mystic Art Design from Pixabay