3-12, Math

Make and Solve Balance Puzzles with Mathigon’s PolyPad

Mathigon is one of the many free resources I’ve included in my Wakelet, “Math Sites That Won’t Make You Fall Asleep.” It is rich with incredible interactive lessons that are visually appealing as well. Some examples I’ve mentioned in the past are the “puzzle a day” every December, its “Almanac of Interesting Numbers,” mathematical origami, the “Panorama” tool for seeing mathematical applications in careers, and “Alice in Fractal Land,” which you can find on the Activities page. (The Patterns and Sequences lesson is a good tie-in to the 12 Days of Christmas lesson I posted last week.)

One of the many tools I haven’t mentioned that you can find on the Mathigon site is “Polypad.” I was reminded of this when I saw a Tweet from @DavidPoras that showcased a fun way to customize some puzzles using the Algebra balance scale. In a way it reminds me of “Solve Me Mobiles” and the Balance Benders books we used to use in my elementary classroom or those Facebook math riddles that get passed around from time to time. With his permission, here is a screenshot of David’s Tweet:

See this idea from @DavidPoras on Twitter here.

In case you don’t have Twitter, here is the link to David’s puzzle. If you want to make your own, he also gave this link for the tutorial. (One thing to note that I didn’t see in the tutorial is that you can use the image icon in the menu at the bottom of the screen to upload your own images.) You can find more tutorials here. The Question Builder and Link Sharing videos will be helpful if you are making this type of activity. Creating your own puzzles does require free registration, and you will want to go into your Dashboard in your account and make sure you are registered as a Teacher in order to see the Question Builder tool.

If you happen to make more of these, please share on the comments. I will be adding this to my Math Wakelet, as well as my December/Winter one (under Stem). I might have a bit of time to create a few more puzzles, as I know teachers are short on time, and will share them here and on the December Wakelet if I do.

Thanks to David for the inspiration and to Mathigon for providing such an incredibly engaging site!

K-12, Teaching Tools

Winter Holiday Wakelet

I have been going through some of my old December posts, as well as curating new resources from others, to put together into a Winter Holiday Wakelet. I apologize, since I know that one hemisphere is currently experiencing summer, but I could not think of a good way to describe all of the included activities that wasn’t super long! Please comment below if you have a more inclusive (but not more than 5 word) title!

This Wakelet includes a link to Advent My Friend ( an editable countdown calendar that some teachers are customizing for their classes), a Lego Ornament Challenge from Aaron Maurer, Holiday Choice Boards shared by Shannon McClintock Miller, and much more. I will be adding to the Wakelet throughout December, so please click on the “Follow” button if you want to stay up to date. I am virtually attending ISTE20 this weeks, so I hope to have many more things to share in the upcoming days!

Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Pexels.com

Creative Thinking, Critical Thinking, Education, Physical Education, Problem Solving, Videos

The Teachers’ December Survival Kit (Redux)

During the last few years, I’ve collected quite a few resources to help teachers “survive” the few weeks before Winter Break.  Rather than recycle them in separate posts this year, I decided to put the links to the posts all in one place.  (The “Telegenic” post shares related videos.)

One activity that has made it into my lesson plans for a few years in a row is, “Outside my Snow Globe.” Another seasonal favorite on this blog is to S.C.A.M.P.E.R. the Holidays.

image from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/aoifecitywomanchile/3229526632
image from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/aoifecitywomanchile/3229526632

Books, Creative Thinking, Education, K-5, Language Arts, Math

4 More Ways to Survive 4 More Days

Just in case you didn’t properly ration your Teachers’ December Survival Kit,  and you are finding yourself desperate for ways to make it through this final week before the break, here are some more activities that I’ve found from some of my favorite bloggers:

Candy Cane S.C.A.M.P.E.R.

Ugly Sweater Challenge (I love the Ugly Sweater fractions!)

Toys Go Out (scroll to the end of this post for a great book idea and a link to lesson plans!)

Quiver and Holiday Writing – augmented reality fun for the holidays

keep-calm-because-we-have-4-more-days-left

Creative Thinking, Critical Thinking, Education, K-5, Language Arts, Problem Solving, Student Products, Teaching Tools, Videos

A Teacher’s December Survival Kit

During the last few years, I’ve collected quite a few resources to help teachers “survive” the few weeks before Winter Break.  Rather than recycle them in separate posts this year, I decided to put the links to the posts all in one place.  (The “Telegenic” post shares related videos.)

One activity that has made it into my lesson plans for a few years in a row is, “Outside my Snow Globe.” Another seasonal favorite on this blog is to S.C.A.M.P.E.R. the Holidays.  Here is an example of a student’s work.  He chose to “Substitute” globes for snow to make an “Earthman.”

earthmanjpg

These weeks will fly by and probably be quite chaotic – but there’s no reason they can’t be fun, too!

Apps, Creative Thinking, Education, K-5, Student Products, Teaching Tools, Videos, Writing

Outside My Snow Globe…

One of the more popular posts on this blog (particularly during the winter months) is, “If I Lived in a Snow Globe, I Would Wear my Bike Helmet to Bed.”  This is a follow-up post for anyone who might want more details about the lesson I teach my gifted 1st graders.  For this project, it’s helpful to have at least one iPad and a video editing program.

First, I show my first graders the “Bumbleville” video referenced in the Bike Helmet post, and we discuss the perspective questions I listed.  We also read Snow Globe Family and compared the book to “Bumbleville.”

Next, the students brainstorm a list of interesting locations.  They can range anywhere from the jungle to Mount Rushmore.

I ask the students to choose one location and pretend they are in a snow globe at that location.  They write a rough draft of a short story describing what they see outside the snow globe.

As students finish at different times, they take each other’s picture using the iSnowdome app, which is free.  The app places you inside a snow globe, and makes a short video with the snow blowing around you.  My students sometimes like to ham it up and pose as though they are freezing cold – even though we live in San Antonio and it’s usually about 85 degrees outside.

I also take screen shots in the app of each student so I can print those out and add them to their final drafts.  The screen shots can be used for augmented reality purposes, as well.

When the students complete their final drafts, they meet with me separately and we record their stories over the iSnowdome videos in iMovie on the iPads.  (Wow, that was a lot of “i”s in one sentence!)

In iMovie the students get to choose which music will accompany their video, and that’s always interesting!

I display the stories with their pictures.  At this point, you can either send the videos home, link them on your blog, or do what I did – use Aurasma.

I link each child’s picture to his narrated video.  Now, when they take their projects home, all the parents have to do is scan the picture with the free Aurasma app and the video will play.

If you haven’t used Aurasma, here is a link to their tutorial videos. Also, I have a quite a few augmented reality resources gathered on this page.

Want to see an example?  Make sure you have Aurasma downloaded on your mobile device.  Subscribe to the Hidden Forest Elementary channel.  Then scan one of the pictures below to see the videos!

UPDATE 12/6/17: For an incredible STEAM project that you can use with this lesson, check out the immensely creative Tricia Fuglestad’s post here!

Photo Jan 05, 1 57 35 PM

Photo Jan 05, 1 58 06 PM