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Activities, Assessments, and Ideas for The First Day of Math Class

The first day of math class is right around the corner! Are you feeling those first day jitters yet? In hopes of easing your jitters I wanted to share a few ideas, activities, and my favorite way to assess student’s needs during those first few days of class. I’ve even included a freebie or two that I am confident you will love. One gives students the opportunity to struggle and fail, (don’t get me started on the importance of this). The other leads to meaningful discussion rich in math, and doubles as a fun bulletin board to be displayed throughout the year.

Before sharing the activities I wanted to share a couple thoughts pertaining to that first day of math. Most likely, of all the classes this will be the class filled with the most dread and anxiety. Address it. Many of your students already believe they are bad at math. They must know this is not the case. 3rd grade me can relate to this feeling, high school me can relate to this feeling, and college me can relate to this 2x over, for this I am grateful. In the end this empathy fueled my need to better support, explain, and practice. I am a better teacher because of this. Just because someone has had poor experiences with math in the past does not define them, nor their capabilities. When students realize the potential within them… they can do anything with the right support.  Be clear. There will be times this year they fail. There will be times of struggle, but if they don’t give up, and agree to put in the work… so. will. you.

1. Free Math Puzzle Activity:  

Naturally, this brings me to one of the first activities you can do on that first day of math class. Want it to be even more impactful, save the struggle speech for after. The suggestion of introducing students to struggle during those first few days of math class came from a dear friend, and teammate. SO. MUCH. WISDOM. Struggle reveals true character, and that is where growth and progress takes place. By having your students struggle in a controlled environment you are better able to reach them and instruct them about how to address and appropriately react to these strong emotions. That way when those same reactions come, at times when you aren’t aware, students will have already practiced and be prepared as to how to work through them. If this strikes a chord with you, make sure to check out my Grit and Growth Mindset Challenges.

The 7th challenge, The Nitty Gritty Bewilderer, is available for FREE Download here. The free download does not include the reflection sheet that all paid challenges do, however it is a great place to start! This activity introduces students to some fun math puzzles with a fascinating history. If you like this make sure to check out the other challenges that can last throughout the year. Watch the video below for more information. ***You may decide to save this as a second or third day of math activity… Remember anxiety and stress levels in students will be at an all time high that first day, It may be wise to allow them time to settle in before putting their mindset to the test!

Click here to purchase the Benjamin Franklin & Magic Square book I mention in the video below

Watch the video below for a quick run down of what the free sample activity includes:

 

 

2. Free Math is Everything Activity and Low-Prep Bulletin Board:

If ever there was a PERFECT first day of math class activity… this would be it. This activity can span across all grade levels due to the rigor you set through discussions, and expectations. This activity leads to meaningful discussion, an increased awareness of numbers, and an improved appreciation for mathematics. I was searching for a meaningful first day of math class activity when I stumbled across this quote by Shakuntala Devi:

Without mathematics, there’s nothing you can do. Everything around you is mathematics. Everything around you is numbers.

After reading this I knew I had found the foundation for the activity. Essentially you will break the students into small groups. Together they will brainstorm examples that support the quote above. How is math involved in sports, food, art, daily tasks…etc Challenge them to be prepared to back up their ideas with evidence. Next, come together and discuss as a whole class. Keep a running list of all the ideas and topics listed. Take the discussion further by asking students to think of occupations or careers that involve math. After the discussion students will design a hexagon based on one of the ideas listed on the board. They will be tasked with illustrating and explaining the application. Gather student hexagons, print and cut out the other bulletin board materials, including that cute border… and assemble! This is an exclusive and FREE download to members of On Lemon Lane. Simply click below to download. Not a member? No problem! Sign up is Free and easy peasy Lemon Squeezy!

Click Here to Download

 

3. Math About Me Activity:

Another favorite first day of math class activity is sticking to a classic all about me. I love all about me assignments, however many times students can get burnt out talking about their favorite thing to eat, listen to, read…etc. Assigning a Math about Me is a fun alternative to change the pace. When I first started teaching the only math about me assignments I could find were all very juvenile, and filled with fluff. I’m not a fan of fluff. I set out to create a Math about Me assignment that was appropriate for the upper grades, fun, and challenging, while still including problems that every student could answer. My Life in Numbers was the result of this effort. This is a really fun activity that requires students to work. Best part, the equations are fun and unique to each individual student. The majority of the time students don’t realize the effort they are exerting because they find the math fascinating. My Life in Numbers requires students to use multiplication, measurement, expanded form, counting, conversions, fractions and percentages…etc.

I decided to add another version of Math about Me to the mix. Again I wanted one that was appropriate for Upper Grades, that wasn’t “fluffy”. I also wanted to try and integrate different skills. The “In the Numbers” version is a lot of fun, and has a layout appropriate for older students. This one turned out to be so fun, and based on the rigor you assign to this product it can be appropriate amongst many grade levels. In the Numbers reviews concepts such as: area, perimeter, sq footage, scaling, base 10 blocks, ratio, percentage, fractions, math fluency <>, Pie Chart, time, mental math…etc.  Both are available for separate purchase, or you can save big with both in a BUNDLE. Read the next suggestion to see how I use these Math about Me pages in my classroom. 

   

4. FREE Math Pre-Assessment: 

This next resource is one near and dear to my heart. In one way I hope that I’m the first to introduce you to it, and in another I hope you’ve been utilizing it in your classroom for years. I began using this website when it was first known as Front Rowed, now Freckle. Funny name… Powerful tool. Freckle is the “first and only differentiation platform. It works with students at THEIR level. All teachers everywhere, cue happy tears. The user face is adorable and fun, yet appropriate for older students. Based on student’s performance you receive data telling you exactly where your student is, WHAT THEY NEED, and where they are going. Here’s the kicker… IT’S FREE. Math platform is available (K-9) I love this so much, this program became my student’s homework assignment throughout the year, allowing me to use my Daily Math & ELA Workbook & Student Planner Hybrid as a Bell Ringer instead of homework! One of the first things I have students complete that first week of math class is the pre-assessment/placement quiz on Freckle. Because students work at such a wide range of rates, as well as technology being limited I always had a Math about Me on hand for students to work on once they have finished or while they are waiting to get started. See above for more details. Watch the video below for more information on my all time favorite Freckle…. and I have A LOT of freckles… Couldn’t help myself.

 

Technically you should have enough here to cover the first 3 days of math class! I would start with the bulletin board activity for Day 1. The next class we would complete the pre-assessments and Math About Me pages, and Day 3 we would start things off with some struggle… and wonderful discussion. Don’t forget to set clear expectations, and go over procedures for math manipulatives. Focus on building trust and a relationship those first few days. The foundation you set will carry you throughout the rest of the school year. So make sure you’ve built upon a strong and steady one.

I hope these activities, ideas, and assessments brightened your day, and lightened your load. I hope that your jitters were replaced with excitement for the approaching days. Know that what you do is important. Good luck with the school year, be kind to yourself and your students. They need the best version of YOU. 

 

 Please, please, please take pictures! I want to see student examples, and the finished result, I especially want to hear about your experience with these projects.

  

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“The influence of your personal testimonies is ever so far-reaching. The Lord instructed: “The testimony which ye have borne is recorded in heaven for the angels to look upon; and they rejoice over you, and your sins are forgiven you” (D&C 62:3). He also cautioned us: “With some I am not well pleased, for they will not open their mouths, but they hide the talent which I have given unto them, because of the fear of man” (D&C 60:2). You never know when your turn will come to comply with the admonition of Peter to “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you” (1 Pet. 3:15).”
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Thomas S. Monson
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I’ve complied my FAVORITE inexpensive gift ideas for Father’s Day and created FREE printables for you to complete the gift! These are perfect and practical for the men in your life, and work great as a gift for the entire ward! -
What did your Ward do for Father’s Day this year?
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“I know the love of God. It is one of the very few things I do know with absolute certainty. I think suffering on this earth is an indication of God’s trust, God’s love. I think it is an indication that God does not want us to be simply obedient children playing forever under his hand, but wants us able to become more like himself. In order to do that we have to know reality. We have to be real ourselves and not dependent on externals. If we are to be like God, we cannot live forever in fear that we may meet something that will scare us or that will hurt us. We have to be able, as he is able, to meet what comes of others’ agency, and of living in a lawful universe that allows creation of a habitable planet only when it allows also the difficulties that come in natural operations of such a planet.”
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“Now all this suffering might indeed be unfair if everything ended at death, but it doesn’t. Life is not like a one-act play. It has three acts. We had a past act, when we were in the premortal existence; and now we have a present act, which is mortality; and we will have a future act, when we return to God. … We were sent into mortality to be tested and tried [see Abraham 3:25]. … “Our past and present sufferings cannot, as Paul said, ‘be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us’ [Romans 8:18] in the eternities. ‘For after much tribulation come the blessings. Wherefore the day cometh that ye shall be crowned with much glory.’ [D&C 58:4.] So tribulation is useful in the sense that it is helpful to get into the celestial kingdom”
-James E. Faust
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Reflecting on Father’s Day... it’s incredible to me that the Supreme Creator of the Universe chooses to be addressed as “Father”...
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. “Father’ is the noblest title a man can be given. It is more than a biological role. It signifies a patriarch, a leader, an exemplar, a confidant, a teacher, a hero, a friend and, ultimately, a perfect being.” Robert L. Backman
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For whatever reason, I’ve had this false idea in my mind that when you are on the Lord’s errand, a path paved in smooth simplicity would be laid out before you… This simply isn’t the case. Consider Nephi’s path and the bumps and stumbling blocks placed in his way… Consider Abinadi and his ultimate sacrifice of meekness and obedience… Consider Joseph Smith and the reestablishment of the early Church… Now consider Alma the younger and his dealings with Ammoniahah… Looking ahead, look what happens to Amulek once he finally decides to “Know” the Gospel.

It’s so interesting to me that when the angel is sent to Alma to lift him up and send him back to Ammoniahah a key detail that in my mind would have eased Alma’s mind is left out. Notice how the angel made no mention of Amulek. There is no mention of comfort that someone has been prepared for you, and is waiting for you. Instead, Alma acts “speedily” not knowing what he will do, ACTING in faith, hoping that the Lord will provide a way.
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To me this illustrates the idea of the Lord’s hand cautiously guiding us even when we can’t see it. I’ve seen this concept in my own life, however, it isn’t until I have the hindsight of the future to look back and realize his hand was there all along. There is something to choosing to act on our own. Heading in the right direction, even though we don’t know how we will be delivered, having faith that we WILL be delivered.
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“Each of us also carries a load. Our individual load is comprised of demands and opportunities, obligations and privileges, afflictions and blessings, and options and constraints. Two guiding questions can be helpful as we periodically and prayerfully assess our load... [...]Sometimes we mistakenly may believe that happiness is the absence of a load. But bearing a load is a necessary and essential part of the plan of happiness... [...] Not only does the Atonement of Jesus Christ overcome the effects of the Fall of Adam and make possible the remission of our individual sins and transgressions, but His Atonement also enables us to do good and become better in ways that stretch far beyond our mortal capacities. Most of us know that when we do things wrong and need help to overcome the effects of sin in our lives, the Savior has made it possible for us to become clean through His redeeming power. But do we also understand that the Atonement is for faithful men and women who are obedient, worthy, and conscientious and who are striving to become better and serve more faithfully? I wonder if we fail to fully acknowledge this strengthening aspect of the Atonement in our lives and mistakenly believe we must carry our load all alone—through sheer grit, willpower, and discipline and with our obviously limited capacities.” Excerpts from Bear Your Burdens with Ease, -Bednar ...

With there being a focus on Missionary work this week for Come Follow Me, and the fact that it isn’t always rosy… I thought a good addition to the lesson would be to write a letter to a missionary. Maybe this is a family member, a ward member, or someone new entirely, but a message from home can be an easy way to show support for those serving in the mission field. To help with this activity I created a fun and editable missionary letter template. The template should simplify the writing process and take the guesswork out of what to write. You can either type directly onto the slide, and print or email. Or you can begin by printing a hard copy and writing directly onto the page.

Use this with your family, your students, the primary, or young men| young women! This works great as a zoom call activity or fun activity at home! I’ve also included a link to inkablinka.com where Kristin has uploaded some awesome printables going over missionary letter dos and donts!
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Highlighting one of my most treasured scriptures this week. President Bednar said it best: “Thus, the Savior has suffered not just for our sins and iniquities—but also for our physical pains and anguish, our weaknesses and shortcomings, our fears and frustrations, our disappointments and discouragement, our regrets and remorse, our despair and desperation, the injustices and inequities we experience, and the emotional distresses that beset us. There is no physical pain, no spiritual wound, no anguish of soul or heartache, no infirmity or weakness you or I ever confront in mortality that the Savior did not experience first. In a moment of weakness we may cry out, “No one knows what it is like. No one understands.” But the Son of God perfectly knows and understands, for He has felt and borne our individual burdens. And because of His infinite and eternal sacrifice (see Alma 34:14), He has perfect empathy and can extend to us His arm of mercy. He can reach out, touch, succor, heal, and strengthen us to be more than we could ever be and help us to do that which we could never do relying only upon our own power. Indeed, His yoke is easy and His burden is light.” ...

To help you with your study this week, I’ve created a printable with all of the questions posed in chapter 5. (Around 50!) For me, this gives me something concrete, that I can hold, look at, and mark up. You will notice that many of the questions aren’t as simple as a yes and no, similar to many of the questions asked in Come Follow Me. I’ve left a space next to each question for you to use as you wish. Yes, it could be a place for a checkmark, but the more I grow, the more I learn that this is not a checklist Gospel. Rather, it’s growth, progression, and all about movement whether that be forward or backward. I wonder if you may even choose to “check” one of the questions that you choose to further study, ponder, or focus on for the week.
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I’d love to hear how you use this personal inventory, and any takeaways you have. Don’t forget to share this post with a friend!
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Recently I was asked to share my thoughts on the Come Follow Me program during the past few months for the LDS Website in the UK. @churchofjesuschrist -
Frankly speaking the invitation made me a little sick. My biggest fear is that it would seem like we were the perfect little family with the perfect little program in place, complete with cutouts and crafts, deep discussions and daily reflection....
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This couldn't be more from the truth. Yes, I do a weekly round up of ideas and resources for Come Follow Me that I publish on my website, but that doesn't mean that it always happens within my own home. When it does happen it typically looks like a bedtime story, or a video played while the kids eat lunch... When it does happen I often fall asleep while trying to catch up on last week’s reading... Most of all, when it does happen, I notice a difference within my home. This program is divinely inspired, the simple timing of everything amplifies it's divine origin to me. -
Art by @_thecoloramber one of the most beautiful illustrations of a family I've ever laid eyes on. Words fall short on this piece. It's my absolute favorite.
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You can read the article here:
https://uk.churchofjesuschrist.org/come-follow-me-during-lockdown?lang=eng-gb
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This quote stopped me in my tracks... Make sure to head to the website for this week’s Round up of FREE Come Follow Me Resources! This week’s lesson is based on @comefollowmefamily AWESOME idea to use bubbles and balloons to teach about pride. AND @davidbowmanart released another FREE Sample video from his Drawn In, Come Follow Me monthly subscription that I know you are going to LOVE! His videos are wonderful and go beyond just a retelling of the story by diving deep into application in a language the whole family can enjoy! This is the ONLY paid subscription I use for #comefollowme Head to the website now for all of this, a coupon code, and MORE! -
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What are your takeaways from Come Follow Me this week? Do me a favor and spread the love by sharing this post or tagging a friend in the comments!
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By now we all know I love all things Lemon... Lemonade is not exception. ESPECIALLY a good tart Lemonade like @chickfila Did you know you could buy it by the Gallon??? Stay tuned... FREE Father’s Day Printable Gift Tags and a list of well received/ inexpensive gift ideas to accompany them! Whether your looking to outfit the entire ward, or just a thoughtful gift for a few of your favorite men, this post will highlight some fun ideas! -
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COMMENT BELOW: What are some of your favorite inexpensive gift ideas for #fathersday
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“And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God” (Mosiah 27:25–26).
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”Conversion is a process, not an event. Conversion comes as a result of righteous efforts to follow the Savior. These efforts include exercising faith in Jesus Christ, repenting of sin, being baptized, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end in faith. Although conversion is miraculous and life changing, it is a quiet miracle. Angelic visitations and other spectacular occurrences do not bring conversion. Even Alma, who saw an angel, became converted only after he “fasted and prayed many days” for a witness of the truth (Alma 5:46). And Paul, who saw the resurrected Savior, taught that “no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost” (1 Corinthians 12:3).”
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Excerpt from LDS.org
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”Our behavior is nothing more than a reflection of the depth of our conversion to Jesus Christ." Ed J. Pinegar
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What has your behavior shown today of your conversion to Jesus Christ?
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Let’s talk FATHER’S Day... I’m getting ready to add a post on my favorite inexpensive gift ideas for #fathersday along with FREE & Thoughtful printables to complete the gift. So help me out... what are your FAVORITE ideas for budget friendly, visiting teaching friendly, give every man in the ward friendly GIFT IDEAS???
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Comment Below 💛🍋💛🍋
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This week in #comefollowme has me thinking a lot about the ripple effects of our choices. Consider the #rippleeffects of your Covenants. What about the ripple effect of Abinadi’s brave stand, or the ripples caused by Alma’s conversion. What choices are you making today, what ripple effect will they have tomorrow? ...

“What is the source of such moral and spiritual power, and how do we obtain it? The source is God. Our access to that power is through our covenants with Him. A covenant is an agreement between God and man, an accord whose terms are set by God (see Bible Dictionary, “Covenant,” 651). In these divine agreements, God binds Himself to sustain, sanctify, and exalt us in return for our commitment to serve Him and keep His commandments.”
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Head to the website to see this week’s round up of FREE, featured #comefollowme resources.
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