Craft Stick Puzzles 

Craft stick Puzzles are super easy to make and can be used for a variety of concepts. As a fifth grade math teacher, I have used them to order decimals, multiples and for ordering fractions. They also can be used for other concepts such as ordering whole number, factors of a specific number and so on. Craft stick Puzzles can also be used in reading. They can be used for word families, alphabetical order, or letter sounds. The list goes on and on, the choice is yours.

Supplies for Puzzles:

Craft sticks, tape, scissors, pencil, a ruler, circle labels and copy of image for puzzle.

To make Puzzles, place craft sticks over image to determine how many craft sticks will be need. Outline craft sticks with pencil to determine where to cut. Cut out image, and place a craft stick on back on image, to label where to cut for first puzzle piece. Cut all strips to fit craft sticks. When all strips are cut, tape strips on craft stick, and place a circle label on the bottom. Complete all craft sticks and puzzle is complete. Now you are free to determine what skill will be the focus of your puzzle. Labels are used to write skills. Labels can be removed and Puzzles can be used over and over for a variety of concepts. Now your students are ready to play. Students should shuffle sticks before playing. Students complete the task on labels and check picture to make sure correct.  I hope your students enjoy this playful learning activity.

Watch video clip of how to create Craft Stick Puzzles. Click link below:

Stick it in the doh!

As a 5th grade math teacher, I’m always looking for ways to differentiate my instruction.  One way to do that is through games.  Stick it in the doh is a game that can be played with 2-4 players.  This is a great way to learn and master the multiplication facts. It can be used all school year. It is really quick and simple to make,and super fun to play!

Supplies to create game:

Jumbo craft sticks, mini clothespins, circle labels, Play-doh, a pair of scissors, and a marker. 

The Jumbo crafts sticks are 75 in a pack for about $2.50 at Walmart.  These were needed specifically to fit the multiplication tables.  A variety of Craft sticks are always available for $1 at Dollartree. The mini clothespins are 40 for $1, at Dollartree. The labels were $.49 for 300, in Shoprite. I always go through the stationary aisle while in the market, you never know what you will find. 

The first circle label  names the multiplication facts outlined on the craft stick. The picture on the left above highlights the multiples of 3, 0-12. The circle labels are then cut in half and multiples are written in marker on half labels and placed in order on the craft stick. I also created my own number cubes for this game  ( 1-6, 7-12 ). The wooden cubes were 36 for $1, at Dollartree.

The game on right are the multiples of ten ,1-10.  An alternate version of Stick it in the doh. For this game create number cubes 1-5,and a free choice space. The other cube 6-10, and a free choice space.

How to play game:

Each player has their own copy of the same multiplication fact craft stick, in this case each player has the multiples of 3, 2-4 players. Players place stick in Playdoh, to stand them up. Players begin by clipping the 0, and review the 0 Fact. That is a free space. Players take turns rolling Number cube and decide which number they will choose to clip. For example, player rolls a 3 and a 6. Player can clip 9 or an 18 (3×3=9, 6×3=18).  Player can only clips one number per roll.  The object of the game is to have 4 pins in a row. If player rolls and numbers are already chosen, player loses a turn. Next player rolls. First player to clip four in a row is the winner. 

Click link below and watch video clip of how to create and play Stick it in the doh.:

This game can be differentiated for many math concepts. It can be used for counting by 5s, 10s, 100s and so much more. 

Over the next few weeks I will highlight different games that may be useful for your students. Subscribe to my Blog and YouTube Channel to get alerts of new content. 

Pictures Books across the curriculum

Picture books are engaging and thought provoking. The strong visual imagery is enlightening and aids in comprehension.  Picture books deserve a place in upper elementary and middle school classrooms. Using picture books across the curriculum can enhance learning opportunities for all learners. Here a few reasons why picture book are essential:

1. Picture Books cut to the Chase! The content is focused.  No need to read chapters to highlight specific content. If reading about certain historical events such as, the Holocaust or Segregation laws, reading a novel or a text book can be stressful and time consuming. A picture book is specific and visual. The content can be delivered quickly.

2. They are safe! For some reluctant readers the thought of reading through a 300 page textbook is daunting. Picture Books offer a safe alternative. They are engaging, and specific to the topic. The pictures offer a safe haven. The illustrations are content rich and thought provoking, and lessens the anxiety. Picture books will ease the hesitation, while maintaining the content.

3. Picture Books are differentiated! Picture books vary in reading levels. There are picture books for early readers and advanced readers on the same content. If you are teaching a lesson on the solar system, there is a picture book to accommodate the various reading levels of your students. 

4. Picture Books can provide a common background knowledge! Picture Books can provide background knowledge needed to explore certain topics. If you are teaching a lesson on the Holocaust, a picture book can provide the imagery and background knowledge to all students. Prior to reading, The Diary of Anne Frank a picture book will ensure the prior knowledge needed to understand the context. 

5. They provide exemplary examples of literary techniques! A picture book can serve as a Mentor text, when teaching literary techniques. If you are teaching a lesson on figurative language, picture books are the perfect tool. They are short and focused and waste little time in their examples. Students are rarely asked to write stories with chapters.  Why use a chapter book as a Mentor text. Pictures Books can provide the perfect example in a succinct manner.

6. Picture Books can provide connections to concepts! If teaching Financial literacy, a picture book can provide insight on how money is earned or saved. This can be done prior to learning specific math concept. In science class a picture book can ignite curiosity and provide a spring board to scientific investigations.

There are many more benefits of using Picture Books in upper elementary and middle school classrooms, these are just a few. Click Link below for 50 more ways to use picture books across the curriculum.  

Below is a great Database of Picture Books and themes:

50 ways to use picture books in secondary classrooms.

Related Text:


Humans have been playing games since the beginning of time. People of all ages enjoy playing games that are motivating and fun! Math Games can be especially useful in the classroom for reinforcing concepts. They provide independent thinking opportunities.  Games also allows students, the opportunity to deepen their mathematical reasoning skills.  Students have the opportunity to recognize patterns, Place value, and number combinations.  Games can also strengthen the home-school connection.  Families can play games at home, that reinforce math concepts taught in the classroom . Thus, providing the opportunity for fluency practice. Educators should provide repeated opportunities for games in the classroom. Students will learn new strategies, deepen their conceptual understanding, and strengthen their computation fluency.

I’m always looking for new and innovative games for my math class.  I look for games that provide fun, while reinforcing concepts. I especially like for a game to incorporate a variety of math concepts. Game-Set-Math covers everything on my checklist!  

Game-Set-Math utilizes numbered tennis ball to engage all learners. The brightly colored balls will replace your old number lines. Each bag comes complete with 15 interactive games.

Visit their website for more information on how to bring this exciting game to your classroom. 

Receive 10% off your purchase using link below:

Watch video preview of game:

Click link for Free Multiplication Game:

The Power of Poetry 

Poetry is often viewed as beautiful and enlightening and held in very high esteem. Despite this perception, poetry lags behind its literary counterparts in sales and popularity. Poetry is not a popular purchasing choice. It is often seen as something to be studied, academic. Despite this fact, poetry is woven into our every days lives. From Instagram caption, twitter feeds, and rap music, poetry permeates our existence.  Millennials, the youth of today, are a unique mix of very few words and strong visual imagery.  This is poetry!

The study of poetry and poetry writing is a part of most curriculum. However, the study of poetry in many classroom is often rushed or abandoned all together.  Poetry is often put on the back burner. This is such a shame. Poetry has many benefits in the classroom. Here are a few:

  • The Rhyme and Rhythm of poetry is great for teaching language, spelling patterns and phonemic awareness. Dr. Seuss’s poems covers a wide range of rhyme and rhythm. Click links for printable Dr. Seuss quotes.
  • Poetry offers another reading option. Poetry covers a wide variety of subject matter and themes. Poetry can enhance History and Science curriculum. Click links for history and science poems.
  • Poetry is great first step for beginning writers. The short prose is less intimidating.  Writing short poems is a great precursor to paragraph writing.
  • Poetry is great for teaching parts of speech. Poetry uses vivid adjectives, nouns, and verbs. It’s great for teaching the power of description.
  • Poetry can cover many reading strategies and can be used for instruction. Identifying the theme, point of view, and mood are a few of the strategies that poetry covers. Click link for Reading Rockets article, on using poetry to teach reading.

Try and incorporate poetry in your classroom the benefits are endless.

Click link for Free Poetry Analysis Doodle Note.             Poet of The Day:  Jack Prelutsky


The Benefits of Doodling in the Classroom 

Doodling is an act often perceived as “idle” or “distractive”.  It is usually frowned upon in classroom and in meetings.  Doodling can be defined as the spontaneous act of drawing.  I myself have been guilty of accusing a student of not paying attention while doodling during instruction.  I have also been the doodler on many occasions in staff meetings, and workshops.  Doodling usually clears the mental clipboard in my mind of all the loose ends that need my attention.  Usually , I can focus on the presentation if I’m doodling.  I often find myself uncomfortable with my doodling and stop as soon as I loose focus.

Lately, there has been a shift in the perception of doodling.  In the past few years adult coloring books have grown in popularity.  In check out counters across the country mixed in with the word searches and books of crosswords are books of Doodle Art.

Why the sudden fascination with Doodling or Doodle Art. There is new research that supports the conclusion that there are many benefits to Doodling. It can help with concentration.  A research study conducted in 2009 found that participants who doodled during a phone call was able to recall 29 percent more information. It can also ease tension, and provide enjoyment.  In 2011, Australian educational researchers from 3 Universities conducted a joint study to test the 2009 study.  The study was conducted in science classes.  Science relies heavily on images and visual, and the students were encouraged to draw during lectures.  The study found that not only did students retain more information. They reported that they actually had a great time doodling, it bought a level of enjoyment to their learning.

A few individuals are bringing the art form to the mainstream.  Sunni Brown is leading the charge with, The Doodle Revolution.  Whose main purpose is to disrupt social norms on visual learning and thinking.  She is a champion in the practice of Doodling and discribes the many benefits in her TED talk.

Give Doodling a try in your classroom.  Click link for a Free math Doodle Note for your students in my TpT store.  Also available,  Math Doodle Notes for grades 2-5.

5 ways to celebrate Women’s History Month in your classroom

March 8, is Women’s International Day around the world. In 1987 under the Reagan Administration March was officially declared National Women’s History Month in the United States.

Why should we celebrate Women’s History Month.  In most classrooms, history  lessons focus on politics, military or business endeavors.  Which usually exclude women and their contributions to society. Celebrating Women’s History Month serves as a vehicle not to rewrite history but to explore the lost history of women.  Examining the contributions of women and the issues that affect women in society creates an atmosphere of tolerance.  Ignorance leads to bias and discrimination.  Studying the contributions of all members of society is important to maintaining a world that respects all citizens.

The National Women’s History Month 2017 theme “Honoring Trailblazing Women in Labor and Business”.

Here are 5 ways to celebrate Women’s History Month in your classroom.

1. Students will read about the life of Trailblazing Women in history. Students will then create a commemorative Postage Stamp to honor the woman in history. Postage Stamps can be used as a bulletin board or make a classroom scrapbook of  Trailblazing Women.

Click link below for free Women’s History Month Commemorative Postage Stamp lesson plan and Stamp template.

2. Students will research a  Notable Women in History. Students will then dress up as Notable Woman and create a Real life “Wax Museum.”  Students can invite parents and other classes to visit students on display. Great way to reinforce home-school connection.

3. Students will learn about first by Women. For Example, the first woman in Congress, first in space, first to win a Nobel Prize, etc. Students will then create a  Postage Stamp( link in #1) or poster of the famous first.

Click link for History Channel’s Famous First in Women’s History.

4. Teaching history. Org: Great Resource for educators. Printable, quizzes. Every thing for an extensive study of Women’s History.
5. NEA list of activities for grades K-5 to celebrate Women’s History Month.