Focus on Math

Helping children become mathematicians!

Math Alphabet Posters September 24, 2012

One of the teachers in my district (thanks, Angela G.!) sent me a link recently to a site where one can download a set of alphabet posters. The wonderful thing about them is that they have a math focus! The picture/word for every letter makes reference to a math idea. Some of the words may be a bit advanced for an early primary class, but the set is certainly useful for later elementary grades, or even middle school classes.

I have printed these off, laminated them, and hung them in my room at Charlie Lake School, and, I must say, they look wonderful. Thank you to the creator, “Little Lovely Leaders”, from the Teachers Pay Teachers website for this resource. At the time of posting, the pdf file of the posters is free to download, so if you are at all interested I suggest you don’t delay 🙂

Click here for the link to the posters.

I hope you enjoy the math alphabet posters as much as I do.
Mathematically yours,


Pattern Block Plates — Math Art Grade 2 September 20, 2012

Filed under: General Math,Primary Math Ideas & Problems — Focus on Math @ 2:07 pm

Well, with the new school year well underway I am delighted to be working with 7 classes of students at Charlie Lake School again this year. I am fortunate to have a room to base my math lessons in — having a base is so much easier than having to truck all my materials and manipulatives around on a cart and I am very appreciative that there is a space for me.

But having a room also means there is a hall bulletin board for displaying student work, and to get the school year going I decided to have the two grade 2 classes each make pattern block plates. Since I have a die cutting machine and the dies to cut some of the pattern block shapes, the students used these construction paper pieces to create their designs.

There were only two instructions:
First, students were to glue a yellow hexagon into the centre of the plate. From there they had free rein as long as they were making a design with a pattern or some symmetry involved. The classes were short — I get one group for 30 minutes and the other for 35, but even within that time frame the students produced some lovely designs. While I was hanging the plates in the hall many of the older students were stopping to admire them, picking out some they particularly liked.

If you have access to pattern block pieces, I encourage you to try the project with your class. Even some older classes would enjoy creating the designs.

(Download the pattern block template here.)

Mathematically yours,
Screen shot 2013-01-11 at 11.59.25 AM


Math Camp 2012: K-2, 3-5, 6-8 September 4, 2012

The three days of Math Camp last week went very well. We did a lot of problem solving, looked at Universal Design for Learning (UDL), as well as took away some great resource books.

As you begin a new school year with students, remember that it is important to build a community of problem solvers. Students need to feel safe in the classroom or they will not want to take the risks involved in trying to solve problems. They need to learn some strategies and tools that will help them solve problems, problems which are challenging enough to make them think, but not so challenging that they have no entry point for individual students. In fact, problems with multiple entry points are needed. This is where UDL comes into the picture.

I promised some clean copies of things we used during the sessions, so I will post those here. I will also add links to some of the reference pages we referred to during the sessions. Remember that the Marcy Cook samples all came from her website, and that I “reduced” the size from the original to fit two activities on a page. Thus for the smaller versions of the activities we used the smaller version of the 0-9 digits.

Marcy Cook sample page #1 K-2

Marcy Cook sample page #2 K-2

Marcy Cook sample page #1 gr 3-5

Marcy Cook sample page #2 gr 3-5

Marcy Cook sample page #1 gr 6-8

Marcy Cook sample page #2 gr 6-8

0-9 digit sheet — 1 inch squares

0-9 digit sheet — 3/4 inch squares

Link to Marcy Cook’s website

Four 4’s recording page

Climb the Ladder sheet primary

Climb the Ladder sheet intermediate

Link to Universal Design for Learning material

If I have forgotten something, let me know and I will add it to the post.
Otherwise, I hope you were able to take away from the sessions some ideas you can use immediately as you begin this new school year!

Happy new year!
Mathematically yours,