Tuesday, March 25, 2014

'Playing' With Our Learning!

Sometimes the best ideas I have for teaching come from watching my sons play!
I have 2 boys that are 'true boys'- my house is filled with cars, trucks, dinosaurs, superheroes, etc!  When I sit back and watch them play I learn from them...I learn how they learn, I learn how they problem solve and I even feel like I learn how to be a better teacher!

So this subtraction idea came straight from watching my boys play!

They raided my empty cardboard box container stash (I am gearing up to make decomposing monsters!) and started cutting them apart.  They are very creative and can make the most amazing things from unstructured play!  They have open access to scissors, markers, crayons, glue etc.  So they often go about making things.  I had no idea what they were up to- except for the fact that they were making a huge mess!  And then I sat back and listened....

'Park it right here.'  'Oh no, there's an emergency so the ambulance has to leave.'  'Now I only have 3 emergency vehicles in my parking lot.'  'The emergency is over- the ambulance is back now.' 
And so it continued...and I chimed in...

'How many cars are in your parking lot?'  'If the firetruck goes to the fire, how many will be left?'  And they 'acted out' the scenarios I said by having their cars/trucks move in and out of the lot....

GENIUS boys!  You are practicing addition and subtraction...and you have no idea!

So when they went in for naps, I went to the computer and made a parking lot, some simple word problems, and paper cars (I didn't think they would let me 'borrow' their cars for school math!)

My class is 'boy' heavy this year- 13 to 7- so I knew if I had the cars they would be even more excited!
So I grabbed a baby wipe container and took about 40 cars from the bottom of the toy box that I didn't think they would miss- I had to hide them- and the container worked like a charm!

I laid down the law...the cars are used to answer the math problems- if I find you are just 'playing' with them, I will have to take them and give you the paper ones instead!

And so our fun and learning began...
Pull a word problem card and 'read' it.  Put that many cars in the lot.

Read the card to see how many cars drive out...and have them drive out!

Count how many cars are left in the lot.

Record your learning...Write how many you started with...

...how many drove away... 

...and how many are left!  And then read your number sentence!

They continued to pull cards, 'act' them out and record!

No one has had to use the 'dreaded' paper cars...yet!

This week we worked only with the subtraction word problems, but there is also an addition set in there.  Next week addition and subtraction cards will be mixed and they will need to figure out if the cars are pulling out (subtraction) or driving into (addition) the lot!

Find all you need to 'play and learn' addition and subtraction here:
All you'll need is some cars...or use the paper cars!

Another fun way we worked with subtraction and simple word problems this week was our file folder game 'Zookeepers Beware Of...Missing Monkeys!'

Last week we used the spinner component to spin a subtraction problem.  This week we used the subtraction word problem cards!

Students selected a card and put that many monkeys in the cage.

They then read the card to see how many monkeys to make 'escape' (leave) the cage.
and write the numbers on the number sentence strip. 

They count up how many monkeys are left...

And write the answer!

They continued to play until our math center time was up!
Looking to play this fun game in your classroom?  You can find it here:

I am linking up with Teaching Momster for this week's Wednesday Math Madness Linky all about Subtraction!  Click here to find more subtraction ideas!

Leave me a blog post comment about how you teach subtraction for a chance to win your choice of my parking lot or monkey subtraction centers!

And be sure to visit again this weekend!  I am part of a blog hop that is full of fun game ideas, freebies and giveaways!  I have a subtraction farm freebie that is sure to have your kids up and moving!

Until next post,
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  1. I purchased the car unit and love it! So, if I win, I would love the zoo one! Keep up the great work!

  2. I love to use the "french fries in a box" idea to teach subtraction! The parking lot idea is fantastic! Thanks for sharing....

  3. I love your parking lot idea for teaching subtraction. I've wishlisted it on TPT in case I don't win it. Through the years, I 've done a lot of different things. My kids love eating to model subtraction. I have used pieces of cereal in a counting cup.

  4. I love this idea so much! How simple (basically a tens frame), yet so motivating. You are right about learning from our kids. I feel like SUCH a better teacher after having kids of my own because they teach me so much. Thanks for linking up!

    Teaching Momster

  5. I am so guilty of taking my kids toys and using them for centers! I love the parking lot idea and the zoo! I simply can't wait to see the farm game!!!

  6. I know my grandkids would love to learn subtraction using cars,. What a cute idea.

  7. I know my grandkids would love to learn subtraction using cars,. What a cute idea.

  8. Super fun ideas Jennifer! I love the car parking lot, my boys would love that.

    Fun in PreK-1 & Kinder

  9. Bought the car set. Would love the zoo set! Abby1378@yahoo.com

  10. How creative you are! Thanks so much for sharing your ideas! I'm going to enjoy following you!


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