A few years ago, I started a mission for engagement in my classroom. My mission was to create at one engaging moment each and every day and my mission still is to keep creating engaging moments. I want to help you with examples of how I made this happen in my classroom. You will not see anything over the top or invasive to a classroom. Instead, you will see tried and true FUN learning activities my students love year after year.
You can read more about all that here.
My engaging moments have a few key elements, or things I look for to make them work. None of these ideas or activities are out of reach. Some of them may seem very simple and no a bug deal. My students show me what they love and I strive to meet their learning level. I also watch them while they are learning and get feedback on the things they enjoy doing.
-standards based and educational driven
-FUN for students and for me
Must Not Haves
When planning for these engaging moments in the classroom, there are a few things I avoid or try to stay away from.
-long lasting activities since I teach little learners
-hard to plan or not reusable
I want to explain a reason I strive to make sure my activities are not routine breaking. I work very hard to keep consistency and stability in my classroom. I am usually the SPED collaborative room. One key element for success for many of these students is a routine. When the routine is broken, it can cause some of these students to focus on the routine change instead of the activity we are working on, defeating the purpose of my lesson. I have found that integrating engagement into what we always do… provides all my learners a more optimal learning environment.
Examples of Engaging Moments: Start of the Year
In the beginning of each year, I have a few go to activities that everyone needs to learn and that have a hook to entice the learner.
One of the lessons I always teach is the difference between numbers and letters. I found these animal crackers at a local grocery store. We each get a handful or baggie full of these and sort. I love listening to them and seeing who knows what! Now, I have made snack time a little more fun.
Now, no one loves knowing something great like these crackers exists without being able to grab them. I can’t help you there, but I can show you an alternative activities that is similar without the food element. I made the same thing here with cut out accents.
Examples of Engaging Moments: Math- Number Words
I strive to make my math lessons hands on and manipulative heavy. I want us to be building skills and our brains. This usually means I can avoid paper and pencils altogether and create fun activities. Let me give you some examples.
Here is a Christmas activity where student practice number words and counting. Students read the number word and decorate the tree with the correct number of poms. We could easily add tweezers to this activity to build hand muscle strength.
Now, image similar games with a different theme? Change the theme and you add more interest!
Examples of Engaging Moments: Math- Shapes
First, we learn about our flat shapes. Then, we practice naming and drawing our shapes using this fun graphing idea. My students love playing this year after year. And they get really good at drawing their shapes pretty quickly.
Then, we move onto solid shapes. To talk about both flat a solid shapes, we build them using this Dive into Shapes set. Once we create the flat shapes to make solid shapes. Additionally we can compare and analyze flat and solid shapes. It is also common for my students to expand their knowledge of shapes to build more shapes according to their imagination and innovation. This could also make a great sensory table.
Examples of Engaging Moments: Math- Comparing Numbers
We also work hard on skill building like comparing numbers. Instead of using a worksheet to complete on comparing numbers, why not use a pocket chart? During Thanksgiving, you can we use this fun cornucopia number themed game to compare numbers. I have found my students compare MORE using a hands on pocket chart game like this verses a worksheet that a limited number of questions. Not only can students compare using these cards, they can write their math statements using white boards and dry erase markers. (You can gran these pieces here.)
Examples of Engaging Moments: Math- Addition Ideas
When we move onto addition, I can change the theme of the pocket chart to match the season and celebration. Now we can compare numbers (see comparing numbers symbols above) but we can also start to add. I give my students a variety of numbers to work with to hopefully not limit their learning. You can see a little mini lesson here of starting with the BIGGEST number and adding the smaller number. All students get a chance to interact with the pocket chart and write their equations on white boards as well. (You can grab these ornament pieces here.)
Many people ask if I have my students practice answering addition or subtraction problems on paper. Sometimes we do. But most of our learning will look like this… addition or subtraction problems on cut out or fun paper. I have seen my students RUN to this center or small group and work HARD to answer the math questions because they wanted to write on the cat or the frog. Or because the presentation of the materials interested them.
Examples of Engaging Moments: Math- App Ideas
Integrating technology is also so smart. We are using a multiple player app called Counting Together Plus to work on number sense, counting, and number recognition. This week we used the app Math Fight to work on addition fluency. Adding a little bit of technology with a partner who can challenge them and make them smarter is FUN. I can look around my room to see ALL my students building their math skills on their level, interacting with others, and having fun all at the same time.
What About You?
Now that you have seen some examples of ways I make my activities and lesson plans for math more engaging… what ideas can you use in your classroom?
Looking for Math Activities?
I have a HUGE bundle of 21 themed Math activities you can use for hands on fun in your classroom.
You can check out this learning bundle here.
You can read more about what a pack of math activities looks like here.