First Grade Math Warm-Ups: Week of May 4-May 8, 2015

I had thoughts all last week of how I couldn’t wait until the Warm-Ups post to brag on the awesomeness that happened, but alas, I guess I saved it anyway….so get ready, this is definitely NOT first grade math happening here, people!

We had three problems this week, and they were all in the same vein–2-digit subtraction where kiddos were asked to try ALL 4 STRATEGIES we’ve worked on in our class this year.  And they were up to the challenge, even though it had been a while since we’d worked on subtraction.  I was SUPER impressed, and I think they were, too!

The benchmark in 1st grade says that only have to be able to subtract to 20, but since we were doing addition to 100, we went ahead and followed along with subtraction as well (why stop them if they can go farther??).  They also only had to be able to do it in 2 ways, but again, I think it’s good to be flexible with strategy and begin (even as a first grader) to learn which strategy is best for the numbers.  In this case we used each strategy each time, but talked about which ones made the most sense.  Let me show you the part we were most proud of:

IMG_3072I don’t know if you can tell, but that’s not an ordinary 2-digit subtraction problem.  Nope–it’s one that will need to use what we used to called regrouping but that honestly now we don’t really call anything.  It’s just what you do to make the problem work!  Please also notice that there’s no “stacking” or traditional algorithms here and these littles can still figure out the solution.  Nice, right?  I know some wouldn’t believe it’s possible….:)

My favorite part is when we started with sticks and dots, and we realized that we couldn’t do what the numbers told us to do–we couldn’t take 7 dots away from the 5 we had drawn.  Millie noticed it right away and then we had a great conversation about what we could do about that.  Makayla suggested that actually there were 10 dots inside each of the sticks we drew (how’s that place value work for ya?). We decided if we crossed off that last stick (which represents a 10) and added those 10 dots instead to the dots already there, then we could do it.  We ended up with 15 dots (ones) that we could take 7 away from.  We used the double-minus-1 problem of 14-7 is 7 so 15-7 is 8 to get that part of our answer.

Then, when we tried to do the same problem with splitting, we ran into the same problem–we didn’t enough to do that part of our problem.  Since we had just done it, we knew we could try it again, and moved the 10 from our 90 to make 80 and then the 5 became 15.  Voila!  It all worked out. 🙂

This is some pretty amazing stuff, and I’m impressed to hear both their fearlessness and pride when they figure out what to do.  I also love how differently 1st graders seem to tackle problems like this that are hard, or challenging, or that don’t at first seem like they’ll work–they just jump in and try something and see what happens.  They haven’t yet learned that they can’t do it, they aren’t worried about whether or not they make a mistake, they know they have many tools in their toolboxes that they can use till they figure it out.  I hope to be able to encourage this kind of approach to problem solving as I work with them again next year—crossing my fingers that I can help them keep that mindset for longer than maybe they would have…there’s hope at least. 🙂

First Grade Math Warm-Ups: Week of April 13-17, 2015

Just like the focus several weeks ago was Walker’s Club, and last week’s were about data, these are data-focused as well.


This one was kind of a freebie, but was supposed to get kiddos ready for the work we’d do later on in the day (which really is the focus of how the Math Warm-Ups are meant to work anyway. 🙂 ).

IMG_4454 Wednesday

The warm-up on Wednesday was a little different from previous ones lately, whereas instead of them collecting the data, kids were asked to analyze the data and tell what they have learned from the data I’ve given them.

IMG_4453 Thursday

This one’s all about the chart Mrs. Appelbaum shared with us about the many ways we can represent the data we collect (which is exactly what kiddos would be doing later in the day!).  This one got them thinking early in the day, and also served as the introduction to our math lesson.

IMG_4452  Friday

This one, you can tell, is not about data (directly), but IS about Walker’s Club laps and is a SUPER HARD one for first graders (our benchmark for addition is 2-digit numbers up to 100).  But you know what?  They TOTALLY KNEW WHAT TO DO!!  Those strategies we learned and used for 2-digit numbers?  They work for hundreds, too!  Way to go, Rm. 202 kiddos.  But you know what? I’m not surprised.  You’re pretty much always awesome. 🙂


Walker’s Club UPDATE–Using 10s to Add Laps

I’m sure you know about our Walker’s Club competition that is happening at Robinson for April.  Well, I’m SUPER excited to say that two weeks strong our class is in the LEAD!!!  We have done both amazing walking AND amazing adding as we figured out our totals.

This week (well really the week ends tomorrow), we used a strategy that I stole learned from my neighbor Ms. Turken to add our laps.  Instead of using the strings to make combinations of 10 (like we had many times previously), we each wrote our lap total on an index card and used these cards to create combos.  It was a great way to be able to manipulate the numbers in an easier way, and actually SEE the 10s–they made piles, after all.

Thomas and C.J. worked hard this morning to add up our mid-week total for Week 3 of the competition.  Their work looked like this (they did the card work, and I put it on the chart):

Way to go Rm. 202 kids–for walking and adding in an amazing way!! 🙂

First Grade Math Warm-Ups: Week of March 30-April 3, 2015–WALKER’S CLUB EDITION

Our math warm-ups are almost always related to what we’re working on in math.  Sometimes it’s the beginning of the unit, and so kiddos don’t have much schema yet and aren’t really sure what to do.  Later then, the warm-ups become practice of the strategies they’ve learned and are working on perfecting (or at least using more efficiently).  This week, they were even the same topic: Walker’s Club.

Let me explain…

In a nutshell, this year we started a program to help our Robinson kids stay healthy and active, as well as have productive fun at recess.  We call it Walker’s Club, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays, everyone walks laps around our playground at recess.  Every kiddo (and now even teachers!) has a card to keep track of laps that is punched each time they come around.  Parents, principals, teachers and even a group of kids volunteers to be punchers, and there’s always a big buzz about how many laps kiddos have at any given time.  There are prizes called Toe Tokens that kiddos earn at certain increments along the way.  So fun!


This picture seems like it’s from so long ago! Don’t know how I didn’t share it earlier–they seem so little, don’t they?? 🙂

Well, to make it even better, and to celebrate National Walkers’ Day (which happened on April 1), Mrs. Wilson decided to make a competition for the month of April to see who can walk the most laps.  Each grade level will have a winner, and that class will earn an extra 20 minute recess + POPSICLES!!  Needless to say, it. was. on.

Math this week, then, naturally began to revolve around Walker’s Club laps: setting goals (first it was a conversation on how to set goals) how many laps other classes were walking, how many we could walk in a day, and how many we actually walked in one day.  Oh, and strategies for how to add up long strings of numbers so we could answer each of those previous questions.

Check out what we’ve been working on this week!


As we started out our goal-setting, we decided (ok, so I suggested) that we should figure out how many we laps we usually walk on a Walker’s Club day. We could use this number (along with some other data we collected) to set a goal for how much each kiddo would walk/run every WC day.


After we knew how many laps was our usual, we decided to ask our first grade friends the same question. Since they were the ones we’d be competing against, we also needed to know their usual number so we could adjust ours and make a goal that would matter.  This one’s from Ms. Turken’s class.  We got some data back from other classes, too, but haven’t yet analyzed it.

I need to insert a little note here: the first time we sat down together to add up that big string of numbers, we didn’t really know what to do.

Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 9.23.00 PM

See this?  These are all of the answers we got when we went to work with our partners to add up the data.  WOW!  All the way from 10 to 122!  We needed some practice with an efficient and ACCURATE way to put lots of numbers together.  This gave me some ideas for future work in warm-ups.

So next came the idea of finding 10s as a quick (and organized) way to put lots of numbers together.   We then added (and readded) all of our data together from our chart and Ms. Turken’s chart.  We also tried it with other random lists throughout the week (so that when we came up on Walker’s Club data again, we’d be better at using that 10s strategy):

This one was a practice problem from the morning, but we didn't quite get time to review it later in the day.

This one was a practice problem from the morning, but we didn’t quite get time to review it later in the day.

This one was actually the warm-up from Friday (when I was out of the classroom), and I showed the sub how to record the combinations of 10s.

This one was actually the warm-up from Friday (when I was out of the classroom), and I showed the sub how to record the combinations of 10s.

This practice did help us, and when we added together our first OFFICIAL Walker’s Club list of laps, we knew what to do.  The problem (which was a good one to have) was that our list included lots of numbers that we couldn’t put together to make 10s.  That’s totally cool, though, because Evan had just been working on how to put numbers together to make 20s and 30s (and other multiples of 10) on Dreambox, so he helped us figure out what to do with all of those 8s:


When I wrote my lap number up there, I felt a little bit funny since it was so much less than my Rm. 202 friends. I was SUPER glad to know it helped us out, though, as we could use it to go with some other numbers to make a combination of 20. Whew!

Check that out: on our first day we walked (and ran) 114 laps!!  This made us feel like we were off to a tremendous start (especially since we knew Ms. Turken’s class had only done 75 on their first day) and helped us set at least a preliminary goal for ourselves: we need to walk/run at least the number we did today to stay ahead of our friends.  We’ll talk more about how many that will be in all when we come back next week, and we’ll adjust that goal as we go forward and begin to hear what the other 3 classes are doing.  And hey, no matter who wins this April competition, we ALL WIN because we’ve got new strategies in our toolbox! Plus we will all have had lots of fun and lots of fresh air and exercise!  How can anyone complain about that!?

We’ll keep you updated on our progress as we go through the month! 🙂

Sticks and Dots, Compensation and more!

Yesterday I posted last week’s (or at least the LAST week that we were in school’s) math warm-ups.  I mentioned that there’d be more about the strategies on which we’ve been focusing.  Well, that time is now.  Hope this makes sense and gives some insight into the work we’ve been doing for the last few months.  Well all quarter, really…but I digress.  Here we go. 🙂

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 8.46.12 PMOne thing I wanted to do was to be able to SHOW how these strategies work, and even better, have KIDDOS involved in that work.  So, just before we left for our break, many of them volunteered to help me with a project.   I have a Tweep (that’s a friend you know from Twitter, for those who might not know) named Shannon in Alabama who was interested, too, so this is for you and your friends, lady! 🙂

Ok…so here are some videos of our Rm. 202 kiddos explaining more about how to add 2-digit numbers using place value strategies!  (I will mention, though, that they are a little rough, so ignore the bumpy parts and see the big ideas, ok? THANK YOU!! 🙂 )

Sticks and Dots

Splitting 10s/1s

Keeping 1 Number Whole

(This one’s a little long, and shows more than 1 strategy, so be prepared for that!)


Hope this helps–and WAY TO GO, RM. 202 KIDDOS!!  You are ROCKING mathematicians!! 🙂

First Grade Math Warm-Ups: Week of March 9-13, 2015

Sorry, I’m a few days (ok, weeks!) late with these warm-ups.  Spring Break happened and I had forgotten to snap pictures of them before I left for my vacation.  Oops.  But alas, they were still there when I got back today, and so here they are for you.  And man, are they worth the wait. Hee hee. 🙂


This week was the last week before the end of our quarter, and so we were wrapping up our work with addition and subtraction.  There were a couple of things that I wanted to highlight with our problems–the connections between adding and subtracting strategies, and using mental math for quick facts up to 20.  This one again helped lead them to see how what they know about addition can help them with efficient subtraction. More about all of those strategies listed there later…


Yeah, somehow I didn’t get that “y” on the end of strategy in the picture (I promise I wrote it there correctly!)…again, more on that practice we did later…it involves some pretty great explanation videos.  Worth the wait (but isn’t everything I write on this blog?! Kidding, just kidding!).


Again, with our focus on strategies, I wanted to point out that good mathematicians know when to use a strategy as well as why to use it in that situation.  This one didn’t really have a “right” answer (many strategies make sense with these numbers), but it was important for kiddos to explain their reasoning for which strategy they chose to use.


Wanted to get a quick temperature read on kiddos and their ability to do these facts quickly.  Most could do them quick and painlessly, using what they know about other problems to help (like tens and doubles), which is exactly what I was looking for!


This last warm-up before the end of our quarter (and what I considered a well-deserved break for everyone!) gave a sneak peek to next quarter’s work with graphs, charts and measurement.  Needless to say, since it was a preview, not many kiddos knew what to say to this one…

CAM01766You know, seeing all of these charts reminds me of the suggestion I got from a reader once about using Padlet to do this electronically.  Does anybody have any personal experience they can share?  I’d love to hear about how it’s working (or I guess not working would be helpful, too!) for you.  Appreciate the help and advice, friends! 🙂

First Grade Math Warm-Ups: Week of March 2-6, 2015

This week there are 4 warm-ups; we had a special parent visit on Friday morning and so didn’t get to one that day.  We’re still working on addition/subtraction and using efficient strategies.


The hope with the numbers in this problem was that kiddos would recognize the most efficient strategy was to use compensation (and so make the easier problem of 30+61 that they could answer in their heads), but any strategy was fine as long as they could pick one and explain it.


The other day, we discussed all the strategies we know how to use and tried them on the same problem.  We also talked about what we could call them so that everyone knows what we’re talking about (this was in response to a question I asked last week with our warm-ups).  So I decided that we’d try a specific strategy on a series of problems this week (but it should be noted that, as with the last problem, compensation is the BEST strategy for the numbers as you can create 81+20 and quickly answer using mental math).


Besides talking about how to accurately use the strategy, we had a discussion about the difference between how you solve the problem (the strategy) and how you SHOW how you solved it (the model–in this case an open number line).


The thinking behind this problem is helping kiddos connect strategies they know for ADDITION with SUBTRACTION.  Many first graders need to be explicitly shown that what works for one works for the other.  Practicing using these known strategies can help stretch some past the draw-all-then-mark-off or counting backwards strategies.


These warm-ups got kiddos’ brains really moving this week!  Hope they work well for yours, too! Please leave a note and tell us about how you’re using them in your classroom, or how you’re sharing them with others. 🙂

First Grade Math Warm-Ups: Week of February 23-28, 2015

More addition this week, friends!  We’re still working on choosing efficient strategies (which actually makes me think of a blog post I need to write about the strategies we’re focusing on!–stay tuned!), so these will look similar to warm-ups we’ve had lately.


The benchmark for subtraction this quarter is the same as last (within 20),  only we’re hoping for kiddos to have some more solid strategies for how to do that subtraction effectively and efficiently.  Using strategies they already have been using for adding (like counting on by 10s or splitting 10s and 1s) can be helpful as they work more on subtracting.  Helping kiddos see the connection between addition and subtraction is also a goal here.   CAM01673Tuesday



One strategy some kiddos have been working on is compensation (in short, it’s moving numbers around to make an easier problem that can be done with very few steps or even in your head).  Even though some kiddos aren’t yet “there” as far as using it independently or correctly, it’s good for all to see/hear the possibilities for putting numbers together.



We have been working with “bare” problems for a bit now, and I wanted to throw another story at them.  I know, this one’s easy. 🙂


Ok, friends, as I finish up, I have a math question that my team and some others have been chewing on this week: is it important that kiddos know the names of the strategies they are using, or just that they understand how those strategies work?  And if the strategies are to be named, does it matter if all kiddos (like in a grade level, for instance) use the same names?  I’d love to hear your thoughts! 🙂


First Grade Math Warm-Ups: Week of January 20-23, 2015

Another short week of warm-ups because of MLK, Jr. Day on Monday, but the ones we had this week are goodies!  Read on and happy calculating!  Please let me know how/if you use these in your classroom!  Feel free to add your own warm-ups in the comments, too! 🙂


CAM01397The unit we’re in right now is math is focusing on adding numbers within 100, and on using place value to do so in an efficient manner. My focus then, this week has been on how to create opportunities to think about tens in a meaningful way determine which strategies and models make sense in each situation.  This one was just a great place to start our conversation for the week because it has so many answers.



We’ve been doing many problems around scenarios, and I wanted to see what they could do with straight numbers–especially related to place value.  This was a great one to see what they know both about tens/ones, and what they know how to do with them.  You can see that there are already many known strategies and models floating around that we can build from as we go forward.  YAY!


CAM01395We’ve been playing the 100s Game this week as we practice counting to 100 by different numbers.  We’ve had lots of practice with counting to 100 by 5s and then 10s (really fast!), but then we practiced counting by 10s and NOT starting at 0.  We used a deck of cards to decide what was our first number, then we went around and stopped at the number that was closest to 100 (for example, if we started with 6, then we’d say 6, 16, 26, 36, 46, 56, 66, 76, 86, 96).  This warm up was similar to the game we’d been playing, only I wanted to see if they knew what to do when they went over 100, so asked them to go as high as they could.  HA!  Man…were those numbers high!  One friend went all the way to 867 (and I think he only stopped because he ran out of time!), and many went to the 600s or so.  As we discussed the problem and did it together, I quickly found out that they did indeed know the pattern of how it works when you get into the 100s.  This will be so handy as we keep going, and many will modify their counting on strategy from numbers within 20 to counting on by 10s with numbers within 100.


CAM01393This one was a true story about how I spent my evening last night!  While it is really a problem to see what they can do with tens, it’s also the beginning of multiplicative thinking, as it’s also 8 X 20 or 20 X 8; either way, i want them to recognize that it’s 8 groups of 20, not 8 PLUS 20.  Most did a SUPER job of this and had great thinking about how to figure it out.  Several connected the 20 to counting by 2s, and some saw the 2 10s inside 20 and counted by 10s to get to 160.  The best part was that NO ONE sat and did nothing.  Everyone tried a strategy, and were willing even if they weren’t quite sure about the answer.  I LOVE how gritty these kiddos are!

Our record of how to use 2s to figure out the answer.  We made sure to highlight how those 2s can mean 2 10s and so 16 10s is 160.  Then, just for fun, we figured out how many hours those minutes would be equal to: 2 hours and 40 minutes!

Our record of how to use 2s to figure out the answer. We made sure to highlight how those 2s can mean 2 10s and so 16 10s is 160. Then, just for fun, we figured out how many hours those minutes would be equal to: 2 hours and 40 minutes!

First Grade Math Warm-Ups: Week of January 5-9, 2015

Welcome back to school!  I don’t know what the weather is like where you are (well unless you’re where I am!), but here it has hardly gotten out of the teens and my bones are chilled!  It was nice to be able to be warm and cozy in Rm. 202 with my first grade buddies this week!  Here’s what we studied:


Again, true story from my life used for our warm-ups.  It really makes them interested in solving the problem when they care about the context!



This week we’ve been continuing to work on knowing if we should add or subtract.  When we discuss the problems, the question I ask them is not “What answer did you get?” but instead they turn to their partner to tell them what operation they used how they knew what to do.  I am listening for explanations related to the context and what is actually happening, rather than specific clue words.  Just knowing clue words (like “left,” “in all,” or “how much more”) doesn’t always work; depending on how they are used in a problem, they can sometimes mean addition or subtraction.  Or, you can add TO subtract (as in the strategy of counting up), so it becomes even more confusing.





This problem is an addition problem, but also gets kiddos thinking about multiplication without really knowing it.  They have to really be thinking about the situation–I bought 2 bundles that each cost $20–or they will use the 2 and 20 and just add or subtract them.  It was great to see how many kiddos understood the way the problem worked.



The focus with the numbers in this problem was to help mathematicians use known combinations to efficiently figure out unknowns.  Ideally they would see make 5s to make 10 or see a 6 and a 4 to also equal 10.  This idea of grouping connects to our future (well, really continuing) study of place value and addition numbers within 100.