What’s your focus for the 2017-2018 school year?

Every year, I choose a focus as I start the school year. My focus for this year is going to be REAL MATH. I want to really show my Algebra students how what they are learning applies to real life.

I took a graduate school class over the summer which was based in STEM. Our final project was to take a course we teach and find at least two activities per unit that were STEM related. I chose Algebra 1.


During my research, I find some really great resources. I already knew about Dan Meyer. We will be doing the stacking cups activity within the next two weeks, we are currently in a unit on solving equations.  STACKING CUPS  Activity.


I also found some other great activities which are all included in my 29 page pdf. All activities are linked to common core standards and math practices.


If you would like a copy of my report, click here: https://themathmentors.mykajabi.com/pl/6477

Math Musical Chairs

I love playing games, whether it is a game of Candy Land with my kids, or a hand of Euker or Wizard so I love bringing games into my classroom.

It is boring to play the same games again and again so I am constantly trying to think of new ones. How can I use musical chairs in my Algebra 1 room? 

Teacher Directions:

  • Place the chairs in the center of your room.
  • Turn on music (I used Youtube). We played this at Christmas and Halloween. At Halloween I played the Monster Mash and Spooky Skeletons. This was a student request.
  • Stop the music and have students who are sitting in a chair solve a problem on the board.
  • If students solved a math problem incorrectly, they were taken out of the game with the students who didn’t have a chair.

What do you do with students once they are out?

  • I split them into two teams to begin the game.
  • Once out they went to the right side or left side of the room.
  • They raced against each other and the winning team chose someone from the other side to be out of the game.

Note:  I took out two chairs at a time because I have large classes (31 students). Otherwise, we may not have finished a game.

Want more ideas like this?  Click the image below to access our free active math resource library with activity that can be used for any math content/level.


Head’s Up Vocabulary

Warning - Your students will want to play this again and again! Do you want more game ideas? Click on the image:

Gain access to game/activities that work for any math content.


  • Type out vocabulary words for current unit, one per page.
  • Copy enough for each group of two students to have a copy.
  • You can have the students split their vocabulary list. I could hold the words up first and my partner can give me clues. Once I am out of words, we switch roles. Otherwise, you can have each student do the entire list. I hold all the words up, my partner gives me clues. We shuffle our vocabulary words and switch roles.



Student Directions:

  • Hold one vocabulary word up to your head.
  • Your partner needs to give you clues until you say the word.
  • Place another word to your forehead and repeat the first two steps.


Are you looking for more ideas to try in your room, click now and receive a math murder mystery!

Learn to play math land a version of candy land!


If you want a copy of this game, it’s in our active math resource library. Click here.

Candyland was one of my favorite board games as a kid so why not bring it to my math room? I didn’t want students to just sit at their desks, playing it on a small game board so I turned it into a full size board game.

The game board takes up our entire classroom. I used the colors purple, green, yellow, orange, blue and red. I placed a rectangle filled with each color on a full size piece of paper. I am going to laminate mine. See the sample below:

Next, I made cards for students to pull from a deck to show how many spaces to move. I made singles for each color. See my sample below:

The red piece, I will cut in half to make two game cards. If they chose one of these, they would move to the next red space.

I made double of each color. The purple I will cut in half and it will make two game pieces. This is two show a double purple move. If they choose this card, they would move two purple spaces on the game board. 

Do you want a copy of this activity? Click here. 

Students will solve a math problem. This could be played with a worksheet. Once they solve one problem from the worksheet, they choose a card from their deck. You could use a problem set from their book. Once again, solve a problem, check it with you. If it’s correct, choose a card from their deck. Move along the game board. I am going to use small foam dice as markers.


Instead of candy shortcuts, I have the four basic math operations as shortcuts. See a sample of my shortcut cards:

Do you want a copy of this game? Click here: It is in our free active math resource library.


Easter Card Activity

Materials Needed:

  • Easter Card or Picture from the Internet
  • Scissors
  • Problem Set


Teacher Directions:

  • Place students into groups of 2-4.
  • Find a picture of an Easter Card – or you could buy an actual card. You would need one per group.
  • Copy the card unless you bought a real one.
  • Cut the card into pieces. You need a piece for every problem you are going to have students solve. For example, if they will solve 6 problems, cut the card into 6 pieces.
  • Problem Set – You could use a worksheet or problems from student textbook.
  • As students solve a problem, give them a piece to the card.


Student Directions:

  • Solve one math problem.
  • Get one piece of your card.
  • Repeat the steps until you have all of your picture’s pieces.
  • Put your card together.


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The Amazing Egg Hunt

I don’t know about you but I have a birthday week! Who wants to celebrate for just one day?
So why just celebrate each holiday for one day, if at all, in your classroom. I celebrate each one for a school week with activities planned for each day. I make sure to advertise the activities to pump the students up.
Students have come to enjoy this tradition. I hear “I love this class” frequently as students enter the room to see what event we have planned for the holiday.
At Christmas, we had an ugly holiday sweater to wrap up the week. Students rewrote Christmas carols to include math learned during first semester. I never ask them to do something I wouldn’t. I sang the carol which I’m sure you’ve heard of it, it’s the famous, “Have yourself an Arithmetic Sequence.”
I have some great activities planned for Easter.
  • The Great Egg Hunt
  • Minute to Win It Games
  • Egg Toss
  • Build a Bunny
  • Easter Egg Basket – Fill It Up
  • Easter Card

Do you want more activities like the one below?

Directions for The Great Egg Hunt:

Materials Needed:

  • Plastic Easter eggs.
  • Problem set
  • Sharpie or Pen to write on eggs.

Teacher Directions:

  • Set of problems to place in Easter Eggs – have one for each group.
    • Note – I am going to number each problem and number the egg. If students have clue #1 but find egg #4, they will know they aren’t correct.
  • Write a clue for each egg.
  • Make copies of the clues and cut them apart.
  • Hide each egg where the clue leads.
  • Prize for the winner of the great egg hunt (Optional).
  • To begin the great egg hunt, give each group a different clue
  • Place students into groups of 3-4.

Note, I will have students race with a personal whiteboard, marker and eraser.

Student Directions:

  • Get a clue from your teacher.
  • Decipher the clue.
  • Find the egg, open the egg, complete the problem in the egg. Place the egg back where you found it.
  • Return to your classroom for your next clue.
  • Repeat the previous steps.

Problem Set for my Egg Hunt:

  1.   4x3 – x
  2.  9p – 3pq -6n + 2nq
  3. 6a2 – 9ab – 15b2
  4.  15r3 + 20r2s – 20rs2
  5. x3y – xy + 5x2y – 5y
  6.  42x3 + 68x2 + 16x
  7.  3xy2 – 27x3
  8.  18x – 8x3

Clues for my egg hunt:

  1. We have a big field trip coming up. Your egg is by the board where there would be information for team 8A.
  1.  This is the door that I enter to come into work every day!  Find your next egg here.
  2. Are you tired from walking? Find your egg where you could stop to rest in the hallway.
  3.  Oh man you lost your favorite pencil pouch. Find your next egg where you might be able to recover it!
  1.  Find your next egg near the electrical closet closest to us.
  1.  Find your next egg by door #32 – 6 * (1xy)0
  1.  I’m sooooo hungry and can’t wait until lunch. Find your next egg where I could find a snack.
  2.  Find your next egg by the board for team 8b.
Do you want 5 activities (enough for a school week) for all major holiday? The holidays are such a busy time, let us do your planning for you, Click now. 


You might also enjoy our Easter Card Activity. Read about it here: https://www.themathmentors.com/easter-card-activity/ ‎

How to use a round robin in your room?

Uses for a round robin

This was one of the first activities that I learned to make about 10 years ago. They have gained in popularity and now you can find them all over the internet as scavenger hunts. Let me give you some details about how I have used a round robin my room. You can make one in 5 minutes or less (if you hand write it) and maybe in 10 minutes or less if you are going to type it. This is one activity I would never purchase on TPT because they are so quick and easy to make.

Steps to create a round robin:
Step 1: Write a problem on a piece of paper.
Step 2: Write the solution to that problem 1 on paper 2.
Step 3: Repeat steps 1 and 2 until you have enough problems for your class for students to work in pairs. This is how many I prefer in a group. I don’t allow more than 2 students at their initial problem.S

Step 4: Hang the problems around your room. Don’t want to hang them up, you could just lay them on students’ desks.

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Student directions: 

  • Begin at any problem in the room.
  • Find your solution on another sheet.
  • Next, do the problem on this sheet.
  • Keep repeating the steps above until you return back to the problem you started at.

This activity is extremely versatile, you could…

Do you have another use for round robins? (scavenger hunts)

Access our free active math resource library, click here!

Full Size Formulas

When I begin teaching any new lesson, I always think about how I can make it more interactive and engaging for students. When using formulas such as the slope formula or the quadratic formula, I often have students lose negative signs. I developed activities so this no longer happens!

For more ideas such as this one, fill out the form below:


When I used to teach the quadratic formula, I used color in ax2 + bx + c = 0 for a, b and c. I used a different color for each. Then I would use the same colors in the quadratic formula. I still had some students that didn’t follow this even using the colors. This reach more of my students than without color but it didn’t reach them all.

As you can tell from my other posts, I enjoy games; however, they aren’t always the best way to introduce a topic. I needed a way to make the quadratic formula more engaging. I blew it up and laminated it. I enlarged two copies of the same quadratic equation.

Now, students could physically cut out A, B, and C in standard form and place it on the appropriate spot on the quadratic formula. I had two copies of the same quadratic equation since we need A twice.

Next, we used dry erase markers and wrote the equation that was left.

Finally, we discussed how to simplify the quadratic formula.

Video of lesson: http://https://youtu.be/cpkB1IFGetw

I did the same with the slope formula and had students no longer lose the subtraction sign when they are finding the difference between the x-coordinates and y-coordinates.

How do you make formulas more engaging?


This activity is in our free active math resource library. Click to access it now.

How to play are you feeling LUCKY?

Are you feeling lucky?

Teacher Directions:

  • Place students into groups from 2-4 (I used four).
    • Note the smaller your group size, the more numbers you will need.
  • Create a Google spreadsheet with numbers 1-100 (for groups of 4), add more numbers for smaller groups. Share the spreadsheet to your class LMS (Google Classroom, Haiku, Edmodo, etc).

Here is a link to my spreadsheet: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1-Il4PYaPyxudVm3gE9X8aZ04SEHlbUaplrbo3trXLu4/edit?usp=sharing

Note, this was created in Google sheets, you will only be able to view if you have a Gmail account. Otherwise, I’ve attached a pdf if you don’t have a Google Mail account.

  • If you don’t have devices, you could print out the spreadsheet and have them hand write in their group name or one name from their group. Only one entry per group.
  • Problem Set – I stopped with 1 minute left in class to pick a winner. You will need enough problems to fill all but one minute of your class period.
    • To draw a random number, I projected this on my smartboard and drew in front of the class.

Link to random number generator: https://www.google.com/#q=random+number+generator&*


Student Directions:

  • Solve a problem and have it checked with your teacher.
  • Choose one number and type a group name or one of your names in column B of the spreadsheet. Only one entry per problem solved.
  • Keep repeating steps one and 2 until you have solved all problems.
    • If there is already a name in column B for a number you want to choose, you have to choose a different number.

Access to our free math resource library, click here!


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How to run a math murder mystery!


It began with a scream, the lights went off and I hit the ground…

In came the teacher next door dressed as Sherlock Holmes to investigate the heinous crime. I remained on the ground until students received their first clue.


Copy and laminate the little people – students will wear these as suspects.

Give each group their first set of problems. Students will solve them then come to you for a decipher sheet.

Once they decipher the clue, they will share it with you, to receive their next problem set.

Then the steps repeat until they figure out who amongst them committed the crime.


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