Interactive Math Lesson MAGIC

Did you love math when you were in school??   NOT me!  I was a forever member of the low math group. My GPA was consistently pulled down by math classes. In high school, I always bought my cutest notebook for math....if I was going to suffer through the class, at least I'd have something pretty for my notes!

When I became a teacher, I worried about teaching math. How could I make kids love something that I didn't love? Would I be good at helping them understand? I didn't need to worry after all! I can officially say that I LOVE teaching math! I LOVE teaching tough math-- the kind of math I didn't think I would like to teach and I didn't think first graders could understand! 

Since I started teaching, math has changed a lot. There are new standards and new expectations. There are new resources and technologies. When I first started teaching, I  would draw and write on a big dry erase board that was sitting on my lap (sound familiar?!)  It took me forever to model a new lesson, and it wan't very fun or engaging. I'm a little embarressed to say that there wasn't a lot of cooperative learning, talking about math, or problem solving going on back then. 

Fast forward to last year...we implemented new math standards! I teach in Pennsylvania so we have PA Core Standards, which are the Keystone State's spin on the national standards. Although I am still teaching a lot of the same skills, I am teaching them in a totally new and exciting way! Thanks to this new way of teaching, my learners LOVE math in a way that I never did when I was in school!

One of our favorite units of the year was all about Addition and Subtraction to 100. When I first read these standards, I couldn't believe that my little firsties were going to be able to handle such complex multi-step problem solving! We were tackling a lot of standards and objectives in this unit! Here's a peek at my unit overview: 

I thought this unit was going to be challenging, so I showed up ready to work! My firsties loved the construction theme of this unit, and  reminded me every single day if I forgot to wear my hard hat! This was just a little way to make math more exciting and fun! 

If you've read my blog posts about math before, you know I like using projectable lessons. These lessons underwent a major technology overhaul this summer, so now I like to think of them as interactive lessons. You can still project them or print them, but now you can also use them on tablet or other device. (You just need the free PowerPoint and GoogleDocs apps!)
I swear I am not tech savvy at all, so it's sooo easy to do! Check out this lesson that I opened on my ipad mini!

All of the lessons still have all of the same components, which make them ideal for teaching the new math standards with rigor! These components help me address of the principles of math in an engaging and effective way! They are also really, really fun for kids!

Every lesson starts with a Warm-Up. This is a quick, fun activity or game to get the learners ready for math. It gets them excited to learn and helps build their math fluency. Here's a peek at 3 of the warm-up activities from this unit:

One of my favorite lesson components in the Brain Stretch. It's a real life application word problem that encourages learners to problem solve using multiple strategies. You can do it individually or you can solve it as a whole group. Here are 3 of the problems we solved during this unit to practice problem solving:

If you're using these  lessons on a tablet, just use your finger to write on the slides! You can draw, write, change colors and erase just like on a smart board!

The most important part of the lesson is the Pep Talk! This is when I explicitly teach a new skill and we practice together! This is a series of slides that guides students to independence. Adding to 100 is a multi-step skill, so I made up this little addition method called "Saw, Glue, Hammer!" It was like magic! My firsties really understood this strategy and remembered all of the steps. Here's a peek at how we used "Saw, Glue, Hammer" for horizontal and vertical addition: 

We even made "Saw, Glue, Hammer" tool belts to wear during math! We attached our pieces to a sentence strip and added some yarn to each side to tie them. Grab your FREE template for the tool belt pieces here

Teaching firsties to talk about math can be challenging. To help them develop a vocabulary for math and learn to explain their reasoning, every leasson has a Huddle Up activity. This is designed for partners to talk about their thinking and explain their reasoning. Here is a peek at 3 of the Huddle Up activities from this unit: 

After we turn and talk, it's time to build our independence. Every lesson comes with a practice page and corresponing work mat. I print the practice pages in my classroom for each learner. I also project them for small groups who need additional practice so we can work together. I sometimes put the work mats inside dry erase sleeves so we can use them again and again! Here is a peek at some of the practice pages and work mats from this unit:

Every lesson also has a Cool Down or final assessment of the lesson's objective. You can project these and use them to pull everyone back together after centers or guided math. You can also print them and use them as an "exit ticket" or quick assessment. Here's a peek at some of the Cool Down acivities from this unit:

One of my favorite things about these lessons is that they are super easy to organize! I just print the slides for every lesson (I like to print them as "handouts" with 6-8 slides per page.) I keep them all in a unit binder so I can see every component of the lesson in one glance. I print the practice page as a full size paper so I can easily copy it. 

If you want to learn more about this unit, click on any of the pictures or here! I hope these lessons make you feel inspired to teach and LOVE math!

If you still have more questions about using these lessons with your learners, here are some FAQs to help. You can also download free lessons for decomposing 2 and addition using a number line if you want to try them out! 


Vegas is really just like a typical year in your classroom!

My trip to Vegas was not unlike a typical year of teaching for me. There was laughter and tears, exhaustion and inspiration, old friends and new friends, good plans and not so good plans!

So I organized for Vegas, the same way I plan for a new school year. A few months before the first big day, I ordered new supplies. I was so excited when my new business cards and pens arrived. I kept them in plastic for awhile and just looked at them. I do that with new school supplies too- once you take them out of the wrapper a little of their magic floats away.

New clothes are always important for a new school year too. I picked up a few new things at Target and Macy's. I also got an adorable shirt from A+ Images. They were beyond helpful and really went the extra mile to make sure my late order arrived in time for my trip and was exactly what I wanted.

Like every good teacher, I wanted to be super prepared for the first day! I made myself a pretty new binder, and filled it with flight reservations, conference information, session hand-outs, and blogger meet-up schedules. Did I mention my very, very, very, detailed itinerary?!--oh my! Just wait until you see it later in this post. It will remind you of the best lesson plan you ever wrote....#sarcasm, but maybe, if you're like me!

Of course, I wanted to show my friends how excited I was for our first day and how much I appreciated them! I made my roomies buttons and key's kind of my thing to make gifts for people instead of buying stuff. (The cups and supplies were all from Michael's craft store.)

I was beyond blessed to be staying with Diane Romo of Spreading Joy One Giggle at a Time. She was my mentor for student teaching and the person who taught me everything I know about teaching first grade!  Being in her classroom, watching her teach, and listening to her laugh is life changing! I was beyond excited to share this experience with her!

When I got my first teaching job, Ashley Schroeder of Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd is the friend I could see teaching across the hall...and then it was like the hall became invisible. Even though we were in separate rooms, we did planning together and coteaching together and dreaming together! Although I can't see her across the hall anymore, we have a new bond! She has taken me under her wing and taught me everything I know about this crazy adventure of blogging and TPT. She is the reason there is a Polka Dots Please.

I was also so very excited to meet Ashley's #bloggybestie Angie Olson of Lucky Little Learners. I have been following her on social media for a long time and learning about her through Ashley. I am constantly impressed by her knowledge and her willingness to take chances, especially when it comes to technology! I knew meeting her would be an unforgettable experience!

So I was totally prepped and ready for the first day of school....TPT conference! Just like the first day of school, I was super excited. The kind of excited where it's hard to sleep because you just keep thinking and thinking and thinking! I was also really, really nervous. If you know me well, you know that I am shy- the kind of shy where I am going to avoid you in the grocery store unless you're my best friend or my mom. I set off for the airport with lots of butterflies in my stomach, and I was scheduled to meet Diane to begin our Vegas Adventure!!

Remember that very, very, very, detailed itinerary I told you about...let's call it a "working document" now! It took me a ridiculously long time to get to the airport-- so long that I missed my flight! What??? Yes, it was exactly like a movie scene, and I was the girl bawling in the airport. People probably thought I was leaving my entire family and moving forever to a foreign country because of the waterworks. Poor Diane, I totally abandoned her!

Here's my empty seat on the plane #wompwomp and the text from my mom. I should have taken a selfie of myself working alone at airport terminal 23 for 5 hours, but hindsight is 20/20.--maybe next time.

So at this point, it was kind of like the first day of school. I had everything planned out. I was dressed for sucess. I had the best supplies...and then real life happened! Here's that very, very, very detailed itinerary I've been telling you about....

I remembered something on my trip to Vegas that I learned very early on in my classroom. You have to laugh at the crazy situations you encounter every day. You can't let some hiccups in your plan ruin your happiness! In a way, having everything go wrong was exactly the right thing to happen. I didn't arrive at Vegas feeling like everything needed to be perfect. I  wasn't worried about a schedule anymore, and I had a really funny story to share with everyone.

So when TPT conference actually started, it really was like being at school-- except you don't have to tie anyone's shoes or watch your friend's class so she can use the bathroom. We were waking up early, looking for coffee, and getting ready to learn! I was meeting new friends all the time and getting to know more about my old friends. ( I refer to my learners as my "friends" all year long.)

We had coffee with super sweet Annie  of The Moffatt Girls and very talented Aly of Just a Primary Girl-- We never realized we went to college together! 

I was thrilled to meet so many teachers who I admire professionally and personally! It was like being at the best  professional development day ever planned! 

Amy and Lisa of All Y'all Need

Although the conference was only 2 days, I learned more than a year's worth of information. I learned about mistakes I have been making--sorry for making you cringe with all the product cover photos, and I guess dropping pinterest was the most devastating choice I could have made for my brand. There are also lots of things I can improve. I need to single-task instead of multi-task and continue to learn from the amazing teachers who open up their classrooms! My blog needs a bit more attention, and I will try to share more of my own classroom with you!

I felt so very encouraged by so many teachers and bloggers to keep creating clipart, which is something I just taught myself how to do this summer! Your feedback meant so much to me! I think it may grow into my "niche" in the future. I even saw one of my clips in a presentation at the conference. Yes, I know it's only an arrow...but it's MY arrow! 

The conference was just like a year in the classroom. You are nervous to meet all of these new people, and then you don't want to say goodbye to them. You watch them grow and you watch yourself grow, and suddenly you're both wiser than before. You realize those immaculate plans you made can't hold a candle to the teachable moments you seized. You stay up late sharing ideas and get up early to get things done. By the end, you are inspired and exhausted, and asking...when I can I come back for more?

If you are planning on visiting Vegas for some professional development or just a much needed vacation, hop over to to plan your details! Just click here:

If you want to read more about the amazing experiences from the TPT Vegas Conference, hop on over the the Elementary Entourage! You can read posts from some some super special teachers or link up to share your story too!

Back to Top