Friday, May 29, 2020

Rounding Decimals Using a Number Line Free Lesson and Activities


When I was in school, I always felt that rounding decimals and estimating numbers was a waste of time. That’s because nobody ever explain to me how rounding and estimating could help me solve problems. There is a lot of math that needs to be precise in the real world however I find that most the math I do on a daily basis can be an estimate. I think that rounding and estimating help students become flexible with numbers. 

The lesson that I am sharing today is rounding decimals. This is a topic that students have previous practice when they learned how to round whole numbers. The Texas TEKS 5.2C reads “round decimals to tenths or hundredths.” The common core standard reads “use place value understanding to round decimals to any place.” 

Most of us have probably heard a rhyme that similar to “Five or more? Raise the score. Four or less? Let it rest.” I am not 100% opposed to teaching students a rhyme, however I think students need to understand why the rhyme works. If students aren’t able to connect the rhyme to anything they will be less likely to remember it. This lesson uses number lines to help students round. The last lesson I share, comparing decimals, also used number lines. Number lines are becoming one of my favorite math tools because they help students become more flexible with numbers. I will try to incorporate them as much as possible. 

You can download the lesson and activities here.  The lesson plan is in editable form for you to change as needed. 



Friday, May 22, 2020

Reviewing Previous Skills: Beginning of the Year 5th Grade Stations

The school year is over or almost over and I'm planning for next year. This year I want to focus on reinforcing skills that students learned from the previous year that directly scaffold into the next year's standards. I work with 5th and 6th graders so I looked at 4th and 5th grade TEKS and made a list of the ones I could easily make a station, that directly scaffold the next grade level, and hopefully combined a few skills. 

At the beginning of the year, I set up stations that I wanted students to get used to so that I could do the same station and just switch out the topic. I also started with skills that student's generally excel at. I want them to feel successful at the beginning of the year so we all start the year with a good attitude about math. 

This set of stations is Bump It games for 5th grade. This is a fun, easy game for students to play and they can get a bit competitive and still practice. 

The skills I included are:
  • Dividing Whole Numbers: Up to 4 digit dividend and 1 digit divisor
  • Finding Perimeter with Whole Numbers
  • Equivalent Fractions
  • Finding Area of Rectangles with Whole Numbers
These are skills that "should" (coronavirus) have been taught in 4th grade and are definitely skill students need to use in 5th grade. If we get to use these in the classroom this fall, I would suggest doing a quick mini lesson or warm-up a few days before playing the game. Something to jog student's memories. 




I love these dry erase sleeves for students to write on during stations. It erases much easier than lamination and stays around longer than sheet protectors. (As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)

Friday, May 15, 2020

Comparing Decimals to the Thousandths Free Lesson Plan and Activities


The lesson that I am sharing today is comparing in ordering decimals to the thousandths. In previous grade levels, students have compared and ordered decimals using models and they compared and ordered whole numbers using <, >, and =. This standard scaffolds into higher grade where students need to compare and order all rational numbers. Since rational numbers can be converted into decimals if students have a strong foundation and understanding decimals in their value than it will help them with the higher level comparing. 



The TEKS this lesson covers says "compare and order decimals to thousandths and represent comparisons using symbols >,<, and =."  The common core standard states "students will compare two decimals to thousandths based on meanings of the digit in each place using >, <, and = symbols to record the results of comparisons."

When you work with students comparing in ordering decimals you see what types of misconceptions they have pretty soon in the lesson a lot of students may feel that 0.49 is less than 0.432 because the second number has more digits. 

Anytime students are comparing two numbers I like to use a number line. Students have used number lines before and have placed numbers on the number line and I believe it is important for them to be familiar and fluent with how to place numbers on a number line. You can start by providing students with teacher created number lines but I think it is more beneficial for students to eventually create their own number lines. This lesson begins with students looking at a number line and placing numbers on the number line. 

You can download the lesson for free here. I left the actual lesson plans in Word form so you can edit it as need. 




If you would like any more resources for comparing decimals to come back to this topic for review throughout the year, you can check out these items in my TpT store. 





Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Decimal Place Value: Writing Decimals with Expanded Notation Free Lesson

Place value is such an important topic to make sure that students understand. 

It’s usually the first topic of the school year and sometimes it gets glossed over because the students easily complete the place value tasks they are given. However we need to make sure students truly understand place value. 



One of the first math lessons of the year for a Texas 5th grade student is writing decimals in expanded notation. The TEKS reads that "students will represent the value of the digit in decimals through the thousands using expanded notation and numerals." Expanded notation was first introduced to students in third grade and in fourth grade they wrote numbers in expanded notation through the hundredths. In fifth grade we are adding writing numbers using expanded notation through the thousandths. 

This is not a lesson I would spend more than 2 to 3 days on because you can spiral it throughout the year in warm-ups and homework and in-class station. The lesson I’m sharing with you today has the following components: 
  1. Activates prior knowledge by asking students to read and write numbers 
  2. Has a pre-assessment to determine where students are at with writing expanded notation 
  3. Introduces the thousandths place value using a place value mat 
  4. Gives opportunities to practice writing expanded notation and writing numbers in standard form from expanded notation with a station, assessment, and practice.



Each day's lessons are short but can also be extended if needed. I always jump into math lessons by the second or third day of school and continue to teach my routines and expectations through the lessons I am teaching--post about that coming soon. 

Here are some more place value resources available in my TpT store to be used for extra practice throughout the year. 


Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Free Digital Resources for Math to Use for Remote Learning



"This is crazy."

Something my current co-worker (my husband) and I said to each other several times a day at the beginning of this social distancing. Now, we mostly have settled into a schedule and it seems "normal" that we just stay home all the time. My kids haven't seen the inside of anywhere except their house in over a month. No church, no school, no dye-jobs (my poor gray roots). We are making it.

Transitioning to remote learning has been a learning curve. I have learned a lot about my school's LMS and Google Classroom and Boom Learning and Seesaw! So many tools to learn quickly for the students at my school and my own daughter's school work.

At the beginning of this, the other instructional coach and I worked quickly to get packets made and lessons up on our Canvas website. It was extremely helpful to turn to resources other teachers had shared. I would like to return the favor.

As much as my schedule will allow--(working from home, teaching a kindergarten, keeping a toddler entertained, and parenting), I am trying to create some quick digital resources that can be assigned virtually to students.

Check this space to see all my free digital resources . I will added free resources to this as I get finish them. Here are a few that are included.





Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Density Cube Lab

Do you have these Density Cubes in your school building?



My first year of science coach I found these density cubes in the science lab and in teacher's cabinets off mixed up. Some of them were easy to tell what was what, but for others I did exactly what I would want students to do. I knew what the volume was so I measured the mass and then calculated the density and labeled all the cubes with numbers. (It took forever.) Then I begged science teachers to keep them organized so we didn't have to do it again.

Here is a lab sheet for students to do the same process. They find the mass and volume and then calculate the density to identify what each cube is made of.


The measurements do not have to be 100% exact. (Well, volume can be, make sure they are measuring in centimeters)

If your triple beam balances are like ours, they may not be exactly calibrated. Things may be off by a few grams which is why the known densities have a range. 

**As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Magnetism Lab

I'm here to share an idea for students to explore magnetism.

Magnets are something that students have seen since kindergarten. By the time they get to 5th grade, most know that some things are attracted to a magnet.

The biggest misconception I've seen is students thinking that all metals are magnetic.

To set up this lab, collect a variety of objects. Make sure to included metals and nonmetals, and included both metals that are magnetic and non magnetic.


  • Some objects made of metal that are nonmagnetic: penny, key aluminum foil. 

  • Some objects made of metal that are magnetic: paper clip, an iron nail, iron filings

  • Also include various non-metal items: marble, rubber band, plastic toy, etc. 


This a is a lab where the teacher should do very little. You supply the materials, tell students to predict if an object is magnetic, and then test it.

Here is a lab sheet for students to fill out as they experiment.


After the students finish testing the items, ask them if they can determine if an object is magnetic or not without using a magnet.

You want the students to at least get to the point where they say only metals are magnetic--but not all metals.

Share with students what the metal objects are made of. Can they find a pattern and determine what makes a metal magnetic?


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