When Hope and I began creating the Magic of Math monthly units, we had a lot of discussions about what we wanted it to look like. We knew that it had to be interactive, engaging, and FUN (for the students and teachers). We also knew that it would NOT consist of worksheets and repetitive activities that would bore the students. So, we decided that our math units would need to consist of mini-lessons, word problems, student activities, interactive notebook entries, and assessments that would engage little learners each week. When I say that these units are a labor of love, I truly mean that. We create each and every single one from scratch. We don’t just change out clip art or numbers for each unit. The activities and lessons have been created uniquely for each specific skill. So, before I show you each component, let me answer a few commonly asked questions.
Q: Are these meant to be taught as supplemental lessons or as an entire curriculum?
A: Either one! We have developed each day so that you can use it as your main resource (of course it’s always important to check your district and state requirements to make sure you are covering everything expected). BUT, if you already have a resource that you are required to follow, you can also just pick and choose activities from each unit that you want to incorporate into your day. You may just want to play some of the games or use the interactive notebook components. We definitely don’t expect everyone to follow it exactly like we have it planned out. Teachers are professionals and are capable of reaching their students’ needs! So, use the whole thing OR use the pieces you like best!
Q: How long do the materials take to prep?
A: That really varies. While we try to keep the teacher in mind, we also know that meaningful and active learning is not a no-prep process. You may need to gather extra materials, make a chart, do a little cutting… but we believe that once you’ve done that for a unit you will be all set for next year! We use colored paper while creating the units, but it is not necessary. It just makes for pretty pictures 🙂
Q: How long do you need each day to fit in all of the components?
A: We know that different states, districts, and schools have different time requirements. It’s hard to say there is a cookie-cutter way to plan your math block. You may have 60 minutes or you may have 90-120 minutes. We have tried to include as much as possible so that the teacher with a really long math block has everything they need to fill that time. BUT, we also realize that it is too much for some of you. That’s when you just sit down and pick out the activities that you think will be most appropriate and meaningful for the time you have allotted. In my opinion, I think students need at least 75-90 minutes of math a day.
In a nutshell, Magic of Math units are jam-packed with materials that will get your learners VERY excited about math. My daughter has gone from dreading math each day to really grasping and loving it. Her teacher uses components of the units, but also incorporates other things that she has done over the years and it really works for their classroom! Joelle absolutely LOVES the games and hands-on activities that we create!
In the pictures I’ve included below you will see a mixture of 2nd and 3rd grade pictures from all the units we have created. We wanted you to see how much things vary from unit to unit!
The lesson plans are your one-stop-shop for everything you need to know about each day. It includes the objectives, focus skill, materials needed, vocabulary words, word problems of the day AS WELL AS instructions for the mini-lessons, activities, and interactive notebooks. This is where we explain it all!
In each unit we create vocabulary cards that can be displayed and used throughout the unit. We put the word and a model of that term on the card. If you laminate these you can save them for years to come! Some words repeat from unit to unit because we are trying to spiral throughout the year.
Thanks to @thirdgradeparade for sharing how she displays our vocab words in her classroom!
Each unit includes 20 word problems that can be used daily. In some of the units we also focus our daily lesson plans on teaching multi-step word problems. We provide key words, strategies, and student materials that will assist you in conquering word problems with different skills. Word problems are heavily addressed in third grade to prepare students for their state assessments. For 2nd grade, we begin slow and build throughout the year.
The nature of our mini-lessons vary from day to day and unit to unit. Here is where a lot of modeling and whole-group games/activities happen. You’ll notice that at the beginning of the week or unit you are doing a lot of the teaching during this time. As the students master the skill, this section includes games for review or to enhance their knowledge. You’ll find anchor charts, videos for teaching, websites to enhance instruction, and games for the entire class.
This is my favorite part of each day and it is the most diverse section of the unit! Your students will be playing games with a partner, practicing the skill, completing scoots, and so much more during the student activity section. It’s very student-centered!
A lot of people ask “If you don’t include worksheets, how do you take grades?” This is such a simple question to answer… We use interactive notebooks or recording sheets from the activity section to take grades. I’ll also show you the quick assessments next that can be used as weekly or bi-monthly grades. I think we have to get it out of our head that we can only grade worksheets. You can grade daily word problems, games they play, and so much more! The interactive notebook section is where students take everything they have learned during the mini-lesson and/or activity and put that knowledge to use! They will complete independent activities to show mastery of that skill!
Of course, we know that teachers need to see if their students have mastered a skill or where the reteaching needs to happen. We include quick assessments that are formed based on the skills for the week. The questions vary to include equations, vocabulary, and word problems. We try to mix it up each week!
We still have units 5-9 to complete. Like I said above, they are a labor of love and take quite some time to create. I promise we work diligently so that they get to you in a timely manner! You can check out the year overview HERE to see what we have coming up!