Place Value Mats {Weekend Warriors}

Welcome back to Weekend Warriors, Part 2!

Today's topic is place value mats, and how to make them.

We recently wrapped up our unit on three-digit addition and subtraction.  Whenever I introduce multi-digit addition and subtraction, I bring out my place value mats.  In fact, I bring them out when we work with two and three-digit place value, as well (I guess that seems a bit obvious-ha!).  I made these mats forever ago, but they are still going strong!  Many thanks to my wonderful teammate for sharing this idea with me all those years ago.

These mats are a great way to help students understand place value as they manipulate numbers based on the value of each digit.  They are also a great way to introduce two and three digit addition and subtraction.  I use my mats for all of these things.  And, whenever I bring them out, the students are excited.  Any time they get to use math tools and move things around, my students are on cloud 9.

I think it is safe to say that I love my place value mats.  What I love most about them is that they are big and allow the students to easily use them with various manipulatives (linking cubes, base ten blocks, etc).  I've used smaller versions (the ones made on regular copy paper), but they are just too small to accommodate manipulatives of any kind.

Here is a quick how-to if you're interested in making your own oversized place value mat.

  • 12 x 18 inch construction paper (three different colors)
  • paper cutter
  • glue
  • labels for each section of the mat


1. Gather your materials.  You can use any color combination you like for the mat.  I'm not wild about the colors below, but it was slim pickings in the supply room!

2. Decide which color you want for the middle of the mat.  Do not cut this piece; leave it full size (12 x 18 inches.
3. Cut the two end pieces (6 x 12 inches)-see photo above.

4. Glue the two end pieces to the 12 x 18 inch piece from step two (you know, the one you didn't cut).

5. Attach labels to each section of the mat.  I made my labels in Word and converted them to PDF so that I could share them with you.  They were created for use with the Avery 5160 address labels.  Click {here} to grab the labels for free! 

6. Laminate the mats for lasting durability.

It's pretty easy peasy to make these mats, and so worth the time investment (about 2-3 minutes per mat) because the kids love them and the hands on experiences they offer.  Plus, they last forever!

In case you missed yesterday's Weekend Warrior post, click here.  While you're there, be sure to enter the giveaway at the end of the post!

Now, don't forget to check out these amazing bloggers and their great math tips!

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Are You a Weekend Warrior?

I am so happy to be teaming up with several of my blogging buddies share some tips, tricks, and ideas.  Introducing,

My blogging friends and I thought it would be fun to share some of our favorite tips, tricks, strategies, and ideas each month.  We will feature two posts each month on the selected theme.  So, without further adieu, let's get Mathematical May, the Saturday edition, started!

I thought I would get things started by sharing my all time favorite, go to math boards!

When I say filler, I mean activities that my students can use once we finish our regular math lesson.  Our district requires that we cover math in a 70 minute block each day.  Sometimes, our adopted curriculum does not take this long (and sometimes, it does).

Game boards are the perfect solution to filling the time because:
  1. They are easy to prep.
  2. They can sit out for weeks at a time (I change mine out at the beginning of each month).
  3. You can use as many, or as few, game boards as you like.
  4. They are a great way to practice/reinforce basic math fact practice and/or other skills.
  5. The students work in pairs which develops their cooperative learning skills.
  6. The students practice the skill of following directions to complete a task.
  7. The students are given the opportunity to use math tools appropriately.
  8. They are hands-on and engaging.
  9. They store easily when not in use (file them or put them in a magazine holder).
  10. The kids absolutely love them!  
I always have the game boards and their materials prepped and ready to go.  Each month, I set out four different games.  I typically make 3-5 copies of each game board.  This allows for plenty of choice/options for the students once the boards are in use.

I place each game board and a baggie with the necessary materials into a small tub. The students can easily grab a board and a baggie and begin playing. I usually let each pair of students choose the game they want to play and they are free to trade for a new game once they finish their first game (and if time permits).

Many of the game boards I use are freebies!  Here are a few of my favorites.

These Bump games from Sunny Days are the best!  To play, the students use dice to add three addends.  The boards are free and there is a different theme for each month.  Each month I put this game out and the kids never, ever get tired of playing. Click here to visit Sunny Days on TpT and search "Bump" using the Quick Find option once you are on her page.

Five in a Row is another popular game with the students.  There is a different theme for each month, and although the rules of the game never change, the boards do.  Best of all the kids never tire of them and they are free!  You can grab a copy of all the available boards by visiting the posts they are shared in.  Just click here.  :)

I also love the game boards that Lory Evans creates. The games are high interest and the kids always love them.  Lory has a ton of amazing options (and many of them are free), so be sure to visit her TpT store and check them out!

If game boards are new to you, I highly encourage you to give them a try!  They really are a great way to reinforce those basic skills while keeping your students engaged and on task.  Plus, they are so easy to prep and maintain.

Now, if you've read this far, you are in for a treat!  To celebrate the kick off of our new hop, I'm giving away $10 worth of products from my TpT store to one lucky reader!  Simply fill out the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Be sure to check out these other Weekend Warriors and their great ideas! 

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Must Read Monday- My Favorite Read Alouds, Part 2

A few weeks ago, I linked up with Amanda from Teaching Maddeness to share my favorite "quick" read aloud.  You can read about that favorite by clicking here.  I'm linking up with Amanda once again to share more of my favorites, as promised.

I hope you don't mind that I'm focusing on my favorite read alouds.  Please know that I use plenty of mentor texts and texts that tie into Social Studies and Science, but as I've said before, sometimes I just like to read to my students for the sake of simply enjoying a book together. They are 7/8, they should get to read to hear me read for fun!  The books I share with my students during my read aloud time are not high level chapter books. Quite frankly, I can't commit to lengthy chapter books because (gasp) sometimes a few days go by before I can squeeze in a read aloud.  For this reason, I have a stash of high interest books that can be read fairly quickly.

With that said, aside from the Mercy Watson series, I love to read the Skippyjon Jones books to my students! 
The Snow What title shown above will be available in October of this year.

Skippyjon Jones is just about the cutest Siamese cat you'll ever meet!  He is an imaginative trouble maker who thinks that he is a chihuahua.  Whenever he finds himself in time out (which is often), he wanders into his closet and goes on an adventure with his imaginary chihuahua friends, all the while speaking in his very best Spanish accent.  He is silly, brave, lovable, and downright funny.

I love getting into character as I read with my best Spanish accent (it probably would not impress my father in law, but I do give it my best), and the kids love that I use so much expression as I read.  I love that this series can be used to model expression as you read.  Best of all, the kids love it.  There are also lots of opportunities to model using context clues to derive meaning.

The books are action packed, exciting, and laugh out loud funny.  Once I start reading the series to the kids, I always see them return from the Library with their own copies (and you know I love that).  Finally, you can read one whole book in 10-15 minutes!  There have been a few times where I have had to split the reading into two parts, and it was no biggie.

You can find all the books on Amazon, and sometimes, Scholastic has mini bundles available in the monthly book orders.

What's your favorite (for fun) read aloud?

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Are You a Planner? Tips and Tricks for Prepping for the Upcoming School Year

Are you a planner?  I am!  With that said, I have already started prepping for next year.  Please don't think I'm too wacky, I just really like to be ready.  If you're interested in planning ahead, read on!

Prepping now saves me time and hassle when we report back to work in August.  Our photo copiers are limited in number, but high in demand.  Not to mention, they always seem to malfunction or give us problems when we return and all need to make a million copies.  By preparing most of my materials ahead of time, I don't have to fight the long lines or deal with the temperamental machines. Ain't nobody got time for that!

What exactly do I prep?  I prep the materials that I know I will use during the first week back.  This does require some commitment on my part, but it sure is nice returning in the fall knowing that half of my work is already done! 

How do I go about doing this?  First, I always make a list of what I need to copy and then I get to work!

As I copy these materials, I "x" them off my list (one of my favorite hobbies) and place the materials on the designated "Next Year" shelf in my closet.  It isn't labeled as such, but it is designated as such.

Currently sitting on that shelf are these copied and bound All About Me books.

And, the student copies for these first week activities (plus others that aren't pictured, because I think you get the point by now).

Basically, the shelf is full of copies that are sorted into piles and ready for use that first week of school.  :)

I also prepare the back to school forms and handouts that I share with my students' families.  These handouts include my classroom handbook, my welcome letter, my meet the teacher letter, and other various forms.

If you're looking to get a head start on your prep for next year, try the following:

1. Make a list of the materials you plan to use (copy only what you know you will use).

2. Start copying (I typically do this whenever I have time to spare. Sometimes, I get to work 15-20 minutes early to make some of these copies.  Copying a few items each day really adds up, believe me!).

3. Designate a space in your classroom and store the prepped materials in that location.

4. Take a deep breath and relax because you just saved yourself about 12 hours of grief when returning to school in the fall!



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