Happy hump day teacher friends! I hope everyone is having a great week. My first week back from break has been an interesting one. I’m finding what’s working one minute for my kids might not keep my sweet littles engaged the next. As teachers we have to learn to adapt and roll with the punches and focus on what’s best for our students in that moment.
Driving to work this morning, I was so excited to see the sun out and hoped that the weather would stay warm and inviting. You can’t help but be in a better mood when the sun is shining and I was instantly excited to find a way to get my kids outside for some hands-on practice. I had read previously in Marcia Tate’s book, Worksheets Don’t Grow Dendrites, about the positive effects of learning outside and letting students explore. I kew today would be a perfect day to put these words and theories into action!
Our current focus is measurement and while it’s been great being magicians of measurement, I wanted to encourage my students to take charge of their learning and take their exploration outside in the real world. I swear some of my best teaching ideas come to me during my long morning commute, it’s a blessing in disguise! I decided we were going to go on a student created measurement scavenger hunt…outside!
Over the winter, my school designed a beautiful outdoor classroom space for the students to use. This was the perfect location for our measurement scavenger hunt intro. We brought some simple supplies outside with us:
1. Our binders for us to lean on while we investigate
3. Plain construction paper (nothing fancy here folks for last minute lessons!)
4. Our math tool kits that house our math manipulatives like connecting cubes
Once we were all gathered, I explain how this was going to work. We would pair up with our “ketchup and mustard,” math partners and explore our outside classroom. I told them we would take about five minutes to sketch and label eight things they found outside that could be measured. They were asked to create their own scavenger hunt recording sheet. But, there would be a catch! They weren’t going to measure their OWN objects! After we created our hunts, the partners were going to switch papers with a different pair and measure objects on THEIR recording sheets!
They were so excited when they realized that they were going to be creating scavenger hunts for their unknown participants. The partner groups walked around outside and created their scavenger hunts. My firsties were very creative! They wanted their classmates to measure someone’s foot, a brick along the school, the stone steps, leaves they found, rocks, plants, twigs, a door frame, and a door handle!
After our initial planning and sketching out our recording sheets, we had pairs team up and switch sheets. Then, it was time to get to work! One partner (mustard) was asked to estimate how many cubes long they thought the object on their scavenger hunt would be. Then the second partner (ketchup) would get out their cubes and measure the object. Both partners recorded their measurements and switched roles at the next object.
My math partners work together every day so they have a solid understanding of how to work together cooperatively and switch roles when it’s time.
My students did an AWESOME job hunting around outside and using their scavenger hunt pictures to estimate and measure objects found outside. They worked so nicely together and were excited from the moment we began!
I love the student created drawings and labels. It shows that my students not only were engaged in their learning but took ownership of their own experience!
I couldn’t say no to helping out with some of my students’ scavenger hunts! My foot was a popular destination to get measured!
One of my favorite moments came when these two sweeties were trying to measure the length of the door frame for their recording sheet. A few of my littles decided to assist them without being asked and it turned into a group project! I loved seeing them naturally work together for a common goal without any teacher support or encouragement. They really shined!
Was the math class chaotic? Absolutely. Were my kids loud? You bet. But the authentic learning that took place was worth every loud crazy moment! One of my sweet boys actually said, “Mrs. Yannuzzi this is more fun than recess!!” I don’t know how you can compete with recess but I’ll take it!
This was such a simple, low-prep, high engagement activity that I hope to replicate with different concepts in the future. Math is not a worksheet and any opportunity I can find to give my students real-life experience out in the world to apply their skills I will gladly take on!
I hope after reading this you’re encouraged to get your kids outside and give them some real-life experiences with their learning! I hope you all have a great rest of the week, thanks for stopping by!