Meet My New Best Friend–Hands On Equations

This post inspired by The Teaching Momster.  To read more about algebraic thinking in the intermediate grades, check out this week’s Math Madness Wednesday by clicking the red badge below.

Math Madness Wednesday algebra prealgebra algebraic thinking for 5th and 6th grade

If you haven’t heard of Hands On Equations by now,  listen up.  Hands On Equations will rock your world!  Seriously! I believe this system or program or curriculum supplement came out in the mid 1980s.  In a nutshell, students learn to solve algebra expressions using game pieces like pawns and number dice.  It’s amazing, and a quick Google search will gather all you could ever want to know about it.

Hands On Equations for 5th and 6th grade algebra

Hello, I’m Hands On Equations and I’m here to make learning algebra fun and easy!

But wait, there’s more.  Because I am new to teaching math this year, I watch a lot of YouTube.  I search something I’m about to teach and watch an expert teacher before I even try it out in my classroom.  I can’t tell you how helpful this has been.  Upon searching for Hands On Equations lessons, I happened to find a teacher who…get this…has recorded all of the lessons!  Oh my!  She is an angel sent from above.  I am writing her a thank you letter as we speak.  The lessons are about 10 minutes long and I have used the first 4.  Why play the clip instead of teaching the lesson myself?  One, students love YouTube.  Two, I get to observe a master teacher.  Three, I can walk around and intervene, and the lesson keeps going.  I carry my mouse with me around the room and pause every so often to have my students work an example independently before she solves it on the video.  After each lesson (video clip), students work on 10 problems.  All of this takes about 35 minutes a day and is supplementing our regular curriculum.

If you are looking to build algebraic thinking skills with your intermediate students, here’s a link to some puzzles.

@ThePensiveSloth prealgebra puzzles for 5th and 6th grade

Use puzzle task cards to engage your students in pre-algebra activities. Great for building logical reasoning and algebraic thinking. WARNING: Will make your students think!

Thanks for stopping in!

–The Pensive Sloth


My Favorite Things: Tiny Storage Baggies

Did you know that they make tiny storage bags?  Well, they do and they are perfect for all of those laminated cardstock pieces you spent hours cutting out.

These baggies are about 2 X 3 ish and are perfect for a fraction sort game I made for my kiddos.  I think I paid $4.00 for a pack of 100.   Great for centers and stations in the classroom!

These baggies are about 2 X 3 ish and are perfect for a fraction sort game I made for my kiddos. I think I paid $4.00 for a pack of 100. Great for centers and stations in the classroom!

I discovered these earlier in the year when I was picking up craft supplies for our holiday ornaments and needed something for storing sequins.  It dawned on me that these would be perfect for our science and math sorts and cutups…so I bought a few.  They are the bombdiggity because:

1–They don’t take up much space.  I hate putting cards in baggies that are too big.  They flop around, get bent up, and storing a few sets takes up more space than it should.

2–They are cute.  I’m not much for cute most days, but I do find these tiny little bags to be quite adorable!

3–They are cheap and easy to find.  You can get about 100 of them for less than $5.00 at most craft stores.  I usually shop Hobby Lobby, but Michaels and Jo-Ann Fabrics probably sell them, too.

@thepensivesloth small ziplock baggies for storing classroom games

I placed them next to a pencil so you could see the approximate size. I think these are about 4 X 6. Because the cards don’t have lots of room to ‘swim’ around in the bag, they seem to last longer without getting bent up.

@thepensivesloth mini storage bags for classroom stations and centers

Seriously. You have to try these! My next project is to organize my games into a binder and these will fit perfectly…Perhaps this summer?

These are a MUST HAVE if you use teacher-made materials, centers, or stations in your classroom or if you are a Teachers Pay Teachers junkie like me!


–The Pensive Sloth