Elementary Math, Math Talk, Number Sense, Vocabulary

Mathematical Environments in Your School – Part 1

How is math learning showcased in your building?

Does each teacher put up their own displays?

Do you have building-wide displays for visitors to view?

Kristin and I love walking into buildings where you can see the learning taking place before you ever enter the classroom. Just today I saw these hanging in the hallway at a school I was working at and had to stop and snap some pictures. It made me smile so big.

Over the years I have worked hard to improve what I put up in the hall outside my room, but I’m always looking for ways to get the rest of the building involved. Last year I finally found something new that both teachers and students are loving–

Math Picture Puzzles!

I found these types of upper elementary puzzles from Jennifer Findlay. I give a pack to my students at the beginning of each month and they’re due at the end of each month. At the start of the school year, my 4th graders typically find them quite difficult, but as the year goes on they learn strategies that make them easier to solve. They are great for practicing mental math and algebraic connections. I like having my students solve them on paper, but during the COVID online learning, I had my students complete them on Kami via Google Classroom, so if you’re remote or an online teacher, this is a great option to look into.

Last year I decided to take the puzzles a step further and post them in the hallways for all students in the building to enjoy. I use two different levels, K-2 and 3-5. This doesn’t mean that K-2 students cannot complete the 3-5 puzzles. I just made the K-2 ones a little more friendly for our younger friends. Below you can see how a 1st grade class in my building sat outside the puzzles in the hallway to solve together. They ended up solving two of the upper-level puzzles as well.

Solving these picture puzzles, students will use their knowledge of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Depending on what you want your students working on, stick with those operations. Students will problem solve and make connections from what they already know to what they don’t know. The puzzles give students an opportunity to work on their fact fluency without the pressure of a timed test. The puzzles are themed for the month, so solving them tends to be a little more fun for students.

I placed the puzzles in a high traffic area of the building. As every class leaves our cafeteria they walk right to the wall where the math puzzles are posted. As I’ve been in the hallway, I’ve heard students whispering to one another, “The snowflake must be 6 if three snowflakes equal 18.” It makes me smile so big and fills my math heart right up!

After the 1st graders mentioned above came and solved the math puzzles as a class, they were so excited to get started on their math lesson. I was talking with the teacher after school at our staff meeting and told her it would be cool for her students to create their own Math Picture Puzzles. She told them the next day I said that and they couldn’t wait to get started! I cannot wait to see what they come up with!

I am sharing my file of hallway picture puzzles with you. It will force you to make a copy of the file, so you can continue to create more puzzles if you’d like. I plan on changing out the puzzles in the hallway at my school every other week to keep the kids thinking. Let me know if you use them and how it goes! I love receiving pictures from teachers on what they are doing and creating for their students.

Hallway Math Numbers

Hallway Math Picture Puzzles

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