Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Halloween Tangram Fun & A Freebie

Before you judge my highly advanced technological skills, please remember desperate times call for desperate measures.  I must have pressed something on my desktop computer because my document camera no longer works.  As there was no AV contact around to fix this, I needed to bring back technology from the 1960s.

I searched high and low in my school for an overheard projector and I eventually found one in a deep, dark corner, dust bunnies and all.

One of my all time favourite books to bring out in October is "It Was Halloween Night...A Scary Math Story-with Tangrams!" by Marilyn Burns and Grace Maccarone, illustrated by Matthew Straub. I know I've had it for a long time based on how I labelled the spine with a happy face orange sticker. That was when I only owned a few books. Sadly, it appears as if this gem of a book is out of print but the concept is easy to duplicate.
The story goes like this: the main character, a young boy by the name of Greedy Pete, is followed around on Halloween night by animals created out of a piece of broken tile he receives at a house his mother told him NOT to go to.  I love stories that emphasize how mothers know best, don't you? #youbetwedo ;-)
I start reading the story and then hand out a tangram to each student once I get to the part where the first tangram animal starts to take Greedy Pete's candy away.  Let me tell LOVE an interactive book.  And if you were wondering, I keep my tangrams in plastic sandwich bags.
I used to have my students copy each animal as I gave step-by-step instructions on the overhead projector.  Nowadays, I'm all about inquiry.
Instead, after they hear which animal is chasing Greedy Pete, they create it.  We do a "Tangram Walk" around the room to check out each other's work and then I show them how the illustrator envisioned it.
When the book ends, I give them some time to play around creating new animals.  Again, it's a tangram lovefest.
I mean, how cute are their creations?  Check out the Blue Jay below in honour of the Toronto Blue Jays.
The following day we revisit tangrams and attempt to put one back together and then create the letters in our name as well as numbers. The first few students who figure out the tangram square get stickers. Deep down I want to point out that they will likely have jobs as computer programmers, airport traffic controllers, or architects when they grow up, but I keep those thoughts to myself.

I urge you to look for this book in your local library or second hand store.  If you are lucky enough to find one, buy it!  Otherwise, turn your Math lesson into an oral story time and create your own version.
In the meantime, don't fret.  I've included this freebie that your students can use to trace their creations on. Class book anyone?  Get ready to be blown away by what your students come up with. I know I am every single time I bring out this story.
While you are here, have you scooped up the freebies from the Trick and Treats! Halloween Blog Hop that I'm participating in?  NO?  Not yet? What are you waiting for?  Start at Mrs.Beattie's Classroom and enjoy.
Happy learning!

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