It is Back to School Time and who wants to do math right away, let alone a math test. Well teachers don’t and neither do students.
Why not make Back to School Math fun?
Your To do list
Buy a box of Fruit Loops or a bag of Fruiti O’s
Print up this Fruit Loop Math Assessment
Fruit Loop Math is one of my favorite Back to School activities in 1st Grade. I generally do it on the 2nd day. The first day is too crazy and the 2nd day tends to be a little more relaxed. We are not quite ready to get into curriculum yet, the students still don’t know how to find a page in their math books and I am still getting to know who they are. This is a great assessment tool to figure out what these students know and don’t know.
I buy a big bag of generic Fruit Loops from the grocery store (I am cheap) and then pass out their Fruit Loop Math Assessment paper first. We practice putting our names on there. Then we practice reading the color names. After we read each name, I have the students take a crayon and lightly color in the circle that matches the color name. This will help them begin to see the color name, see the color and then match the Fruit Loop with the right color. Once we are done, we can move on to the fun.
I then pass out the paper towel or plate and give each student a handful of Fruit Loops. My first year I passed out too many. You don’t want to go overboard besides, many can’t count past 20 still!
We start by sorting the colors. The students will put their Fruit Loops in the right circles. Then they get to count how many are in each circle. They will write that number. If you have students struggling to write that number, it is a red flag. Have them try to do tally marks or dots instead.
Remember to take notes during this time
You should be walking around, checking their work, taking notes about what students know or don’t know. Who is following directions? I use a class list and just write out notes. Sometimes, I use large Post It Notes and I have one titled “Writes numbers”, “Writes tally marks”, “Knows colors”, “Knows how to add numbers”, “Can read color names”, etc. I put the names of the students who fit that title.
What if they start to eat them?
I do a lot of food projects in my class. This is the day that sets the tone. I do a “NO EAT” policy during projects (I give them time later), so I tell the students before we start that if I see them eating, licking or sneaking even a broken piece, all their Fruit Loops will go in the trash. It is important to be really strict on this, so I make sure they all know the rule. They repeat it back to me. We say it over and over. Every year, without fail, I always have one child that tests the waters and I throw them away. I know it sounds mean, but it sends a clear message that Mrs. McKinsey is serious and you broke the trust. It goes along with my Classroom Management Routines. For more ways I run my class, check out this blog post on Classroom Management. Oh, and the student who lost their Fruit Loops gets to just sit and watch the rest of the class enjoy the fun.
After we have sorted all the colors and we have counted them,
our next task is to make a graph with the Fruit Loops. They will turn their paper over or if you choose to do it on separated papers that will work as well. The advantage to turning it over is that it forces them to start over, mix up their Fruit Loops and re-sort them in their columns. If you want to make it faster or see who is able to relate the concept of transferring them over, that is also another assessment tool you can use to see who is able to problem solve quickly.
Once they do the graphing, they will remove their Fruit Loops from their graph one at a time and color in the rectangle. There is an additional sheet that has questions on it about their graph or their sorting. It is important for them to have their numbers on there or their tally marks because it will help them to answer questions later.
Other interactive opportunities
There are also some other interactive opportunities where they can get up and talk to other students about what colors they have and how many of each color. I usually do this part after all students have completed the graphing. It cuts down on the chaos. If you do see that students are needing extra time working on their graphing portion, take note of that and do not have them do the question part. The question part will probably be a little difficult for them.
The questions will need to be read by the teacher, so read them one at a time, for example: “Find someone that has more red Fruit Loops than you.” You say “Go” and the students will have the opportunity to walk around and ask their classmates how many red Fruit Loops they have. They will return to their spot and write the person’s name on that spot. Then sit and wait for the next part.
This is also a great “Get to Know You” activity because it has the students get up and move around, chat and talk and remember each other’s names. They are also practicing asking their classmates questions, which they will use a lot throughout the year.
How long will this lesson take?
I usually plan that this activity will take around an hour. As the teacher you can cater it to meet the needs of your class or the time allotted. You can easily take off activities or questions. It seems in the beginning of the year, everything takes much longer to do.
If you choose to extend
Here is what I do. A lot of the students like to take their cereal home to eat later, eat at snack or to share with a sibling. If you have a class that wants to eat them and are salivating at the mouth because they can’t wait, this is a fun way to continue.
I say a math problem like: “Grab two Fruit Loops of any color” and I will write the number 2 and then say, “Grab 2 more Fruit Loops” and I will write another 2 with an addition sign in between. We say the math problem 2 + 2 = 4. Then I will say, “Eat 4!” We continue with that pattern and choose different types of problems.
Another style, I use: “Lay out 5 Fruit Loops on your desk”, “Now eat 3 of them, how many do you have left?”. I show them the math problem.
I generally do not have them write down the numbers, in the classes that I have had in the past it has been too much writing for them at the beginning of the year. But, if you do see that you class is capable of writing down the numbers then go ahead and pass out scratch paper or their white boards and have them write these math problems with you.
For More Information
For more information on how to do this Fruit Loop math assessment in your classroom, go ahead and click on this link Fruit Loop Math and it will show you step by step instructions and you will get all the assessments and templates.
There are additional activities in the packet as well and some end of the year activities to do at the end of year.
For other fun math games to do with your class, check out this Math Games blog. They are all Common Core Aligned and will keep your class having fun all year long.