Image by: Salvatore

I’m always trying to find new ways to make math interesting and relevant. Generally, the more interested the students are in the instruction, the more willing they are to apply their learning. This past week I used one common household item to teach my elementary math class about number lines. I’m not the only teacher who has used this strategy in the classroom, but I’ve found encouraging results by doing so, that’s why I’m sharing. I’ve provided a few pictures for those (like me) who need a visual representation before putting a strategy into practice.

Procedure

1.) Have all the students clear their desks. There shouldn’t be anything on the desks, including pencils, water bottles, etc. During this time students get a little anxious in wondering what’s going to happen next.

2.) The teacher takes out one or two bottles of shaving cream. I used Babaso, available at the Dollar Tree. This works much better than some of the more expensive shaving creams.

3.) The teacher asks the students to predict how the class will be using the shaving cream to learn about math. You might get some interesting responses with that question. This may also gains student interest.

4.) Go over the ground rules. Everyone should roll up their sleeves, don’t fling the shaving cream at anyone in the class, don’t touch the shaving cream until directed, no one gets out of their seat, etc.

5.) Go to each desk and spray a bit of shaving cream (4-5 seconds) in the middle of each desk.

6.) Tell the students that they will be given a few minutes to “play” with the shaving cream. Ask the students to make different types of polygons, rays, lines, etc. with the shaving cream.

7.) The teacher models a few number lines on the whiteboard. Students are asked to create their own number lines. Ask the students to create multiple number lines. Once a student creates a number line, the teacher reviews the work (could be a great opportunity to take a picture), gives the student a bit more shaving cream and then looks for another finished project.

8.) At the end of this project there are a lot of sticky fingers. The teacher hands out wet wipes or wet paper towels to the students. The students clean their own desk and hands.

9.) Before the students leave class, or sometime in the near future, the teacher asks the students to create three additional number lines (addition, subtraction, multiplication) on paper and turn their work into the teacher.

More Examples:

Shaving Cream and Math Ideas

Greenfield Exempt Schools

Mrs. Clayton’s Class Blog – Using Shaving Cream

*Disclaimer (unfortunate but necessary) : The thoughts and opinions expressed in these pages are my own, and not necessarily the opinions of my employers.*

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