Math Archives - Mary Kienstra


Box Multiplication: Showing the Distributive Property

By: Mary Kienstra on: March 9, 2017  in: algebra, distributive property, Math,

Box multiplication makes multiplying double digits concrete to young mathematicians.  Instead of wondering where to put the digits and why they go there, kids are thinking of the area model of multiplication and filling in the boxes.  The best thing about box multiplication is how easily it translates to the distributive property.   Learning to multiply […] Read more

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The Stock Market Game

By: Mary Kienstra on: April 10, 2016  in: Engagement, Math, stock market

When I announced to my 5th graders that we’d be playing the stock market game and buying stocks, my students replied, “What are stocks?”  A week later, they were exclaiming, “Let’s buy 100 shares of Panera!” If you haven’t seen, check it out.  This site has everything you need to teach your students about financial literacy […] Read more

weight logic example

Weight Logic Algebraic Thinking Problems

By: Mary Kienstra on: February 14, 2015  in: algebra, Engagement, Math

Elementary students access algebraic thinking using different formats and problems. I’ve found the greatest resource for teaching my students algebraic thinking is to practice weekly with Weight Logic algebra problems from Marcy Cook Math.  These problems encourage algebraic thinking in a very friendly way – using balances and pieces of fruit! Marcy Cook Math products […] Read more

Giant Pencils

Giant Proportions

By: Mary Kienstra on: January 8, 2015  in: Discussion, Engagement, Math, Uncategorized, ,

A giant stopped by my class and left several of his giant pencils.  As my students observed those pencils, we brainstormed a list of things we could figure out about the giant by knowing the size of his pencil.  They knew that they could use ratios and proportions to estimate the height of the giant, the […] Read more


Leave the Worksheet Behind: Part 1 in a Series

By: Mary Kienstra on: October 8, 2014  in: Engagement, iPads, Math

It’s not that a math worksheet is not engaging, it’s just that there are other ways to deliver the same lesson in a more engaging way.  The only problem is that once you transform your math class to make learning more engaging, it’s very difficult to go back! Kahoot is one of those engaging games […] Read more

A Good Problem to Have

By: Mary Kienstra on: September 11, 2014  in: Collaboration, Engagement, enthusiasm, Kakooma, Math

The biggest problem I have this year with my math students is that they are over-enthusiastic about math.  I prefer to call it that instead of “talkative”.  I joke that their enthusiasm is a good problem to have. This group of students LOVES math. They truly are excited and enthusiastic about everything we are doing. […] Read more

Let Them Measure: Volume Measurements

By: Mary Kienstra on: June 19, 2014  in: #tlap, Engagement, Math, measure, nets, surface area, volume, worksheets

We’ve all had those days where things just don’t go the way you think it should.  You plan the lesson with all the critical elements to meet the target, but when the students get started, there is no excitement, no spark.  It’s just boring. That happened in my room when students were learning volume measurements.  The […] Read more


Create a Polygon Project

By: Mary Kienstra on: May 7, 2014  in: Engagement, geometry vocabulary, Math

Have you ever visited a Polygon Zoo?  It might be just the place for a group of math students! Classifying polygons according to their attributes is a critical skill.  Students can listen to teachers talk about polygons, copy vocabulary words, and fill in worksheets, but handling the shapes and discussing them with a partner is […] Read more

Quick PD Overview

By: Mary Kienstra on: April 4, 2014  in: apps, consumers, iPads, Math, producers, student engagement, technology

The last day before Spring Break is a Professional Development day in my district.  It’s one of those days where everyone watches the clock, counting down the minutes until Spring Break officially begins.  Suitcases are packed, cars are ready.  This is a day we have all been anticipating.  Spring break starts as soon as this […] Read more