So, what inspires students to study their facts? In my own experience, the average 4th grader isn't inspired by the thought that it will make math-life easier. They need a challenge. They need a little bit of healthy competition, they need a PRIZE!
I've seen a lot of multiplication motivators in my time. The third grade team at my school does a great job of inspiring their students with a Multiplication Sundae Challenge. For each level students pass they get a topping on an ice-cream sundae in June. This is very inspiring to those 3rd graders! I've done a solar system theme where students each have little rockets and travel from planet 2's to planet 3's and on.
All of these ideas have been great, but this year I decided to try something different. To be honest, I wanted to inspire my kiddos in a way that was less messy than sundaes and took up less wall space than traveling in outer space.
So, I came up with Multiplication Ninjas!
The idea is pretty simple. Students pass their 2's and 3's to get their Ninja, a Black Warrior pencil. (Get it.... Black Warrior?! I thought I was being pretty clever.)
Once a student has their Ninja, they earn "belts" as they pass each level indicated on the Ninja poster. The belts are simply Loom Bands.
I bought a package of Loom Bands in each of the belt colors indicated on the poster. I got them on Amazon.com for between $3 and $6 each. There are 500 bands in each package, so they will last a very long time!
A HIGH FIVE ERASER! What kids wouldn't want that! Am I right?!
THE NINJA HOLDER
Now, you may wonder how I test my student's facts and I have to be honest once again, I hate scoring multiplication quizzes. So I asked myself, in this day and age, why on earth would I print a bunch of paper tests and spend hours scoring them... We have TECHNOLOGY people! This is where multiplication.com comes in.
The website is free and easy to set up a class. Students have access to timed quizzes, games that help them practice, and videos that help them study. That is only the tip of the iceberg. I haven't even had time to play with all of the great features. Right now I'm just happy that I can put students on an iPad and have them quickly take a timed quiz on the level they are at. They get instant feedback and I can see which facts they know quickly, which facts they had to think about, and which facts they don't know. It makes life a TON easier.
To start Multiplication Ninja in your own classroom, I'm offering the poster for free in my TeachersPayTeachers shop. Just click HERE to download it. (If you download, please consider leaving a bit of positive feedback on the product at TpT. :) )
The poster comes in 4 pages. To make the colors POP! I printed on photo paper. I taped the pages together using double sided tape and Voila!
I had thought about this idea for weeks and was super excited to share it with my students, but I wasn't certain if they would be as excited as I was. My class did not disappoint! They are such good sports. I've had students wanting to stay in at recess to practice and take their tests. It makes a teacher's heart happy.
Today we had our second "belt ceremony". I proudly announced the ninjas and the belts earned. My students made ninja moves which brought applause from the audience. It was great fun and inspirational for my other little soon-to-be ninjas!
Do you have any great ideas for motivating your students to learn their math facts? Please share them in the comments!
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