Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Multiplication Ninjas

Make learning multiplication facts fun for your students with this classroom motivation tool that turns learning times tables into a game!
You know the look...  the look a student gives you after you've asked them what 3x4 is or 4x7...  that eyes-up-to-the-right, head-bobbing-count-in-your-head look.  We tell our students over and over again how IMPORTANT it is to learn their math facts.  How much EASIER multi-digit multiplication, division, and fractions will be if they just learn their times tables.  For most students, our supreme knowledge and crystal-ball insight doesn't inspire them.  I tell my students over and over again,  "Your times tables aren't just going to suddenly come to you.  Just because you are in fourth grade doesn't mean you will now magically know your 4's.  You have to study!"

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!
Make learning multiplication facts fun for your students with this classroom motivation tool that turns learning times tables into a game!


THE SUPPLIES

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.)
Make learning multiplication facts fun for your students with this classroom motivation tool that turns learning times tables into a game!

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.
Make learning multiplication facts fun for your students with this classroom motivation tool that turns learning times tables into a game!

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!
Make learning multiplication facts fun for your students with this classroom motivation tool that turns learning times tables into a game!

Make learning multiplication facts fun for your students with this classroom motivation tool that turns learning times tables into a game!
The belts go up through the 12's facts.  Once students pass their 12's they've earned all of their belts and their pencil.  If a student passes their 13's, they get the ultimate prize...  wait for it...

A HIGH FIVE ERASER!  What kids wouldn't want that!  Am I right?!

Make learning multiplication facts fun for your students with this classroom motivation tool that turns learning times tables into a game!

THE NINJA HOLDER
To make a ninja holder, my husband drilled holes in a 4 x 4 and I painted it.  I used white chalk marker to write the letters and then sprayed it to keep the chalk paint from smearing.

Make learning multiplication facts fun for your students with this classroom motivation tool that turns learning times tables into a game!
  
THE TESTS
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.    :)  )


Make learning multiplication facts fun for your students with this classroom motivation tool that turns learning times tables into a game!

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! 

Make learning multiplication facts fun for your students with this classroom motivation tool that turns learning times tables into a game!

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!  

Thank you for visiting!  







21 comments:

  1. I love this idea! We are finishing up Ice Cream Multiplication in my 3rd grade class, but I want to do something for division now. Would I be able to get an editable file to change multiplication to division?? Thanks so much :)

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  2. This is the cutest thing I have seen in a long time!!! I have seen this done in music class but not with multiplication. I teach fifth grade and still spend the year drilling those facts. I use VIP badges but I might try this out in the fall.

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    1. Hi Kelly! Thank you for visiting. This is the first year I've done this and I like how motivating it is. Finding Multiplication.com was probably the biggest blessing though! :)

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  3. This is the cutest thing I have seen in a long time!!! I have seen this done in music class but not with multiplication. I teach fifth grade and still spend the year drilling those facts. I use VIP badges but I might try this out in the fall.

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  4. I am most excited to give this a try. Thank you!

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  5. Oh my gosh! This is just so super cute and easy to set up too. I think it will motivate my class to learn their tables just to get their "belts" thank you so much cant wait to try this out next year

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  6. Where did you find the wooden block to hold all the pencils? Also, where can I order the custom pencils? Thanks. Can't wait to use this year.

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    1. Hello! The wooden block is just a 4x4 piece of wood we had left over from another project. We drilled the holes and painted it. You can find 4x4s at any home project store like Home Depot or Lowes.

      I ordered the pencils from Amazon.com but you can get them at any office supply store. They are just black pencils. The bands you would have to purchase separately.
      Best,
      Tammy

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  7. Great idea! Love it! Can't wait to start it!

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  8. Do you have the kids take the auto scored quizzes on Multiplication.com? If so, how to you get the data? Do they take a screen shot? Thanks for any feedback! So excited to try it!

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  9. How did you the label the pencils so the kids know whose is whose?

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    1. Hi Shelli,
      I just used small shipping labels that I had printed their names on.
      :)
      Tammy

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  10. I started this with my 4th grade class this past week after reading your blog. The kids are so excited and we had our presentation of our first round of Ninja pencils. On my block, I used a white paint pen and put their number (1-24) under the holes. They get assigned a number 1-24 based on alphabetical order, that way they can keep their pencil in their corresponding # and we don't have to tag them. I have a question about multiplication.com. I am finding a lot of the levels blocked and labeled "premium." Was it that way when you started using it last spring. Just wondering if my students will be able access all the facts they need. Thanks for sharing this! It is wonderful.

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    1. Hello,
      All of the levels were open for use when I used it last year. I haven't started it yet this year. Maybe there is another website out there that could do that same thing. It sure made it easy for me to keep track of student progress.

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  11. Are the colors/facts ordered easiest to hardest in the first set? So the kids would work their way up the colors?

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    1. I made the chart to go from easiest to more difficult. The download also includes them in order numerically.

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  12. My teammate brought this idea for our 3rd grade to use and we were all excited to implement it. Today I took time to read it for myself- just to make sure I got it all right- and discovered it's one of my family's favorite teachers!! Hello and Thank you! Hope you are well in Jaguar country.

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    1. HI JENNIFER!!! I'm glad your team is interested in doing this with your 3rd graders. Sometimes it is hard to find something to motivate students to study their facts and this sure motivated my class. Best of luck with it and the rest of the school year!
      Tammy

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  13. When do you allow students to use the Black Warrior pencils? And if you do and they lose them or the pencils wear down what do you do? I am just trying to get all the logistics worked out in my head. I really like the idea. I was thinking of using bracelets, but I think the kids would like the Ninja theme better.

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    1. Hi Marlana,
      I gave the pencils to my students once they got all the bands and the eraser. If a student wasn't able to get that far on his/her times tables, I gave them the pencil at the end of the year (we started this mid-year). Of course, you can do it in whichever way works best for you and your students. Best of luck!

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