Tag Archives: primary math

Simple Dice Games for Math Practice

Hello friends

Today marks the beginning of a new kind of school — the stay-at-home kind. More than ever we are going to need to be flexible and patient and kind to our kids, their parents and our teacher colleagues.  We are in uncharted waters… but not without good will!

I wanted to offer up a couple of simple dice games for you to play at home, to build number sense and computational fluency while having fun…

Mastering the Facts Addition 2nd ed coverFor more games like these, check out my resources entitled: Mastering the Facts Addition (2nd Edition) , Mastering the Facts Subtraction and Mastering the Facts Multiplication (2nd Edition) available from my online store.

Stay safe.  Be kind.



Reach for the Top  You can play this game alone, with a partner or against a partner. Print a copy of the Reach for the Top grid available here.

How to play: Roll two 6-sided dice. Find the sum. Write the equation in the box over the sum (or colour it in). The game is over when one of the sums reaches the top! (See the sample game below.)Screen Shot 2020-03-29 at 6.31.38 PM


Screen Shot 2020-03-29 at 7.38.42 PMOrder of Operations Bowling: You can play this game alone, with a partner or against a partner. You need one 6-sided die and the optional Bowling Pin recording sheet attached. The object of the game is to “knock down” all the bowling pins from 1 to 10.

How to play: Roll the die 3 times. Record the 3 numbers. Use these three numbers — in any order — to create an equation with an answer of 1. You must use all three numbers. Once you’ve found an equation (or 2 or 3!) with an answer of 1, cross off the bowling pin with the number 1 on it. Now move on to the number 2, then 3, then 4… until you have created equations with all the answers from 1 to 10. Each time you find an equation, you can knock down the pin with that number on it.

If you can knock down all 10 bowling pins with one set of numbers, you get a “strike”.  If not, roll the dice 3 more times to get a new set of numbers and continue.  Two sets of numbers earns you a “spare”. How many different operations can you use?

In the sample round below, Player A rolled a 1, a 5 and a 6.  She used all 3 numbers to create equations (a whole bunch of them!) with an answer of 1. She chooses one of the equations and knocks down the 1 pin.  She then moves on to create equations with an answer of 2.

Screen Shot 2020-03-29 at 7.44.19 PM



Maintenant disponible en français!

Finally … French translations of my latest books are now available!

Je viens de traduire mes deux ressources de bonnes questions — “A Year of Good Questions for Grades 2-4” et “A Year of Good Questions for grades 5-8” — afin que mes collègues d’immersion aient des ressources françaises avec lesquelles travailler. Merci pour vôtre patience!

In these new French translations of the English originals, you’ll find more than 200 open-ended and engaging problems for french immersion students from primary through middle school.  All are posed in French and explore important mathematical concepts across the grades.

Bonnes Questions primaireThe first book: Bonnes Questions: Une année de bonnes tâches mathématiques pour les élèves de 2e à 4e is suitable for late primary students (grades 2-4) and features operational tasks, measurement tasks and pattern tasks of increasing complexity, posed in French.


Bonnes Questions intérmediaresThe second volume: Bonnes Questions: Une année de bonnes tâches mathématiques pour les élèves de 5e à 8e is perfect for middle school immersion students (grades 5-8), with a focus on proportional reasoning, algebraic thinking as well as operations on integers, fractions and decimals to name a few.

Engaging problems and choice make these volumes the perfect conversation starter for our immersion classrooms, promoting oral language development and mathematical thinking …en même temps!

All are available from my online store.


New For Primary! Good Questions: A Year of Open-Ended Problems for Grades 2-4

Hello all!

For those of you who have been waiting ever so IMG_4295patiently, I wanted to let you know that I have completed a primary companion to the Year of Good Questions for Grades 5-8 resource released this summer.

A Year of Good Questions for Grades 2-4 is the late primary version of this stand up calendar of problems — one for every day of the school year!

Like its intermediate counterpart, this compact but potent book comes with an easel so you can set it up on your desk and flip from one rich problem to the next, posing open-ended questions of your primary students.


Good Questions: A Year of Open-Ended Math Problems for Grades 2-4 is a problem-a-day resource that includes rich tasks ideal for grades 2, 3 and 4. Organized by topic and structured in problem sets of 5, this simple to use teacher resource includes 200 mathematically important questions to engage your students in deep thinking. For only $25, it’s a reasonably priced way to stimulate and promote mathematical conversation!

Operations, measurement, proportional thinking and patterns are featured in this calendar of problems. Each one engages students in thinking flexibly, critically and creatively to solve tasks of varying complexity.

Visit my online store at mindfull.ecwid.com to order.

Let the fun begin!


Place Value in Primary: Developing Number Sense

Place Value in PrimaryWow. I have had the most extraordinary summer. Truly extraordinary. And somehow between engaging in a series of remarkable, life-affirming adventures  I have managed to write another teacher resource book… 😊

It’s all about Place Value (as I’m sure you’ve figured out!) and is intended for teachers of kindergarten through grade 2, with special accommodations for those who teach in combined grades settings.  There are 230 pages of developmentally framed lessons designed to address the diversity in our primary classrooms. Each one supports students to represent and describe quantity, to compare and order sets, to use referents to estimate and to skip count. Lessons devoted to measurement — an ideal practical application of place value in the world — are also featured. Whole class lessons, centres tasks and games  for practice allow students to connect these important concepts in a seamless way, and can be used both as a unit or spread throughout the year to build and consolidate understanding.

Place Value in Primary: Developing Number Sense is available from my online store for $40 plus shipping. I hope you enjoy it!


(PS… A companion volume for Grades 2 to 4 is in the works – expect it later this fall!)


Daily Math Investigations for K-2 – An Alternative to Calendar

Daily Math Investigations

Sandra Ball and I are pleased to announce the release of our newest collaboration, entitled Daily Math Investigations: Meaningful Math Routines. The resource is intended to present alternatives to a traditional calendar time – ways to keep our students actively engaged in the learning of mathematics in meaningful, hands-on and developmentally appropriate ways.

In the resource, you’ll find a set of thoughtful tasks that promote visual spatial capacity, number sense, operational sense, data and measurement concepts. Each is presented in the form of both entry tasks and rich routines, intended to keep your youngest students thinking and reasoning mathematically.  The complete resource, including a selection of classroom-ready line masters, is available to download for free, by visiting my online store at https://mindfull.ecwid.com. Click on the FREE DOWNLOADS icon to access the PDFs.

We sincerely hope that this resource provides you with practical, fun and engaging ideas for use your primary classroom – ways to ensure all students are doing math every day!

Carole and Sandra


Teaching Addition and Subtraction in Grades 1&2

Sums & DifferencesHello and happy August!

I have been busy writing this summer – putting together a volume devoted to teaching the operations in primary. And so, I am pleased to announce the publication of my latest teacher resource: Sums and Differences: Teaching Addition and Subtraction in Grades 1&2.

This resource includes a series of lesson sequences – open tasks, games, written practice, word problems and assessment support – for teaching the operations in a developmentally appropriate way. Beginning with place value explorations, these lessons increase in complexity while providing support for students across the grades.  The lessons make explicit connections between concrete, pictorial and abstract representations of the math to ensure the operations are truly mastered.

The content in the book covers the grade 1 and 2 curricula and presents them in such a way that teachers of combined grades can use the lessons to work with their classes as a whole.

To order a copy online, click here.

All the best!


New Resource! Mastering the Facts – Subtraction

You know, some people holiday over the summer.  Me, I seem to write teacher resources.  :o)

I am very pleased to announce the release of my newest resource called Mastering the Facts – Subtraction: Lessons for Making Sense of Subtraction for grades 1 to 3. This teacher book includes 17 complete lessons aimed at supporting primary aged students in mastering the subtraction facts to 20. Each strategy-based lesson features:

  • a 3-part direct instruction lesson
  • a task for guided practice
  • games and worksheets for independent practice
  • open-ended story problems
  • targeted fluency building opportunities
  • an assessment task customized to match the facts learned

All the lines masters for games, written practice, flash cards, teacher materials and other instructional support are included in this 185 page resource. Organized by strategy, these lessons are designed to promote mastery of the facts, not just memorization!  Teacher tips for using and organizing manipulatives, for supporting students who struggle and for working in a combined grades setting are also included.

Matched to the WNCP and BC math curricula, this book is designed for classroom teachers of grades 1 to 3 and primary resource teachers. Select lessons are suitable for kindergarten students as well.

Cost for the resource is $40 plus shipping.

If you’re interested in getting your hands on a copy, click here to order online.

Thanks for your ongoing support. I hope the book proves helpful.


PS – Please click below to download select colour line masters drawn from the resource.  All other line masters are included and are to be copied onto black and white, but these ones deserved a little colour…!

rocket ship

Houses for number lines extra large

Missing Part Cards – Laying the Foundation for Subtraction

Hello all!

I had the pleasure of working with K and K/1 teachers in Mission on Monday – a great group of teachers who somehow managed to summon up the energy to attend an after-school workshop with me this week!!  Together we looked at ways to support their young students in subitizing and partitioning.  Sounds complex, doesn’t it?  🙂  Truth is, children in early primary need opportunities to see numbers at a glance without counting (subtizing) and to recognize that we can break up sets and put them back together again and the set size is the same (partitioning). These concepts and skills are critically important for young children to develop – they underpin the ability to add and subtract, to multiply and divide…

Engaging young children in conversations about how they “see” sets of number is a great way to start. Present an arrangement of 5-8 objects in your daily opening activities, and ask children what they see and how they see it.  Talk about the parts and label these smaller sets with numerals to make sense of the digits. Celebrate the fact that, no matter how you slice it, 7 is still 7!

Over time, you might want to make connections to the operations by using the attached “Missing Part Cards”. They include a numeral to indicate the set size, and then dots in familiar arrangements in the form of an equation.  The important part of course is to cover up just one of the sets of dots before showing the missing part cards to the children!  🙂 A 6.5 cm x 6.5 cm square of thick paper (bond paper or construction paper – or even sticky notes doubled up) taped across the top creates a flap that will hide one of the parts from view, as indicated below.

Show the card and read it aloud with the children:

“Seven is the same as 4 and…?”

It’s a good idea to say “is the same as” and “and” for “equals” and “plus” here.  “Equals” and “plus” are the names for the symbols and are less meaningful to learners than “is the same as” and “and” – which are words that describe what the symbols mean…

Have students say what they think is missing, and why they think so.  You’ll be surprised at the strategies students will use to find the missing part!  Older learners will benefit from seeing the equation written with a box to indicate the missing part – that is,

This is a great way to introduce algebraic thinking in a visual way!!

Feel free to download the Missing Part Cards for 5, Missing Part Cards for 6 and Missing Part Cards for 7 here.  They are best printed in colour of course, and will hold up best if printed on card stock or bond paper. Credit for the idea goes to John Van de Walle, who first showed them to me years ago.  A smart man, our John – and one I miss terribly.



PS – If you’re looking for more ideas like this for K and grade 1, consider purchasing a copy of my book: Number Sense – A Combined Grades Resource for K, K/1 and Grade 1 Math Classrooms.  It’s set up to support teachers in addressing the number PLOs in mindful ways while keeping their Kindergarten and Grade 1 students together. Games, tasks, problems and meaningful practice opportunities are included in English and in French. To order online, click here.