Still Having Fun with Factors (and a number freebie)

04 April 2012
We're still having fun with factors and multiples in the classroom.  We've been doing all hands-on and engaging activities - we haven't cracked open our textbooks once this unit.  I've heard so many "math is SO fun" comments lately, it's put a permanent smile on my face during math time.  I can't wait to see our results on our final assessment - hopefully this will all pay off!

Last night I made up a set of numbers (0 - 100) to print off on magnetic paper.  I thought it would be easy to find a set ready to print, but after searching for a while, I decided to make up my own.  In case you've had a similar problem, I've uploaded them to google docs so you can print them off if you want them.  Just click on the picture to the right to get your own copy.

I plan to shrink these down, print them off on regular paper, and laminate them so I can have some sets for my math centers (not looking forward to all that cutting, though).

OK - so this is how we used these numbers today.  We started off by reviewing factors, prime factorization, and multiples on the SMARTboard.  I set up a page with dice and a chart.  We rolled a two-digit number and as a whole class, came up with the factors, prime factors and multiples.

We then reviewed the G.C.F.  We went back to our math journals and looked up our venn diagrams from last week (click HERE) to see them.

I had taped a set of my Venn Diagram circles to the blackboard.  I LOVE these circles - I use them for so many different purposes in the classroom.  I've seen other teachers use hula hoops for large Venn Diagrams, but these are so handy!  They're light enough to tape to a wall or black/white board, and they fold up for easy storage.  I have a set of 15 so we can use them in small groups, too.

I handed out about 5 or 6 of my magnetic numbers to each student (we used the whole set - 0 - 100) and wrote a question about G.C.F. on the blackboard.  Students then had to work out the factors of each number and find the G.C.F.  They then checked through their magnetic numbers to see if they had any of the factors.  If they did, they had to put their numbers on the blackboard in the proper spots on the Venn Diagram.  They loved this activity.  We went through about 4 examples as a whole class before students ended the class with their independent work.  They are really getting this concept - if only their basic multiplication facts weren't holding them back.  I'm throwing in some flashcard practice and skip counting whenever I can through the day right now.  Does anybody else have this problem???  I have grade 5/6 so I expect that they come to me already knowing their facts.  Unfortunately, this is NOT the case right now.  <sigh>  Oh well, at least they're loving math.  That's the first step, right?


  1. Hi Jen:
    Love this activity! And I agree completely: It has been a shock to me that only half of my kids know their facts!

    How great that they are LOVING math. That's because they have a great teacher!

    Did you use a circle cutter on those numbers? They look perfect! (Ladybug Kristen would be tickled).

    Ahhh. Next year. I have so many ideas swimming in my head for NEXT year and we still have eight weeks to go...

    Happy day!

    Finding JOY in 6th Grade

    1. I SO need a circle cutter!!! Or need my daughters to be old enough for the perfectionist in me to trust them with helping with the cutting (who am I kidding ... my OCD will never allow that). 8 weeks??? Totally jealous - 12 weeks here ... at least it's starting to go more quickly.

  2. I have struggled with math facts for years with my students. I'm hooked on at the moment. Once students are able to get to the answers and they understand the concept, it's often the speed that gets in the way. Xtramath is awesome! It's free and provided individualized practice on the facts that are a struggle to each student. I also start with addition facts and move through subtraction, multiplication, and division even if multiplication is really my goal. I find that if they can get really strong with addition and subtraction facts, then the other come more easily. also keeps track of whether the student responds within 3-seconds or correctly but takes longer. It graphs it out and send me an email. They also have intro pages personalized to each student to send home to encourage them to practice wherever they have internet access. I hope you enjoy this site as I have. Most of our school Grades 3-9 are on this site and practicing their math facts daily. It's amazing how much the kids like it.

  3. Thanks, Michelle. I'll have to check that site out. I really like the idea that it has a parent letter, too. I need the parents to buy-in to the importance of helping the students learn their facts.

  4. Excuse me!!! Magnetic paper...where do you get that?? A.Maze.Ing!!!
    Thinking of Teaching

  5. First, I just want to say I am LOVING finding these 5/6 blogs!
    This is an AMAZING lesson plan/idea. I hope you are told that you are doing a wonderful job on the daily, because you need to hear it! You are an inspiration!
    This is my first year teaching, and my sixth graders came to me not knowing a LOT of things that I expected them to. We've been struggling with math facts. I've resorted to times tables. They have to complete the twos (found at before getting to their threes, and so on. I keep track of how many attempts they make before they are successful and also which time table they are on in an excel document. I do this by color coding the squares by their name (light blue = 1st try, yellow = 2nd try, etc.). It's working well. Flashcards are a battle with my kids (heck, EVERYTHING is a battle! hahaha) but, I've decided that they get four chances at a group of facts and then they have to spend a week at recess studying the facts until they can pass it. Brutal, but they love their recess and so far it's working. I'm surprised at how many of my kids that pretend to need me for their facts actually know them.

    I'm super appreciative of Michelle's suggestion! Going to go check that out... what else would I be doing on a Thursday at nine P.M.?

    You're doing a great job! Thank you for sharing your ideas! Love 'em!

  6. buy yourself a circle punch for when you print the numbers out smaller...will be much easier and please the perfectionist in you. :0)

  7. I've done the lesson this way before with a lot of success. I used the numbers from a hundreds board, so no cutting involved - all I had to do after laminating was stick on a piece of magnetic tape. Also, I used clip magnets to hold up my Venn diagram circles.
    If your school can cover it, is also fantastic for kids and their fact practice. My 6th graders were very motivated by it!

  8. I love the idea of using Venn diagrams to find the GCF!

    I teach year five and we spent about ten minutes most days during term one playing 'partner games' to practise multiplication facts. It's definitely paid off as the kids have made amazing improvements. Most of the games are similar to the ones you can find on Cornerstone for Teacher and use dice, cards etc. This term I planning to pre-test one set of tables each week for those kids who are still slow so I can target teach strategies etc. Hope these ideas help a little!

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  10. Thanks for sharing, I was just looking for a fun way to practice finding factors!

  11. Thank you for the awesome ideas!! Where did you get the venn diagram circles?? Love those


  12. Also where did you get magnetic paper - so awesome!!!

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  14. Hi, could you tell me the name of your collapsible hoops, please? I've been looking for some like this for ages and they look fab! Thanks =) Sophie

  15. I was wondering where you got your plastic circles that you use (see factor lesson April 2012). I love all your lessons and want to get some magnetic numbers and plastic circles. Also how many magnetic numbers do you have and where did you get them? Thanks! You are awesome