Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Pool Noodles, Wonka Bars & Place Value!

Happy Hump Day! I am so excited to share what we have been doing with place value. This concept is always a killer for my little first graders, so I was so happy to find some new resources and even MORE happy that they have been a super success!

See, my kids always get the "rote memorization" part of place value in knowing the tens and ones place, etc.. but the truth that they don't actually GET it always rears its ugly head.  With such a huge emphasis on place value with the common core, I wanted to try some fun and new things & it was awesome! :)

First, I came across this fabulous & fun idea from Mr. Smith at  If you have never watched his videos, he is HILARIOUS & I just wish I had him as my first grade teacher . . . or any grade level teacher for that matter.  Truthfully, I just wish we were friends ~ he makes me laugh in every video.

Anyway, I tend to get distracted . . . sorry!  Here is the video that started it all :
So, I went to the Dollar Tree & bought TEN pool noodles.  The green ones were cut in 1/2 for "tens" and the blue ones were cut into pieces to make the "ones".

I called the class to the carpet for whole group & we sat in a circle. Each kid picked a number & I wrote it on a white board. Then, they had to make the # using the noodle tens & ones.  They went NUTS!!  Seriously, the kids had a blast.

And not one single kid turned their noodle into a light saber, sword, or stick. SUCCESS!

Then, another from Teacher Tipster, I came in one morning wearing a soldier's hat & we "did" this song :)
I have to admit, Mr. Smith does it WAY better than I did, but you know first graders, they ate it up!  It's amazing how funny they think you are when you act so silly.

We have to use the Learning Focused E.A.T.S format for our lessons, so this was the A - Activator :)

Then, we cut up straws to be kinda like our pool noodle game & the kids had to make their own numbers and glue them down.

Throughout the week, we used a lot of different manipulatives to build numbers & reinforce the concept.

Then, the last thing we did was Willy Wonka Bar Place Value.  When I say the kids LOVED this, I promise you it's an understatement.  I got this idea from Katie at I Want to be a Super Teacher. She teaches 3rd grade ( I think?) so I had to level it down just a bit. 

I told the kids that today they were going to be working in a candy factory just like Willy Wonka's. Each table was given a stack of brown "ones" or chocolate candies.  Because they work in a factory, they had to stamp each candy with a "W" for Wonka (or my last name . . . they liked that part). I played the Oompa Loompa music (on repeat for about 10 minutes) and the kids had to stamp (write) on each candy.  When the time was up, they had all their candies (ones) on their desk & each kid had a different amount. YouTube has just the song on their website.

(yay for my Promethean Board!)

Then, I explained that our job at the factory was to make candy bars.  Each bar was made up of TEN candies.

I put sentence strips on each table & of different colors .  Orange  = peanut butter & chocolate bars. Green = mint chocolate chip.  Yellow = lemon chocolate (eww! their idea). And, pink = strawberry chocolate bars (again, eww).

They knew they could only put TEN candies on each bar because all the candy bars have to be the same size, just like the ones we buy at the store.  When they had used up all their candies, the "ones" we have left couldn't be glued down, but would be sold as "candies".  I put the song back on ( they were so cute singing "Oompa loompa...dippity dooooo....") & they went to work!

 I walked around and acted like their boss, which they thought was funny. One kid said "keep working! We don't wanna get fired!".  Which is funny, but maybe not?! Hmm. . . Anyway . . .
Then, the kids had to make a "poster" that would go in a window of the store to show what they had to sell. It's not much, but I made it on the fly & it worked for this.  I stapled their candy bars & their candies to their poster & we hung them in the hallway under our "Wonka Store" front :)

The kids had so much fun & I just loved all the ideas I found on the blogs.  I hope you enjoyed our unit & you check out Teacher Tipster & I Want to be a Super Teacher.  :)

I'm almost to 200 followers, so I'm trying to come up with an October (fingers crossed!) giveaway. Keep on the lookout & as always, thanks for stopping by!!! :)


  1. That sounds like so much fun! I want to be in your class :)

    A Place to Thrive

  2. Oh my--I LOVE this post. How awesome are pool noodles! what can I do in Kindergarten with pool noodles...??? We decompose and compose numbers 11-19...I may have to run to the Dollar Tree. Thanks for the ideas!

  3. I love these ideas!! Definitely going to use them all soon! :)

  4. I love this post, too. My kids are having a tough time with place value this year. Thanks!
    First with Franklin

  5. This is SO fun! Can't wait to try it!


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