Transfer of skills is the best way to see if students are understanding various concepts in class. This past week, which was the last week before spring break, we had just finished up a unit in math and with only two units left, I knew it would be a good time to review things we have learned.
I came up with the idea of doing a small math economy with my first graders. While I already had some ideas of what I would want to see happen, I wanted to get ideas from my students. Involving students with the development of activities creates more buy-in and gets the more excited about participating. I have to say that I have never seen my students so excited to do something in math.
We did this for three days and students had a different job each day. At the end of the first day, I asked my students what they thought of math for that day. The response from them was "That was math? That was so fun and awesome." It makes me feel great as an educator when students are applying their skills and have fun at the same time.
To have them prepare for the math economy, I told the students that they had to take some exams to see which job they would qualify for and that when they are older, they will take other tests to prepare them for their future. They completed small assessments so that I could have more data on their skills and the areas they might need more support. The first day I had them in jobs where they could continue to work on their areas of need.
The first grade math economy involves a lot of different jobs that require students to show their knowledge. Each of these jobs connects to another job. The jobs are as follows:
As you can see from the jobs above, the banker is also the tax collector. I wanted each of the jobs to stay busy throughout the math economy. The teacher is going to be a manager who oversees all of the different jobs, but also the person who grades the timed tests and telling time sheets. I do this because I can easily grade these worksheets and keep students moving and engaged throughout the process.
Attached are resources you might need for all jobs, except farmers and factory workers, at the bottom of this post. I didn't include these resources since I simply found addition/subtraction and telling time worksheets online and printed them out. You can easily find these types of worksheets from an online search.
I did make an adjustment with this activity. While I did create smoothie recipes, I did not use them with my students and just had them buy as much fruit as they could within the math period. You could see how many recipes they would create at the end, but with every classroom, you make adjustments based off your students.
This can also be connected to many other real-life scenarios. You can have discussions about how all the jobs are connected, supply and demand, and why prices were cheaper at the farms compared to the stores. I tried to talk about each of these things at the end of each day as a way for students to make those connections with their learning.
Hopefully you try it out with your students. Please comment or tweet me and let me know how it goes with your students.