Using Tickets in Math Class

Raffle tickets are a great way to practice math skills in the classroom, but did you know they can be a great management tool, too? Today I want to share with you how I have used math tickets in my 2nd and 3rd grade classroom.

Spring was always an interesting time of the school year for me. The students were growing by leaps and bounds, but they also became a little too comfortable in the classroom which meant stopping to review procedures and practice routines more often. This combination was one of the reasons I loved using tickets during my math block for both skill practice AND management.

Raffle tickets were a great choice because they could be found in many stores or even online. I always bought the double-roll tickets so that I had the matching ticket to every ticket I handed out. My raffle tickets always lasted a long time because they came in large quantities. This meant I didn't have to spend a ton of money on them. The tickets also came in a wide variety of numbers and colors so I could easily differentiate for my students.

In order to practice math skills, my students needed to have tickets. So on the day I introduced math tickets, I gave each student several so we could start using them right away. As students earned tickets, they would write their name on the back. One ticket went in their bag and the other went in my bucket. I did this for two reasons: It discouraged ticket thieves and when a ticket was found on the floor, students could return it to the rightful owner.


There are so many math skills you can practice with tickets. Tickets also make it easy to differentiate because you can teach your students to cross out part of the numbers to match their particular skill level. Here are just some of the skills we practiced with our math tickets:

Reading Numbers
I would randomly draw a ticket from my bucket and read the number aloud.
Who has 4,526?
Students had to read the numbers on their tickets to see if they had a match. When a student did have a match, he would read the number back to me out loud.

Place Value
I would randomly draw a ticket and read it like a place value riddle.
My ticket has a 6 in the tens place. It has a 3 in the hundreds place. I see a 4 in the ones place. What is my number?

Comparing Numbers Using >, <, or =
I would partner my students for this activity and set a timer for 3-5 minutes. Both students would draw one ticket out of their bag. They compared the numbers using >, <, or = and then placed the tickets back into their bag. They repeated this process until the time was up.

Ordering Numbers
I would ask my students to pull three tickets out of their bags and put their tickets in order from smallest to largest or largest to smallest on their desk. Then they would turn and read their numbers to a neighbor.

Adding and Subtracting
Second and third graders always needed practice adding and subtracting. I would ask my students to draw two tickets out of their bag and either add or subtract them using their whiteboards. Some students worked with 2-digit numbers, while others were ready for 3-digit numbers (or higher).

For older students, tickets could easily be used for fractions and probability. Students could also add decimal points to the numbers on their tickets.

Now that I've shared a little bit about how I used tickets to practice math skills, let me tell you how I used them as a classroom management tool.

At the end of math class each day I would plan to draw three tickets. The number of tickets drawn would increase or decrease based upon student behavior during class.

When a ticket was drawn, I would first check the name on the back. I did this for two reasons. First, if the student was absent, I would put the ticket back in the bucket and draw again.  Second, it told me who to keep my eye on as the students checked their tickets. After looking at the name, I would read the number out loud, repeating, as needed. This helped model the correct reading of the number before a student repeated the number back to me. Once a ticket was claimed, both copies of the ticket were ripped and recycled. The student then earned a new ticket and a reward. In my classroom this meant $1 of classroom money. If a ticket was not claimed, it went into the recycling bin.

Once I began using tickets, I found that students wanted to earn more tickets....A LOT of tickets! They realized that the more tickets they had, the better their chances were to have a ticket drawn. They also noticed that the numbers on the tickets were getting bigger and students LOVED having large numbers at their fingertips. I used this to my advantage.

I would walk around with a stack of tickets and pass them out when I saw students making good choices (staying on task, cleaning up math games carefully, using the right voice level when working with a partner, etc). This really motivated my students, but sometimes that wasn't enough. That's when I tried something a co-worker shared with me.

When my students were having a really hard time making good choices, I would make a really big deal of picking up the ticket bucket in front of the whole class. I would reach in and blindly grab a ticket (or two). Then I would rip it into tiny pieces. I never announced which ticket number it was, but the students realized it could have been theirs and it quickly turned things around.

So, if you have a stack or roll of tickets lying around, grab them and put them to use!

Happy Teaching!

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Ready, Freddy Chapter Book Series

Are you looking for a new chapter book series your first and second graders will enjoy? Take a look at the Ready, Freddy series by Abby Klein. Today I want to share a few ways I use these chapter books with my students.

I find that my students love reading about Freddy Thresher and his classmates because Abby Klein has used her own classroom teaching experience to develop characters that bring real-life humor and problems to each of her stories that my students can relate to. Freddy begins the series as a first grader and eventually the series follows him to second grade. To learn more about Freddy and the series, you can grab this helpful guide from Scholastic.

Like many teachers, I use a variety of texts during guided reading, including chapter books. From time to time, I will also do Book Buddies. This is where I take my small group of students and divide them into pairs. They might all be reading different books, but all of the books will be from the same reading series so there are obvious comparisons to be made during group discussion. The Ready, Freddy books are perfect for Book Buddies, especially with the help of these flip books:

As the students read, they can record what they learn about Freddy. By discussing the character traits and evidence during group time, students begin to see the similarities of Freddy throughout the series. 

Freddy faces a new problem in each story so I do have students identify the problem and solution.  As we discuss the problem and solution in each story, students begin to see similarities in how Freddy approaches a problem and eventually finds a solution.

If your students have brothers or sisters, they will certainly relate to the relationship between Freddy and his older sister, Suzie. In each story, Freddy finds himself in trouble and Suzie always manages to help him....for a price. I love to call this "Let's Make a Deal" and the students can't wait to find out what Suzie will make Freddy do!

Another thing your students will quickly learn is that Freddy Thresher loves sharks! Not only will your students find shark facts at the end of each story, but each illustration has the word FIN hidden inside. Fin Finder is a great way to engage your students with the illustrations!

Now, because Freddy Thresher loves sharks, a shark booklet can be a lot of fun! I have actually created two different styles of shark craft booklets for this series.

The first shark craft booklet can be used just like the flip book because it has ready-made response templates. It also has a blank page, a lined writing page, and a picture/writing combination page if you want to add your own types of reading responses along the way.

The second booklet offers a different style of shark. This booklet is a completely open-ended response booklet. There is a blank page, a lined writing page, and a picture/writing combination page.  I use these shark craft booklets for vocabulary words, questions, making connections, character comparisons, and more!

If you are fortunate enough to have multiple copies of a book from the Ready, Freddy series, I also have book companions with specific chapter-by-chapter comprehension checks. You can find those book companions here.

Do you have a favorite Ready, Freddy chapter book? I'd love to hear which book your students enjoy the most.

Happy Reading!

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Spelling Resources (with a Free Sample)

Students need time to practice their spelling words in class. By having a large number of activities to offer, you can avoid falling into the spelling rut! My spelling packs have recently been updated with new activities and I wanted to share those with you today.

Graph Your Words - students count the number of letters in each spelling word and create a bar graph of the data. You can either type the spelling list onto the paper before printing, or have the students add their spelling words prior to graphing.

Hidden Words - students write their spelling words in white crayon. A partner uses colored pencils or markers to reveal the hidden words.

Growing Words - another twist on the three times each practice. Students write their words a little bigger each time. There is also a version called Shrinking Words where the spelling words get a little smaller each time.

Super Spelling Sentences - this activity encourages students to combine a mixture of spelling words into one sentence. After writing the sentence, students will illustrate and circle the number of spelling words used in each sentence.

 All Mixed Up - students will write their spelling words into the circles so the letters are all mixed up. A partner must work to unscramble the spelling word and write it below the circle.

3 Different Colors - this puts a fun spin on the traditional three times each spelling practice. 
You can read more about how I organize spelling activities in my classroom and how I have used spelling folders here.

Not only have my spelling packs received new activities, but there is now a pack for 16 spelling words for my friends that use Journeys. You can find all of my spelling packs here. You can even grab a FREE sample that includes Graph Your Words and Super Spelling Sentences!

Happy Teaching!

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