Ah, spinners. The newest toy designed to drive teachers mad. Pokemon, hackey sacks, digipets, it’s an age-old problem for teachers. The hot toy of the day makes it into the classroom. Schools quickly ban the toy and kids create a black market to sneak it in. Why fight it? Embrace it! Invite those spinners into class as a learning tool!
Here’s 10 easy ways to be the cool teacher:
- Review friction– students find different surfaces around the classroom to spin their spinner. Use timers or cell phones to time how long the spinner spins on various surfaces. Students can then enter their data in Google sheets, and even use the “insert chart” feature to make a line graph of their data.
- Write a persuasive letter– students hate being told, “You’re not allowed”. Have students write a persuasive letter to the powers that be, enumerating all the reasons they should be allowed to have spinners in class.
- Practice vocabulary– (use this sheet) ask students to make small squares labeled 1,2 & 3. Have students tape each number to an arm of the spinner. Choose some vocabulary words. Students then spin their spinner and stick out their pointer finger towards their spinner. Whichever arm stops closest to their pointer finger, is the action from the sheet they will use with their first vocabulary word. Students repeat this process for each vocabulary word.
- Practice spelling– students use the same labels from above. Students then spin the spinner, whichever number their pointer finger points to, their partner has to write spelling sentences with multiples of the number that was spun. If I spun a 3, my partner would have to write sentences for spelling words #3, 6, 9, 12, 15, & 18. If they spin a 1, the partner writes spelling sentences for #1-8. Then switch, and have the partner do the same.
- Multiplication practice– Are your students studying 1×1 digit multiplication, 2×2, or maybe 3x? Ask students to create three labels for their spinner. They can choose their own numbers, but they should correlate to the number of digits they are practicing. If you are studying 1×2 or 2×3, ask one partner to choose 2 digit numbers and the other partner to choose 3 digit numbers. Tape the labels to each arm of the spinner. Partners point at each other’s spinner. They take each number that they spun and pair them together to practice multiplication. Repeat.
- Division practice– students again choose their own labels for their spinner. Students can practice in small group, with one student making numbers for the divisor, and the rest making numbers for the divisor or quotient. Everyone spins at the same time. The group must use the divisor from the one student. That student may choose which dividend they want to use. Everyone uses the divisor to solve for the number they spun. Once they have gone through all their numbers, have them switch spinners clockwise.
- Revise & redesign– Ask students, “Where will a spinner not spin?” Can students redesign a spinner to spin better? Ask students to design a better spinner. Have them draw up plans, diagram it, and even create an advertisement. Then, put their plans into action. Provide basic supplies: Popsicle sticks, jewel cases, old CD’s, aluminum foil, brads, paper clips, etc. Allow students to create their design and demonstrate at a “Spin-off”.
- Fraction comparison– students label their spinner with three labels, this time fractions. Students tape their labels to their spinners. Students then go around the class, spinning their spinner and partnering up to compare their fractions. They choose a new partner for each spin. Students can even keep tally of the number of times their fraction was the largest.
- Random name generator– use word art to make a page with everyone’s name. Attach a paper arrow to one of the spinner’s arms. Then place the spinner in the center of the circle and spin. The class will love this new take on an old favorite.
- Reading with purpose– Find the history of the spinner here and its original purpose. Great article, but there are many ads. The article also mentions toys of the past.