"Apple Orchard" Balloon Math

"Apple Orchard" Balloon Math

Apple Orchard Math using balloons and multiplication and division facts.

At present in third grade, we are learning our basic multiplication facts.   Rote kill and drill type activities, though having their place at times, can be become a bit monotonous for the kids.  So I thought I would spice it up with a little get-up-and-move-around activity!

Now, I first saw a completely different version of this from Kevin Butler.  He teaches 5th grade and was having his students round by finding balloon pigs around his classroom.  I was inspired to change this up, AND match the apple theme we had going with Johnny Appleseed Day, and created this Apple Orchard Math!

The basic premise was that the kids were apple farmers.   The apples (in this case, balloons) had fallen off of the trees and needed to be replaced.   

To move this story along, and prepare for the activity, around the classroom, I taped 7 different empty trees to the walls.  The trees each had a number on them, 2 though 5.   For each tree, I blew up 10 balloons.  Those balloons then had a multiplication or division sentence written on it.   Each number sentence had a missing factor, product, divisor, or dividend.  That missing number corresponded to the number that was written on the tree.  

Differentiated worksheets for

To differentiate and make things a bit easier for everyone, I blew up red, yellow, and green balloons.  Each tree only had ONE color of balloon that fell off.  The students were given a recording sheet that was copied on either red/pink, yellow, or green paper.  They then knew that the only apples they were looking for we of that color.  It helped to keep things a bit less complicated when the kids were looking for their fallen apples.  

Once the stage was set, I broke the students into predetermined groups.  Those who were below benchmark were given the easier 2 tables.  Those who were more advanced in their knowledge of the tables were assigned  the 4 tree, which would have all of the 4 tables.  I explained the scenario to them and told them that they were looking for the missing number that corresponded to the number on their tree.  The only balloon apples they could tape to their trees were those that had the answer they were looking for. 

Writing multiplication and division number sentences with missing pieces for students to solve in Apple Orchard Math

The students understood the main premise and were off.   They immediately started picking up balloons from the ground, tried figuring out the missing piece, and either threw the apple balloon back on the ground or taped it up to their tree.  They wrote the number sentence on their paper and moved on.  

Using differentiated math fact practice in 3rd grade with a fun, move around activity!

As an added bonus, I wrote one letter on each apple.  The letters, when unscrambled, formed a word (applesauce)  This was just one more fun element to add AND had the added bonus of helping them to see that their balloon choices/number sentences were correct. 

All in all, my kids had a blast doing this.  It was simple enough for them to understand and the balloons added a really fun element to it all.  They were laughing and keeping on task.  They were all really focused while still adhering to the challenge at hand.  I can't wait to see how I can adapt this to other units!

If you would like to hear how I did this in video form, you can find my instagram stories saved in my highlights here.  If you missed the link above, you can access the printable worksheets I used here.  

How can you adapt this to your own classroom learning?

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