Category Archives: Fun Things

Making a Clay Armature


I’ve been wanting to try my hand at clay portraiture for a while. I made a bust of myself in high school (the chin exploded in the kiln), but that was 30 years ago.

Here are the instructions for a homemade armature I designed and built. It cost me around $40 and uses materials you can get at most box-store hardware suppliers.

Make an Armature

Update, April 14, 2019

Here is the sculpture I made with the armature. What do you think?


Free Valentine Dot to Dot Puzzle

Please enjoy this Free Valentine dot to dot.

Click the image to download the PDF. Read the directions. Print off the “easy” or “hard” puzzle. Fill in the To: and From: sections. Give it to a special someone for them to solve.

This freebie is a sample of one of my Dottoo Dots skip counting number puzzles. These puzzles have a twist. If you don’t follow the pattern and skip over the extra dots, the picture doesn’t work. Learn or practice skip counting by 2s, starting at 1. Have fun and stay sharp.

A complete set of Valentine-themed Dottoo Dots is available at TeachersPayTeachers.Com, Etsy, and in print form at and



Using Dot to Dots in the Classroom

original-2255295-1Have you been really focused on number sense in your classroom? Are you using number strings, doing number talks, counting around the circle? If so, then you are thinking about numbers, and the relationships between numbers. You are thinking about the patterns made by numbers, and the effect of repeated operations on numbers.

Have you ever considered using dot to dots as another way to play with and explore number?

Maybe not. Typically, they are very simplistic, only a few numbers, rarely going beyond the twenties, and only counting by ones; they are a challenge for only the earliest of learners. However, in the last couple of years, I’ve seen a renaissance in dot to dots, going hand in hand with the colouring book trend. There are a couple of very talented designers/artists out there who have created some brilliant dot puzzles, but they still have their limits as to their use in the classroom.

This past year, I’ve been playing with the puzzle design myself, tweaking the structure and mechanics to make something that teachers can use. My puzzles have several essential differences.

owl easy

First, They skip count by more than just 1s. My puzzles run the gamut from 1s to 10s. This means they help to learn and practice skip counting and growing patterns, and by extension addition and multiplication for almost all the basic facts.

Second, they have different starting points. I have several puzzles that skip by 2s, but some of these start at 1 (1, 3, 5…). Some puzzles skip by 3s, but a few of them start at 1 or 2 (1, 4, 7, 10…; 2, 5, 8, 11…). Solving each number in the sequence in these unfamiliar patterns practices mental addition and number fluency.

Third, there are hard and easy owl hardversions of each puzzle, allowing teachers to differentiate for different children’s knowledge and skill levels. The “easy” version is useful for students who are struggling with the concept of skip counting and need some supports to get to each new number. The “hard” version throws distractions and red herrings onto the page in the form of extra numbers. Students doing a “hard” puzzle must really know how to apply the pattern, or risk connecting the wrong dots and creating an incomprehensible scribble.

If you want a more thorough explanation, I detail how these puzzles work and ways to use them in my Teacher Package, available for free on It explains how to distribute or present the puzzles, tips for differentiating, suggestions for how to tie the puzzles to the number and patterning curriculum, and examples of errors that student might make with the puzzles and what these mistakes might be saying about a child’s skill and knowledge.

Have a look at the Teacher Package or download the free previews for the different Holiday themed collections. Let me know if you try the puzzles with your students and give me feedback about how it went or suggestions you might have.

Dot to Dot Valentine Math

Dottoo Dot Valentine thumb1 2016Here is a sample from my latest dot to dot book, Dottoo Dots Valentine Edition. This collection has 16 different designs, most with two levels of difficulty. They range from counting by 1s all the way to counting by 10s, and they have various start points to increase the challenge.

If you’re looking for a fun way to teach number sense, skip counting and patterning, and pre-algebraic thinking, or if you simply want something fun to do with your class on Valentine’s Day, have a look.

Click this link to go to TeachersPayTeachers.Com to check it out. When you’re there, click the free preview button to get a sample puzzle and the full Teacher Resource that explains how to incorporate dot to dot puzzles into your math instruction and assessment.

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