Being a primary teacher who has found herself in “4th grade land,” I have a hard time letting go of some of the activities I used to do. I have always made the last day before Spring Break a memorable event with my second graders and I wanted to do the same for my 4th graders. This is when I decided I would mix a little algebra into an egg hunt. How did I do that? Read on and I will do my best to explain.
First off, I have to confess the QR code hunt wasn’t my idea. As all teachers are, I am an idea bandit. This lesson was inspired by a 5th grade teacher, Lisa Highfill. She did a QR code scavenger hunt with her class, but her algebra equations were a bit more challenging than ours (using negative numbers). If you aren’t following Lisa on Twitter yet, you are missing out. So stop reading for just one second and start following her.
A lot of pre-teaching came with this lesson. We just finished a unit learning about coordinate grids and finding ordered pairs.
Here is how my class and I created the QR Code Egg Hunt:
One student turned the map of our school into an (x,y) coordinate grid. He used a ruler and labeled the x axis and y axis.
After school, I looked over the grid map and selected several locations (ordered pairs). Then I went outside with a student iPod and checked to ensure there was a wifi signal in those locations. If there isn’t a signal, then students will not be able to follow the link with the QR code. Also, I picked locations where I could easily see the majority of the groups while they were on their hunt. I didn’t pick any areas that would be unsafe like in front of the school. My students called these areas on the map the “unknown regions” (in reference to our read aloud The City of Ember).
On Day 2, I made copies of the grid map. During math class, each group of 4 students was assigned one location. I gave each group a folder with the map with one location on it. They had to collaborate to create two equations: one to solve x, then one to solve for x and y. Here is an example:
- A group was given the location: (7, 5) so they made the following equations:
- y = 4x – 23
- Solve this to find x: x = (2 x 3) + 1
- These equations would give them the ordered pair: (7, 5)
Also, just for fun, I had each group add a funny Spring time joke. My favorite joke they found was:
What does the Easter bunny get when he makes a basket?
Answer: 2 points! Just like anyone else!
After school, I reviewed each groups’ equation for accuracy. Then I created a Google Doc for each equation. I titled each Doc “Location 1-2,” “Location 2-3,” etc. The 1-2 means, Location 1 which leads to location 2. In addition (and this is important), I made it so each Google Doc could be shared with anyone with the link. Do this by going into “Share” and simply change who has access. I also added the joke to each teams location. The answer for each joke was found at the next location.
Here is an example of one of the Docs:
Follow this link.
Then I made a QR code for each Doc. I used a free QR generator that I found simply by doing a Google search. I used: http://www.qrstuff.com
Here is an example of a QR Code:
Creating a QR code is easy, simply copy and paste the URL of each Doc into the link window on the QRstuff.com webpage. Then you can download the QR code and add it to a different Doc. I titled each QR code with the location (on the Doc). Then print the Doc with the codes. I printed the codes on colorful cardstock paper. Then I cut the QR code paper into the shape of an egg. They are now officially QR eggs.
Another great tip is to recruit help. Since I was going to be unleashing 31 4th graders onto the campus at once, I needed more adults to monitor students behavior and to help if there were any glitches. I recruited a parent, our coach, and our principal.
Before school, I made sure my students had the RL Classic app on their iPods. Also, I went around school and hid the QR eggs. Some were hidden below benches, some were hidden high, some were hidden low. As I hid each QR egg, I checked that the code worked using a student iPod.
During math class, the class and I spent some time reviewing how to capture the QR code and how the RL Classic app works.Each student was given a map of the school and a page to do their scratch work. We spent some time reviewing the map as well. We colored parts of the map so my students had a better idea where things were located on the map. We colored the quad area green, our classroom red, the MPR room blue, and we colored the “unknown regions” black.
Before sending my students out of the classroom to begin, I went over ground rules. No running, use classroom voices in the hallways, and I told them that no QR eggs were hidden inside (except for the office). I wish I had really explained that they HAD to go in order. That if they happened upon a QR code on their way to their next location, that they needed to keep going to their location they just found by solving the equations. In addition, I explained how this is a team activity and each team member had to complete the equations. All team members had to agree upon the answer for their next location before they could move on. Most groups took this step very seriously. They had great conversations while they solved the problems. They helped each other when someone got a different answer. I was very impressed with how well they supported each other throughout this activity.
Then finally it was time, students were sent out to their first location (the one they created their equations for). I had to make sure that their start location led them to the next location. In other words, their assigned location did not have their equations. Students were sent all about the campus. Solving the first few equations were the most difficult, but they quickly caught on. Every single group was able to find each of the hidden QR eggs, do a bit of algebra, and have FUN. I believe that I have created a new tradition to help make 4th grade memorable for my students!
Here are some student quotes I collected throughout the lesson:
“I really get it now! I get how to find both x and y!”
“That was so cool! We got to watch the kindergartners go on their egg hunt, while we solved math problems to find our eggs!”
“It’s funny how our table group usually doesn’t get along, but during the egg hunt we really came together!”
“That was so much fun. Next time hide them harder!”