I am so excited to tell you about my shoebox algebra function machine.  I heard about making function machines out of shoeboxes and thought, I need to try this and see how my students like it.   I got an orange Nike shoebox and cut a slit in the top and another slit in the side.  I  made number cards on my computer and slapped a few machine-like decorations onto the outside of the box.  I taught my students how to make input/output tables and then put the function machine into action.

I absolutely couldn’t believe the response of this high-tech generation!  It floored me!  The students used their whiteboards to create input/output tables and recorded what went into the function machine and what came out.  I called them up to put a card in the top of the machine.  After they put the card in and pushed the button a card popped out the side of the machine.  A card, I might add, that was hand pushed out by me while I made a beeping sound.  The kids could totally see that I was creating all the action.  It was obvious,  I was sitting right behind the box and they could hear me making the noises, but they LOVED it.

Every class since then has loved it.  Every time I pull out the function machine I have 100% participation.  All hands are up, all students are recording on their charts and everyone wants to figure out the pattern!  I have  had teacher friends borrow my function machine and had them report the same thing!  I also have the best funny story from a student that relates to the function machine.   I called up a student to put a card in the function machine, as she was putting in the card, she leaned over and whispered to me, “I know that it is you that is making the function machine work.”  It took everything I had not to crack up right then.

I highly encourage you to find an old shoebox and make your own classroom function machine.  If you are interested, I do have a product in my store that helps make the process  pretty easy.  Your students will love it!

Here is my newest model, but I still have my orange box!
Here is my newest model, but I still have my orange box!

Carey Bonifas