Although not my original idea (and I have no idea where I first saw this, so if it's your original idea, please let me know so I can give you credit!),
this activity is one of my class' favorites!
Every day, I display the number of the day on the board using these cards.
Students enter the room in the morning and before they do anything else, they are expected to create some sort of mathematical equation or model to represent the number of the day.
(Image is linked to the PDF download of "The answer is" cards 1-31)
I love the differentiation this provides as some students are ready for more complex equations while other students are only able to represent the number of the day using a plus or minus 0 or 1.
We begin our day with small reading groups and then move right into math time. Our discussion of these representations of the number of the day is our transition into math time. We discuss each equation/model and determine if it is reasonable or not (yes, I use the terms reasonable or unreasonable - so do my monsters!). My students are able to explain their thinking and why a representation is or is not reasonable.
It's a great little activity that takes less than 5-10 minutes of my math time and has increased my students' ability to reason and speak mathematically.
That's why this activity is this week's Friday Favorite! :)
I'll be much happier after our district math meeting today. My stomach has been in knots since 5:15 when I woke up. It's going to be very different from our usual meetings and I really, really, hope that it goes well.