Memory games + a love/hate relationship with the laminator

Students in Algebra play Scientific Notation Memory game
I’ve really been trying to come up with new activities for my classes. I don’t think I worksheet them to death or anything, but I do want them to come to math class everyday wondering what new thing they’re going to get to do. Some days are notes and straight up learning. Some days are all review. And some days there’s a perfect balance of new learning and activity that go hand in hand.
So technically scientific notation is not “new” learning for these guys. Or at least it shouldn’t be. But since we switched to common core in the middle of the year, and it’s officially an 8th grade standard now, I felt I needed to throw some sci no review into our polynomials unit. Scientific notation and exponents fit nicely into the beginning of polynomials, I feel. And my kids seem to have a good grasp on scientific notation right now, though we’re still struggling with nailing down those exponents. 
The Memory game was easy to make in InDesign. I made two versions. The blue, pictured above, is the beginner game, where all problems can be simplified by the kids in their heads. Things like 8 x 10^5 and such. The advanced decks are printed on orange and require some scratch paper because they consist of multiplication of expressions in scientific notation. And while it looks like you can see through to the other side, one of my kiddos quickly discovered the backs actually just picked up some of the ink from other cards while they were in a pile waiting to be laminated.
Speaking of lamination, let’s talk pros and cons. While I really like seeing these cards all nice and slick looking on the tables, the days of work to cut them out is kind of a pain. And I don’t even cut them out. My minions do. 
algebra memory game scientific notation
Anyway, I seriously had kids on the floor in the back of every class for two days cutting those things out. They love it, but I don’t love the constant mess and how seriously long it takes to prep for one activity. And with 8th graders, there’s no guarantee that even lamination is going to save these cards for next year’s kiddos. I’ve found myself much more often forgoing the lamination and just printing on card stock, sending a kid to the chopper to slice them out unevenly (perfection is overrated in 8th grade), and just warning the kids in each class that they have to last all day. And they always do, though they’re definitely more worse for the wear at the end of that 4th mod. Then I just toss them in the recycle bin. No storage. No planning weeks ahead to send them off to the laminator (ours isn’t on our campus). No planning days ahead for minions to cut them out. 
To sum up, laminating is overrated. But it’s so pretty and shiny! But it’s time consuming. Bleh. I guess I’ll keep my love/hate relationship with it for now.
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