I had the students solve the problems on this "leaf". I had them write the equation they were working with and writing PEMDAS beside it. As they worked through the problem, they were to mark out the letter they just solved for. Using this acronym helped students to remember the order. Working with PEMDAS was especially confusing with a problem like:
45 - 2 x (15 - 3)
My classes had no problem doing the parentheses operation first, however, then they wanted to jump to the beginning to complete the problem instead of multiplying by 2 THEN going to the beginning. It really opened their eyes as to what the Order of Operations really meant.
Another problem that changed their thinking was:
81 divided by 27 x 6 -2
Since there was no parentheses, they jumped to multiplication (it is the next letter in PEMDAS). What they were having difficulty with was the fact that multiplication and division are EQUAL in the order of operations. You do the one that appears first (in order left to right). This seemed to open some eyes as well!