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Do You Need Some More Math Activities for Math Night?

Take a look at these exciting photos of our recent Family Math Night.  Originally we had scheduled Family Math Night on the 100th Day of school to build more momentum for the event, but we had to reschedule Math Night due to weather.  I’m mainly including activities that we hadn’t done before, and I will include links to former math nights so you can get even MORE ideas!

To start, tables with parent information were set up in the hallway.  The more inviting and fun student tables were set up inside the cafeteria.

Since many parents are unfamiliar with ten frames (I had never heard of them until I had started teaching), we had a table informing them of how ten frames work.



Then we had an information table showing the parents of 2nd and 3rd graders addition and subtraction strategies.  Parents even had an opportunity to see how base ten blocks were used to do regrouping.




Here is a station explaining to parents how Reflex Math works.  We had a laptop set up to show parents Reflex Math from a kid’s perspective.MathNight2014Blog-43

One teacher put together game packets for parents to play math games with their children at home.



Now it’s time for the fun stuff!

Below you will see beach balls with math facts written all over them using Sharpie permanent markers.  When someone catches the ball, the right thumb’s landing spot determines the math fact that must be answered.   We had large beach balls for the kids to play with and small ones for them to take home.  We ordered the beach balls from Oriental Trading Company.


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How many books will it take for YOU to weigh 100 pounds?  That is the question that students had to answer when they stopped at this station.  Students estimated how many heavy encyclopedias it would take for them to weigh 100 pounds.  Having experiences with measurement is the best way for students to make reasonable estimates with measurement.



Uh-oh!  Looks like he picked up too many books, but he’s close!

Fractions beckoned to students’ interests under the guise of a messy pudding party.  Students had to measure out two cups of milk without using a 1 cup measuring cup.  They had to use ½, ⅓, or ¼  measuring cup .  Doing so made them repeat these measurements until they had milk equivalent to 2 cups.MathNight2014Blog-4

What is Math Night without estimation stations?


I have done estimation stations every year we have had Math Night, but I wanted to do a little something different this year.

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Instead of just having the estimation jar, ziploc baggies were placed in front of the jars with 10 of the candy item inside.  This helped students make more precise estimates.  I also had a wild idea about gluing base ten blocks together to see who could come the closest to estimating the total of the blocks in a base ten tower.


How many are in this base ten structure?  Can you guess?

(above) I know the tower looks more like the leaning tower of Pisa than anything of mathematical value–it looks like a hot mess–a hot glue gun mess ;).   What can I say…I think I should pose like one of Charlie’s Angels with my hot glue gun!

(below) Making 10 groups of 10 was a kid favorite last year and remained a kid favorite this year.  Kids took small food items and grouped them on a mat.  They got to eat their 10 groups of 10/100 items when they had filled up their mat! Yummy!




(below) Where did Freddy the Frog land on the hundred’s chart?  These kids played Toss and Guess, a game with a giant hundreds chart grid and a beanbag–in this case a bean bag frog.  The idea for the grid and the Toss and Guess game came from The Learning Carpet.  Kids received prizes when they guessed where the frog landed correctly.


Below is my absolute favorite booth of all booths!  How many hulas can you hoop?  Students hula hooped until they could hula no more.  Then they counted their hulas and wrote the total of their hulas on a piece of paper.   They stuck this paper to the wall so other students could compete with the highest total.  The two hula hoopers with the greatest number of hulas won a hula hoop!

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The following made the evening worth while.  This parent solved math problems with her Pre-K student.  She helped him count on her fingers!  This embodied the goal of the whole evening–helping parents connect to their children through mathematical thinking!

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 If you liked this post about Math Night, you might also like Math Night from 2012 and 2013…







 I hope these posts inspire you to make your math night fun!

Angles in the Bathroom?

In response to the poor scores on a recent geometry quiz, I took advantage of the prime real estate near the bathrooms.  Students in this particular class pass this area often, so why not put some geometry review in their path?  I made good use of a roll of painter’s tape by making types of lines and angles all around the bathroom entrances and water fountains.



The yellow sign below says to identify the figures and tells students to check the answer key to see if they are correct.




Then in an easily accessible place outside of the bathroom, I placed an answer key for students to check themselvesAnswerKeyCover

Underneath the cover are the answers…


I had more types of lines posted than are pictured above, but I thought a few of the pictures would give you the idea.  I’ve already seen kids looking to check their work on their way down the hallway.  🙂

If you remember from one of my previous posts, then you will remember I have a weighing station outside the bathroom.  I also have a location for students to measure their own height with a measuring tape.  I still see students stop by occasionally to measure themselves.  I had one with a sideways grin tell me today, “I’m 47 inches.”

I hope this inspires you to do something similar with your students!

How Can You Fit Estimation in All the Time?

Before the walls are completely cleaned off for the end of school, I snapped a few pictures of the things I hung up around school to help students estimate and measure all the time. Maybe these will give you some ideas that you can incorporate in your school or classroom.

I placed a scale near the restrooms so that students could weigh themselves in kilograms. Students needed extra experience weighing themselves with kilograms since that unit isn’t common for us in the U.S. Most digital scales you can buy now have a switch on the back that will convert weight to pounds or kilograms. Just check the box before you buy one.


I also had multiple rulers and yardsticks hot glued to the wall so that students could estimate the length of walls as they stood in line waiting. Here is one of the walls that I had a yardstick glued to. Unfortunately I waited till the end of the year to snap a picture and the sign is a bit tattered , but you get the idea.

Do You Need an Idea for Family Math Night?

As promised, here are a few snapshots of our Family Math Event/100th Day of School Celebration!

Students built number bonds with Legos, and got to take a few Legos home!


Students built 10 groups of 10 to make 100 with different small food items.  This was one of kids’ favorites since food was involved!

As you can see in the picture above, this is one of the staff members that dressed up like she was 100 years old.  She said she got her whole outfit at Good Will for $4 with the exception of her wig from Party City.

Students played Race to 100 on the 100’s chart with dice.  They rolled and added the number that they rolled each time on their 100’s chart.

Double dice subtraction is a game idea taken from the Georgia Department of Education resources.

How creative!  This teacher made a multiplication/division edition of chutes and ladders complete with spinner.  Kids loved this activity.

Kids flocked to this booth where they made chocolate chip cookie dough.  Students mixed up the dough in a gallon baggie to prevent mess.  The math was in the measuring cups fractions.  They had to figure out how many small measuring cups to use in lieu of the larger cup sizes.  For example, if the recipe calls for a cup and a half of flour, how many times will you have to fill a 1/4 measuring cup?


We can’t forget the Estimation Station!  The closest guesser got to go home with the jar including candy!  We gave away five jars.

One of my personal favorites…maybe because it was my idea ;), is the 100 scavenger hunt.  Students had to find index cards hidden around the cafeteria.  Each card had an equation, but only some of the equations equaled 100.  If the equation made 100, students could then bring it to the scavenger hunt booth for a prize.


Students used different fruits and vegetables to equal up to a pound in this next picture after first estimating.

At the probability booth students used fractions to predict the chances of landing on a variety of spinners.  Students got to take home their own spinners.

We also had a technology table where students got to play math games on our schools mini laptops.

Moe’s Southwest grill kindly donated tortilla chips for us to have nachos!  And, the church next door to our school kindly donated lemonade!  We also got plastic sacks donated to us from a nearby restaurant so that students had a bag in which to place all of their take home math activities.

The kids went home with smiles!

Do Your Students Mix Up Area and Perimeter? Try This…

Seeing the same problem, students continuing to mix up area and perimeter questions, reoccur with our 4th and 5th grade students on their unit tests, we decided to try something new to help them differentiate between the two.  With the questions already cut out, we took all of the released area and perimeter questions from our previous state tests and had students do a sort with them.  Pairs of students sorted the questions underneath an area or perimeter heading.  To add a little challenge to the activity, we added some volume, capacity, weight, multiplication, and division questions without telling them that these questions weren’t area or perimeter.  As teachers, we learned during the students’ sort that students were thinking of area as the space inside of anything so that they were confusing volume and capacity with area.  This led to students gaining a deeper understanding of the meaning of area.  The students also learned from one another as Bloom’s higher order thinking on the evaluation level was in place.  Students had to discuss each question and agree or disagree with one another about the decision to place it underneath a heading.   See below for a look at our activity.

Area Perimeter Card Sort


Try These Compelling Fall Pumpkin Activities…

I so look forward to a crisp fall day after the humid triple digit temperatures we have had in the south.  I am already wanting to hang my fall wreath on the door!  Maybe it will hasten fall weather. 🙂  With the fall weather I always think of this pumpkin unit I taught with my precious third graders in which the students all did math investigations with pumpkins.  The following are pictures of the activities we did with the unit.  I also made the lessons  available on Teachers Pay Teachers.  I added one lesson to it –pumpkin lines– to make it a full week unit.  We measured pumpkin’s weight, circumference, height, and counted the seeds (eeew so messy, but fun!)  Take a look below.


Body Benchmarks: Inch Thumbs


Pumpkin Height


Doing Pumpkin Calculations from "Pumpkin Patch Math Investigations"




Counting seeds


Making Arrays to Count Pumpkin Seeds


Pumpkin Seed Arrays


Total Counted Seeds from One Pumpkin




Make Pounds and Ounces Comprehensible to Your Students

  • To help students make reasonable estimates with any type of measurement including weight, students must have experiences measuring items that are common to them.  For example, when teaching students how heavy a pound or ounce is, allow them to hold a small bag of sugar for a pound and a square of baking chocolate for an ounce.  Have students predict how many baking chocolate squares (ounces) it will take to make a bag of sugar (pound).  Then place one ounce on the scale at a time for students to see.  When you are halfway to a pound stop and ask the students if they wish to change their predictions.
  • Notes:  When students only hold the standard metal measurements that come with balance beam scales, they tend to have a skewed view of how heavy a pound or ounce is since the metal is so dense.   When you are looking for a pound of sugar in the baking aisle, the normal granulated sugar isn’t typically sold in a one pound bag.  However, you can buy a small pound of  sugar in a box to represent one pound.   These are the only items in the grocery store that I have found to weigh exactly one pound and one ounce.  If you have found others, please comment.


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