for the Home, the Classroom, and the Whole School !
(Share your ideas, too!) 
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* school math carnival (or math night) * classroom math activities * more ideas for math manipulatives * math at home * resources (Be sure to visit the other Idea Banks for more creative math activities!) 
* schoolwide math carnival or math night
A StudentLed Family Math Night I've written two articles for Education World with lots of ideas and advice for coordinating a studentled Math Family Fun Night:
A StudentLed Math Family Fun Night: Learning from the Planning Process
A StudentLed Math Family Fun Night: Logistics There are more planning tips and activity ideas in this handout I've put together:
Step Right Up to a StudentLed Math Family Fun Night!
Wendy P of Math Cats, 2/1/09

Kids plan a math carnival I found a way to motivate the kids to really try by setting a goal and working towards it. I told them that when they reached the goal they could give a math party. The children all helped each other so that they could attain their goal. When we reached our goal, the children all made carnival type math games with prizes and everything. There was beanbag toss, fishing for facts, matching boards that buzzed or lighted up when the right answer was made, etc. All games had to have a math connection. The kids learned a lot just making the games, and when we invited the other 5th grades, they were so proud of their accomplishment.
Hannah Means, 9/09/00 on the teachers.net upper elementary board

Math Fair for Kindergarten students The pentominoes problem is probably ageappropriate: How many different shapes can be made using five equally sized squares? *Anyone who has played Tetris knows the shapes that can be made with four squares. This problem extends the Tetris shapes by adding a square to those pieces. You would need manipulatives (square counters) for the students to solve the puzzle.
KDurham, 9/08/00 on the teachers.net math board

Games for Math Carnival > I need an idea for a game for our school Math Carnival (grades K6). Since I'm not sure what you mean by "math carnival"... I'll suggest a few activities that I think might work. Penny Flip... Predict which you think will come up most often... heads or tails... then flip a penny 20 times. I'd have a recording sheet (half page) with one side heads, one side tails. Kids record each flip with a tally mark. Compare prediction. Measure yourself with paper clips... how many paper clips high are you? Compare your height with someone else... how many more paperclips high were you... or less were you? You could have a pattern blocks center... either free exploration or give them designs to replicate. If they know symmetry... have them make a symetrical design.
Tallytchr, 11/01/00 on the teachers.net main board

Metric Day How about a scavenger hunt. Give the students a list of things like measuring 15 mL of water, finding something in the room that has a mass of 10 grams,something that measures 5 cm, etc. Have balances, graduated cylinders etc. around the room.
Linda, 10/06/00 on the teachers.net math board

Family Math Night I invited K6 students with their parents, along with the school board, community members, and the media. A H.S. teacher is giving his students extra credit to volunteer their help. The list of H.S. helpers is 30! I have about 10 adult volunteers also. There will be 18 centers spaced around the gym. They will sign in and get an activity sheet. As they complete the activities, a volunteer will sign the sheet. If they do all activities they get a prize. I have three graphing centers. One to measure and compare heights, one is a birthday tree that each branch represents a month, and a picture graph where people can add scoops to their favorite flavor of ice cream cone. There are three prize activities. Pumpkin Pounds is a weight estimation where the winner gets the large pumpkin, Money Sense is a jar of money that the person with the closest estimated amount wins, and there is an edible Estimation Jar of candy corn that can be won. There are two open ended tables with Tangrams and Geo Boards. Suitcase math will touch on probability of finding a matching pair of socks. What's To Eat involves students using a menu from a local restaurant and deciding what they will eat for three meals  without spending more than $15. Spider Angles is an activity where participants use protractors to measure the angles of a web. A bean bag toss and a bowling center will require them to keep score. I have Gourd Guess ready to go as students describe gourds, estimate their weight, and then actually check their estimation. Musical dominoes is a fraction activity to match musical notes with their fraction. Circumference Challenge has people estimating then measuring the circumference of grapes, pumpkins, gourds, plates, frisbees... There will also be a center where people measure the length of the gym using ears of corn, sleeping friends, footsteps, and standard measurements. Take your licks is another estimation activity where they predict and record the findings. And yes it is a follow up to the old Tootsie Pop commercial. ...My cart is loaded and I think I am ready for tomorrow. I hope our community comes and enjoys their night. Robin Miley, Marion, Ohio, 10/17/00 in a letter to Math Cats      followup letter, 10/26/00: Wendy, After canceling math night last week due to fog, we finally were able to hold the event last night. We had approximately 100 people here, including 19 high school volunteers. It was so great to see the families having fun with math. The volunteer students had as much fun as the younger kids! We actually had to ask the volunteers to close their centers because it became late and people did not want to leave! The local paper was not able to come, but I took pictures and have already submitted an article for the district newsletter and will be sending one to the local paper.
Next year will be bigger and better. 
* classroom math activities (for math centers or free time)
> I am just tired of kids saying what do I do now?????
What about math games with someone else who is also finished?
I teach second grade and we learn math games as a group and
then use them to practice skills during choice times or when
work is completed early.
A deck of cards can be used for an addition or multiplication
war game. The dealer passes out all the cards. Players
don't look at their cards. Each player turns up two cards.
In addition war, the highest sum wins the hand. In
multiplication war, the highest product wins the hand. Play
continues until one player has no more cards.
Another activity I use in first and second grade is writing
numbers. Each student starts with 1 and continues writing
numbers as far as they can. I give them 1 inch grid paper
for this. When they complete one sheet, they get another
sheet and keep going, by beginning with the next counting
number. All it usually takes to get everyone excited about
this is for one student to be one hundred or two hundred
beyond the others. Then everyone is eager to catch up and
surpass that student.
RTH, 10/17/00 on teachers.net primary elementary board
     
...Amy, get a bucket of pattern blocks. A group of about 6 kids
can build patterns, pictures, etc... when they need something
to do. I've been using them for 10 years as a math followup
activity and they haven't let me down yet. All kids love
them.
How about tessellations to color and create? Or mobius
strips. (You make them, have them draw a line down the center
and they discover that they have covered "both" sides. Then
have them cut along that line and see what happens. It is very
impressive if you make a regular loop first and do each
activity on the regular one and then the mobius strip.)
I learned my first origami folds from my second grade
teacher. I was HOOKED! Have them used patty paper (about
$6 for a box of 1000 sheets  contact Key Curriculum Press or
a Restaurant Supply house) and make paper cups (three folds
and see if they hold water) or a sail boat (3 or 4 folds and
have pans of water and see if they float). Cheap, fun, and
related to other areas of math, not just arithmetic.
DSF/NJ (Donna), 9/23/00, on the teachers.net math board
> Help! I need a cute math activity using candy corn.
I make up a simple Bingo grid, then give the kids 24 simple
facts to cut apart and glue into the various spaces on the
Bingo grid. Remember to mark the center spot FREE. It
doesn't matter where the fact is on the grid. Students take
turns calling off a fact, then giving the answer. If the fact
is answered correctly, then a candy corn can go on that space.
Remember each child has the same simple facts, but the
arrangement is different. Each child should be able to cover
the fact, if the "caller" answers the simple fact correctly.
If the fact answer is wrong, then the candy corn can not be
placed on the grid by anyone.
BLACK OUT is achieved at the same time, since everyone has the
same 24 simple facts.
KathyB/1st/IA, 10/23/00, on teachers.net primary elementary board
    
Candy Corn as a NonStandard Measure
How many pieces of candy corn long is .....
The Worksheet magazine for Sept./October had a worksheet for
this but you could use the corn to measure anything just as you
would paperclips, unifix cubes, etc....
Tallytchr, 10/23/00, on teachers.net primary elementary board
    
Candy Corn Math
October/November 2000 Mailbox has a few pages using candy corn.
Give each child 6 candycorn patterns and have them find the 6
ways to color candycorn using orange, yellow and white. My first
graders had a blast doing this. We also did a measuring activity
with them. After they were done they got to eat them.
Tigger/WA, 10/23/00, on teachers.net primary elementary board
>> Have any of you used the magnetic paper... I have a
> ... tell me where you got it so I can get some too. Thanks!
I cannot answer the question about where to purchase magnetic
paper, but I can tell you how to simulate your own for what I
am guessing is much less money. I used to go to a hardware
store and purchase large rolls of magnetic stripping. It has
one sticky side (covered by paper until you are ready to apply
it to something). It is sold in hardware stores for use in
installing plastic sheeting over windows to make el
cheapo "storm windows" in wintertime. (Homeowners would put
strips of the magnetic "tape" around the window edge and then
secure sturdy plastic with more magnetic tape applied to the
edges of the plastic.) It is also sold near tools and nails. I've also found it in hobby and craft
stores such as Michael's.
[Recent cost comparison: HomeDepot had 30 inches for $2.99 (10 cents per inch). Michael's had 10 feet for $2.99 (2 1/2 cents per inch).]
It is easy to cut with
scissors. I used it many, many ways:
1) I applied a few little pieces to the corners of fake
laminated money and then did a lot of money math on my metal
chalkboard.
2) I applied little pieces to Cuisenaire rods and could
illustrate math problems right on the board. (We had a set of
doublesized rods which I used on the board, but the ordinary
size would work, too.)
3) I applied little pieces to Base Ten Blocks and also used
them for board work. Same with a paper measuring tape.
4) I drew pictures on poster board, cut them out, and applied
little magnetic pieces to their backs for illustrated math
story problems. (The ideas shared earlier in this thread about
scanning and then printing photos or clip art onto magnetic
paper could be adapted here: print instead onto white index
paper (the thickness of 3x5 cards... can be purchased in paper
stores and some copy shops), and then place little pieces of
magnetic tape on their backs.
5) Call me crazy, but I actually made 100 little squares (of
picturematting board... but one could use cheaper poster
board, too) for each student, wrote the products for all the
multiplication facts up to 10 x 10 on the 100 squares, put a
tiny bit of magnetic tape on the back of each square, and put
these in a jar for each student. Then I purchased a class set
of metal boards at a hardware store. They were maybe 14x18
inches or so... they were meant to be a surface for setting hot
pots on or something; they had kind of a cardboard backing. I
drew a multiplication grid with permanent marker on each
board. The students would use their jar of numbers to see how
fast they could fill the multiplication grid. They loved this,
and I used them over and over for years. (I put a letter of
the alphabet on the back of each, using the same letter for
each number tile in a jar, so that we could straighten out
whose numbers were whose if they got spilled.) The kids loved
those magnetic multiplication squares so much that I'd still
hear about it years after they left my classroom. (Now I have
an online version of the multiplication squares in the
MicroWorlds section of Math Cats, and the pieces never get
lost!)
6) I obtained some library card pockets (the kind which are
placed inside books to hold the signout card) from the school
librarian, stuck magnetic tape on the backs, and placed them on
the board. I wrote the name of each activity center on these
pockets and drew a little picture to represent each activity.
I wrote the students' names on popsicle sticks. Then it was
easy to send them to specific centers by placing their popsicle
sticks in the different pockets. With a glance at the board,
the students could see where they were to go.
7) My students could use a twodimensional "grocery store"
right on the board. I put magnetic tape on the back of 6 x 9 "
envelopes (with the opening on the 9" side) and labelled one
for each food group. The students cut out food photos from
magazines and pasted them onto poster board, then cut them out
again to make sturdy flat food. They invented prices for each
and placed them in the envelopes. We would stick these
envelopes on the metal chalkboard and the students would "shop"
by selecting items from each envelope and adding up their
costs. (One could also magnetize all of this flat food to
illustrate grocery store math problems on the board.)
With the rolls of magnetic tape I'm describing, for just
pennies per object, you can practically magnetize your whole
classroom!... pattern blocks, fraction pieces, student photos
or name cards, sentence strips, vocabulary words, whatever!
Since you only need a small piece of the tape at the edges of
the items, even a large graphic (say, 10x10") can be made
magnetic for pennies, too.
Another thing I like about the magnetic tape is that it
slightly elevates the items above the board, so they are very
easy to lift and remove.
A word of caution: in this modern age of computers, students
need to be reminded often not to place anything magnetic near
computers or disks (or cassette tapes). I have had students
attempt to place magnetic items on computer screens, and this
can leave a permanent dark circle on the monitor's screen.
Magnets can also destroy data.
Wendy P of Math Cats, 11/04/00 on teachers.net math board
    
> ... As for where I found my magnetic paper, it was at WalMart.
> I am looking for sites that have math fact sheets on them.
It is your business, but as an elementary math teacher who is
also a parent, I wish I could discourage you from using such
sheets. Years ago in first grade, my son had to do a few of
those for homework every night. It took him about 2 minutes
to do the math and an HOUR to do the coloring, because it was
supposed to be "neat." It just trained him to dislike math,
his homework, and his teacher. Now my daughter has the same
teacher and the same math coloring homework. She had been so
excited about finally being a big girl and having homework,
but let me tell you, she hates homework on math coloring
night.
If you want them for homework sheets, there are much more
stimulating things you could ask your students to do at
home.
Why not have them use dry beans or pennies or whatever
to illustrate the problems at home and have a parent initial
the page to verify that they did it? Or illustrate a few of
the problems symbolically on the page?
Subtraction problems
are particularly good to illustrate, because you can show
your students that there are two ways to approach it: for
instance
Obviously my remarks apply even more so if this is for in
class work. Children of the age where coloring sheets might
be considered appropriate are of the age where handson math
activities should be an integral part of each day's math
activities. If they are going to take the time to color,
this time would, I think, be better spent on handson work
with objects: Cuisenaire rods, number balance, objects to
count, money, etc.
And if your students know this information well enough that
they don't need manipulatives, then I would submit that they
don't need math coloring sheets, either.
"just wondering" (actually Wendy P of Math Cats), 10/25/00 on teachers.net math board
Re: "I almost went crazy today"
> I feel like saying "Stand on
your head!" Help!
Re: Need fun math activity
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Candy Corn Math
> It's for 1st graders. Thanks much! Smoore
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* Magnetic Paperhow to "make your own" cheaply
>> nice big white dryerase board that is metal so I have a
>> perfect place to use the magnetic paper...
>> Jane
> Expensive... three 8 1/2 x 11 sheets for $7.00+. I think I will
> print their names on what I bought and use them for graphs, etc.
> and go to Lowes and get some magnetic tape. I love all of Wendy's
> ideas. Thanks so much. Jane
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Why use math fact coloring sheets?
> The kind for younger children that have pictures to color.
> Something like color by number but w/ math problems.
8  3 = 5
could have 8 objects with 3 crossed out, or two sets: 8 in
one set and 3 in another set directly below, maybe with
little lines linking pairs, and the unpaired 5 are circled.
You could ask your students to write a word problem to go
with each illustration, to show that the first illustration
means literally taking away (as in, Joe had 8 jelly beans and
ate 3) and the second illustration means comparing, as in Joe
had 8 jelly beans and Jill had 3; how many more did Joe have?)
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* math at home
A math activity I send home for my students to do with their
parents is to fill in a graph. The graph is filled in
according to how many windows, doors, chairs, etc. they have
in their home.
Kathy, 10/22/00 on teachers.net primary elementary board
As a parent, when my oldest child was in first grade and was expected to memorize the addition and subtraction facts, his
most meaningful work was done in the bathtub! I used the
same strategy with my second and third grade students to help
them learn and UNDERSTAND the facts, but of course without
the bathtub setting. But if any parents are reading this, I
still think nothing beats bathtub math! It worked like this:
As I sat beside the tub while my son was soaking and playing,
which was a nice, relaxing time (either before or after the
gettingclean part), I would ask him fact problems. As soon
as I'd say the question, I would start lightly slapping my
leg, about one slap per second. He would try to answer
within ten slaps. If he couldn't, then he could take as much
time as he needed (I'd stop slapping my leg of course), but
along with the answer he would need to verbalize an
explanation of how he arrived at the answer. No fingers
allowed. There were three basic strategies which we found
useful:
1) using 10 as an anchor, as I've described [see "May I suggest some handson and mental math alternatives?" in the Addition and Subtraction Idea Bank for the "unabridged" version of this posting!]
For strategy #2: if I said "7 + 8," his answer might be,
"Well, I knew that 7 + 7 is 14 (because the doubles are easy
to learn), so I added one more, because 8 is one more than
7. So it is 15."
Gradually we would shorten the number of slaps, working our
way down to 3 seconds, as more and more facts became familiar
friends.
After we did this each evening for a week, he could answer
any fact within three seconds. Either he had simply learned
them from the repetition, or he had become so adept at the
mental strategies that he could implement them within
moments. And these same strategies served him (and my
students) well in a variety of ways throughout the years.
As a teacher, I sent home information sheets to the parents
describing some of these strategies for learning the facts
and asked them to reinforce them at home. (I may have even
recommended the bathtub!)
Wendy P of Math Cats, 10/25/00 on teachers.net math board
My 6th grade partner ... met and spoke
specifically with about one fourth of the parents this year
at our parents information night. She talked very frankly
about the need to know/memorize multiplication facts. She
demonstrated how easy it was to add on your fingers the
addition facts, but how very difficult it is to even do a
single digit multiplication fact by adding.
One of the parents asked how she planned on making it fun for
his son to learn these facts. She replied that in 3rd grade,
his son had the opportunity to earn parts of an ice cream
sundae, in fourth grade his son had the opportunity to earn a
skating party, in fifth grade, his son had the opportunity to
earn a can of pop, BUT.....in sixth grade the opportunity to
learn his facts "just for fun" was over. It was pay up time.
She distributed flash card instructions to the parents with a
3 week timeline  to be implemented at home. During those 3
weeks, she said that she would provide review in school. At
the end of that time, if the kids did not make use of that
study guide, she would use their lunch recess (many parents
said that it would be hard to find 15 minutes a day to review
flashcards at home). She said that she knew her timeline
would work regardless of when the 15 days of 15 minutes would
be taken out of the kids' days.
She honestly feels that for this group of kids, it's just
laziness. Now, I'm not always so frank, but for her it seems
to work.
bj6, 9/9/00, on teachers.net upper elementary board
graphing at home
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practicing addition facts at home
2) building on a known fact (often a double)
3) starting with 10 + a number and adjusting
Similarly, for 7 + 6 he might use 7 + 7 as his known fact and
then subtract 1 to get 13, because 6 is one less than 7.
For strategy #3: if I said "9 + 8," he might say, "10 + 8
would be 18, so 9 + 8 is one less, 17."
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practicing multiplication facts at home
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* resources
> I'm looking for some ideas I can use with the hundreds board.
We use all the Marcy Cook 100 Ideas and my third graders
love doing it!
Jam, 10/06/00 on the teachers.net math board
> I'm trying to meet the needs of all my kids & I'm having
Here's a link to a good bookIt's exactly what you need.
Instant Math Centers, Grades 23 (CTP 2598, $12.98)
[or go to the products section of
A great book with a lot of good games for number sense is
Family Math also has a lot of interesting games/activities.
Debbie, 10/17/00 on teachers.net primary elementary board
Try checking out Critical Thinking Books web site; they have a
wide selection of materials to chose from. Lots of gifted
teachers use their books. I love them!
Laura, 9/20/00, on the teachers.net math board
> Is there any good educational computer games that anyone
Why pay for computer games when there are so many good free
ones on the Web? Some are basic drill and practice, but
there are such a variety of them that I doubt students would
get tired of sampling them. Some sites include creative
explorations, such as interactive geometry applets which let
you manipulate 2D and virtual 3D geometric shapes, and so
on. Rather than listing dozens here, I recommend that you go
to Yahooligans ( www.yahooligans.com ), then either type
in "math games" or go to School Bell > Math > Math Games
and Puzzles (or any of the other math categories). The sites
and descriptions are targeted for children ages 7  12.
Wendy P of Math Cats, 10/17/00 on teachers.net math board
> I am looking for an educational version of Bingo, for the
At this site you can download a program to make your own
Bingo to reinforce any unit you are working on!
www.jtsoftware.com/bingomaker.html
LisaMarie/MI, 10/18/00 on teachers.net primary elementary board
Hundreds Board
> I would like to use it as a mental math activity for 15 minutes a day.
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Need help with math centers for 3rd grade.
> trouble coming up with ideas for centers. Any suggestions
> for place value, measurement, addition and/or multiplication??
Creative Teaching Press
and do a search for the math materials of your choice. Lots of great resources!]
Book of games for number sense
Nimble with Numbers.
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Brain teasers or puzzles for students who finish early
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math computer games on the Web
> suggest for math?
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Bingomaker site
> students and their parents... Any suggestions, or forwards to
> other sites would really be helpful.
> Dena, 10/16/00
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