Monday, February 23, 2015

Math Facts Fun

In an effort to ease my guilt over spending a ridiculous amount of time on Pinterest engage my children in fun and educational activities, I made a few math games. These will become new math facts centers for my classroom, but I had to run them by my favorite third grade guinea pig first. Of course the first grade mathematician and Tag-along Terry wanted to play, too.

Math Fact Jenga:

For this building game, I just wrote math facts on dot stickers and stuck them on our Jenga blocks. To keep the focus on the math facts, I let them touch any blocks to help stabilize the pile while they removed a block. Max got to take blocks off the top of the stack, but the rest of us had to take from any layer but the top. Max read his math problems (he’s learned to identify his numbers just from “helping” Reed study math facts this year). The other two boys solved Max’s equations. This game was more Calvin’s speed than a lot of the games we've played so far, because it wasn’t a race. He had time to calculate the answers and I could help him, if necessary. Almost every game ended in a tie, which is a whole lot less drama than I'm used to!

Use Your Head:

Two people drew a card and held it on their forehead without looking. The third person was the “caller,” who said the product (actually, we went with sums to be fair to Calvin, who knows his addition facts). The first person to look at the visible card and calculate what must be on their forehead won the round. I made a rule that if your first answer was incorrect, the other person got to answer before you had a chance to correct yourself. This kept certain shouty guessers from having an advantage. The winner of the round stayed in for the next round, when the loser and the caller traded places. Max held cards to his head for grins and giggles and got to be the caller when I would whisper sums in his ear.

Multiple Hop:
The first game was inspired by this. I cut an old sheet into four large squares of fabric with pinking sheers. I used crayon to divide each piece into three 1 ft x 1 ft sections (I used our kitchen floor tiles as a rough guide--nothing fancy). Then I labeled each section with a multiples of a certain number. I chose to make a mat for 6s, 7s, 8s, and 9s, since these are the math facts most of my students have the hardest time learning. 

Multiples of 6

On the back, I used hot glue to “label” which factor the mat was made for. The hot glue will provide a non-stick surface to keep the mat from sliding. 

To play, a caller will flip a flash card or call out a multiplication problem. The jumper will jump to the correct answer. Being super-competitive, the boys turned it into a race. Calvin had a cheat sheet made by Mom to level the playing field. Max just played freestyle, jumping wherever he felt like. I called out “7x9” and the boys raced to be the first to jump to 63. 

Apparently, if I decide to let the students do it competition style like we did, I'll need to cover a few simple rules:

  • You may not play hopscotch all over the board.
  • You may not push your opponent down to the ground if you think they are going to reach the product before you are.
  • You may not throw yourself down on the mat, forming your body in the shape of a large “X” so that you cover five of the nine answer choices.
  • You may not deliberately jump on top of an opponent’s feet.
  • You may not shriek in a high-pitched voice, “That’s not fair! He’s trying to beat me ON PURPOSE!”
  • You must not show up in your pajamas, shirtless.

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