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Math Activities and Tips

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TIME IN BETWEEN. Add other items to this activity. Give the children copies of the following:
Begin End Hours/Min.
(a) 10:00 10:20 ___/___
(b) 1:45 2:05 ___/___
(c) 5:15 7:40 ___/___
Discuss the first item with the class and model how to solve it (0/20 for no hours and 20 minutes, the time between the two given times). After the children's papers are corrected, discuss with the class the items missed most often by the children. Illustrate the solutions to those items on the chalkboard.

GREATER NUMBERS. Add other items to this activity. Give the children copies of the following chart. Which numbers are greater than the first number in the row? Circle the numbers that are greater.
51 79 15 55 91 15
39 40 30 49 23 93
40 26 54 14 80 140
71 70 7 97 177 17
20 29 25 60 10 19
After the children complete the activity, have them write two other numbers that are greater than the first number in the row. Check the answers as a class activity. Ask individuals to identify the numbers added to each row.

NAMES AND NUMBERS. Let children help assign a number value to each letter of the alphabet. (Less mature children may need to simplify this activity by using numerals and letters in normal order A-1, B-2, C-3, etc. while more mature children would use scrambled order to provide interest A-5, B-2, C-10, etc.) Print the letter/number code on a chart or the chalkboard to be used in finding the value of various names. The activity may begin with children finding the value of their own names and the names of classmates and progressing to finding the value of a list of names compiled by the teacher or the group. Example: the teacher, principal, school secretary, etc.; fictional characters from favorite stories; famous people, etc. This activity could also be used as a party game with a printed list of appropriate words distributed with the numerical value of each letter and the first person to arrive at the value of each word determined the winner. Depending on the maturity of the group, the object of the game could be to find the total value of all the words on the list.

GREATER THAN, LESS THAN. You can use an ordinary deck of cards to help primary students learn number value and number relationships. Assign number cards their face value. The joker is 0; the ace, 1; and if you're working with numbers through 13, the jack, queen, and king are 11, 12, and 13. Two to four students can play at a time. To start, lay a shuffled deck of cards facedown in the center of the playing area. The first player draws a card and, concealing it from the other players, announces, "My card is two greater than 4." (Or "My card is one less than 7.") The next player must name the card being held. If the answer is correct, that player wins the card, places it faceup in front of him, and draws a card from the deck. If the answer is incorrect, the first player keeps the card for his faceup pile. When all the cards in the deck have been drawn, the game is over. The player with the largest pile of faceup cards wins.

FACT-O. Review factors and products with this easy to set up game. Copy onto index cards products your students should be able to factor (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 14, 15, 16, 18, 20, 21, 24, 25, 27, 28, and so on.) Cut scraps of construction paper into 1/2 inch squares for use as markers. Then make a set of FACT-O cards (arranged like bingo cards) with 24 possible factors and a free space in the middle. Distribute the FACT-O cards. Pull a product card from the pile, read it aloud, and have your students use the paper scraps to cover the factors on their FACT-O cards (For example, if 24 is pulled, a student should cover 2 and 12, 3 and 8, or 4 and 6). Instruct the students to cover only two factors for each produce you call. Keep a master list of factors. The first child covering any vertical, horizontal, or diagonal row calls out "FACT-O," then reads the factors covered. If your records agree, he wins and the next game begins.

SKIP COUNTING MADE EASY. Counting by five's and ten's is an important skill for learning math concepts such as telling time and counting money. Here are two simple ideas for helping children learn this skill. Ask the students to trace and cut out both of their hands from sturdy tagboard. Decorate as desired and place in a basket for use in counting by five's and ten's. Play switch count. Write a multiple of five on the board. Ask students to count to that number by fives; when they reach the number they should switch and count by ten's. For instance, if the number is 25, students count 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 . . . 35, 45, and so on.

FACT PRACTICE FUN. Here is an engaging fact reinforcer for groups of two to four young players. Shuffle a deck of cards and deal six to each player. Deal six more faceup in a line in the center, and stack the remaining cards facedown in a draw pile. Tell your students that the six faceup cards represent six answers. From the cards in their hands, they try to find two cards whose sum or difference matches an answer card. (The ace is worth 1 point; jack, 11; queen, 12; and king, 13.) If the first player has a match, he announces the equation he's made. Next, he picks up the answer card and stacks it faceup on top of his two cards in a bundle at his playing spot. Then, he draws two new cards from the draw pile. If he's not holding a match, he puts one card from his hand faceup with the answer cards, then draws a replacement from the draw pile. When their turns come, the other players have two options: to match any of the answer cards, or to steal any of the other players' bundles by making an equation that matches a bundle's top card. (The bundle's other two cards become part of the player's hand.) Continue until cards run out or no one can produce an equation. To calculate their scores, players count up the number of cards in their bundles and then subtract the number of cards still in their hands (or they can use the point value of both.)

TIMES-TABLE RELAY. Put a little zest into multiplication drill by making it into a fill in the grid dice game for the entire class. The game requires a pair of customized dice, which you can make by covering the faces of regular dice with blank labels. Then mark one die with the numbers 2 through 7; the other, 4 through 9. Next, prepare two identical game boards, each consisting of a 36-cell 6x6 grid. Number the columns 2 through 7; number the rows 4 through 9. Divide the class into two teams, and give each team a game board. Team A's first player rolls the dice, determines the product of the two numbers he rolls, and on his team's gameboard writes the answer in the cell in which the two numbers intersect. (For example, if the player rolls a 2 and a 4, he writes an 8 where column 2 and row 4 intersect.) For some combinations, there will be a choice of cells in which to write the answer. If a player's answer is incorrect, the turn is lost and the other team gets an extra turn. If a cell has already been filled in, play passes to the other team. The first team to fill in its grid wins.

GRAPHING ACROSS THE CURRICULUM. To incorporate graphs into all subject areas, challenge your students to graph the following:
*Number of sunny days each week for a month.
*Average number of eggs laid by a robin, a penguin, a pigeon, a wild turkey.
*Number of active volcanoes in countries of Central America.
*Germination times for various seeds started in the classroom.
*Home energy use (monthly kilowatt-hour) over 4 months time.
*Calories in seven favorite foods.
*Number of siblings students in class have.
*Number of riders in cars passing school between 10 and 11 a.m.
*European countries represented by explorers who traveled to the New World between 1492 and 1693.
*The lengths of major U.S. rivers.
*The number of children of U.S. presidents.
*Public school enrollment from 1900 to 1980.
*Numbers between 2 and 100 evenly divisible by 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7.
*Proportion of objects on one wall of the classroom that are square, rectangular, circular, or triangular.
*Performance of a chosen stock for 10 days.
*Class sales of popcorn for 1 week.
*Students' six favorite book topics.
*Number of words on a textbook page that belong to one of seven word families. Divide the class into seven groups and assign one phonogram-- -and, -ill, -ot, and so on to each.
*The occurrence of specified figures of speech in a collection of poems.
*The number of times each vowel appears in one newspaper article.

GET ROLLING. Use 3 or more die depending on the students' age. The game should be played with two or more players. Roll the dice. Add the numbers that show on the dice. The first to whisper the correct sum scores a point. Variation. Rearrange the dice from left to right in numerical order. Have the students multiply the numbers on the dice.

INS AND OUTS. Cut a length of yarn (about 36 inches). Tie to form a closed piece. You will also need 12 colored chips. Hold a handful of chips about 8 inches above the yarn circle. Drop the chips. Write a math equation to show the sum of the chips inside plus the chips outside the circle. Repeat the "drop" with the same number of chips. How many different equations were created?

DOWN/ACROSS. On the chalkboard, write problems such as the following:
2 6
+2 +1
____+2=_____ ____+5=_____

Model solving the first problem. Then model making another vertical problem using the sum of the horizontal problem as the first addend of your vertical problem. The children copy and solve each problem and add their own vertical problem to the end.

ADDITION START. Give two children two pennies each. One child tells how many pennies he or she has. The class helps the child count the pennies as he or she drops them one by one into a small clear bag. Do the same for the other child's pennies, placing them in the same bag. Ask the class to tell how many pennies are now in the bag. A volunteer removes the pennies one at a time as the class counts them.

WHALE OF A PLAYGROUND. You'll need books with pictures of whales, a tape measure, string, colored sidewalk chalk, and a paved school playground. First, have the children search the books for pictures of different kinds of whales and find out the sizes of those whales. Then, take the kids to the playground and help them measure the length of each whale with the tape measure. Next, have the kids choose a whale (make sure it's one that is shorter than the playground) and cut a piece of string long enough to form a life-size "outline" of it. Ask the kids to place the string to form a human outline of the whale. Now, let them take turns drawing a section of the whale, tracing around the string with sidewalk chalk. Have each child pass the chalk on to the next child until the outline is complete. Then let the kids color the whale with the chalk or, with the school's permission, paint it.

BUTTON MATH. Give your students practice categorizing and graphing--with buttons. Ask the kids to bring in extra buttons from home. Then divide the class into groups and give each group a handful of buttons. Have the groups sort the buttons according to different criteria, such as size, color, shape, number of holes, and material. Each time, have the kids count the buttons in each category and graph the results. Afterward, collect the buttons in a jar and have an estimating contest.
CLEARLY CLASSIFIED. Teach your students about classification and simple graphs by having then sort themselves according to hair color. Begin by having the children identify the various hair colors in your class. Label the colors across the top of a large piece of butcher paper. Then give each child a paper plate on which to draw and color his face and hair. Have the kids glue their plates to the butcher paper under the appropriate labels. Have the kids answer questions about the graph they've created. For example, ask them how many more brown-haired children there are than red-haired children, which hair color is most common, and which hair color is least common.

FAIR SHARE. Teach young students division with this sharing activity. Divide the class into small groups and give each group a cup of pretzels, small crackers, or cereal. Tell the kids they must figure out how to divide the treats so that everyone in the group will get an equal amount. Have them write down how many treats each child receives and whether the group has treats left over. Then choose a student from each group to explain how the treats were divided. Now let the children eat! Repeat the activity using card decks, pennies, peanuts, or other small items.

MONSTER MATH. Reinforce basic math facts by having your students create "fact monsters." First, show the kids a sample fact monster. On the board list math facts that your students have trouble remembering. Next, give each student a 5-foot-long piece of heavy paper. Divide the class into pairs and have the kids take turns outlining each other on the paper. Now, let the kids draw the faces of their monsters and separate them into sections. Have the kids draw one representation of a math fact listed on the board in each section using different shapes. Finally, have a monster parade for the other classes or display the monsters in your classroom.

RIGHT ON TIME. Reinforce the skills needed to interpret timetables using materials your students can relate to. First, gather old TV schedules and give each student a schedule and a blank sheet of paper. Next, have the kids select six programs from their schedules. On their blank papers they should write the names of these programs and the days they are to air and should draw a circle (to represent a clock) next to each. Now, have the students exchange papers and schedules. Ask them to locate the six programs in the schedule they received and to record the time each airs on the paper. Then tell them to draw the correct times on the clocks. Finally, have each student exchange his paper and schedule with a classmate who will check the answers. This activity can also be done using bus, train, and flight schedules.

DOMINO DRILL. Try using dominoes with your students to perk up basic math practice. Begin by arranging the students' desks in a circle. Pass out a domino, paper, and a pencil to each student, then give these directions: Stand the domino vertically on your desk. Write an addition or subtraction problem using the dots on each half of the domino and solve it on your paper. Pass your domino to the person on your right and create a new problem using the domino you receive. Have the kids continue passing the dominoes until their original domino returns to them. For a twist, time the kids to see how long it takes them to pass the dominoes around the circle and solve all the problems. Then challenge them to beat their time. (You might also want to let the kids exchange papers and correct them.) For upper grades, have the kids turn the dominoes horizontally and create multiplication problems from them.

SHOPPING CENTS. Help your students develop problem-solving and money-management skills with this math activity that simulates shopping. Tell the kids that they're going to use flyers and catalogs they bring from home to create a "variety store" on a classroom wall or bulletin board. Once you have a catalog collection, ask the kids to decide which "departments" they want in their store, then divide the wall into sections and label these accordingly. Next, have the kids cut out pictures of products, categorize them to match the departments, and tack the pictures--with price labels--under the appropriate headings. Each day assign a different math activity involving items in the store. For example:
Give the kids shopping lists and ask for the total they spend.
Give the kids a budget and have them plan a dinner.
Have students make a list of items they'd need to pack for a trip and total the cost.
Ask the kids to find the average price of all the items in a department.
Let the students take turns playing shopkeeper, taking orders and issuing receipts to customers.
Finally, have a "going-out-of-business" sale and slash prices. Give the kids a shopping list and have them calculate the savings.

MATH, MATH EVERYWHERE. Help your students recognize the significance of mathematics in their lives by having them record how they and their families apply math in everyday life. Keep the activity going for at least 2 days. Then have the kids create word problems from their lists. Get the students started by listing examples from your own morning routine. For example:
*I got up at 7 a.m. It took me 45 minutes to get ready for work and 15 minutes to drive to work. Problem: What time did I arrive?
*The TV weather report says it's 45 degrees outside now, and the temperature should go up another 10 degrees. Problem: What will the high temperature be today?
*Four members of my family each wanted two pieces of toast for breakfast. Problem: How many pieces of toast did I need?
*The gas tank was two-thirds full, and I filled it up at the cost of $6 for 5 gallons. Problem: How much does 1 gallon cost? How many gallons does my tank hold?
*The speed limit is 35 mph on my route to school. It takes me 15 minutes to drive to school. Problem: How many miles do I drive?
*Three of my 25 students are absent today. Problem: How many students are present?
*Ten children brought lunch today. Problem: How many children packed their lunch?
*Lunch costs $2.45. I have $5. Problem: How much change will I receive?
*The balance in my checkbook was $200. I wrote a check for $81.25. Problem: What is my balance now?
Have students keep their lists in pocket notebooks. Suggest that they record the math action as they observe it. On the third day, have them take turns sharing their lists while classmates try to solve the problems. To save time, you may want the kids to scratch identical actions from their lists as they're shared.

MORNING MATH. Start each day with this simple activity to get your students in gear for math. Each morning, write the date in numerical form on the board. Have students use the numerals to determine some of the following:
*the sum of the digits
*the difference between the greatest and least
*the factors of each
*the greatest common factor
*the least common multiple
*the quotient of any two numerals
*the average of the numerals

PROBABILITY DICE. Make a chart with the numbers 2 to 12 across the top and at least 14 boxes under each number. Give pairs of students a copy of the chart and two dice. Ask the students to predict which number from 2 to 12 will most often be the sum of the two dice. Tell them to circle that number. Then have the students roll the dice, add the numbers and put an x in the box under the sum to keep track of how many times each sum is rolled. Students should continue rolling the dice until they've put an x in all the boxes under one of the numbers. Odds are that the number will be 7. Discuss why 7 came up most often. (There are more combinations that equal 7 than any other number). You can also do this with multiplication.

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