Sunday, December 20, 2009

Last Snowman Standing Game

The snowmen face off in this game of addition facts. But beware! A toss of the die may mean the sun melts a snowman. Students practice addition facts as they try to be the last snowman standing because in this game the first person to remove all of his/her snowmen loses the game!

The snowmen pictured above were created with two wooden beads glued together, then painted white, The face was added with sharpie pens. Just be sure to buy the beads that have a flat bottom so that the snowmen will stand. Or, use any manipulative as snowmen.

Download the Last Snowman Standing Game which includes directions and game mats for three different versions of the game:
  • Sum of Two Dice Version to practice addition facts
  • Difference of Two Dice Version to practice subtraction facts
  • One Die Toss for a simplified version to analyze the probability of a die toss

Data Collection: The directions for each version also include directions for data collection and analysis of the outcomes of the games. Be sure to incorporate these activities, if at all possible, as games offer a highly motivational study in probability. Students love to "play games" to collect data. They're also eager to analyze games so that they learn how the game works and what strategies they can use to improve their odds of winning.

Differentiation: This game offers many opportunities to differentiate the activity. First of all, teachers are able to select from three different versions. Secondly, each teacher should differentiate the game analysis to meet the instructional level of his/her students. Most students can handle the questions with teacher guidance. Older students and talented primary students may be challenged to analyze the game and answer the questions in small groups.  

Friday, December 18, 2009

12 Days of Christmas

Each year PNC Bank calculates the cost of the gifts in this familiar Christmas carol.  Watch a short video that presents each gift and tells the percent increase or decrease for that gift each year.  Following this presentation, users may select from a number of games available on the site or view a graph of the annual cost index.

Investigate the math behind this holiday gifting by working through DIMACS The Twelve Days of Christmas and Pascal's Triangle.  Students who struggled to figure out the total number of gifts received will be astounded to discover that the patterns in Pascal's triangle may be used for an easy solution.

Students might also enjoy singing 12 Days of Math, a math teacher's parody of the famous carol. 

Print out pictures of the 12 Days Gifts for students to color and/or use as props when singing the song and discussing solutions to the problem of total gifts given in this holiday song.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Capture the Penguin Game

Students toss two dice (one regular and one A-F) in this fun game that introduces students to coordinate graphing in the spaces. Students form a coordinate pair based on the dice toss and capture a penguin, if possible. If the space holds a penguin, they capture the penguin for quick points. Create A-F dice using plain dice or purchase small wooden cubes at a craft store to make the dice.

The penguins shown in the picture were created by painting clothespins and clothespin stands, found at craft stores.

Download the Capture the Penguin Game, a PDF which includes directions, game mat, penguin markers and a recording sheet.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Math Activity Themes: Gingerbread Math

Gingerbread men and gingerbread houses enjoy special popularity around the holidays, but many of these gingerbread activities are timeless and complement literature titles that teachers use at the beginning of school or after the holidays. It's very easy to incorporate mathematics into a study of gingerbread men, and students will enjoy the data collection activities and games while learning math skills and deepening their understanding of important mathematical concepts.

Look through these Gingerbread Man Math activities and add some to your repertoire. Consider broadening the gingerbread math to include measurement, games and problem solving this year. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Gingerbread Math Games

Counting Game:  Run, Gingerbread Man, Run

This game was designed to introduce students to the randomness of spinners and dice. Each color gingerbread man starts at the same place and has the same chance of winning by crossing the finish line, but does it work out that way? Students will enjoy playing the game AND use a clothespin graph [see sample on right] to collect some useful data on the winners.

Once students have collected class data from playing many games, they will come together to analyze the clothespin graph results. Students will be asked to discuss whether or not they think the game is fair for all of the gingerbread men and explain their reasoning.

Download the Run, Gingerbread, Run game so that students can get started playing and collecting data. The pdf file contains the spinner, gameboard, clothespin graph icons, and an optional tally sheet. 

Coordinate Graphing Game:  Catch the Gingerbread Men

For this game, students toss two dice (one regular and one marked A-B-C-D-E-F), form an ordered pair (e.g. B5), then remove the gingerbread man from that space, if there is one. Play continues until the timer rings or until one player has caught 10 gingerbread men. Students love playing the game and they get to practice their coordinate graphing skills in the process.

Coordinate Pairs: This seasonal version of the classic Battleship game provides practice in forming coordinate pairs, identifying the x-coordinate (A-F), then the y-coordinate (1-6) so that spaces are identified as C3 or E6. Hopefully, lots of practice will help students transition to the algebraic ordered pairs (x,y) where x and y are both numbers. Just be certain to reinforce the notion that the x-coordinate (across) comes before the y-coordinate (up or down). The alphabetical cues (across comes before up or down) help some students remember the order.

Download Catch the Gingerbread Men game mat, game pieces and directions for playing the game.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Gingerbread House Coordinate Graphing

Introduce elementary students to coordinate graphing through seasonal coloring activities. The winter Gingerbread House activity requires students to use the grid code and crayons or markers to create a gingerbread house on a blank 11x11 grid. The use of letters on the horizontal axis and numbers on the vertical axis introduces young students to coordinate pairs without the confusion of the standard (h,v) format. Notice that it is important that elementary students become accustomed to listing the horizontal coordinate first as this will transfer to the Cartesian coordinates they will use in later grades.