Thursday, October 28, 2010

Math App: Motion Math

This app targets students' understanding of fractions.  As students work their way back into space, they must sort fractions by tilting the iTouch (iPhone, iPad) so that the ball bounces in the proper spot.

The app provides practice in different representations of fractions.  Students must drop the ball at the correct location on a number line in one level.  Another level presents a visual representation of the fraction which students must also bounce at the correct location.

Still other levels ask students to sort fractions as less than, equal to, or more than the given fraction.  These sorts may contain fractions, visual representations, percents, and decimals so that students become accustomed to equivalent representations of fractions.

This is a great app for fraction practice.  Students are playing AND learning at the same time.  Students only need to move the iTouch to make the ball bounce in the correct location.  Correct responses generate a corresponding marking on the number line.  Incorrect responses prompt an arrow indicating which way the user should bounce the ball the next try.

The app is available through iTunes for 99 cents.  It's certainly worth the price to provide fraction practice in a game mode.  Be sure to check out more about the game and the research behind this app at Motion Math.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pattern: Triangular Numbers

Bat Jamboree by Kathi Appelt introduces the triangular number pattern as bats assemble for the final number beginning with 10 bats in the bottom row, 9 in the next row, etc. to the very top row with 1 bat. Students are introduced to the 55 bats in formation and their various acts but the book "isn't over until the bat lady sings."

Students will enjoy this introduction to an important mathematical pattern. Teachers can find many problems that build upon this triangular number pattern and extend the experience.

  • Annual Fall Parade challenges students to use the triangular pattern to figure out how many students are in the fourth grade. Given the number of full rows, students must apply the pattern and use effective recording (picture, table, etc.) to explain their reasoning.
  • Candy Corn presents a triangular numbers problem using a candy corn pattern. Younger students might use candy corn to model the problem. A sample solution shows how older students might use an input-output table to model the pattern and find the solution without the use of manipulatives.
  • See more Bat Activities in Mathwire's Math Activity Themes:  Bats collection.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Symmetric Faces

Halloween masks become a math activity when students create Symmetric Faces. See Symmetric Faces in the Geometry Section for directions to make these unique masks using 1.5 sheets of construction paper, scissors and glue.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Introduction to Coordinate Graphing

Introduce elementary students to coordinate graphing through seasonal coloring activities. The fall Jack-O-Lantern activity requires students to use the grid code and crayons or markers to create a jack-o-lantern on a blank 9x9 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.

Download the Mathwire Jack-o-Lantern graphing activity.

Download the Mathwire Mad Monster graphing activity.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Name-Collection Spiders

Students in Everyday Math classes are familiar with Name-Collection Boxes which challenge students to write different mathematical expressions for a given number.  This activity is easily adapted to create name-collection spiders.  Each leg sports a different name for the given number. 

Thanks to Ms. Collier and Ms. Rachko for creating this activity for their students at Joseph C. Caruso School in Keansburg, NJ.

See more Mathwire Spider Math Activities.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fall Math Activities

Many teachers elect to integrate seasonal activities into lesson plans.  Mathwire has several collections of appropriate math activities to target current objectives and skills.  Be sure to check out the Fall Math Activities in the Mathwire Seasonal Math Activities for new games and problem solving activities to add to your seasonal repertoire.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Calculation Nation

NCTM's Illuminations site includes Calculation Nation.  Students may play the games to challenge themselves, playing against the computer, or they may challenge another online player. 

The games practice multiplication facts, factors, prime numbers, area, perimeter and other upper elementary through middle school concepts and skills.  All games add an element of strategy so that students are prompted to try several possible moves before selecting the best move that garners the most points.  Students won't realize they're really doing math as they PLAY these games and they'll keep playing to try to improve their scores and beat the computer or their online opponent.

Add this free resource to your online sites and encourage students to practice regularly.  They may enjoy playing each other, parents, older siblings or students from other schools.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pumpkin Problem Solving

Take advantage of the seasonal preoccupation with pumpkins to include some problem solving activities.  These seasonal activities include the student handout and a detailed possible solution, both in PDF format for easy downloading and printing.

  • Pascal's Pumpkins is an activity from the Rutger's Discrete Math collection, revised by Mathwire, that challenges students to analyze the patterns in order to complete the array. The file contains the student handout as well as an explanation of the different patterns students may find and the solution.
  • Pumpkin Picking challenges students to solve a pattern problem. The solution provided details how students might use a table to organize the data and easily identify the correct answer to this problem.
  • Pumpkin Farm is a sneaky way to get students to analyze the meaning of remainders in long division. Students must figure out which character will be the 100th to be printed on a neon signboard. The file contains the student handout as well as a detailed possible solution.
  • Jack-o-Lantern Combinations challenges students to figure out how many different pumpkins may be made, given the assortment of eyes, noses and mouths. This problem provides an opportunity to expose students to the concept of orderly counting where they exhaust all possibilities for one component before moving to the next, so that they exhaust all possibilities without duplication.
Be sure to check out more fall math activities on

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Clothespin Graphs

Use a clothespin graph for a simple daily graphing experience.  Many teachers write each student's name on a clothespin that students then use in classroom data collection activities.  This is a simple visual data collection that lends itself to picture cues for younger students or questions for readers.

Add this graphing model to your fall classroom activities:
  • Do you like fall or winter best?
  • Do you help rake leaves?
  • Have you ever bobbed for apples?
  • Do you prefer red or green apples?
  • Will you carve a pumpkin for Halloween?
  • Will your jack-o-lantern be cute or scary?
The list could go on and on.  It's easy to divide a student white board into halves or quarters for four choices.  Students may easily clip their clothespins to the space that represents their choice.  Did heads or tails win the game? 

This data collection activity lends itself to other curricular areas as well.  For example, students might vote on their favorite version of a familiar story or vote on whether or not they were born in the same state where they currently live, etc.

Preschool and primary teachers often find that a clothespin graph is a great way to take attendance.  As students enter the classroom and get settled, they move their clothespin to the Here side.  This makes it easy for teachers to check attendance and students easily see how many people are absent(not here) that day. 

Think about ways to add a clothespin graph to math class.  Please share your ideas on using this simple yet powerful data collection tool.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Math Number Pull

Michelle La Follette submitted an original activity based on Mathwire's Number Line-Up.  Michelle graciously gave permission for Mathwire to share her activity in PDF format.  Math Number Pull is a great mini-assessment of student's number sense.

Thanks, Michelle, for sharing!