Activities and Games
Quick Ideas Grades 1-2
First-Day Math Games
- Grades: 1–2
GUESS MY NUMBERS
Kids will learn: Counting, calendar skills, higher/lower
How to play: Pick pairs of students and take turns letting one try to guess the other’s address number, number of siblings, birthday month and day, the number of letters in their last name, the digits in their phone number, etc. The student should give prompts of “higher” or “lower” to help lead the guessing student to the correct answer. Now let all students try to guess your numbers!
Kids will learn: Mapping, measuring
How to play: Together, draw a huge classroom. Label everyone’s desks and essential class items. Discuss compass points—the teacher sits in the northwest corner of the room; the crayon bin is on a table in the southeast section next to the door. Measure furniture and draw to scale, and pace off distances from one item to another.
NUMBER STORY PORTRAIT
Kids will learn: Calculations
How to play: Challenge students to write and draw number stories about their lives. They may write out addition and subtraction stories about their favorite hobby (“I have seven baseball bats. Three are wooden and four aluminum”), summer vacation (“We spent seven days in Florida but I was sick for two days so I had five days of fun”), or family (“My two brothers each have three games and that equals six games that I want”).
GET TO KNOW THE DATE
Kids will learn: Calculations, odd/even, fractions
How to play: Write the numeric date of the first day of school (e.g., 9/1/07). Ask math questions about it: Is it an odd or even month/day/year? How many days are left in this month? How many days are left in the year? Approximately what fraction of the month is done, and how much is there to go? What day of the week is it? Try to stump your smart new students, and let them try to stump each other. This is a great daily warm-up all year long.
SCHOOL SUPPLY STORE
Kids will learn: Money skills, counting, calculations
How to play: Give students one dollar in fake bills or coins to buy desk supplies at the classroom “school supply store.” Charge one cent for crayons (maximum 20 per student, two per color), five cents for pencils, 10 cents for erasers, and 25 cents for a small notebook (35 for a large—how much more expensive than a pencil is that?). Continue the activity by giving students a different dollar amount each day and changing the prices of items to make for more difficult calculations. Allow them to buy freely, but require them to budget their own purchases.
Kids will learn: Time, measuring
How to play: Help students get to know their school routine by creating a special schedule with clocks. Divide a piece of paper into five equal columns labeled Monday through Friday. Draw circles going down each column and add clock numbers on each circle. With your guidance, students should write each activity of the day and the time on the clock and below the circle. Review a.m. (morning) and p.m. (afternoon). Create group challenge questions: If music on Wednesdays starts at 8:45 a.m. and lasts for a half hour, what time will you be back to class?