The complete collection of articles, lesson ideas, print-ready resources, and more.
Standards Met: CCSS.Math.Content.2.OA.B.2; 3.OA.C.7
What You Need: Plastic cups or toilet paper rolls, tape, markers, craft sticks, turkey templates, food coloring, whiteboards and dry-erase markers or pencils and paper
What to Do: Former teacher Jillian Riley enjoys sharing smart, fun activities through her blog, A Mom With a Lesson Plan, and practicing math operations with turkey-themed crafts is one of her favorites. Before beginning the lesson, she prepares the “turkeys” and “feathers” as follows.
She begins by writing one number on each turkey template. These numbers are the answers for the math facts kids will practice. For example, if they are working on addition or subtraction facts 0–20, the turkeys will show numbers within this range. If they are working on multiplication facts, the turkeys may show multiples of each number from 0 to 12.
After labeling and cutting out the turkey templates, Riley tapes one template onto each cup (you could also use toilet-paper rolls, as pictured above). Then, she writes number sentences on colorful craft sticks—the “feathers.” Before the activity, she dyes each stick with either red, yellow, or orange food coloring; each stick should display one problem that will match with one turkey cup. If you want students to work in small groups or pairs, prepare several sets of cups and craft sticks.
After distributing cups, craft sticks, and whiteboards and dry-erase markers (or pencils and paper), have students take turns choosing a craft stick, solve the problem listed, and put the stick in the appropriate cup. They then write down the facts they’ve solved.
As an extension, students can create their own problems for others to solve. Make them more complicated by introducing multiple operations in a single problem or by including fractions.
It’s a Piece of Pie!
Standard Met: CCSS.Math.Content.3.NF.A.1
What You Need: Paper plates, scissors, construction paper, crayons, glue sticks, pencils
What to Do: In this activity, students create “pies” for Thanksgiving made up of sections of their favorite types.
Before beginning, prepare orange, red, tan, and blue construction paper as follows: Cut circles of each color of paper that will fit the flat portion of the paper plate. Students will need between two and four circles in different colors.
Start the activity by having a brief discussion about fractional pieces of a whole. Draw example figures split into fractional pieces for children to reference. Then, have each child color the outside (fluted) portion of a paper plate brown to represent the pie crust. Next, students pick circles of construction paper to represent their favorite types of pie (orange = pumpkin, red = apple, tan = pecan, blue = blueberry). They should choose at least two types of pie.
They will then decide which types of pie will go into making up their total pie. For example, if a student likes pumpkin the best, followed by apple and then pecan, she may place half a circle of orange paper, three-eighths of a circle of red paper, and one-eighth of a circle of tan paper on her plate. Students can create these fractional parts by folding their circles in half as many times as needed. More advanced learners may consider how to fold circles into thirds or sixths.
They complete their pies by gluing the sections onto their paper plates and writing in the appropriate fractions on the pie slices. Have them calculate the pie preferences of two or three other students to finish.
In a Nutshell
Standard Met: CCSS.Math.Content.2.OA.B.2
What You Need: Brown construction paper (two shades), acorn templates or heavy card stock, markers
What to Do: Second-grade teacher Jaime Pink, from Van Nuys, California, likes to make mental math visual. She found this activity “grabbed my students’ attention hook, line, and sinker!”
Before starting the lesson, Pink, who blogs at Bright Concepts 4 Teachers, briefly reviews mental math strategies with the class. Then, she has her students create their acorns using the templates and brown construction paper—the dark color for the “shell” and the lighter color for the “nut.” (Students may also draw their acorns by hand and copy them onto heavy card stock.) Next, they write a math problem on the shell. The problem should be one that is not a memorized fact and that allows for regrouping. If teaching addition, for example, the problem may be 56 + 47 = 103.
On the nut section, students display how to mentally solve the problem by breaking apart each number into tens and ones. In the above example, the nut would show 50 + 40 = 90, 6 + 7 = 13, and 90 + 13 = 103.
As an extension, have students write holiday word problems to go with their acorns. For example: “One squirrel had 56 acorns ready for the Thanksgiving feast. His friend brought 47 more acorns. How many acorns did they have altogether?” Have students exchange problems, solve them using mental math, and match their answers with the appropriate acorn.
Feathering Their Nests
Standard Met: CCSS.Math.Content.1.MD.C.4
What You Need: Brown paper bags, markers, feathers in many colors (or construction paper cut into feather shapes), glue, turkey templates, mini-whiteboards or scrap paper, dry-erase markers
What to Do: Kids will love this colorful guessing game that involves math. Prepare by placing 12 feathers in a variety of colors in a paper bag for each pair of students. Each student needs a turkey template, a whiteboard or scrap paper, and a dry-erase marker.
Partners begin by counting and tallying the feathers of different colors in the bags (e.g., three red, seven orange, two yellow). Ask them to discuss the likelihood of choosing a particular color—in this example, there’d be no chance of choosing blue and a good chance of picking orange. Challenge students to think in terms of fractions; here, there is a 3 in 12 (or 3/12) chance of picking a red feather. (As an even more difficult challenge, you may have them do percentages: In the above example, there is a 25 percent chance of picking a red feather.)
Next, have students return all the feathers to their paper bags and shake them up. The first student makes a prediction about which color feather she might choose based on probability. She then reaches into the bag, without looking, to select a feather. If she has correctly predicted the color, she keeps the feather to later add to her turkey template. If not, she returns the feather to the bag. Students revise their tallies according to what remains in the bag (in this example, if orange is chosen, three red, six orange, and two yellow feathers remain). Then, the other student in each pair chooses a feather. The game continues until each student has six feathers.
Have students glue their feathers onto their turkeys and use markers to decorate. They can include a number sentence of their final feather count (for example, 3 + 7 + 2 = 12).
Photo: Courtesy of Jillian Riley
Activities for all ages, CCSS-ready lesson plans, and more.