Tower of Facts

Standards Met: CCSS.Math.Content.2.OA.B.2; 3.OA.C.7

What You Need: A Jenga set with a math fact taped to each piece

What to Do: Students in former gifted and talented teacher Rachel Lynette’s class loved playing a game they called “Addition Facts Jenga” or “Multiplication Facts Jenga.”

Before the activity, Lynette built a Jenga tower with the help of her students. Each block had an addition or multiplication fact taped to it. She explained the basic rules of Jenga and then introduced a twist: Before students could remove a block from the tower, they had to solve the math problem on that block. For example, if a student wanted to remove the block that read “82 – 7,” he or she would have to first say, “82 – 7 = 75.” For a more substantial challenge, try coming up with a mixture of addition, multiplication, subtraction, and division facts and secure those to your Jenga blocks.


Chain Reaction

Standards Met: CCSS.Math.Content.2.NBT.A.3; 4.NBT.A.2

What You Need: An individual whiteboard and marker for each student

What to Do: Begin by having students sit in a circle, each with a whiteboard and marker. Explain they will build on what the classmate before them has said, so everyone will need to listen carefully. When they are seated, give them a rule to follow, such as “–2” or “+40.” Have the student starting the game write a three-digit number in both standard and expanded form. The succeeding student should write the next number in the sequence following the rule, in the two forms, and so on. For instance, if the rule is “–2” and the first student writes 782 = 700 + 80 + 2, the second student should write 780 = 700 + 80. Go around the circle until each child has written the standard and expanded form of a number by following a given rule. As students grow in their math fluency, give them more challenging sequence rules, or have them try to play the game without whiteboards, requiring them to instead rely on mental math.


Number Hunt

Standards Met: CCSS.Math.Content.1.OA.B.4; 2.NBT.B.5; 3.OA.B; 3.OA.C.7

What You Need: Laminated number cards from 1 to 100

What to Do: Why not combine a favorite kid activity with math time by taking your students outside for a fact-family scavenger hunt?

Before the activity, print and laminate number cards from 1 to 100, and hide the cards outside. Then, have your students head outside to search for sets of three number cards that make up fact families, such as 14, 37, and 51 for an addition/subtraction fact family (i.e., 14 + 37 = 51; 51 – 37 = 14). Tell students to challenge themselves by searching for fact families that are not only addition/subtraction but multiplication/division, or a combination of both. After students have found most of the cards, regroup (inside or outside) and invite them to share and explain the fact families they have found.


Roll and Draw

Standards Met: CCSS.Math.Content.2.OA.C.4; 3.OA.A.1

What You Need: Number cubes, paper, markers

What to Do: When it comes time to introduce multiplication to her second graders, Jessica Muoio, who teaches at Our Lady Queen of Angels School in East Harlem, New York, pulls out the number cubes.

Students begin the game by rolling a number cube and drawing an equivalent number of circles on a piece of paper. Then, they roll the cube again and draw that number of stars within each circle. Next, they write both a multiplication and a repeated-addition sentence underneath the graphic representation. So, if a student rolls a 5 and then a 4, she would draw five circles, each containing four stars. Underneath, she would write 5 x 4 = 20, as well as 4 + 4 + 4 + 4 + 4 = 20. Repeat for additional rounds.

As a variation, you can have students draw the graphic representation as an array instead of as groups of stars, or you can make it a competition. For the latter, split students into groups of two or three. For each round, whoever rolls the largest product (and correctly does the math) wins!


Popsicle Practice

Standards Met: CCSS.Math.Content.2.MD.A.2; 2.MD.B.5; 2.MD.D.9; 3.MD.B.4

What You Need: Popsicles, paper plates, plastic rulers, pencils, grid paper

What to Do: As it gets warmer, what’s better than a frosty treat to cool down while practicing measuring skills?

First, give each student a Popsicle and a paper plate to place it on. Have children measure their Popsicles to either the nearest inch or centimeter and record that measurement on the paper plate.

Then, give students a set amount of time (such as three or four minutes) to eat their Popsicles, but without biting them. When the time is up, have each student measure his or her Popsicle using the same measurement scale (inches or centimeters) as before.

Ask your students to compare the lengths of their Popsicles at the beginning of the experiment and after they stopped eating them by writing number sentences using the two measurements (e.g., 5 inches – 2.5 inches = 2.5 inches).

As an extension, ask students to record measurements using both a centimeter ruler and an inch ruler. Discuss how the measurements relate to the size of the unit chosen.



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Photo: Grace Miller