Our math units circle back around to addition fluency problems in October, and students start to become a little bored with the same old thing. To spice things up for the holidays, our first grade decided to change out some of the traditional manipulatives and word problems with Halloween-themed treats. If Halloween isn’t an appropriate theme for your class, using fall leaves with foam stickers or silk leaves as manipulatives works just as well. The important thing is giving students many opportunities to practice computational fluency while enjoying their work.
Some fun, fall manipulatives might include:
Halloween foam shapes
Black, orange, and white foam shapes
Fall leaf stickers
Candy (candy corn, individually wrapped gum, etc., or images of the same)
Plastic monsters or spiders
Use addition and subtraction within 20 to solve word problems involving situations of adding to, taking from, putting together, taking apart, and comparing, with unknowns in all positions, e.g., by using objects, drawings, and equations with a symbol for the unknown number to represent the problem.
Change out the usual word problems for a little more fun. Switch activities so they are Halloween or fall-themed. Manipulatives can be real items or paper prints. Try a word problem finding a combination of candy and paper candy manipulatives, or a variety of “stick and solve” problems printed on mailing labels to stick into a math notebook.
Relate counting to addition and subtraction (e.g., by counting on 2 to add 2).
Grab between 8 and 12 candy corns (or individually wrapped candy, or images of the same) and some fun, themed cups. Partner students. One partner hides some of the candy in a cup. The other partner uses what they see to help determine what is hidden in the cup. Then students record work on a chart. Students can use a variety of strategies, such as mental subtraction, knowledge of addition, or counting up.
Compose two-dimensional shapes (rectangles, squares, trapezoids, triangles, half-circles, and quarter-circles) or three-dimensional shapes (cubes, right rectangular prisms, right circular cones, and right circular cylinders) to create a composite shape, and compose new shapes from the composite shape.
Students use pattern blocks to fill in a cat shape. They should try to fill in one version with more shapes, and one with less. Then they can record how many of each shape they used and the total number of shapes used. To extend learning, have students use shapes to create their own Halloween or fall pictures and trace the edge. They can share with partners and challenge their partner to fill the picture they made.
Halloween and autumn math fun doesn’t stop there. Learn more with these activities:
What fun ways do you brighten up math workshop?
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