Teacher calls out numbers consecutively, starting at 0.
When a student hears their number being called they immediately raise a hand. When the teacher tags the hand, they stand up.
If more than one hand was raised, those students lose. They become your helpers, tagging raised hands.
If only one hand was raised, that child wins the round.
“Each game takes about 45 seconds,” Hamilton says. “This is part of the key to its success. Children who have not learned the art of losing are quickly thrown into another game before they have a chance to get sad.”
The experience of mathematics should be profound and beautiful. Too much of the regular K-12 mathematics experience is trite and true. Children deserve tough, beautiful puzzles.
What are the best numbers to pick? Patrick Vennebush hosted on online version of the game at his Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks blog a few years back, though we didn’t have to bend over into rocks—which is a good thing for some of us older folks.
Socks Are Like Pants, Cats Are Like Dogs by Malke Rosenfeld and Gordon Hamilton is filled with a diverse collection of math games, puzzles, and activities exploring the mathematics of choosing, identifying and sorting. The activities are easy to start and require little preparation.
Math Concepts: counting up to five, thinking ahead. Players: two or more. Equipment: none.
How to Play
Each player starts with both hands as fists, palm down, pointer fingers extended to show one point for each hand. On your turn, use one of your fingers to tap one hand:
If you tap an opponent’s hand, that person must extend as many extra fingers on that hand (in addition to the points already there) as you have showing on the hand that tapped. Your own fingers don’t change.
If you force your opponent to extend all the fingers and thumb on one hand, that makes a “dead hand” that must be put behind the player’s back, out of the game.
If you tap your own hand, you can “split” fingers from one hand to the other. For instance, if you have three points on one hand and only one on the other, you may tap hands to rearrange them, putting out two fingers on each hand. Splits do not have to end up even, but each hand must end up with at least one point (and less than five, of course).
You may even revive a dead hand if you have enough fingers on your other hand to split. A dead hand has lost all its points, so it starts at zero. When you tap it, you can share out the points from your other hand as you wish.
I discovered this gem in my blog reading today. One of the secrets of great teaching:
Audrey seemed, for once, at a loss for words. She was thinking about the question.
I try to stay focused on being silent after I ask young children questions, even semi-serious accidental ones. Unlike most adults, they actually take time to think about their answers and that often means waiting for a response, at least if you want an honest answer.
If you’re only looking for the “right” answer, it’s fairly easy to gently badger a child into it, but I’m not interested in doing that.
Happy 11/12/13, otherwise known as “tenty-one, tenty-two, tenty-three.”
Do your young children have trouble counting in the teens? Try making up Funny Numbers to help them! It’s a great habit to develop, because Funny Numbers will come in handy as mental math tools throughout their school math career.
If you’d like to make your own Happy Math Day post, check out the instructions here: Every Day Is Mathematics Day. And please share a link in the comments section below — I’d love to see what math holiday you invent!
This was a fun activity from Moebius Noodles for our PK-1st grade Homeschool Math in the Park group. The children take turns making a maze and setting a dinosaur inside. Then the other dinosaurs (parents or siblings) try to guess whether their friend is on the land or in the water.
(1) First, draw a big circle on the white board. This is your lake.
(2) With a finger or a bit of cloth, erase a small section of the circle to create the opening for your maze.
(3) Starting at one edge of the opening, draw a random squiggle inside the circle. Make your squiggle end at the other edge of the opening.
(4) Set your dinosaur anywhere inside the maze.
(1) Now it’s your turn to guess. Is the dinosaur standing on the land? Is it swimming in the water?
(2) How will you figure out if you guessed right?
(3) Check by jumping across the lines of the maze. Each jump takes you across a boundary: Splash! (Into the water.) Thump! (Back on the land.) Splash! Thump! … Until you reach the dinosaur inside.
(4) Or go to the maze entrance and walk your dinosaur along the path. Can you find your way?
It’s a short book with plenty of great stories, advice, and conversation-starters. While Danielson writes directly to parents, the book will also interest grandparents, aunts & uncles, teachers, and anyone else who wants to help children notice and think about math in daily life.
“You don’t need special skills to do this. If you can read with your kids, then you can talk math with them. You can support and encourage their developing mathematical minds.
“You don’t need to love math. You don’t need to have been particularly successful in school mathematics. You just need to notice when your children are being curious about math, and you need some ideas for turning that curiosity into a conversation.
“In nearly all circumstances, our conversations grow organically out of our everyday activity. We have not scheduled “talking math time” in our household. Instead, we talk about these things when it seems natural to do so, when the things we are doing (reading books, making lunch, riding in the car, etc) bump up against important mathematical ideas.
“The dialogues in this book are intended to open your eyes to these opportunities in your own family’s life.”
Check out my newest home decor item, a hundred chart. The amount of work I put into it, I consider getting it framed to be proudly displayed in the living room. The thing is monumental in several ways:
1. It is monumentally different from my usual approach to choosing math aids. My rule is if it takes me more than 5 minutes to prepare a math manipulative, I skip it and find another way.
2. It is monumentally time-consuming to create from scratch all by yourself.
It began with a humble list of seven things in the first (now out of print) edition of my book about teaching home school math. Over the years I added new ideas, and online friends contributed, too, so the list grew to become one of the most popular posts on my blog:
Many things in mathematics need to be understood relationally — that is, in relationship to other concepts. But some things just need to be memorized. How do you know which is which? A homeschooling friend pointed out that one thing children definitely need to memorize is the counting sequence from 1-100 and beyond. While there are some patterns that make counting easier, one does just have to memorize which “nonsense sounds” we have attached to each number.
Another sort-of counting that young students should master is subitizing — recognizing at a glance how many items are in a small group. Children do this instinctively, but we can help them develop the skill by playing subitizing games.
[Aside: In writing this blog post, I ran into some nostalgia. Back when we first did these PUFM lessons, my daughter Kitten was only a toddler. I wrote, “I’ve tried to do lots of counting with my youngest, who hasn’t quite gotten beyond, ‘…eleven, twelve, firteen, firteen, nineteen, seven,…’ The numbers tend to start appearing randomly after she gets past 10.” Ah, memories.]