Friday, August 31, 2012

Climbing a Mountain of Addition [game]

Games. Games. Games. I have figured out that I can get my son to do practically anything if I turn it into a game.

This makes me feel like the queen of deception ... in a good way.

To practice adding two-digit numbers (i.e. carrying numbers), I gave my son a mountain-climbing addition challenge. 

I played too, so we could see who climbed higher (i.e. added to get the largest number).

Playing is simple. Download the one-page PDF I made. Cut apart and laminate. Grab two fine-tip dry-erase markers and a pencil and paper. 

You’re ready!
Download a PDF of these two cards here.
Instructions: Write five single-digit numbers at the bottom of the mountain; do not use the same number more than once. (Use a dry-erase marker so any mistakes can be wiped off with a paper towel, and the mountain can be cleared for another round of play.)

Add the numbers up the mountain until you’re at the top. The higher you go, the harder the math becomes. Use a scratch pad of paper to solve the problems.

Keep your card secret from your opponent.

When you’re done adding, reveal your card to see which player climbed the highest.

We each climbed five mountains – sometimes to heights just over 100. 

Whoa! Mountain climbing is great exercise – or I should say, a great math exercise!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Rounding (Single Digits) Board Game

Make practicing rounding numbers up and down fun - THAT was my goal.

While a simple sorting exercise or a worksheet would have been effective, neither idea excited me. And let’s face it; if it doesn’t sound fun to me, a 7-year-old isn’t likely to think so either.

Board games are a favorite with my son, so I whipped this one up.

Download a PDF of the game board, playing cards, and die here.
You need two players to play.

Use rounding to move your game piece. Try to get to the finish before your opponent.

Cut the cards apart. Shuffle and lie them face down in a pile between the two players.
Find two game pieces (e.g. two different buttons, coins, or glass decorator gems). We used some race car-shaped erasers.
Cut, fold, and glue the “go back/move forward” die.

How to Play
Game pieces are placed on the words “start.”

The first player rolls the “go back/move forward” die. If the die reads “go back,” the game piece cannot be moved and play moves on to the second player. He/she rolls.

If the second player rolls and the die reads “go forward,” they turn a card over on the deck and round it up or down. If the number is four or less and rounds down to zero, the player must stay at the start. Now it is the first player’s turn again.

If the number on the card is five or higher, the player will round up and move their game piece 10 spaces on the board.

Play alternates between both players.

If a player rolls “move forward,” they will always round the number on the card they draw. If it rounds down to zero, they do not move their game piece.

He/she can only move their game piece if the number on the card is a 5, 6, 7, 8, or 9, which all round up to 10.

If a player rolls “go back,” the number on the card drawn is the precise number of space they retreat. In some cases, this may put the player back at the first square on the game board.

The deck of cards may need to be reshuffled for continuous play.

How to Win
A player must round a number and advance beyond the final square on the board and pass the opponent’s game piece to win.

Although there are just over 20 spaces on the game board, it took us awhile to get through one game. And at one point, both my son and I were on the last space, rolling to see who would roll a “move forward” and draw a card with 5 or higher first; we were both sent back enough times to make predictions of who would win, anyone’s guess.

My son asked to play several more times, and even added LEGO minifigures to the board as “obstacles.” This was a GREAT way to practice rounding single-digit numbers.  Round Around is going in our regular rotation of home-made board games!

Note: If you child has trouble remembering which numbers round down and which round up, consider teaching him/her a rhyme. Several can be found here.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Alphabetical Adjectives Connect the Dots

I’m a writer. My son is not. But that hasn’t stopped me from trying to sharpen his language arts skills.

This word nerd came up with a sneaky way to do it, too: connect the dots!

To jog my son’s memory that adjectives are describing words, we read a Brian P. Cleary book. Hairy, Scary, Ordinary: What is an Adjective? is fun and engaging language arts literature at its best.

The illustrations are clever and whimsical and the text is chock full of adjectives which are set off with color (the rest of the words are black). So far, every book from Cleary’s Words Are CATegorical series has been a hit with my son and me.

For a little adjective practice, I made a great puzzle.

Download a PDF of this connect-the-dots puzzle here.

The instructions were simple – start at the red star and connect the lowercase adjectives alphabetically. When you get to “z,” start over with uppercase adjectives until you’re back where you started. Lastly, connect the square dots drawing a line from number to number starting at one black star and ending at the other.

My son did quite well. He only had to use the eraser a few times and, when finished, he was so proud of his songbird connect-the-dots picture! (This mama writer was mighty proud too.)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Stairway Subtraction

My son was bouncing a ball off of the stairs the other day when I had a little epiphany. I whipped up some labels with numbers, printed them on sticker paper, and this little activity was born.

What You Need
A small ball
Number labels for the stairway
Paper and pencil for scorekeeping

How to Play
Stand at the bottom of the stairs and toss a small ball (ours was a hacky sack) up the steps. Pay attention to the step it lands on first.

Keep Score
Each round, write the number of the step that the player’s ball lands off first (e.g. stair No. 20). Then, from that number subtract the number of the step (e.g. stair No. 17) where the ball stops. The answer to the subtraction problem (e.g. 20 - 17 =) is the player’s score (3) for that round. 

If the player tosses a ball and it stays on one step, the answer is zero (e.g. 18 - 18 = 0). Play five to 10 rounds. Add the rounds together for the player’s final score.

How to Win
The player with the smallest score wins.

We played twice. I wish this blog had audio so you could have heard the hoots and hollers we both made as we had good (and especially bad) tosses.

Math can be fun. My son has taught me that.