Focus on Math

Helping children become mathematicians!

Add Math to Your Open House September 18, 2014

Filed under: General Math — Focus on Math @ 10:09 am

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 9.55.22 PMBack-to-school usually brings with it an open house for parents and guardians to come in meet the teacher and see the classroom. As a classroom teacher I always encouraged the students to come to the open house along with their parents*, giving the students the opportunity to act as docents or guides for the occasion, taking their parents through the various stations (usually 5 or 6) set up around the room.**

Before the event we practiced the proper way to conduct introductions, and the students would put that into practice at the open house. Introducing their parents to me, the teacher, was the last station to complete for the students to complete.

I always included one or more math components in the event, most regularly a graph. Earlier in the day or week the students and I would make a graph of an opinion question (e.g., favourite pasta, sport, or singer). Once the graph was created we would use math to investigate the data (math applicable to the grade level of the students: from simple “How many more…?” and “Which was preferred most?”  kinds of questions for younger students to “What percentage of students preferred…?” kinds of questions for older students.)

The graph and what we learned from the data would be displayed at the open house, and the students were to discuss it with their parents. Additionally we asked the parents to participate in creating a new graph — we put the same question put to them. I always asked the students to predict ahead how they thought the parents’ graph would be similar to the students’ graph, and how they thought the two would be different. The day after the open house we would investigate the data again and compare our predictions.

*note: All my experience as a classroom teacher was in schools designated “inner city” with a transient student population. I always invited my students to come to the open house on their own, even if their parents/guardians could not come. I also made sure a few of my own friends were there that evening, near the classroom, so that any student who had no adult with them could still have the experience of acting as docent to one of my friends.

** note: Other stations set up for the evening included things like these: explaining our classroom behaviour contract; discussing our goals for the year; demonstrating some of the math “thinker tools” (manipulatives); demonstrating a simple science experiment.

I hope you will try making your open house an interactive experience!
Mathematically yours,


More on 100 Day! April 5, 2011

With the 100th day of the calendar year coming up soon, I thought I would post a few more ideas for activities involving 100. Hopefully some of them will be useful to you with your students. So in no particular order…

  • Read 100 Hungry Ants to your kids and have them divide 100 by other numbers. Ask how many groups? How many in each group? How many left over? (A 100 dot array is a useful tool here — kids can circle groups they are making right on a small 100 dot array and to figure out the answer for each group size.)
  • Give young students (grade 1 or 2) a 100 chart (either 0 to 99 or 1 to 100) and say random numbers for them to find and cover with a bingo chip.
  • Have students figure out how far to 100 (or to 100%). Again, a 100 dot array is a useful tool. Given a certain number or percentage, e.g., 23 or 23%, have students figure out how much is needed to get to 100 or 100%.
  • Pour out 100 candies such as jelly beans, Skittles, or Smarties and graph them by colours.
  • Have students close their eyes and stand when they think 100 seconds have passed.
  • Cut pieces of string, estimating 100 cm. See who can come closest to the actual amount (graph the estimated lengths).
  • Have students bring in 100 of the same item from home (e.g., pieces of macaroni, Lego blocks, pieces of gum, mini marshmallows, bobby pins, etc) and weigh the different amounts.
  • Have students jump rope 100 times and then take their pulses. Graph and compare.
  • Hold a 100 second race.
  • Create pictures using only 100 cm of yarn or string.
  • Use large 10 x 10 grids and have students colour them in two colours to make a pattern or picture.

There are lots of things that can be done to celebrate the day. I am doing several of these activities with my eight classes of students at Charlie Lake School this week. No matter your grade, it is always great to put some fun in math!

Mathematically yours,