Do-It-Yourself Math Games and Crafts
Math is still a challenge for many students of all ages, so a fun hands-on math craft and game event can help to empower children to open up to math.
You could hold this event any time of year, but many libraries and schools feature math activities on Pi Day, which is held every March 14th.
Arrange for a high school service club to attend, so you can have two volunteers at each station. Have a wide variety of activities so kids of all ages and grade levels can participate.
You can also offer an activity as a passive program – just set out the supplies and an instruction sheet, and kids and parents can work on the activity without help. Here are some ideas to get you started
Icebreaker: Begin with some entertaining stories that involve math, such as:
Birch, David. The King’s Chessboard.
Demi. A Grain of Rice.
Hutchins, Pat. The Doorbell Rang.
McElligott, Matthew. The Lion’s Share.
McNamara, Margaret. How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin?
Pinczes, Elinor J. One Hundred Hungry Ants.
Schwartz, David M. How Much Is a Million?
Scieszka, Jon. Math Curse.
Refreshments: You can have pie, of course! Or, have some fresh fruit cut into shapes, like apple semi-circles, pineapple circles, watermelon triangles, etc.
Digitopolis: Check out the wealth of ideas on Pop Goes the Page blog’s recap of a library’s celebration of Digitopolis, based on Norton Juster’s classic book The Phantom Tollbooth:
Have a station with a variety of board games that involve counting or math principles. These would include:
Number Bingo: Make this simple Bingo game that anyone can play! www.education.com/activity/article/Bingo/ /.
Bowling for Addition: Make bowling “pins” out of water bottles, with a number written in marker on each bottle. Try to bowl a different number each time, which involves adding up the pins that have fallen – see the instructions here: www.education.com/activity/article/Pop_Bottle_Bowling/ .
Hopscotch: If you have an outdoor patio or similar space, offer hopscotch! www.wikihow.com/Play-Hopscotch .
Place Value Beanbag Toss: This game is a little more involved but is fun and engaging for elementary school-age children. Have kids toss beanbags at tubs marked with the place value of numbers and see who can score: http://lightafire3.blogspot.com/2012/01/math-games.html .
Pasta Pattern Necklaces: String uncooked pasta on yarn to make necklaces. Encourage children to place the various types of pasta on the necklace in a pattern: www.pbs.org/parents/education/math/activities/first-second-grade/pasta-patterns/ .
Craft Stick Shape Pairs: Using just two craft sticks and markers, make these simple shape puzzles: www.education.com/activity/article/halves/ .
Make an Abacus: www.education.com/activity/article/abacus/ .
Fractal Trees: Make these dramatic fractal trees out of paper: www.whatdowedoallday.com/2016/11/sierpinski-fractal-triangle.html .
Mancala Board Game: Make these easy Mancalas out of egg cartons – www.timeforkids.com/news/make-your-own-mancala-board/76371 .
3-D Shapes from Straws: Make 3-D shapes out of drinking straws: http://britton.disted.camosun.bc.ca/strawshapes/straws.htm .
Penny Peck, San Jose State University iSchool