Sunday, 6 October 2013

A few of my favourite things....

Since @samjshah referenced the Sound of Music (one of my all time favourite movies) in his intro to Mission #1, I figured I can reference it too!

Rain drops on roses and whiskers on kittens,
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens,
Brown paper packages tied up with string,
These are a few of my favourite things....

Hmmm..... not too about:

Calculators clicking and my students thinking,
Groups loudly working and problems a-shrinking,
Solutions to problems all tied up with string,
These are a few of my favourite things....

Okay so that was pretty bad. I'm a math teacher. Not a poet or a musician. Give me a break! On a more serious note, one of my most favourite tasks for my students is a few tasks in one.

First, we start with a game called Math Dice, essentially students work in groups and roll 2 twelve sided dice to get a target number (the two numbers are multiplied together to get the target number). They then roll three regular dice and use these three numbers any way they wish to get as close as possible to the target number. For example, if a 5 and a 7 were rolled on the twelve sided dice, the target number is 35. Then, let's say a 2, 3 and 4 were rolled on the other dice. Students use these numbers to create an equations as close as possible to 35. They might do 34 + 2, or 2^3 x 4, etc. I usually give them about 5 min for each game and have 2 winners. First, who ever gets closest and second, who ever can make the most equations that are mathematically correct (any equations). This way, students will all try and students will keep working even if someone quickly gets the target number. Here is the handout I use: Let me know if it doesn't work. I am new to drop box!

After we play the game. I show my students how they can use factorials and summations to make larger numbers. Then, I introduce them to the Four Fours Puzzle. The students work on 0-10 in their table groups and we have a mini competition to see who can get these 11 solutions the fastest. Then, I have them work together as a class to try to get 11-50. They work together and compete against the other classes I teach. This year, the prize was homemade chocolate chip cookies. Yummy!

All this is a lead up to the first big assignment that I give my students. I call it From One to a Hundred. It works just like the Four Fours Puzzle, but each student is given 4 diferent numbers from 1-9 and then use these numbers to create as many equations as they can from 1-100. Here is the handout I use:


  1. Carrie, I love this! Mind if I borrow your From One to a Hundred to use with students who need extra practice with basic operations? It's much more interesting than a skill drill.

  2. For sure! I am so glad that you like the idea. My students love it.

  3. I love the math dice activity and how there are two types of winners. I always want something for the slower processor students (like me) other wise they won't bother trying. I have seen the four fours activity but have not tried it yet. I like how you worked up to that with an intro activity. Thank you for sharing, I look forward to reading more of your blogs.

  4. Wow! So many great ideas to steal from just one blog post! :) Thanks so much for sharing these -I think I might even use Pamela's idea to use "From One to a Hundred" with students who need to practice basic operations. Can't wait to read more from you!

  5. The four fours is a classic and a favorite of mine, and I've done something similar to your "1 to 100", but I'm always learning new things from the MTBoS. I love your dice game! There's something about the randomness that sounds fun, and I like the fact that we're not always able to write an expression that equals the target number.

    In a bit of shameless self-promotion, I’ll mention that Challenge 05 over at has a similar feel to these problems, in the sense that the goal is to build an expression out of some given building blocks. If your students liked the four fours, they might like “pieces of eight” ! :)

    1. Oops! I meant to refer you to Challenge 06. (Not that challenge 05 isn't cool... it's just not as relevant to your post about the four fours problem. ;)

    2. Thanks, Jason. I will check it out. The best part of the MTBoS is the sharing that happens.