Suggestions from the Field
People are sharing such lovely ideas about how families can be doing interesting, engaging math at home. Here are some examples, with commentary about ways to extend or alter them for children of different ages.
October 9, 2020 (Math for the Neighborhood)
When we say “math for the neighborhood” we are thinking of something Math with Me MN calls “Public Math.” They are encouraging people to create and share friendly, approachable activities, in their homes and communities; activities “designed to connect people to each other and to mathematics” and “to reignite joy and play in (distance) learning, and to maximize student agency.” Examples we’ve seen below; lots more of examples @MathWithMeMN. Also, #MathWalk, #SidewalkMath, #PublicMath
August 14, 2020
Crazy Train. Gather a collection of items that have different attributes (e.g. color, has [numbers], made of X, are electronic). Make a line where each object has something in common with the object(s) next to it. How long a train can you make?
Before and After. This game helps children practice what number comes before or after another number – or what’s one more (or less) than a number. You can write the number instead of rolling a die. Older children can practice what’s 10 or 100 more or less than a number.
Splat! Given an image with some number of counters (or coins) and the total showing, figure out how many are (or how much money is) hidden. If you use coins, what combination of coins could be under the splat?
If  is the answer, what is the question? Choose an answer. Generate lots of questions that have that answer!
Comparing Weights. Find things you can weigh. Compare one to the other. Which is heavier? Which is lighter? How do you know?
Math Walk. Go for a walk to see what numbers you can find. Additional challenges by age in the Tweet!
Driveway Math. What math do you see? Can you make your own?
Garbage. A great game for 2-4 players, using a deck of cards.
If I know This… Start with something you know. Pose problems that the thing you know can help you solve! (From Jump-Start Routines.)
July 17, 2020 (Math & Art)
This week we’re sharing posts that connect art and mathematics. We hope you find some inspiration in these Tweets!
June 26, 2020
Counting Books Looking for readalouds? Check out this library, with titles that explore numbers to 10, 20, and 100 and beyond, as well as ideas like 0 and counting by groups.
How Many? What can you count? How many do you see? How do you know?
Dominoes What math questions do you see? Here are some: How many tiles? How do you know? … How many dots? How do you know?
Fun with Paper Airplanes Make a paper airplane. Throw it at a target with several holes, each labeled with a different number. Keep score!
The Horse Problem Good for young and old alike. How did you think about it? How would you convince someone else your thinking makes sense? Acting it out can be a helpful strategy!
How Many Are Hidden? If there are 4 faces total, how many are hidden under the purple cloud? How do you know? Can you use numbers to show what you know? Use this scenario to make up problems at home!
How Many? What can you count? How many do you see? How do you know?
4 Bags, 15 Pennies How many ways can you put 15 pennies into 4 bags?
Homemade Curling Create a curling board? court? Practice curling and addition!
A Growing Pattern Can you figure out what comes next? Build it and check. Can you keep extending it? Challenge: How many will be in the 10th row? Can you figure it out without building each row?
June 19, 2020
Ways to Show a Number How many different ways can you find to show 8?
Patterns What do you have at home that you could use to make a pattern? How do you know what comes next?
Math with Water Balloons So many ways to think about this activity! Label water balloons with numbers, kids run to put them in order. Label water balloons with facts, kids run to put them on their sum/difference/product/quotient. What other games can you create?
Would You Get Rich? If you offer to do a chore for 1¢ on day 1, 2¢ on day 2, 4¢ on day 3, 8¢ on day 4…how much would you make in a week? 2 weeks? One month?
Fraction Talks with Legos If the green Lego is one, how much is the brown? See the @up_teach timeline for many “remixes” of this image. Have Legos at home? Make your own!
A Shape Hunt What shapes do you spy at home?
Guess My Rule Can you guess how this family has sorted itself? Try finding a way to sort your family. Encourage people to ask questions, to figure out how you sorted.
Toss and Add Make targets with different amounts. Toss small objects. Add your points. How else could you play?
Ultimate Tic-Tac-Toe Learn to play Ultimate Tic-Tac-Toe.
Fraction Splat If the total amount is 7, how can you figure out how much is under the “splat”?
June 12, 2020 (How Many? Images)
How Many? How many? How do you know?
How many? How many squares? … How many squares are outlined with color? How many squares aren’t totally outlined in color? … How many squares are outlined using one color? two colors? 3 colors? … What else can you count? … And, always, how do you know?
How many? What could you count? How do you know how many?
How Many? How many eggs in one full box? How many eggs in each box? How many empty spots? How do you know?
How Many? How many bricks? …. How many white? How many red? … What fraction is white? What fraction is red? … How much paint to finish the job?
How Many? How many muffins? How many empty spots? How many muffins could you make? How do you know?
How Many? What could you count? How would you count?
How many? What could you count? How do you know how many?
How Many? How many pencils? How many erasers? How do you know?
How Many? Can you find squares in the image? How many?
June 5, 2020 (Geometry)
2-D and 3-D Shapes What can you find, draw, or build at home? What’s the same about 2-d and 3-d shapes? What’s different?
Shapes with Chips Do you have chips or other snacks at home? What shape is one? What shapes can you make with more than one?
Making Shapes Do you have toothpicks and clay? What can you make?
Cutting Sidewalks How many pieces can you make if you cut a rectangle with one line? with 2? with 3?
Sidewalk Math Make a design and then ask some questions about it! See sample questions at YouCubed.org.
Shapes in the Yard What shapes do you see around your home?
Shapes with Cereal Are there shapes in your cereal? Which ones? Can you combine those shapes to make other shapes?
Making Shapes What can you make with toothpicks and clay? Can you make shapes with 3 sides? with 4? (Open the thread to see examples of what children do.)
Toothpicking Do you have a box of toothpicks? Use them to tackle this challenge from Marilyn Burns.
Sidewalk Math Have tape and sidewalk chalk? (Or, paper, a marker, and crayons?) Try this sidewalk math challenge.
May 29, 2020
Make a Puzzle Cut one face of a box into pieces to make a puzzle!
An Array Hunt What arrays can you find? How many rows? How many columns? How many total?
Shut the Box Practice addition combinations and think about strategy. Directions here.
How many dancing feet? Solve a riddle about dancing feet. Challenge: Make a dancing feet riddle for someone else to solve!
Angles in Your Name What kinds of angles can you find in your name?
Make a Counting Book This class made a counting book with a page for each day of at-home learning.
Measuring with Feet Measure something with your feet. How many feet is it? What if your younger sibling measures the same thing with their feet? What if an adult measures the same thing with their feet? Will their results be bigger, smaller, or the same? Why do you think so?
Multiplication How would you explain to someone how how much fruit you’d need to eat 5 pieces a day for 8 days?
Multiplication War Do you know the card game War? Here’s a version that focuses on multiplication, and has a strategic twist!
Four 4’s The challenge: use four 4’s and any of the operations to make all of the numbers from 0-20. For example (4+4) – (4+4) = 0.
May 22, 2020
Representing Counting by Groups of 2 How could you show counting by 2s with things at home?
Describing a Cube Can you find examples of a cube at home? How would you describe them? How many faces? How many vertices?
Sopa de Números What equations can you find? (Also, the Chapman #MathPlay Activity Series releases a new video for families every Friday at noon.)
Roller Derby Practice sums, and think about strategy (probability)! Directions here.
A Venn Diagram Puzzle Can you find a number that fits each region in the diagram? Challenge: Make a Venn Diagram puzzle for someone else to solve!
Decompose a Box Find a box. Try to imagine what it will look like if you take it apart so that it’s flat. What do you think it will look like? This thread shows one teacher’s instructions and lots of children’s work!
Math Art with Boxes Cut a box into strips. What can you make?
12 Coins, 1 Dollar. I have 12 coins. I have one dollar total. What could I have? Is there more than one solution? Challenge: Write a coin riddle for someone else to solve!
Circles and Stars Roll two dice to generate the number of circles (groups), and the number of stars in each group. How many stars? Can you write a multiplication equation for each round?
A Pile Pattern What would pile 4 look like? Pile 5? Can you predict pile 10? Pile 100?
May 15, 2020
Math & Motion Do some math while getting some exercise!
A Number Hunt What numbers can you find? Can you find decimal numbers? What do the numbers tell you?
Race to Fill. Roll, add, and put a [grape] in the answer. For older kids: roll, add, and multiply by 7. Race to fill all the sections.
How many windows? Young children can think about 1 or a few floors and how they know. Older children can think about more floors, and whether they can figure out the number of windows on [10 or 20] floors without first figuring out 1-9 or 1-19 floors.
Fractions of Squares Do you see 1/4 in the image? Can you see 1/4 another way? How would that change if the teal and yellow sections together equal 1? Additional images and challenges: image 2, image 3, image 4, image 5. (Inspired by Traci Jackson’s Math Walks and Nat Banting’s Fraction Talks.)
Comparing Nonstandard Units Find different objects you can use to measure length. Compare how many of each it takes to measure the same length. Which results in the largest measurement? the shortest? Why do you think that is?
How Many Legs? Given a number of legs, how many people are there? How many animals with 4 legs? What if there are a combination of people and 4-legged animals? What if ther’s a mix of 2- and 6- and 8-legged creatures?
A Problem about Money A problem from Marilyn Burns. Open the thread for further challenges!
How many cuts? How many slices? What’s the least number of slices you can make with 5 cuts? The most? What if you cahnge the number of cuts?
What fraction is [gray]? Can you figure out what fraction of the square is each color? What color/colors would make up half of the shape? a fourth?
May 8, 2020
Sidewalk Geometry Make an outline using one color chalk or tape. Color the shapes. How many [triangles, shapes with 4 sides]? Challenge: Challenge kids to design the outline. Can you make one that only uses [triangles]?
Math & Motion Do some math while getting some exercise!
Strike It Out In this game, Player 1 chooses two numbers to cross out on the numberline and then finds and circles the sum or difference of those two numbers. Player 2 crosses out that circled number, chooses another to cross out, and circles the sum or difference. The winner? The player who prevents their opponent from being able to take a turn. (Directions, from @nrichmaths.)
Show Multiplication What can you find to show multiplication? You can use groups, an array, or an area model. How does it show multiplication?
Fraction Equivalents How many different ways could you make 3/4 cup with the measuring cups shown? 3/8? 5/8?
Make a Number Search Roll a die to generate numbers. Write the numbers in an empty grid. Then, circle the cominations of . Remember, you can make 10 with more than 2 numbers!
Race to 100 Players take turns rolling 2 dice and deciding whether to add, subract, multiply or divide the two numbers and move that number of spaces on the chart. The goal: get to 100. (The directions, from @YouCubed)
15 in Groups How many ways can you put 15 in 4 groups?
Collecting Data Decide on something to collect data about at home or in your neighborhood. Discuss how to collect the data and then collect it. Discuss what it tells you and any new questions it raises. You might want to refine your method (e.g., I think we should only count people once). Once you are happy with your method, collect data for a few days, and compare the data. Is it similar or different? Why do you think so?
1,000 Bullseye This game – from Box Cars and One-Eyed Jacks – involves addition, multiplication, and strategy!
May 1, 2020
A Counting Book Can you find 1, 2, 3…10 of something at home? Make a counting book about what you find.
Race for 20 A demonstration of Race for 20, a Marilyn Burns game. (See a blog about it, and variations of it, here.)
An Array Hunt Outside Look for arrays in your neighborhood. What can you find? For each, think about how many rows? How many columns? How many in all?
Socks More math with the laundry. How many socks? How many pairs can we make? Then, make pairs of matching socks. How many pairs did we make? How many leftovers?
Make an Equation Can you put symbols between the numbers so that the equation equals 100? Is there more than one way? (See more ideas at Math Walks.)
Make an Array What do you have at home that you can use to make an array? Think about: how many rows? How many columns? How many [tots]?
Race for 10 A demonstration of Race for 10, an adaptation of Race for 20, a game from Marilyn Burns. (See her blog about it here.)
Coins Given a set of coins, what do you notice? Can you sort them in some way that makes sense to you? How would you describe your groups? (See examples in the thread.)
Running the Facts Write a set of “facts” — e.g., “the doubles” in this example — without the answers, on paper. Children figure out the answers — and decide where to write them on the sidewalk or driveway. (If inside, they can make another set of cards with the answers, and place those around the space they’ll be playing in.) To play, flip a card with a fact and run to place it on the answer. Repeat until all the cards are placed. At the end, double check that the cards are correctly placed. Try to improve your time.
A Painting Project Solve a multi-step problem about an at-home project!
April 24, 2020
A Number Hunt Look for numbers in your neighborhood. What do the numbers tell you? Can you put them in order?
An Array Hunt Look for arrays at home. What can you find? For each one you find, think about how many rows? How many columns? How many items in all?
Measuring with Non-Standard Units How long is your [arm, leg] if you use your socks to measure? How many socks tall are you? What if it doesn’t take an exact number of socks? Challenge: Do you think it will take more of your socks or Dad’s socks to measure your height? Why do you think so? Can you estimate how many of Dad’s socks it will take? How would you think about that?
Sidewalk Geometry Make an outline using one color chalk or tape. Color the shapes. Challenge: Challenge kids to design the outline. Can you make one that only uses [triangles]?
Toilet Paper Math This thread of Tweets shows how one jumbo package of toilet paper can present a context for multistep problems. 1) How many rolls? How do you know? 2) How many packs? How many in a pack? 3) If we split the rolls equally between our two bathrooms, how many will each bathroom get?
Games on a Number Line Draw a number line and think about games you can play on it. Try them out!
Acting Out Ten In Bed Find a story or song about a group that grows or shrinks by 1 (e.g., Ten in Bed). Ask your child to act it out, and figure out how many after each one comes or leaves. Challenge: Can you show it on paper? Older children can do the same for a story about a group that grows in a different way (1+2+3+4+5), for example, “How many fruits did the Very Hungry Caterpillar eat by the end of Friday?” Or, “When all of the animals were together, how many were on the journey in Rooster’s Off to See the World?” (This story reverses midway, with groups of 5, then 4, then 3, then 2 leaving.)
Perimeter Around the House Can you use your hands or feet to measure the perimeter — the length around the edge of an object — of things at home? What if you measure the same thing first with your feet, then with your hands? Which do you think will give the bigger/smaller result? How much bigger/smaller? Why?
Complete a Street Maze Draw the maze pictured below – on a driveway, a sidewalk, or a piece of paper. Then, follow the directions and see if you can solve it! (This maze is an adaptation of an Adrian Fisher maze from the book Quick Mazes.)
Fermi Problems Sometimes, we wonder about “maths problems we will never know the exact answer to” (according to genderi.org/enrico-fermi-b,) – otherwise known as Fermi problems. Look for opportunities to ask such questions and think about how you would estimate an answer to them.
April 17, 2020
Paper Chains Using 2 pieces of paper, what’s the longest paper chain you can make?
Measuring with Nonstandard Units Use a non-standard measurement unit (e.g., same-sized blocks or legos, paper clips, birthday candles, or spoons) to measure things around your home. How can you show what you found on paper? Extension: Find things to measure where there are multiple, different examples (e.g., dandelions in the yard, feet in your house). Put them in order and make comparisons like, “The smallest dandelion was one cube. The tallest was 5. The tallest is 4 more than the smallest.”
Guess My Number Use a 100 chart, 501-600 chart, a section of a 100 chart, or a list of written numbers to help you keep track of what you learn with each guess!
Save Twenty In this @mathforlove game, players roll dice with the goal of getting as close to (or exactly) 20 without going over. Players roll 5 dice, “save” as many as they like each round, and roll any they don’t save again. After 4 rounds, add the amounts on the dice to get your score. If your total is over 20, your score is 0. Play a set number of games. The person with the highest score wins.
Sums to 1,000 Use the numbers 1-9 to make three 3-digit numbers that sum as close as possible to 1,000.
Sidewalk Geometry Fill an outline with colored shapes. How many of each? Extension: Challenge kids to design the outline. Can you make one that only uses [quarilaterals]?
Salute Two players hold up a card (1-10) they can’t see; the 3rd player gives the sum (or product). Players figure out what’s on their card, using the information on the other card. Directions and adaptations for Salute.
Making Shapes A tutorial that will teach you how to use paper to make a pointed star.
Math with Snack Count how many of each color. Count how many altogether. What fraction is each color? How would you put your fractions in order on a number line?
April 10, 2020
Find the Numbers and Make a Number Line Hide numbers around the house for students to find. Put them in order to make an at-home number line!
Make a Puzzle Use the front of a cereal or other box to make a puzzle.
Sums to 100 Use the numbers 1-9 to make 3 two-digit numbers that sum as close as possible to 100.
A Nature Hunt What can you find outside? How many different kinds of things? How many of each kind? Can you make a graph that shows what you found? What does the graph tell you?
Counting Tangerines Find situations to pose questions about counting. Ask, “How many [pieces of tangerine]? How do you know?” And, “How many [tangerines] total do you think I used? Why do you think so?”
Sprout A game that requires only pencil and paper. Easy enough for the very young, with lots for older children and adults to think about.
A Number Hunt at Home What numbers can you find at home? What do the numbers you find represent?
Draw a Clock Challenge children to draw a clock. Add hands to practice telling time.
Equivalent Problems Use the numbers 1-9 to make this equation true: ___ = ____ + ___ = ___ + ___ + ____. Then, explain your thinking, just like Lila.
Math & Art Draw a rectangle with lines breaking it into many different shapes for students to color. They can figure out how many shapes, how many different kinds of shapes, how many of each kind of shape, and how many colors they used. A different challenge: What is the least number of colors you can use to color this space if you can’t use the same colors on adjacent shapes? (graph theory)
April 3, 2020
A Color Hunt Children who are beginning to learn about attributes and sorting can sort a set of objects by color, or go on a search for objects to sort by color. Discuss the ones that raise questions, e.g., objects that are more than one color. (Note: This activity comes from:
Shape Hunts Students can look for 2-D shapes, 3-D shapes, shapes with  sides, shapes with  faces, or [triangles] or [cubes].
Drawing Shapes Challenge your child to draw different shapes. You can ask for a particular shape – “Can you draw a square?” – or for a shape with a particular attribute – “Can you draw a shape with 3 straight sides?”. Extension: Draw as many different examples of shapes with 4 sides you think of. What makes them different? How many can we name? (Printable dot paper. Do the activity online.)
Pairs of Socks After sorting and pairing the family’s socks, count how many pairs and how many leftovers without a partner? An extension: if we have [#] pairs of socks, how many socks are there altogether? How do you know? What if we added in the socks without a parnter?
Dominoes If you have a set of dominoes, make a sheet with areas for 1-18. The task: find the total number of dots on each domino, and place it beneath that sum. (Extension: Record an equation for each domino after you’re done. Extension: Is there more than one equation you could write? eg 7 + 7 =14, 3+1+3+3+1+3=14)
Counting Coins Give your child a set of coins. Younger students can sort them into groups, count how many are in each group, and name the groups (e.g., pennies). Slightly older students can figure out how much money is in each group and how to write it. Older students can figure out how much money there is altogether and how to write it. Discuss the value of each coin and relationships between the coins. Extension: How many different ways could you make [.25¢]? Do you have them all? How do you know?
Make a Calendar. Challenge children to write the numbers 1- on sticky notes and make them into a calendar on a large piece of paper labeled [March]. Younger students might need the days of the week written in, and the 1st sticky note placed for them. Older students can be challenged to figure those pieces out by themselves.
A Shape Hunt Going on a hunt for shapes around the house is a great geometry activity. (Students might submit photos to their teacher, view others’ work in a google classroom, or bring what they found to a video-chat. Open the Tweet below to read the whole thread.)
Talk Math about Our Class Show a picture of some or all of the students in the class. (Or have children draw a picture of all or some of their class or family.) Ask, “How can you use math to talk about it?” (For example, children might notice how many students are wearing glasses; how many classmates are missing; or how many eyes there are. Older children might be challenged to think about what fraction of the class is pictured or has black hair.) Extension: Challenge students to write a story problem about the picture and solve it. (Teachers who are collecting students’ work can turn these into a future assignment.)
How Many Legs? Children can be challenged to count the legs on the humans at home; the legs on all of the things that are alive (i.e., including pets); all of the legs in the house including things that are not alive (i.e., tables and/or chairs). (Note: This activity is a slight adaptation of one from https://exemplars.com/.)
$1.00 Words If A = 1¢, B = 2¢, C = 3¢ … and so on, can you find a word that equals $1.00? There are 7 examples in the tweet below, to get you started!
Where Would [#] Go on the Number Line? Draw a number line that goes from 0 to — depending on the age of the child — 10, 100, 1000, etc. Ask “About where do you think [5, 10, 100] would go? Why do you think so?”