The Game of War….Math Style

I came across the MashUp Math activity below for reviewing finding mean, median, mode, and range while using a deck of cards, including an accompanying worksheet.

After watching the video, I thought that this might be interesting as a Game of War card game. It you don’t know how to play standard war, then you can read the instructions here.

Here is how I envision this activity can be modified into a game.

  • Use two decks of cards and the additional card set that I created
  • Playing cards get distributed similar to the original War card game
  • Players draw a card from the new card set, cards may be action or reaction cards:
    1. An Action Card may say to use 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7 cards and then find the mean, median, mode, or range. For these cards, all players put out the designated amount of cards from their individual pile and determine the respective value. The player with the highest value wins all cards. With two players, if players have the same value then the action is repeated and the new highest value wins all cards. With three players, if the highest value is the same for two of the players then those two players repeat the action and the player with the highest value wins all cards for that action round. With three players, if the highest value is the same for all three of the players then all players repeat the action and the player with the highest value wins all cards for that action round. The action card is then placed in the discard pile.
    2. An Action Card may say to give 1, 2, or 3 cards to all other players or to receive 1, 2, or 3 cards from all other players. For these cards, the player who drew the card either gives cards to other players or receives cards from other players. The action card is then placed in the discard pile.
    3. A Reaction Card may say “No Thank You”. The player may hold on to this card and use it to counter action cards from step 2 at any point in the game. Once used, this card should go in the discard pile.
    4. A Reaction Card may say “Double Up”. The player may hold on to this card and use it to double the required number of cards in step 2 to be given to or received from other players at any point in the game. Once used, this card should go in the discard pile.
  • If at any point a player disagrees with the calculation of another player then a Challenge Card may be used. All players should check the disputed calculation. If the challenger is correct then the challenger wins all cards from that action round. If the challenger is incorrect then the player challenged wins all cards from that action round.
  • Play continues until one player has all of the cards or for a set amount of time

If you have suggestions that would make this better, please send them along. Access the instructions and card set here.


Posted by admin, 0 comments

Ready, Set, Laugh

I am getting lost on the internet.

As I prepare my lessons for next year I am constantly searching for new ideas and resources. Today’s search somehow led me to a term that I had not yet heard, Cartoon Science. My first exploration of that term took me to a website by the same name. The owner of this site, Matteo Farinella, believes that cartoons can provide visual narratives that can communicate scientific information and bridge gaps between the public and academic worlds. Visit his Visualization page to find a source of authors and publishers who are sharing comics, videos, animations, and other similar type resources.

I already had a few of my own favourite comic and cartoon creators bookmarked, but I was intrigued to discover what else was easily available. Below you will find my updated list of math and science cartoons and comic resources, aside from the one mentioned above. Most sites have search features to allow you to find the topic of your choice.

Sydney Harris Math and Science Cartoons (he has been one of my favourites for years)

Randy Glasbergen and the Glasbergen Cartoon Service


Foxtrot (search Comics by Tag)

Frank & Ernest

Chris Madden

Science and Ink

I also love Calvin and Hobbes, but Bill Watterson’s website does not contain all of his comic strips. However, you can find his work on Go Comics. Alternately you could search Go Comics for specific comics, cartoons, and themes.

How can you incorporate these in the classroom? It is important to recognize that most of these cartoons and comics are bound by copyright rules, and so you or your students cannot just download them for personal use. However, here are a few ideas of how to incorporate comics and cartoons in the classroom:

  • Have a website link prepared before class to show a comic or cartoon (perhaps it would already be open as students enter the room) and have students explain what they see, how it relates to their learning, and why it is funny
  • Have students look through samples and then generate their own comic or cartoon based on curriculum content – these student generated creations could then be displayed on class websites with the permission of the creator
  • Show the cartoon or comic without the tagline or script and have students generate their own
  • Only show the tagline and have students draw a cartoon that represents that tagline, then compare to the original cartoon

Finally, I came across an interesting journal article titled Use of Cartoons and Comics to Teach Algebra in Mathematics Classrooms by Tim Lam Toh that shows how cartoons and comics can be used with students.

Posted by admin in General Education, 0 comments

All About Weather….and then some…

I have been searching for some weather related videos, and I came across The Met Office, the UK’s national weather service. They have a whole section on their website devoted to learning about the weather. Here you can find information and videos on how weather works, weather phenomena, seasons, wind, precipitation, temperature, oceanic processes, clouds, and much more.

This inspired me to search for weather websites hosted by other governments. The US National Weather Service, known as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has a large website, but the Education Resource Collection seems the most relevant for what I need. There are a series of articles about various weather topics.

I then searched for Government of Canada resources. Unfortunately, I could not find anything comparable on weather as I found on the other sites. However, in my search I was led to Ingenium, formerly known as the Canada Science and Technology Museum. I immediately went to the educational programs section on the website, and found two areas of interest. The first was the Virtual Programs section. Here you can find 5 downloadable education guides (The Science of Sports, Weather Wise, Cycle-ology, Astronomy, and Driving the Future). The second was the Edukits section. Here you can find 5 kits that can be “rented” for a month (the $129 fee includes outbound shipping costs) and the topics include space, light, and energy.

Happy learning!

Posted by admin in General Science, 0 comments

Math Games

I have previously written about Hot Seat, which is a game I sometimes use to review before math tests. For some quick, non-content related games, I sometimes use some of the following sites:

Math Playground – There are some content based games for lower grades, but I like the Logic Games section of the website.

Terry Stickels – Terry has written many puzzle books, but there are also an assortment of puzzles on his website.

Pencil ‘n Paper Puzzles – There are a wide variety of puzzles on this site … love this site.

Erich’s Puzzle Palace – Another good site with a wide variety of puzzles.

KrazyDad – This is my favourite site for printable Sudoku’s, Kakuro’s, and other similar games.

Have fun playing!

Posted by admin in Math, 0 comments

Making Ends Meet

Husband who broke his foot + car in the shop all week = missed #MTBos SundayFunday blog deadline.

One of my favourite math tasks is a financial planning activity for my grade 8 students titled “Making Ends Meet”. Unfortunately we did not get to complete it last year due to time constraints, and so the version that I am sharing is from the previous year.

In this task, students are given the role of a recent university graduate just entering the work force. Each student is given a job or career (picked randomly out of a jar) and must determine how to pay bills with a starting salary for that job or career. In order to prepare for this assignment, I researched starting salaries for those fields in Canadian dollars. Students begin by calculating take home pay after taxes (my students needed assistance with this step). They then use the net salary to determine a monthly budget for food, housing, utilities, transportation, medical expenses, miscellaneous expenses, and savings. Once students have completed the budget and presented their work in an orderly and logical manner, they are presented with an unexpected problem. I have created a whole list of problems, and they are variations of this:

“You were filling the bath when the phone rang. A friend’s car broke down and she needed you to pick her up. You left immediately to go help her, but you forgot about the bathtub. When you returned, there was water everywhere and the floor was ruined. Unfortunately, insurance does not cover this type of flooding. The repair bills were $750. Calculate and explain how this will affect your budget.”

There are 19 problems of this type on my list, and the students get a random problem by picking one out of a jar. I cannot share the full problem list here, as I don’t want my students to have access to them.

My students have told me that this was one of their favourite assignments and it made them aware about real life expenses. Hopefully I can fit it in this year, as it takes quite some time to complete. You can access the document here. I am happy to hear suggestions as to how to improve this activity.

Posted by admin in Math, 0 comments

Posters for the Math Classroom

Once again, I have Sara Carter to thank for many of the wonderful posters that I have put up in my classroom. Two of the posters that I put up were her ‘Types of Errors’ and ‘Always Show Your Thinking’ posters. A few of my math colleagues were in my classroom and we began a discussion about these posters, and as a result of the discussion we made a few changes:

  • We changed the word ‘parentheses’ to ‘brackets’. This is more of a USA vs Canada thing. (Similarly, for order of operations we use BEDMAS instead of PEMDAS.)
  • We decided to take out the word ‘failure’ under Problem Solving and we adjusted some of the descriptors for that section.

We discussed the fact that we like the ‘Types of Errors’ poster and think it is important, and we agreed that it reflects the types of errors that we point out to our students. However, we felt that we also wanted to focus on positive things the students can do to achieve success. We decided to put up a new series of posters under the ‘Types of Errors’ poster. These posters will be framed in the positive, with the heading ‘Aim for Success’. The posters are as follows:

  • Always Show Your Thinking (Sarah already did a fabulous job with this one, no changes were necessary.)
  • Read and Follow Instructions Carefully
  • Show Your Work Vertically
  • Line Up Your Equal Signs
  • Explain Your Understanding
  • Check Your Work
  • Write Neatly
  • Ask Questions
  • Work Collaboratively
  • Solve Using Multiple Strategies

Did we miss anything essential? It may end up being too many posters, but we will live with it for a bit and see how it works. You can download the Word and PDF versions of the posters here.

Posted by admin in General Education, Math, 0 comments

Bulletin Board Letters…Easy as A, B, C

For a long time I either bought lettering pieces that needed to be punched out, or I struggled with Word Art to try to make fun signs and lettering for my bulletin boards. Then last year I stumbled upon a website called Instant Display, and it has brought a new element of “wow” to my bulletin board displays. Under the top banner you will see something about ordering, but there are an abundance of free downloads on this site. Explore the lettering sets for theme related lettering, available in capital and lower case letters as well as numbers. You can either cut these out, or you can copy and paste the letters within a document to make your signs. The subject areas give a variety of banners and other bulletin board display signs, and the “other” section has many generic classroom decorations.

Have fun exploring!

Posted by admin in General Education, 0 comments

Sara Van Der Werf’s 5×5 Game

In looking for fun games to engage my students, I came across Sara Van Der Werf‘s 5×5 Game. She has explained the game very well in her blog post, and so I suggest you read about it there. Please make sure to follow her sharing request for this game. I have made a Smartboard Notebook file to use with this game, and you can access it here. In my Notebook file, I have added light blue squares to write the sums, and I have added thinking questions for the students to consider in between the rounds. I will still use her student handout template which can be accessed in her blog post.

Thank you for sharing, Sara!

Posted by admin in General Education, 0 comments

Hot Seat!

I like to play review games in the classroom, and one of these is called Hot Seat. In this game, the class is divided into teams of 3 or 4 students. The desks are arranged so that the students can sit with their group members, and then there are also desks separated and lined up side-by-side, either at the front or at the back of the classroom. These are the “hot seats”. The number of hot seats should match the number of student teams. I usually separate the hot seats with dividers, but you can also physically separate them to prevent students from seeing the answers of those next to them. Once the teams are made (I usually arrange the teams), I let the students determine a team name. Once this organization is completed, the game begins.

Each round of the game requires the students to answer a math question. One student from the team is selected to be in the hot seat, and the other students in the team remain at the team desks. The first question is revealed and all students work on the answer. The team member in the hot seat works alone, and the other team members work together. I actually require these team members to each try the question on their own sheet of paper, and then compare answers with the group and come to consensus. I give a designated amount of time for the students to answer the question, dependent on the complexity of the question. At the end of the time period I circulate around the room to determine who has the correct answer. I keep a sheet on a clipboard to record results as I walk around. If the student in the hot seat answered correctly, then 2 points are earned for the team. If the rest of the team answered correctly, then 1 point is earned for the team. In any round, a team can earn up to 3 points. I usually walk around as the students are still working and before the time has run out to see their progress. If there are early finishers then I can check their work. However, I don’t reveal if their answers are correct until the time is up. This prevents students from trying to copy the answers of others, as they do not know which answers were correct or incorrect. When the time is up I first take up the question with the whole class, and then we assign the scores for that round on the whiteboard. For each subsequent round, the students take turns sitting in the hot seat. I like this model because I find that it requires all students to be active participants, while adding an element of competition.

I work at an IB school, and our rubrics are leveled 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, and 7-8. Sometimes I organize the Hot Seat game into these levels, which they see on their tests, and other times I have been less formal and just given random questions. I have shared two of my Notebook Hot Seat files – one for Grade 7 proportional relationships and one for Grade 8 numeracy. You can access them here.

Posted by admin in General Education, 0 comments

Need a Break?

I have been incredibly inspired by Sarah Carter @mathequalslove. She has so many amazing resources that she generously shares. As we prepare for and begin the new school year, I also want to be part of the giving community. I have been scouring the #MTBoS and other sources for “one off” activities that I can pull out and use at any moment. Our school is moving from 40 minute to 60 minute periods, and I know that I will need to incorporate new strategies to engage students for these longer periods of time. I want to build a collection of games, tasks, and activities that can be used either to introduce the class, to end the class, or as a brief interlude in the middle.

Pentanim is a game that comes from the NRICH database. It is a short logic game that can be used as a break in any subject. I have created student game boards should you want students to play in pairs with bingo chips, as well as a Notebook file to play this game as a class. When playing as a class, students could take turns, or you could still have two students play in a match against each other. One reminder, do not save the Notebook file before closing. This will allow it to open in proper format the next time you want to play.

You can access the files here.


Posted by admin in General Education, 0 comments