Hey everyone, it's Onalee again! Math often has a bad rap and is thought of as boring and mundane. If we can catch younger students early, or catch the attention of our older students, to see that snack time and play time can fit into math time, we can turn their minds around about math! When the students find math fun, everyone is winning! Here are a few ideas to get you started!
Chex mix has many different shaped pieces, so I love this snack for making patterns. (If there is an allergy concern, there are nut free options for this snack) I let this be a free thinking time, and just have the children see how many different patterns they can make with their snack mix before we eat it. Give them paper to draw the patterns and compare them with friends (because the snack will get eaten before all of the comparing gets done – in most cases). Remind them that the sequence has to repeat three times to be a pattern (red/blue/green, red/blue/green, red/blue/green = a pattern).
M&M's are another fantastic treat that can be lined up into so many new ways! You can combine the different types of M&M's to expand the options! You can add skittles to the mix to see what the kids do too. These can be sorted by color, size and shape also!
Legos / Linking Blocks
Legos and other linking blocks can also be used to help children spot patterns. My favorite challenge for these was to build a tower. Sometimes I would let them free build and then ask if there was a pattern. If there was not, could they make one? If there was, what was the pattern? Then, you can ask them to count the number of blocks in the tower!
As a matter of fact, you can use all of these items to move to counting pieces, and grouping based on color, size, shape or whatever you decide, really. Once your student can do all of this, you can use these to represent the pieces of an addition, subtraction multiplication or division sentence.
For example: 3 x 2 = 6 can be changed to If I have 3 people who each have 2 cereal pieces, how many cereal pieces are there? This is a great way to introduce word problems and show students how easy and non-threatening they can be with real world applications (because splitting things fairly is a big deal to young people).
Before you know it, you will have a student who enjoys math a little (or lot) more than they used to, and snack and play time just became a great way to connect and learn with your student.
To help you out with trying these ideas with your own students, we've created a fun printable worksheet just for you! Just click the button, print the worksheet, grab some snacks... and you'll be ready to go!