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I’m going to go ahead and admit that math is not always a favorite subject at my house. It can sometimes be difficult to understand, which makes it “no fun.”
I love our math curriculum and feel like it really works for us, but when I can I take the opportunity to add a little levity to our math lessons.
One way I do this is through food. Let’s face it, everything is better with a snack. And while chocolate chips are a great motivator, we really can’t consume the number of chocolate chips it would take to cement some of these math concepts.
While shopping at Walmart last week we came across a big display of Goldfish crackers. The large 30oz size were on Rollback for a great deal.
That size means that we have more than enough crackers for whichever math concepts we want to practice. Not to mention the kids love the cheddar flavor, colors, and shapes. Score! Math just got much more fun.
Here are eight different ways you can use Goldfish crackers as a fun manipulative for your math studies.
This is an activity kids love, especially with Goldfish crackers. Fill two bowls with an equal number of Goldfish crackers and give one to each player. Using a die, each player takes turns rolling, counting out the number shown, and eating the yummy crackers. The person who eats every cracker first wins.
The difficulty of this game depends on the die. With your youngest child use a die with only numbers 1-3. A regular 1-6 die can be used with slightly older kids up to a 20-sided die with the oldest. Other variations include using two dice and arriving at the number of crackers to eat by adding, subtracting, multiplying, or dividing the two numbers.
Set Goldfish crackers on the table making patterns like ABAB, AABB, ABCD. Have your student complete the pattern. Once he is adept at completing a pattern, have him build the next pattern set himself. You can make this easier by providing a limited amount of cracker options to choose from for the answer.
This important math skill often is not practiced enough. Fill containers of varying sizes with Goldfish crackers and then have your child estimate how many crackers are inside. Empty and count. Of course when you are done enjoy the snack!
Discuss with your child different strategies he can use to estimate the crackers. Also, talk about how estimating is used every day, such as estimating how many pizzas or how much cake you will need for a birthday party or how many bottles of glue you might need for your co-op or scout troop to complete a craft project.
Measure with Non-Standard Units
One of the first steps in learning the concept of measurement is to measure with non-standard units. Goldfish crackers make a fun measurement tool.
How many crackers long is your pencil? The table? Your doll? Make a chart to compare your results.
After measuring a few items, start to make estimations on how many Goldfish crackers long an item is before measuring. You can even measure yourself in Goldfish crackers, just do it on paper so you can eat the results afterwards.
Greater Than and Less Than
Put two quantities of Goldfish crackers in two piles on the table. Next draw a greater than/less than symbol on an index card (don’t forget another with the equals sign).
Have your child count the crackers, decide which quantity is larger and place the symbol between the piles accordingly. Even alligator mouth math symbols love to eat those yummy Goldfish crackers and always turn toward the pile with more.
Use small plates to introduce the concept of multiplication. Write a problem like 3×5 on a paper. Set out five plates and put three crackers on each plate. Students can then count, add, or skip count to find the answer.
This illustrates the concept that 3×5 is really just 5 counted 3 times. After practicing a couple of these have your child set up each problem herself by counting out the correct number of plates, adding the crackers, and arriving at the answer.
Take this one step further, exploring the commutative property by setting out five plates with three crackers each and discovering that the answers are the same.
One of our favorite division books is The Doorbell Rang where a family has to decide how to divide cookies between guests. This concept also works great with Goldfish crackers.
Set out a quantity of crackers and discuss how many crackers each member of your family could have if they were divided evenly. Use your plates or bowls again to give everyone their portion. What if grandma came over? Or three more friends? How many crackers would everyone get then?
Using concrete objects is also fantastic for exploring the concept of the remainder. It’s not just a little number we write beside the R in the answer. Why is there a remainder? (There are not enough crackers left to divide evenly.)
If you have twenty Goldfish crackers and you want to eat one-half for your morning snack and one-half for lunch how many should you eat? What if Mom hands you thirty crackers and says you and your siblings can each have one-third?
Explore fractions by divvying up the Goldfish crackers in any number of ways. This can also lead to a great discussion of equivalent fractions (10/30 is the same as 1/3) and fraction reduction.
Seriously, the math is not any different when you do it this way, but somehow adding those fun crackers makes everything easier. Or at least they’re just more willing to participate. Whatever the reason, I will take it!
For more information about Goldfish crackers and creative recipes your kids will love, check out goldfishmix.com.
How do you add fun and variety to your math studies?
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