Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Halloween Math Activities, Vol. 3: Monster Hands

I just have one more Halloween activity to share this year, but it's one of my all-time best.  Ask my daughter what it was like to grow up with a math teacher mother, and she'll undoubtedly recount stories of fun "games" that really turned out to be lessons in disguise-- but it didn't make them any less fun!  This is another one of those.

Monster Hands (or Witch Hands, if you prefer) is a fun and delicious activity to work on estimation with your students.  It also provides them with such a fun Halloween prop (a Monster Hand of their own!) that they may not even want to eat it!  Nothing wrong with a little less sugar intake on Halloween.  Remember, there is a difference between a guess and an estimate.  A guess is based on no previous experience or no applied strategy.  An estimate is based on number experiences or applied strategies.  It is difficult to tell when it is a guess or an estimate.

You'll need:
  • Lots of popped popcorn (I prefer kettle corn, but it doesn't make a difference)
  • 30 plastic see-through gloves (or one for each student in your class)
  • Candy corn
  • Ribbon
  • Bowls

Preparation begins!

Step One. Place bowls of popcorn and bowls of candy corn at clusters of desks-- no more than 4-5 children per station.  Pass out one plastic glove to each student.

Step Two.  Have students place one candy corn (tip facing outward) in each finger hole of the glove.  This serves as the Monster or Witch's "nail."

Step Three.  Ask students to write a guess for how many popcorn pieces it will take to stuff their glove.  Students should write down this number on a post-it and add to a classroom graph.  The teacher will make a graph of the guesses.

Step Four.  Students will count out five pieces of popcorn and hold them in the palm of their hands.  This is what five looks like!  Now it is time to estimate how many pieces will fill their whole hand.  Students write their estimate on a post-it.  The teacher will make a second graph of their estimates.  A discussion will follow about how the guesses compare with the estimates. 

Step Five.  Students stuff the gloves with the popcorn, counting each piece that they add and making sure that the glove isn't so inflated that it will explode.  (There's always one.)

Step Six.  Tie off the gloves and record each student's actual popcorn count next to their estimates.  Now there are three graphs (or if you'd rather, three columns)-- guesses, estimates, and actuals.  The student(s) closest to their estimation on all three wins a Halloween prize of some sort!

Finished witch hand!

There you go!  I love sharing a few of my favorite Halloween activities-- brings me back to the days of my own classroom and how much fun I had with my kiddos.  Let me know if you try or have tried any of these in your classroom!  I'd love to see!

Have a merry, scary Halloween!

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