written by: Anne Vize
• edited by: Trent Lorcher
• updated: 2/14/2012
Everyone loves a party - and what better place than in the math classroom? Math parties, you ask? How does that teach children math skills? From teaching addition and subtraction to managing a budget, planning a party is a great way to teach practical skills.
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Teaching Addition and Subtraction
This is a fun activity for upper elementary or early middle school math classes. It reminds children about the basic skills they have learned in the earlier years, and helps them apply their learning of addition and subtraction skills to a practical situation. It is also a handy tool for teachers to assess their students' knowledge of addition and subtraction and to check they are operating at the required level for their age and year level. It can be assumed that as a math lesson plan these skills will not need to be taught directly. Instead, the focus is on practical use of math skills aquaired at a younger age.
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As a Math Lesson for Primary Students
As a primary math lesson, this activity could involve:
writing a shopping list of food and drinks
estimating the cost of various items finding a total estimate checking supermarket catalogues or visiting a store to check real prices managing money at the register calculating and checking change This could be done in small groups, with each group being responsible for managing one aspect of the party. Each group could have a leader, or the class could divide into teams with each team taking it in turns to host the party.
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As Review for Middle School Students
As a lesson for junior secondary students, the skills can be extended further. As well as the above skills used in a primary class, it is reasonable for students at this level to take charge of the planning and implementation side of the party. They could be asked to design invitations, use addition or multiplication skills to work out portion sizes and amounts of food per guest, or to design a placings chart and name tags to show guests where to sit and how the room will be arranged.
Students could also complete tasks such as:
learning different ways of paying for items for the party - credit cards, debit cards, cash, store cards etc
planning the music - length of time various tracks play for, and how to store and play the music
understanding the importance of sticking to a budget and discussing what would happen if the budget was overspent
different payment arrangements for parties - such as asking guests to bring a plate each, asking guests to bring their own drinks or planning a party at a time when only snacks are needed instead of a main meal
As part of your lesson, you could ask your students to work from a theme, such as home grown foods or a Japanese sushi party, as shown in the images above. This gives students the chance to learn about how various aspects of the curriculum link together, as they develop focus questions for their inquiry process, plan a party theme and consider the possibilities of running a theme party in their math class.
For maths to remain motivating in upper primary and junior secondary, kids need to see that it has a purpose. This series of maths lesson plans for upper primary and junior secondary covers fun, practical and everyday living activities using key maths skills such as addition and subtraction.