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Celebrate Independence Day with Second Grade Math Activities

written by: Pamela Martin • edited by: Wendy Finn • updated: 6/16/2015

Have some extra fun this Fourth of July. Here are some second grade math activities that coincide with Independence Day, as students explore place value, expanded notation, addition, subtraction and math logic.

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    Having Fun with Summer Math

    Summer school teachers, tutors and parents alike will find these second grade math activities useful and fun for practice and enrichment, as well as for direct instruction. Many of the activities can be adapted to other mathematical concepts, in addition to those described.

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    Independence Day Picnic

    This easy-to-make matching game is a perfect fit for a math center. Switch the numbers and equations to use it for practicing addition, subtraction or multiplication facts, too.

    Type or write two- or three-digit numbers under the pictures on the picnic table template. (This template works best on Windows software).hot dogs picnic template for math

    On the food cards, type or print the matching expanded form of the numbers. For example, write 300 + 60 + 3 to match the 363 under the table.

    Print, laminate and cut out the cards.

    Students play by matching the correlating cards or by turning them face down for a “Memory" game.

    Turn this into a group game by writing different place value units on cards with different food pictures. For example, write all the hundreds on hot dog cards, tens on ice cream cards and ones on watermelon cards. You might have a table with 741 and a hot dog with 700, cone with 40 and slice with 1.

    Students draw two (or more) table cards. They will play to collect all the food cards to match the numbers.

    Deal seven cards to each player and place the rest face down. Turn up the top card to start a discard pile.

    Students take turns selecting either the top card from the deck or the top discarded one, trying to build a full set to match their table cards.

    The first person to complete all his or her sets wins the game.

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    Patriotic Place Value

    Reinforce place value concepts with this stacking activity.

    Give each student three toothpicks and a little modeling clay. Ask them to make a clay block and stand the toothpicks in it, lining them up in a row. Alternately, “go green" by recycling foam-packing blocks cut into smaller pieces.

    Provide students with 10 red (hundreds), 10 white (tens) and 10 blue (ones) pony beads.

    Distribute cards or worksheets with two- or three-digit numbers printed on them and ask students to place beads on the picks to represent the numbers. Simplify it for beginners or strugglers by color-coding the digits to the beads.

    When students have mastered this concept, use the picks and beads for renaming practice.

    Provide addition problems that will require renaming from ones to tens or from tens to hundreds, such as 19 + 23.

    Point out that only nine beads can be placed on each pick; to reinforce this, cut the toothpicks so that no more will fit. Ask students how the number could be shown. Lead them to the idea of “trading" 10 blue beads for one white one and placing it on the tens stick.

    The same idea will work for subtracting with renaming when students trade one red bead for 10 white or one white for 10 blue.

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    Patchwork Quilt

    Give students practice with tangrams and patterns when they make “quilts" from squares, triangles and rectangles.

    Provide a set of construction paper, scrapbook paper or wallpaper shapes.

    Allow students to design a single quilt block with their shapes, gluing them to another sheet of paper.

    Practice with patterns by having students replicate the blocks made by classmates. Then, allow them to arrange them on a bulletin board in even more patterns.

    Expand the lesson by giving students the chance to make a wall hanging or lap quilt from fabric, using their own or their classmates’ patterns. You can teach them to hand-stitch them or to use fabric glue to attach them to a poster board (wall hanging) or a base fabric.

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    Fourth of July Puzzle Fun

    Give students a challenge in mathematical and logical reasoning with some Independence Day puzzles and games.

    Firecracker Arrangements

    Sam was in trouble again. He was playing with firecrackers instead of listening to his math teacher, so he had to stay after school. His teacher told him that he could go home as soon as he figured out how to put his 9 firecrackers in a pattern. His pattern had to have 6 rows, with 3 firecrackers in each row.

    Sam wanted to get to the park in time to play in the baseball game, so he got to work right away. He did such a good job that he made 10 rows, instead of just 6.

    Can you make 6 rows of 3 firecrackers in each? Can you make Sam’s 10 rows?

    Last One Out

    Play this game with a friend. You will win if you take the last flag.

    Place 15 small flag picks between you and your friend. The first player chooses either one or two flags to take out of the pile. (Be nice and let your friend go first.) Then, the next player takes either one or two flags out. Think carefully about how many flags to take each time--try to fix it so that there are three flags left on your friend’s last turn, since that will let you take all of the rest and win the game.

    Add these Fourth of July math activities for second grade to holiday-themed word problems, and you’ll be celebrating independence from math boredom in no time!

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    References and Resources

    Amazing Math Puzzles, by Adam Hart-Davis

    Patriotic Angel Craft,

    Second Grade July 4th/Independence Day Activities,

    Second Grade Math Activity,