Some of our users’ favorite activities

Wow!

How Many Donuts is That?

How Many Donuts is That?

Act One:  Take a look at the picture.  What is the first question that comes to mind? How many donuts is that?  What information would be useful? Act Two: See pictures below. Your students can ...
Really big beach towel

Really big beach towel

Act One: Check out this beach towel!  What do you wonder? What would you like to know? Miami artist, Misael Soto (pictured on the left below), created this giant art project to make a statement about people ...
Willy Makit and Betty Wont

Willy Makit and Betty Wont

I have to go to the bathroom pretty badly. I have to admit that I have been holding it in for a while.  Finally!  I see a bathroom sign!  Wait ... it is in kilometers?  ...
How much pee is in that pool?

How much pee is in that pool?

After chlorination, it has been hard to measure the quantity of pollutants in pool water.  A Canadian chemist, Xing-Fang Li, has found a marker for urine that chlorine doesn't disguise. In this activity, students calculate volume ...
Another year of Never Ending Pasta

Another year of Never Ending Pasta

On September 15, 2016, Olive Garden again offered a $100 pass for never-ending pasta, bread sticks, salad and coca cola soft drinks.  The 21,000 patrons who quickly (in less than a minute) bought all of ...
Chili Con Queso

Chili Con Queso

Act 1: Take a look at the promo at Moe's.  What is the first question that comes to mind? How much does a 42-gallon jug of Chili Con Queso cost?  How many cups or bowls of ...
BIG Snickers bar

BIG Snickers bar

Wow!  This snickers bar is huge! Act 1 - Big question = How many times bigger than a regular Snickers bar is this? What info would you like to know? How are you going to judge ...
$10,000 a week or $10 million all at once?

$10,000 a week or $10 million all a...

Check out the video below: Would you rather have $10,000 a week or $10 million all at once? What kinds of things do we need to think about or factor in when making this decision? ...

Number sense

Bits, bytes, and nibbles

Bits, bytes, and nibbles

Clicking on the image will show it larger. I'm not very good at understanding how large my device capacities are and how big the files that I want to download are in comparison.  I decided ...
Lunar New Year, 2018

Lunar New Year, 2018

Year of the wood dog Lunar New Year begins on Friday, February 16th. This will be the year of the Wood Dog.  The year name is a combination of 10 Heavenly Stems and 12 Earthly ...
Canstruction

Canstruction

Act One:  Take a look at the pic. What questions come to mind? Just before Thanksgiving there is an annual demonstration at the Winter Palace in the World Financial Center of New York City.   ...
What me?  Irrational?

What me? Irrational?

We've found that some students believe that the approximation that their calculators show for irrational numbers is exact.  Here's an activity that you can advertise as long multiplication review. After they study our calculations have ...
Weather extremes

Weather extremes

This year has brought torrential rains to Texas after years of severe draught. February was the coldest month ever in much of the midwest and Northeast US.  Pakistan and India have experienced extreme and deadly heat ...
How much did the temperature change in Boston?

How much did the temperature change...

It's been a crazy winter of extremes through much of the United States. Here's an article, from the February 17, 2016 Boston Globe Newspaper by Matt Rochereau, with the degree swing whited out.  Have your ...
Cruising

Cruising

There have been a lot of cruise ship mishaps and disasters this year. While these are in the news, let your students consider how these floating cities manage their resources and which of their needs ...
Consumer spending 2018

Consumer spending 2018

Consumers in the U.S. spend a lot of money. In this activity we look at historical data to see if there are any patterns in our spending.  How does our holiday spending show up in ...

Ratio, proportion, percent

Should I get the Big One?

Should I get the Big One?

 Let your students decide if the BIG one is a fair deal.  Click on the pic to enlarge and post ...
Losing team in the playoffs, 2015

Losing team in the playoffs, 2015

Hey, the playoffs are about to begin.  The best teams from the leagues compete to determine the champion. Must be some ...
Glowing rectangles

Glowing rectangles

People spend lots of time staring at their screens (glowing rectangles).  Kids spend hours each day using their cell phones, ...
Cheesy Goldfish crackers

Cheesy Goldfish crackers

In this activity students do a little comparison shopping as they determine which size Goldfish product is the best deal.  Students are ...
Jorge just turned 12. How old is he in human years?

Jorge just turned 12. How old is he...

My dog, Jorge, has just turned 12 years old.  He still seems like a puppy to me but I wonder ...
Justin Verlander's hugely expensive lunch

Justin Verlander’s hugely exp...

Check out Justin Verlander's luncheon bill. What do you notice? What do you wonder? Students might be interested in or ...
How fast can you run?

How fast can you run?

In preparation for the Boston Marathon, we thought that an analysis of running speeds might be appropriate.Have you heard of ...
Big bucks

Big bucks

Giancarlo Stanton and Wayne Rooney signed big contracts in 2016, paying each of them millions.  Lets take a look at some of ...

Two variable relationships (linear, exponential etc)

Thank you, mother and father, for all of those diapers

Thank you, mother and father, for a...

Thank you Mother and Father for all of those diapers - Which is a better deal, cloth or disposable diapers?  How much did you cost your parents in diapers?  In the future how much could your ...
Movie tickets over time

Movie tickets over time

How Much Will Movie Tickets Cost in the Future? We've just updated this activity. In this investigation, Brian looks at the changes in movie ticket prices over the last 30 years. Using his scatter plot (or ...
How much should you spend on this sale?

How much should you spend on this s...

This activity can be used in a large range of grade levels.  Your class can work on percents, linear equations or piecewise functions. Act One: We missed the semi-annual sale but we want to get ready ...
Macy's Sale

Macy’s Star Rewards Points

Wow! Check out this deal at Macy's.  For $25 I can join Macy's Star Rewards program.  I get 10% back in rewards for every dollar I spend.  Its pretty cool that Macy's gives part of that ...
Super Bowl ad costs still increasing

Super Bowl ad costs still increasin...

Budweiser's "Puppy Love" commercial from Super Bowl XLIII Here's one more Super Bowl analysis to motivate your students: More than 5 million dollars for a 30-second ad.  That is how much a one-half minute commercial ...
Opening weekend The Black Panther

Opening weekend The Black Panther

Can you tell from its opening weekend how much the new movie, Black Panther, might earn in theaters?  This activity can be used anytime and is especially timely when there is a new blockbuster movie ...
Negative Exponents? Ugh

Negative Exponents? Ugh

This activity/post is a little different than are usual posts.  We look at a particular math concept and consider how to use context, models and CCSS math practices to increase student understanding.  This activity focuses ...
Getting a new iPhone - which plan should I choose?

Getting a new iPhone – which ...

I want to get an iPhone8 and maybe change my service plan.  Which of the above plans should I choose? Student pick one plan and consider the cost of the phone and plan over time.  They make ...

Expressions, equation and systems of equations

Who had the greatest NBA season ever?

Who had the greatest NBA season ever?

In 2017 Russel Westbrook had one of the most dominating seasons ever, averaging a trip!e double per game.  James Harden lit up the league in 2018 and is considered the favorite for MVP.  Or what ...
Wind chill

Wind chill

When the weather person talks about wind chill did you ever wonder how they calculate that number?  In this activity students use the National Weather System chart to gauge wind chill, examine the patterns that ...
Fantasy Football

Fantasy Football

In the midst of another NFL season, we introduce students to Fantasy Football. Students first calculate football points given touchdowns, yardage gains and interceptions. They are then challenged to generalize an equation that gives a ...
Souvenirs and concessions

Souvenirs and concessions

Brian has introduced systems of equations with easy, motivating problems that deal with the cost of stadium purchases for food or souvenirs. These systems of equations puzzles are so intuitive that very little support will ...
How much do the tickets cost?

How much do the tickets cost?

Ooops! I was supposed to buy 4 adult and 2 children tickets, but I accidentally entered four children and two adults ... 🙂 Can you figure out how much a child's ticket and an adult ...
Cost of light bulbs - updated!

Cost of light bulbs – updated!

There's a lot of misinformation out there about the cost to consumers of CFL and LED bulbs and the savings in energy and money that could be realized. Let your students "do the math" and ...
Should I replace my toilets?

Should I replace my toilets?

I'm trying to be more savy about wasting our resources.  I have really old fashioned toilets and I'm trying to figure out if I should invest in saving water.  Can you help me? The activity: ...
How long until they collide?

How long until they collide?

Show the beginning of the video. Stop the video at about 39 seconds. Take guesses from students. After students have worked for a while and you have traveled around and selected some students and their work ...

Geometry

Watson save

Watson save

We can't get enough NFL.  Check out the video above that revisits a truly great NFL playoff play. In the 2005 AFC divisional championship game between the New England Patriots and the Denver Broncos, Benjamin ...
Wheel of Theodorus

Wheel of Theodorus

Bring a little art into your math class as you begin to use the Pythagorean theorem and your students first meet irrational numbers ...
Wrapping presents on the diagonal

Wrapping presents on the diagonal

 Dr. Sara Santos is a popular mathematician and speaker on mathematics.  She has worked out a method for wrapping boxes (rectangular prisms) as efficiently as possible. (Watch the video above)  Her method was written up ...
What's my angle?

What’s my angle?

I'm going to help save the planet by adding solar panels to my roof! Should I tilt the panels on my roof to more accurately aim towards the Sun? If so, at what angle should ...
Chocolate heart-shaped raspberry cake

Chocolate heart-shaped raspberry cake

Students calculate base area or volume of cakes made from 2 cake pan sizes and observe how the volume of the cake changes with the increased pan size.  This is an activity intended to demonstrate ...
How many times bigger?

How many times bigger?

Listen to students initial thoughts as they wrestle through what "bigger" means ... length? height? wheel-base? volume? ...
Pythagorean Theorem

Pythagorean Theorem

Use this activity to help your students discover the Pythagorean theorem. Pythagorean theorem work is often skill and drill work with contrived right triangle problems.  In this activity students work with a visual representation of ...
Do I have enough wrapping paper?

Do I have enough wrapping paper?

I have to wrap this box. In this problem based activity students first guess and then try to calculate whether they will have enough paper to wrap this present without taping pieces of wrapping paper together ...

Data and probability

Games with dice

Games with dice

Time to let students become naturally curious about probability.  In this activity students work in teams to record the frequency of rolled dice combinations. They observe the difference between experimental and theoretical outcomes and consider how ...
What does 95% confidence in the poll results mean?

What does 95% confidence in the poll results mean?

There were polls about who would win the Presidential election. Now there are polls about approval ratings for Congress and President Trump.  You can see the latest poll results here. I get so confused when ...
Pixar versus DreamWorks

Pixar versus DreamWorks

Animated films are a billion dollar industry.  The two biggest producers of animated films are DreamWorks and Pixar.  The two have been going head to head for more than ten years now. So how do ...
3 winners on the Price is Right - what are the chances?

3 winners on the Price is Right – what are the chances?

Act One: Show this clip of the recent Price is Right program.  What questions do your students have? We were wondering what the chances are of 3 contestants in a row, each spinning $1.00, and ...
Can I get your order just right?

Can I get your order just right?

You can order a ton of combos at Chipotle.  They advertise that there are 65,000 ways to order their meals.  Do you think that is correct? ...
Typical Super Bowl scores 2018

Typical Super Bowl scores 2018

The Super Bowl is coming up!  Share a prediction for the score of the big game.  Don't just guess, use math to help you get a better idea of what to expect.  What are typical ...
Extra point or 2-point conversion - Updated

Extra point or 2-point conversion – Updated

 In 2015 the NFL changed the extra point kick distance to 33 yards and now teams have a tough decision to make, go for one or two points?  The one point extra point is ...
What's your favorite sport?

What’s your favorite sport?

What is your favorite sport?  Wait, do I mean your favorite sport to play or your favorite sport to watch? Does it matter? Are your favorite to-watch sport and your favorite to-play sport the same ...

Elementary grade activities

Drill bit fractions

Drill bit fractions

Act One:  Drill bits are measured by the diameter of the bit in inches. The drill bits below are ordered ...
Someone ate my cake!

Someone ate my cake!

In this fraction operation and representation activity, students are asked to decide how much of my cake was eaten. Using ...
Is my son going to win ... again?

Is my son going to win … again?

My son's pretty young but is he still going to whoop me?  We were playing Monopoly Junior.  Can you decide ...
Impress your parents at dinner

Impress your parents at dinner

This activity is the first in our series on mental math tricks.  Let your students develop their own individual way ...
Pick-a-brick wall at the Lego store

Pick-a-brick wall at the Lego store

There are walls at the Lego stores that are filled with individual Lego parts.  You can fill a bucket and ...
But it didn't sell?

But it didn’t sell?

 A&W offered a bigger, tastier burger but it didn't succeed in grabbing customers away from the hugely popular McDonald's ...
How many cars are there?

How many cars are there?

I came home from work to find that my son had his cars organized in a tight parking lot on ...
Legos

Legos

Act One: The world record for the tallest structure made of Legos was recently set in Seoul, South Korea.  Check ...

Summaries of activities posts

Back to school activities

Back to school activities

Who's going back to school? - Students calculate the historical changes in U.S. population percentages of people who are going back ...
Halloween ideas (<strike>12</strike> 13 tasks)

Halloween ideas (12 13 tasks)

One more - Operation Gratitude - Halloween Candy Buy Back - Dentists often offer $1.00 per pound for non-opened Halloween ...
Winter holiday activities (13 ideas!)

Winter holiday activities (13 ideas!)

Do I have enough wrapping paper? - Students estimate the size of a gift and decide if the given wrapping paper ...
Super Bowl, Groundhog Day, and football activities

Super Bowl, Groundhog Day, and football activities

Greasing light poles - How much Crisco are the Philadelphia police using to grease their light poles to discourage climbers? 6.EE.A, ...
Movies and the upcoming Oscars

Movies and the upcoming Oscars

We have 11 activities for your Oscar week. Highest Grossing Movies - Let your students develop their own ideas about compounded percent ...
Thanksgiving, football, Black Friday, and giving

Thanksgiving, football, Black Friday, and giving

Not enough mashed potatoes - Use Brian's famous mashed potatoes recipe to practice changing decimals to fractions; calculating ingredient measure ...