Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Snowflake Math with Dominoes

Snowy days are here! Today I'd like to share a low-prep but effective way to do some snowflake math with dominoes.

No matter if your thoughts about snow are love it, hate it or somewhere in the middle, we know that our kiddos are C-R-A-Z-Y for the white stuff!  Connecting snow with learning is definitely a win-win situation!

When I saw these foam snowflakes at the dollar store, my brain started whirling like the snowflakes in a snowglobe!

The six sides of a snowflake make an easy match-up for lots of math practice. For this addition and subtraction activity, you'll need a snowflake for each player plus some dominoes to share. The game works well with two players, but if you have enough dominoes, it would be good for a small group activity, too. I used a Sharpie to label each of the points one through six, and then put a zero in the center.

To play, scatter all of the dominoes face down between the players. Then take turns turning over one domino. Add or subtract the numbers on it to make one of the numbers on the snowflake.  If you can make one of the numbers, put the domino on that branch of your snowflake. If there's already a domino on that number, put the domino to the side and it's on to the other player's turn. The exception is zero. Whenever a player subtracts to make zero, he or she puts that domino on the zero, continuing to add to the stack whenever a sum or difference of zero is made.

In this picture, my granddaughter, who is becoming quite a practiced hand model ;) , has used 6-1 to cover five, 4+0 to cover four (might also have been 4-0), and 5-3 to cover two.

There are two ways to win: Be the first player to either cover all of the numbers around the tips of the snowflake OR stack three dominoes on zero. I love games with two ways to win - it opens up so many more possibilities for strategic thinking and keeps your students very involved in the game!

There are lots of easy ways to scale this game up or down to meet your students' needs:

* For the youngest learners, use dice instead of dominoes and get some quick practice in subitizing. Just leave the zero out of the center and roll one die. A great big foam die adds extra fun to this version!

* Sort through your dominoes to turn this into an addition game. Look for dominoes that total six or  less for this version. (Have your students do the sorting to put even more math practice into this activity!)  Now they'll use only addition to find the sums one through six.

* For subtraction using dice, roll two dice and subtract. For this version, label only the tips of the snowflake, using the numbers zero through five.

* Working on the addition doubles strategy? Label your branches 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12. Roll one die, double the number, and cover it.

One word of advice: these dollar store snowflakes are the right choice for price but definitely on the flimsy side. At craft stores, you can find much sturdier versions that will be more durable... and we all know that counts for a lot in the classroom! And of course you could always have your students draw snowflakes, or use paper copies to work on.

I love this activity, because there are so many ways to switch things up to adapt it to your students' current needs! Looking for even more ways to extend this activity?  Click here to head to Anne Gardner's Educational Resources, where you can find these free templates for snowflakes and cubes for higher numbers!

Keep the snowy math learning going with this free set of four winter math games for first grade! Each game is just one page, with no cards to prepare or to lose. Click here to get this set free at my TpT store!

Happy Teaching!


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