Wednesday, December 2, 2015

I Teach First Linky: Snowflake Math!

Hello, Teaching Friends!

Welcome to the I Teach First Blog Linky, filled with lots of fun ideas for you to try in your own classroom! We are so excited that you've come to visit, and hope that you'll take just a moment to leave us some notes to tell us how you've used these ideas and resources.

Here's one I'd like to share today!

Snow is "in the air"!  Which category do you fall in?

* Already snowing where I live!
* Fingers crossed for a "White Christmas"!
* Just can't get enough of it!
* Snow is nice in pictures, but not in person, please!
* Never snows where I live - wish it did!
* Never snows where I live - that's why I love living here!

Personally, I love to see some snow, especially when I can watch it from inside, snuggled under a cozy afghan with a mug of something warm in hand and Christmas music playing in the background!

No matter what your thoughts are about The White Stuff, we know that our kiddos LOVE it, so 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 workd 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 more possibilities 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 number 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!

I hope these snowflake math ideas got your brain whirling, too.  Many thanks to Nicole Sanchez of Nicole and Eliceo for her generosity with her time and expertise in organizing this linky! Be sure to visit the other first grade blogs that are joining in on this linky, and to cast your vote for two of your favorites along the way. See those little hearts in the upper right corner of each of the links below? Just click on them to vote!

Happy Teaching!


  1. This would make a great January math center!

    1. I think so, too ... and nothing to prep!;)
      Thanks for your comment!

  2. I love the snowflake math! It's little things like snowflakes that delight the students so much! Thanks for sharing!
    Peggy @ Primary Flourish

  3. Isn't that true, Peggy? Thanks for your kind comment!


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