Sunday, September 23, 2018

Crazy Math Tools, Pt. 2: Plastic Jars

Here we are, back again with some ideas for using another crazy math tool that you probably already have but might not be sure how to use. This time, the tool is small plastic jars with screw tops.

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If you're already the Queen (or King!) of Containers, you probably already have some small containers just sitting in your closet begging to be used.  If not, you can find this package of nine at your dollar store. They're just right size for the activities that I'm going to share!

I think the very best thing about these jars is their versatility! You can use so many things to fill them, and use them in so many ways.
For our youngest learners, these could be Counting Jars. Unscrew the top (small motor skill!!), spill the contents, and count. This works great as an independent activity. Alternatively, it makes a fun partner activity. Each partner takes a jar, spills, and counts. The partners decide who has more (or less), and then line them up matching them side by side to compare the amounts and prove the answer.

Anybody out there have a few (or a few hundred) mini-erasers? I thought so. They're the perfect size to fit in these jars for math activities! Here, you see them used as a way to get some hands-on practice with fact families.  Just fill each jar with erasers in two different colors. Have your students spill the erasers and create addition and subtraction equations that use all of the erasers in the jar.

This would be so easy to switch out for different seasons and holidays just by using different items for counting. And as I'm sure you know, that alone would make this a brand new center in the eyes of our young students!

Take it up a notch to add counting coins to your possibilities for using jars. Use whatever combination your class is working on now ... pennies and nickels, pennies and dimes, all three, or quarters, too! As with the counting activity described above, you can make this one a partner activity, too, with students comparing their totals.

Just to make your life a bit easier, here's a link to the two printables shown in the photos, free of course!

What else could you put into the jars? Here are just a few ideas.

*  Beads (avoid the round ones ... rolling off the desk, crunching underfoot, ...)
*  Dried beans
*  Pennies
*  Laminating scraps (or just laminate a few brightly colored pages, cut into strips, and snip off the   squares)
*  Treasures from the clearance section of the scrapbooking department in craft stores  (like the stars   in the photo at the top of this post)
*  Pebbles (ask your students to supply you with these!)
*  Colorful paper clips
* More traditional math manipulatives, like two-sided counters.

If your stock of math manipulatives is low or you're just looking for something to switch things up a bit, here's a collection of math tools that might help!

Happy Teaching!

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