Family Math Night
Back in 2006 I was involved in a program called ARRC (Applying Research in the Classroom). One of my action research projects was creating a math night for families in the middle school.
The first year I held Family Math Night (2006) students and their parents rotated from classrooms playing games that were created from resources (see list below). I had volunteer teachers from the middle school help run each classroom. After about 20 minutes students and their parents rotated from one classroom to the next.
In 2007, I decided that it would be better if everything was held out in the commons and I applied for a grant ($500) to get real games that involved math that families could play. (A list of games is listed below). I also used the money to provide a meal for families before playing games. This continued for four more years with me adding more games each year. I also added a drawing into the event. Each family put their name into a container and at the end of the evening two names were drawn and they were given a game to take home with them.
In 2012 our district adopted a new math program, Connected Mathematics, and sent the middle school math teachers to training in Michigan. Part of the Connected Mathematics program is Math Carnival Night, where games are played from the math series. It was decided that we would change our Family Math Night to Family Math Carnival Night and we would play the games from the new series. (You can email me for a copy of these games and the rules.)
With Family Math Carnival Night each family member gets thirty dollars play money to play casino style games. At the end of the night they turn in their money for tickets and then place their tickets in buckets behind prizes that they would like to win. These prizes are bought with money from our local PTO and from grants that I have applied for. We then draw out a ticket from each bucket for prizes to be won. This even is becoming very popular and we will need to create more games for the future.
I have set up Family Math Night to be a week after our conferences in the fall. The event takes place from 6-8 pm in our middle school commons. I send home a flier about the event at conferences and then advertise in the local newspaper and radio station. We also send home a School Reach phone call or email a few days before.
Instead of continuing to apply for grants I have teamed up with our local FFA (Future Farmers of America) club and they provide our families with a meal asking for a free will donation. Next year we plan to add popcorn as a snack during the evening.
At the end the evening families fill out a survey. This survey has provided data that has shown that this is a great event that was created for our middle school. Here are a few of the comments over the years:
“The best part of this event was spending time with my daughter.”
“The games are appropriate for multiple ages.”
“The best part of this event was making something as boring as math fun and learning.”
“The best part of this event was encouraging families to do stuff together.”
“I liked being able to take a copy of the games home.”
“The best part of this event was doing this as a family. We also learned something new we could do together at home.”
Creating Family Math Night takes time and a lot of work at first but it really pays off in the end. This event gives families an opportunity to spend quality family time together at no cost to them and is fun and rewarding. Many are learning math during the night and they don’t even know it.
This blog does not even begin to explain everything but if you would like to know more or have more resources sent to you so that you can create a Family Math Night please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meiselman, L. (2003). What’s Your Angle? and 9 More Math Games. New York: Scholastic.
Taylor-Cox, J. a. (2006). Family Math Night Middle School Math Standards in Action. Larchmont: Eye on Education.
Thompson, V. a.-I. (1998). Family Math the Middle School Years. Berkeley.
Set, Zig-Zag Knot?, Rush Hour, Mile Bornes, Mancala, Tantrix, Blokus, Battleship, Tetris, Blokus 3D, Ingenious, Ka-Ching, Set Cubed, Cribbage, Smath, Spectrangle, Blokus Trigon, Math Around the Home, Totally Tut, Doubles Wild, 4-Way Count Down, Cirkus, Pente, Tipover, Build and Block, Math Nooders, and many more.
Two other games we played that were very popular were Math Cake Walk and Pizza Pie Relay Race. Math Cake Walk is like musical chairs but without the chairs. Instead of chairs there are math problems on the floor that students stand on. When the music stops the teacher draws a card with a problem on it. The student standing on that problem has to answer that question and no matter if they answer it correctly or not they are out. The last person standing earns a treat. Pizza Pie Relay Race needs two teams. The two teams race against each other places fraction, decimal, percent, and degrees on the each pizza in the correct spot. This became a very loud and sweaty game.
Games at Family Math Carnival Night from CMP:
CMPlinko, Factor Game, Product Game, Four in a Row, Gee Whiz Everyone Wins, Making Purple, Roller Derby, Rolling Digits, Scratching Spots, Switch No-Switch, CMP Hold’em, Bean Challenge, and Quadrilateral Game