Sunday, October 03, 2010

Math Playground

So it was a really, really rainy Friday morning. Half of my class, the one with the smallest roster, was absent, and half of those attending were taking a makeup test from the day before. I needed to motivate the remaining students to learn something, and, frankly, needed to motivate myself because that wasn't exactly the most conducive environment for starting a new topic.

But this one classroom had a working Smart board. So I started googling math videos, looking for something in particular. Instead I found a game that gave me the following:

At first, I thought it was just a goofy game, and the students were going to give me strange looks and ignore it. WRONG! They ate it up. The smart, go-getter had pencil in hand and was working them out, but the girl in the back was responding almost as quickly. I can't remember the last time I saw her that engaged. (And I had her in a different class last semester.)

We went through all 10 questions of level one (like the first four above) and almost made it through level two (questions five and six, above).

The site, if you're curious, was, and I found this under videos. Apparently, there was a video attached to this game (which I discovered today), but my school's server blocked it. It didn't matter to me because they were solving multi-step algebraic equations!

The only difference was that they were using popsicles and clocks instead of x and y.
I captured a few of them and edited the images to make an extra-credit worksheet. It's simple enough that I can make my own in the future.

And I probably will.

EDIT: If you're going to print out this picture to photocopy, you might want to load it into paint first and work on the coloring. Those gray rectangles turned black and made reading difficult -- especially considering that I used this as a substitute lesson, so I wasn't there to clarify anything.


colleenk said...

I'm glad to know this activity delivered more than you anticipated. I've been doing an offline version of this game with my elementary students for many years. It's still a big hit and I get a lot of mileage from it.

Once my students learn how to solve these types of problems, I challenge them to create their own. We use construction paper for the scales and various manipulatives for the objects. Students are as excited about creating algebra problems as they are about solving them.

A more challenging algebra game is Weigh the Wangdoodles. In this puzzle, there are only two objects on each scale and each object is different. Students must look for relationships between the objects on two scales at the same time. Later, in algebra class, students will recognize this as simultaneous equations.

I hope you'll explore other areas of Math Playground and find even more hidden gems. If you ever have any suggestions, please feel free to send them to me.

Colleen from Math Playground said...

Have you heard of Hooda Math, yet?
Try our Math Games at

(x, why?) said...

I'm bumping this thread up so that it appears in the Recent Comments sidebar.

I've forgotten about this activity, and that was wrong of me. I'm tutoring this week, so I will have to work on this.