Family Math Night ResourcesFebruary 23, 2023
[Want to get right to it? This Dropbox folder has all the activities and PDFs linked below.]
Teachers, administrators, and students all spend the bulk of their time in schools, and sometimes have different priorities for what they should do. When it comes to mathematics in the classroom, it’s great to get these three groups moving in the same direction.
But there’s another stakeholder you can’t forget: families!
Many elementary schools host family math nights now. These events are opportunities to highlight what schools are doing in math classrooms, and get buy-in from parents. In my experience, parents want to help their kids succeed in math, and changes they don’t understand can be daunting. Family math nights can help them understand the motivation for those changes, and give them ways to support their kids at home. With families on board, you’re way more likely to improve mathematics education at your school!
I’m a fan of a play-based approach to mathematics, for reasons I’ve discussed at length. What’s wonderful is, math games are easy to play at home, and the right games and puzzles are obviously mathematically rigorous too. Sharing these activities gets buy-in from parents and gives them tools to share math with their kids in a fun way.
Below is my quick and easy Family Math Night Kit. It consists of a planning document, and a collection of games and puzzles to play in a gym, lunchroom, classrooms, or wherever you’re hosting you’re event. There’s also a handout to print out for parents.
You can run this event on the cheap, using just dice, printouts of our PDFs, scratch paper & pencil, and a few other math manipulatives you’re likely to have in math classrooms. You can purchase some of our games and blocks as well, but you don’t have to if you don’t have the budget.
Download the Math for Love Family Math Night Planning Document.
Choose which activities you’d like to run at your event. Make sure you have the necessary materials to run the activities. (See the document for details.)
Make sure you have an adequate space to run your Math Night, and volunteers to help with activities. Arrange for food for families if you can!
Promote your event, and encourage people to register, so you have a sense of how many to expect, and what age kids will be there.
Print out (& laminate, optionally) the activities you’re going to run. Train your volunteers so they are comfortable running the activities. Encourage playfulness and a light touch!
Plan for whatever comments, introduction, etc. you want to make to parents. [Note: video coming soon to help with this!]
Print out the Math Games Shortlist to send home with families.
Get in touch with us if you’d like to buy some of our games or blocks to raffle off 🙂
Have your festival!
Then let me know how it went, and what other materials would have helped you to run it!
In addition to the Math for Love Family Math Night Planning Document and Math Games Shortlist Handout, the games and activities below are my list of ideal offerings for a Family Math Night. The planning document has video support for many, along with suggested grade and materials needed for each activity.
- 1 3 4 6 Puzzle
- 1-2 Nim on a Ten Frame Handout
- Beat the Tax Collector
- Blockout Board for Family Math Night
- Box the Numbers
- Broken Calculators – Whole Numbers
- Diffy Squares 2023
- Don’t Break the Bank 2023
- Dots and Boxes 3 by 3
- Dots and Boxes 4 by 4
- Hexagon Challenge
- Pig Handout
- Polka Loop Puzzle (see video)
Many of these activities are also available in our Free Lesson Library! Teachers, if you like these abbreviated versions, check out the full lessons there.
A Video to Share
I recorded a 2-minute video a few years ago to give parents a simple way to have rich math conversations with their kids at home. The prompt is simple: how many ways can we find the answer?
I think this could be a short, conversation-provoking video to share with parents. If you’d like videos on another topic, let me know in the comments!
- Early Family Mathematics has a free Family Math Night Kit with other great ideas for games and activities.
Go to the bottom of this page to download it.
- Have a budget for your Family Math Night? The Julia Robinson Math Festival has kits for sale and support to offer. They’re got great activities, colorful, hands-on materials, and can give you more support to get your math night launched. I was at one of their festivals recently, and kids didn’t want to go home. Check it out here.