Broken Calculator Warm Up

Broken Calculators are one of the most versatile and delightful openers I know. The image itself communicates the heart of the puzzle, while leaving students open to all manner of different and personal approaches to reaching the goal. Read the lesson below, and check out the images underneath. It’s easy to make your own! This is a good early Broken …

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2, 4, 6 Puzzle

The 2-4-6 Puzzle teaches an invaluable lesson about inductive reasoning, confirmation bias, and how “wrong” answers lead to deeper knowledge. It can be adapted with different rules for endless play options and difficulties. Also see Josh Golden’s writeup of Eleusis Express for a card game version of the game, perfect to play with standard cards, SET cards, or Tiny Polka …

Subtracting Reverses

This extraordinary lesson combines base ten subtraction practice with an irresistible mystery. A pattern slowly reveals itself as the class compiles data.

Billiard Ball Problem

The Billiard Ball Problem is a beautiful exploration of a situation both natural and novel. Great for problem solving, with connections to ratio and proportion. Also check out this Billiard Ball simulator on Scratch.

Math Magic Trick

This trick is an extraordinary introduction to the power of algebraic thinking, and a reminder of what makes algebra so awe-inspiring. A video Launch for this lesson is available in two parts. PDF of the lesson is below the videos. Part 1. When using as a class launch, stop at 2:45 and let the class come up try to find …

Pyramid Puzzles

Pyramid puzzles are a fun and deceptively tricky puzzle. Sometimes these can’t be done without some risk taking—encourage guessing and checking, and learning from the inevitable mistakes, especially on the harder puzzles. More on Pyramid Puzzles here.

Rectangles with Whole Area and Fractional Sides

Math concepts: Fraction/decimal multiplication, area model of multiplication Materials: Paper and pencil Tags: 5.NBT.B.7, 5.NF.4, 5.NF.6, I love the question at the heart of this lesson—it’s simple but counter intuitive. This is a perfect way to let kids look for something without The Launch Consider a rectangle. If the side lengths are whole numbers, then so is the area. Do …

What’s the biggest rectangle?

Math concepts: Area, perimeter, number patterns Materials: Graph paper, pencil Tags: 3.MD.7.a-b, 4.OA2, 4.OA.3, 4.OA.5, 4.OA.5, 5.OA.3, MP1, MP2, MP3, MP5, MP6, MP7. Of all the rectangles with a given perimeter, which one has the largest area? This simple question launches a fascinating exploration. The Launch Remind students of the definition of area and perimeter. Then pose the following question: …

Volume Menu

Topics: Volume, surface area, multiplication, number patterns, estimation, unit conversion Materials: Menu worksheets, cubes, perspective paper (optional), rulers, pencil andpaper Common Core: 5. NBT.5, 5.MD.1, 5.MD.3, 5.MD.4, 5.MD.5.a-c, MP1, MP2, MP3, MP5, MP6, MP7, MP8 Using a Menu The idea of using a “menu” to teach math is simple: with minimal time spent on introduction, you make available a wide array of …

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Math for Love Lessons on Volume

This is a collection of some of our favorite lessons on the topic of volume. We like them, and our students do too. They are built to launch quickly from genuine questions, and should have students actively learning and thinking for most of class. Because they are hands-on and compelling, they should help build a solid comprehension of what volume …