Monday, August 26, 2013

Math activities with directions

In seventh grade I had an English class where we had to memorize an alphabetical list of prepositions.  All I can recall is "above, below, between, betwixt".  Betwixt was my favorite : )  Prepositions help with directions--whether it is giving directions (as in where to locate something), or following directions.

I also remembered this comical activity I did when I was in fifth grade.  The assignment was to write down step by step instructions on your choice of 1.) how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or 2.) brushing your teeth.  The following day the teacher demonstrated how to follow the instructions exactly, and then students could try. Some kids got toothpaste all over, and others had the funniest looking peanut butter sandwiches I saw (bread with a jar of peanut butter in between).

They really needed to be detailed--the kids who made 30 or more instructions had the most successful outcome.  This is a sample of what a good set of instructions started out with...

How to brush your teeth

  1. Locate your toothbrush.
  2. Pick it up in your right hand.
  3. Move your right hand (with the toothbrush) 2 inches below the faucet spout.
  4. Put your left hand on the faucet control.
  5. Twist the faucet control counterclockwise until the desired amount of water is flowing and gets your toothbrush bristles wet.
  6. Turn off the water with your left hand, twisting the faucet control clockwise until it is turned off.
  7. With your left hand grab the toothpaste tube.
  8. Put the toothbrush in your right hand onto the sink counter.
  9. With your right hand, unscrew or pop open the toothpaste lid.
  10. Squeeze gently until the toothpaste is overflowing from the top about 1/2 a cm.
I think you get the point.  It is hard to write such detailed instructions, but is a good exercise.  And, it can be hilarious if some steps are left out (like spitting out what it in your mouth or putting the peanut butter on the bread without even opening the can).

Now that game didn't use too much math, but prepositions were helpful and the number of steps correlated to successfully completing the task.

Another game is to have a child blindfolded and have the other children direct the blindfolded child to get an object.  It will involve detailed directions as well, such as...
  • Take two steps forward...
  • Move your right hand up to eye level...
  • Reach your hand outward a foot and a half...
Things like that.  How many steps does it take to find your object?  Was it fun or funny?

On Thursday I'll be doing MaTh activity Thursday with Multiplication and you can link up.  See you then!


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