Math in My Life Projects December 06 2010

As the winter holiday break looms, it might be difficult to hold students' attention for any length of time. Sounds like a great time for a math project!

Why Projects?

There are many advantages to setting up a project for kids.

  • Projects are versatile - you get to decide whether or not they're done individually or in small groups, the general subject matter, the length of time to finish and a grading rubric.
  • These projects can easily turn into speeches or oral presentations (this is important since my kids need a work sample each year in this area).
  • Kids are required to use background knowledge, research skills, social skills, problem solving, organizational skills, and creativity to communicate their understanding of a subject.
  • Projects can fit a variety of topics that use concepts across the curriculum.

Plus, projects are FUN! There's something intensely gratifying to the productive hum that happens as kids are working together toward a common goal.

The Math in My Life Project Lesson Plan

The Math in My Life Project was a popular one with my son in his third grade class this year. Using their prior knowledge involving math and their personal experiences with it, the third graders made a wide variety of posters. These final products clearly indicate what these students know about math's relevancy in their present and future lives.

The project guidelines were fairly loose, and the teacher provided each student with a piece of paper that was about 22" x 34" to serve as a background. The other requirements included both math and design elements, and were quite simple:

  • The poster must have a border, a headline and ten sections
  • Each section must have a clear explanation of how students see math in their lives
  • Each section must have a corresponding picture, which can be printed from the internet, hand-drawn and colored, or cut and pasted from magazines.
  • Their work must be neat, easy to read with correct spelling, and well-organized

The Math in My Life project requirements can vary in sophistication, depending on the age and skill level of kids in your classroom. A sixth grade teacher took this project idea and changed it to an exploration of a chosen number, incorporating concepts like prime, square root, multiplication, division and more.

A Math in My Life Presentation

It's fun and enlightening to see just how much students connect math with their every day lives. My son's project included examples involving money, time, map-making, brain research, measurement and estimation.

At this point, you can decide whether or not to make this project an opportunity for kids to share with the rest of the class regarding what they think about math in their own lives. If there's a shortage of time, one option is to go around the room and have kids share their most important or favorite example of Math in My Life.

The projects also varied not only in content, but in presentation depending on each child's strengths and interest level. This Math in My Life bulletin board was up in the front hallway of the school, which I thought was a great idea. As kids travel to and from their specials, recess, and lunch, they're able to see their work displayed in a rare math-themed bulletin board. Hopefully, these repeated viewings will help them continue to make connections regarding math in their everyday lives!