Toys in Math Class?!

I was student teaching in an Intensive Algebra I class and was trying to think of a hands-on activity to reinforce the concept of the unions and intersections of sets.  It dawned on me that ANYTHING could make up a set, so I wandered into my favorite place- the dollar store!  I found some cool little toys; little green army men, bouncy balls, googly eyes, red and black checkers.  I decided to add paper clips just to get another item thrown into the mix.  I separated all of the items and put them into plastic baggies.  I made enough baggies for each group of students.

After discussing what the words “union” and “intersection” mean in real life and asking for examples of these things (union of people in marriage, intersection of roads, and several others the students came up with), we applied those definitions to sets.  I then passed out the baggies and Venn diagrams to each group.

I displayed different sets, asked different questions and had the groups use the toys manipulatives to figure out the unions and intersections.  I will say that using bouncy balls is not recommended!  I guess they are just TOO fun!  The kids loved being able to play with toys in math class and were actually eagerly awaiting the next question to be displayed on the SmartBoard.

I searched the internet for the pictures to put into the SmartBoard.

6 thoughts on “Toys in Math Class?!”

1. Kate Nowak says:

That whole bouncy ball thing is something you will quickly develop a sixth sense for. Avoiding, I mean. Still – inspired idea!

• LOL! Tell me about it. It was during my first student teaching experience- I definitely learned from that. Thanks!

2. crazedmummy says:

I use rubber duckies – the large assorted box comes in different varieties, and lots of sets can be made.

3. Carby says:

Interesting. It adds a fun element to set theory. Great stuff!

• Thanks! Anytime the kids get to actually DO something in math class they tend to enjoy it more.

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