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Family Math Night Collaborative Project: Space Invaders

## Family Math Night Collaborative Project: Space Invaders

I’m excited to share with you my latest Family Math Night Collaborative Project: Space Invaders. Here’s a photo of the final result. (There are actually 3 aliens to choose from in the lesson plan. This is alien #1).

Here’s some of the background information I include in the lesson plan:

In 1978, Tomohiro Nishikado, a Japanese video game developer, released his video game Space Invaders. It was such a popular game that it helped catapult video gaming into a global industry. The pixelated aliens in the game became a popular icon.

Pixels are small single-colored squares that make up images in computer graphics. These pixels are displayed as a bitmap, a rectangular matrix of dots. These pixels, sometimes called dots, are each assigned a specific color and are arranged along the horizontal axis (x-coordinate) and vertical axis (y-coordinate) of the matrix.

Computer graphics have come a long way in the last decade and look much more sophisticated today than they did back in 1978. But back when graphics were first being designed on computers, they had a “boxy” look. That’s because the screen displays (screen resolutions) were not as good as they are today.

Note: For the purpose of this activity, each pixel does not need to be represented by a single color.

Some of you may know that I always put together a video of my collaborative projects describing in detail how to do the activity and offering additional tips.  I’ve included the video below for you.

If you’re not familiar with my Family Math Night Collaborative Projects, take a peek at some of the previous ones I’ve done.  I include one of these projects at each of my Family Math Night events and leave it behind as a “gift” to the school for inviting me to host an event.  They’re often one of the most popular stations at the event.

The Power of the Estimation Jar

## The Power of the Estimation Jar

We often think of math as the exact-answer subject.  But the kind of math that we do most often during the day doesn’t require an exact answer.  We use this particular math skill when we need to figure out how much time we need to get ready in the morning.  Or whether we have enough gas in the car to get to work. Or whether \$50 is enough to cover the items in our shopping cart.

The math skill we use the most is, of course, estimation. And estimating accurately requires a high level of math.  That’s because it’s abstract which means we need to tap into our number sense and reasoning skills.

One way to provide our students with opportunities to work on their estimation skills is during computation practice.  Instead of diving right in to figure out 15 x 12, have students come up with an estimate…about what the answer will be. In fact, periodically I ask students NOT to determine the exact answer and, instead, have them turn in their work with only their estimates recorded.  This is hard for them to do in the beginning because they are so used to working out arithmetic problems, but they soon learn the value in thinking about the problem first.

A fun way to get students to work on their estimating skills is through the estimation jar.  I’ve included two of my estimation videos below.  The first video describes using the estimation jar in the classroom as a way to develop, not only estimation skills, but place value and number sense, as well.

The second video is filled with tips on setting up your estimation table at your Family Math Night event.  It includes something I’ve been adding to my estimation tables recently – the use of a referent.

You’ll find in both videos that there is a heavy emphasis on getting students to think about and make sense of numbers.  I discovered an example of this in action one day while cleaning up after a Family Math Night event.  It was such a powerful example of number sense that I’m now including “thinking” paper at my estimation stations.  If you missed the newsletter where I describe this priceless find, check it out here.  And click here to get the pdf of the thinking paper I’m now using.

A Twist on the Estimation Jar – Classroom Version

Setting up the Estimation Table at your Family Math Night event

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Math Medley Family Math Night

## Math Medley Family Math Night

Our Math Medley Family Math Night kit is filled with engaging activities that explore a variety of concepts in math in a fun and unique way.

Family Math Night: The Estimation Table

## Family Math Night: The Estimation Table

The estimation jar is a huge draw at a Family Math Night event.  In the following video I share tips on setting up your estimation table.  If you are interested in using the estimation jar in your classroom, click here for a great video that focuses on using the estimation jar to develop number sense.

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A Family Math Night Scavenger Hunt

## A Family Math Night Scavenger Hunt

Here’s a super fun addition to a Family Math Night event: A scavenger hunt! As participants enter the room they are handed one of two “game boards”…the K-2 version or the 3-5 version.

The K-2 version is a little easier and includes pictures. In addition, it’s played like bingo but with a scavenger hunt twist. Kids and their parents explore math in the environment by finding and crossing off items on their bingo board. Five-in-a-row wins. For a challenge (and an extra prize — see below) they can find all the items on the board. Click the left image above to print a copy of the K-2 version.

The 3-5 version is the traditional scavenger hunt. Because these students are older, they should be familiar with the items on the list. Their job, with the help of their parent, is to find and write down ALL the items. Click the right image above to print a copy of the 3-5 version.

As an added incentive for completing their scavenger hunt, kids can win little prizes such as a pencil, ruler or other small treat. Or they could get an extra guess in the estimation jar. Or maybe they could earn a free homework pass… But any time a prize is offered, you’re going to get a lot of takers. So be prepared. 🙂

Classroom version: These two scavenger hunts are also great classroom activities and make a wonderful first week of school game. Kids can partner up and work together to complete their boards. In addition, older kids can create their own game boards using the K-2 version. It’s a great way to reinforce the math they have learned. Click the image below to print a copy.