Do you remember math as the boring, confusing subject in school that you were obligated to suffer through? Did you identify with the poor, miserable character in Jon Scieszka’s Math Curse, tossing and turning in your bed at night, dreading the next math test?
Well, kids today don’t have to learn math the hard way. Bedtime Math has found a way to make math fun to learn. Through guided games, exploration, and experimentation, the Crazy 8’s Club curriculum uses children’s natural curiosity to teach them math concepts in a way that not only is fun, but shows the practical aspects of mathematical concepts.
For those not familiar with Bedtime Math, you can learn more about the organization and what it offers at:
At the site there are the nightly math challenges, which were the original concepts behind Bedtime Math. People can sign up to automatically receive an e-mail with each day’s questions. There are several questions and bonus challenges offered each day, a couple for every skill level from pre-school to upper elementary. And for those who get hooked and just can’t wait 24 hours for the next challenge, there is an archive, so previous nightly questions can be visited.
There are several videos which were created for Math Awareness Month (April 2014). They are fun and can really get kids (and adults) giggling. There is information about the Bedtime Math books. There are currently three of them in the series. There is a Bedtime Math app for iPhones, iPads, and Androids, as well, for fun math on the go.
But what I want to focus on right now is the Crazy 8’s Club. It’s a great way to have fun STEAM programming in your library, attract more attendees, and be able to do it all for free (well, nearly free)! As an informal education site, all the resources – advertising materials, fliers, posters, program/activity instructions, printables, and most of the materials for the activities are all included in the kit that shipped to those who sign up as Crazy 8’s Club coaches. The only requirements are that the program be free of charge for participants and that it not be included as part of a school curriculum. In other words, it’s perfect for libraries.
The second season of Crazy 8’s activities began being shipped out this past February. In the two big boxes that arrived at my library were enough materials to provide eight programs worth of great math fun.
Week 1: Glow in the Dark City
Participants get to use glow sticks and styrofoam balls to create skyscrapers, and in the process learn about various geometric shapes both 2 dimensional and 3 dimensional. They also learn fancy words like polygon, polyhedron, Platonic solid, hexahedron, and if the group has enough time, they can put their heads and hands together to create a dodecahedron. Of course, at various times during the program, the lights are turned off so that the kids can enjoy the sight of their creations glowing in the dark. All the materials for this program are provided.
Week 2: Ramp It Up
Who could turn down the opportunity to create roller coasters out of foam noodles and race bouncy balls on them. That’s the activity for this week. While experimenting to discover the best ramp and course for their ball, each team learns about slope, speed, and energy. They also learn how to measure distance with a measuring tape, and time with stop watch. By putting hills, curves, and loops in their tracks, participants see how their balls gain and lose energy as they travel the course. Everything is provided except masking tape and pencils.
Week 3: Funny Money
Learn nifty facts about American coin currency, such as why some coins have ridges on their edges and others don’t, and that equal values of dimes and quarters always have the same weight. Then play fun games to learn the values of the various coins and how to count change. Enjoy such challenges as discovering just how many ways there are to get $.32, a version of “Rock, Paper, & Scissors” with coins, and how to roll quarters in a race against other teams. Sparkly pencils and mini decks of playing cards are provided as prizes.
Week 4: Beach Ball Party
Math with beach balls? How can you beat that. In a variety of more active games, participants pass, roll, and toss the Crazy 8’s beach balls and either add or multiply the numbers their thumbs touch when they catch the ball. Variations on volleyball, gaga pit, and tunnel of numbers are explained in the materials. Participants also get to calculate their scores as the difference between their scores and the time it took to complete the course. Coaches provide post-it notes, music, a chalkboard/whiteboard, and chalk/marker.
Week 5: Jumping Through Hoops
Participants learn about some dominant and recessive human traits such as handedness, widow’s peaks, dimples, and ear lobes. Using glowsticks to make Venn Diagrams, they jump in and out of the circles showing which traits they possess and which they don’t. With the results they gather jumping, they get an introduction to sets, fractions and statistics. Coaches only have to provide mirrors, a chalkboard/whiteboard, and chalk/marker.
Week 6: The Writing on the Wall
Using wax sticks, participants outline themselves. Then they learn about doubling, tripling, and halving the shapes, and how their areas change as the size of the shape changes. By using the wax sticks, participants can actually see the difference in the shapes, so that the numbers can make more sense to them. Coaches only need to provide paper, pencils, a chalkboard/whiteboard, and chalk/marker.
Week 7: Super-Cube Shuffle
Crazy 8’er’s will use the colored blocks from the kit to create patterns of triangles and squares. Then they will race to copy patterns provided both as they look at them and from memory. They will learn about symmetry and how to find patterns within patterns. When the program is over, they can take their blocks home and connect to the internet to continue the fun.
Week 8: Epic Air Traffic Control
This week the participants use popsicle sticks, rubber bands, and small led’s to create “airplanes,” and glowsticks to make a crossed pair of runways. Then they use numbers posted along the runways to learn about odd numbers, even numbers, factors, and multiples. Everything but the post-it notes are provided in the kit.
That’s the end of this series of activities. My Crazy 8’er’s are always eager and excited about the programs. They get to playing, and forget that they are learning in the process. Many of them still remind me about the sessions from last autumn that they enjoyed the most. What better compliment could I get about the programming than that?
To register as a Crazy 8’s Club coach and receive a kit, just go to Crazy 8’s Club, and fill out the online form.
In another article I’ll write about the activities included in the Session 1 kit, which is also available at the link above.