By Nichole Hall
Idaho Math Initiative Coordinator
Family Math Nights are an excellent way to get students and families engaged and involved in math. They can also be a great community event.
In partnership with the Micron Technology Foundation, the Idaho State Department of Education, through funding from the Idaho Math Initiative, assembled more than 100 Math Fun d'Mentals kits for Idaho's school districts to use when hosting a Family Math Night. The Math Fun d'Mentals kit helps students develop their mathematical understanding through active engagement in fun activities.
I want to share the success stories of two schools that hosted family math nights this spring in the hopes that you too will be inspired to take advantage of available resources and host a Family Math Night in your school. I am also available as a resource to you, and I would be happy to attend and help facilitate a Family Math Night in your school or district. Please give me at least two weeks’ notice, and I will do my best to be there.
Here are some ways White Pine Charter School and Theresa Bunker Elementary School used a Family Math Night to get the whole community involved in learning.
White Pine Charter School, in Ammon, Idaho, hosted its annual Family Math Night to coincide with the school's STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) Project Fair. White Pine Charter School serves grades K-8 and utilizes a Core Knowledge curriculum framework. The school believes that effective learning is hands-on, where students are taught to be critical thinkers and lifelong learners.
More than 100 people attended White Pine's Family Math Night, which focused on math activities for students from kindergarten to the middle school level.
STEM program students also shared their student projects. The STEM projects ranged from architecture to highlighting modern convenience items that we have come to take for granted, but which came about through innovative thinking in STEM fields. Also included in the STEM Fair were end-of-the-year projects from students studying ethics and the Fine Arts.
White Pine got creative to motivate students to participate. Students who completed four math activities were given a pass that allowed them to attend school in casual clothes for one day. (White Pine students wear school uniforms.)
In March, Theresa Bunker Elementary in Idaho Falls held its first Family Math Night. Approximately 80 people attended the event, and participants were spread evenly across grade levels. To promote the event, fliers were sent home and daily announcements were made at school. Teacher volunteers conducted the Family Math Night in the school gym. For future events, the school plans to incorporate Pi Day into the festivities and have make-and-take games available for families to bring home. Due to the large turnout, the school will set up activities in several classrooms in the future.
Theresa Bunker Elementary found that the clean-up and organization of the Family Math Kit is easier when the contents of each box, not just the grade level, are listed on a sheet of paper attached to the box. A quick and easy way to do this may be to make a copy of the content pages at the beginning of each grade level tab in the Math Fun d'Mentals Notebook and paste them to the inside of the lid of each corresponding box.
Thanks for taking time to learn a little more about Family Math Night. If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact me:
Idaho Math Initiative Coordinator
Phone: (208) 332-6933