Students enjoy math ‘mania’

Published 11:59 pm Wednesday, March 4, 2009

One would not think that students could be enticed to come back to school on a wintry night just to study math.

Yet that was the case Tuesday night at Booker T. Washington Elementary School.

More than 50 students and parents were in the school’s cafeteria playing games, making crafts and learning how to put math skills to work at the school’s “Math Mania” event.

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The purpose of Math Mania “is to take the math skills we teach and put them in real life situations,” said Jennifer Morris, a fifth grade teacher at Booker T. Washington. “Any time a student can connect what they learn to something real, it makes the learning more lasting.”

For more than three years, “Mania” nights have been held at the school on the same night as PTA meetings in order to draw parents into the activities.

“We want parents to see what their kids are learning, because a lot of our parents don’t know what their kids are doing in the classroom,” Morris said. “It helps the parents and the students.”

In fact, parents are often encouraged to work alongside their children at the various stations to learn the games and crafts in order to recreate them at home.

In the cafeteria, large tables were set up for children in every grade. There were flashcard games the children could play and there were food games where children counted and added different candies and snacks. The highlight for many of the children was the “make-it-take-it” crafts – where students make a craft through mathematic principles and then get to keep the objects they had made. The crafts ranged from homemade board games to three-dimensional shapes.

The students also could choose which activities they wanted to participate in — to either reinforce a learned math skill or learn a new one.

“Any student can go to any station and learn something,” Morris said. “They can use these times for review or for learning something they haven’t seen yet. It’s a nice balance.”

Second-grader Shaila Wood got help with her addition skills thanks to a money-counting game that she got to take home.

“You get to learn how to count (money) and then we get to keep the game for homework,” Shaila said. “She also gave us some stuff so when we get home we can do it, and she gave us shapes to cut out. It’s fun.”