Remember Family Math Night!? It was Awesome!

Remember Family Math Night!? It was Awesome!
Posted on 01/18/2019
math mazeBy Claire Dahill, Math Coach

Who knew toilet paper and math went together?

Well, we made that connection at Family Fun Math Night on November 14th with Toilet Paper Olympics! Using lengths of toilet paper taped to the floor students estimated how far they could long jump or shot-put (toss) a roll of tp, then counted the squares of toilet paper to “measure” their jumps and throws. Students then compared their estimate to their actual and made adjustments for the next turn. Older students use their math skills to “convert” toilet paper squares to actual feet and inches.

Students also had fun working on their strategizing, adding and multiplication skills to play a game of human bingo on giant bingo boards in the lobbies.

And a popular station was “Spy Training” where students learned how to write and decode “secret messages” written with coded letters.

tonyOur main focus for the night was on estimation. students estimated:
  • how many plastic tiles it would take to balance a wooden ball?
  • how many tiles were in a large jar if you knew there were 10 tiles in the small jar?
  • how many life-sized drawings of Tony it would take to measure the length of the cafeteria? That was a HUGE hit! Thanks to the Mimi and the students in K-102 for their artwork!
Estimation is a Skill for Life (credit Math is

As you walk around and live your life, imagine if you could easily estimate:
  • how much a bill will be,
  • which item is the best value for money
  • the size, areas and angles of things
We are not talking exact answers here, but answers that are good enough for your life.

One strategy for building estimation skills in elementary-school aged children is an estimation jar.

  • Find a glass or plastic jar, fill it with like items: goldfish snacks, marbles, legos, etc.
  • Ask your child “about how many items do you think are in the jar this week?” “What number might be too small, what number might be too big?”
  • Later, they can dump out the jar, count the items, and compare their count to their estimate.
  • Over time, you’ll see their estimates getting closer and closer to the actual number. They’ll be building their estimation skills as well as working on counting and efficient ways to count: by twos, by fives, by tens. All important early mathematical-thinking skills!!

    mathMany thanks to:
    • Friends of Graham & Parks for supplying the pizza
    • Parent volunteers that helped man estimation stations
    • The many staff members that helped make the night a success
    • And finally, to the folks at Bedtime for the fun ideas for engaging students with math
    If you’re interested in learning more about math ideas to do at home, go to for free apps and ideas to engage students in making math fun!
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