# Playing With Math: Circles and Stars

Ahhh…summer. For many of us, that means more time with the kids…waiting. Waiting at a restaurant, doctor’s office, airport, etc. For many kids, it may also mean waiting to use their brain. Research suggests that students can lose as much as 2 months of learning skills during the summer months (Oxford, 2017).  So how can we use the waiting times (or times at home when they are claiming boredom) to retain and advance their learning in mathematics? Play games/activities.

While there are many great apps for kids, I would request less screen time and more interaction with your children.  For the next three months, I will suggest a game/activity that you can use with your child. I will suggest different levels, so that you can play it often and in different ways. I use these same games with my own children, and find the time waiting goes much quicker, with less outbursts and meltdowns. Further, I am modelling playing with math, which is truly the way I feel our children learn and understand math best.

Circles and Stars (Marilyn Burns)

Grade Levels: Though used in grade 3, if all you are doing is counting the number of stars I would recommend grades 1-5. My preK has played it and just counts one by one. He cannot make the stars, so he draws x’s.

Materials: die (number cube or dots; doesn’t matter), paper or napkin, pen or pencil (I prefer a travel size Magna Doodle or whiteboard with dry erase marker)

LEVEL 1

1. Roll the die. Draw that many circles.
2. Roll a second time. Draw that many stars in EACH circle.
3. Total the stars. Whoever has the most stars wins the round. (Play as many rounds as you want. The winner could be the one with the most stars total. Woo hoo! More math!)
4. Alternative: The winner is the player with the least amount of stars.

LEVEL 2

1. Roll 2 dice (or the die twice in a row). Player chooses which die represents the number of circles and the number of stars in each circle.
2. Total the stars. Whoever has the most (or least) stars wins the round.

• If I was to switch which die represented the number of circles and stars, what would happen? (The picture would look different, but the total stars would stay the same. This is the beginning of understanding the commutative property for multiplication.)
• How could we represent what we did in words? (Example: 4 groups of 3 stars is 12 total stars.)
• How could we represent what we did as an expression?                                   (Example: 4 x 3 = 12)