Plastic Leaves vs. Poker Chips

The Acitivities

  1. Topic: Counting: Book: Hands Down by Dahl
  2. Topic: Tesselations: Make a tesselation out of the following shapes, using Shape Pattern Blocks.
    1. Hexagons, skinny diamonds, squares.
    2. Hexagons, triangles, diamonds.
    3. Hexagons, skinny diamonds, triangles.
    4. Hexagons, diamonds, trapezoids.
    5. Triangles, trapezoids, diamonds.
    6. Diamonds, squares.
    7. Hexagons, triangles.
    8. Skinny triangles, squares, diamonds.

      My daughter tries to cover the paper rectangle using hexagons, skinny diamonds and squares.

  3. Topic: Multiplication: Have the numbers 1 – 100 on the wall. Assign each kid a number, X, and a color of marker. The kid then counts by ‘X’, and colors in a box above the numbers they get.  For example, one kid will be assigned ‘5’, and color in a segment of 5, 10, 15, 20, etc.
    1. Which numbers have the most colored in boxes? (most factors). The least?
    2. When counting by ‘X’ how many numbers did you color in from 1 – 100?
    3. Counting by 4 always hits the counting by 2 numbers. Why?

      Each kid used a different colored marker to color in the number factors. For example, 2 used light blue, so 2, 4, 6, 8, have a light blue section.

      My daughter colors in her numbers.

  4. Topic: Weight:  Divide the kids into pairs. Each pair gets a different unit we’ll use to weigh different objects in the Pan Balance. The units are poker chips, letter tiles, and plastic leaves.  Have 4 objects that we will weigh. Each pair should guess how many of their units will weigh the same as the object.  Then they use the pan balance to get the exact answer, and fill in the answer on a chart.
    1. Which object weighed the most?
    2. Which unit of measure weighed the most?
    3. How many letter tiles does it take to equal 1 poker chip?  How many leaves?

      Plastic leaves in the Pan Balance.


For the tesselations, I tried out the shapes to find combinations that could tesselate nicely. For the factors, I printed out the candlestick numbers so that each kid could color in a sector for the numbers they count.  For the pan balance activity, I picked out the units of measure, and the objects we would weigh.

How did it go?

This circle was much wilder than usual.  We had all 6 kids, and it was tough to keep them all engaged.

Multiplication / Factors

First I gave assigned each kid a number, starting with 2.  All the kids were quite excited to do this activity.  I gave them 10×10 grids where they would mark their numbers. After I checked their work, they could go color on the candles on the wall.  Many of the kids noticed patterns while doing this.  The kid with ‘2’ saw that she had to color every other column. The kid with ‘3’ noticed diagonal lines in the 10×10 grid.

The kids flew through the low numbers, but it started to get hard when we did counting by 12 and 13. The kid with ’13’ got pretty frustrated.  The kid with ’12’ did ok, but ended up being off by one row.  One kid cried because someone else had the pink marker she wanted.  At that point, I decided we had colored enough numbers.

We went over to look at the candles. The kids all agreed that counting by 2s would color the most candles.  I asked them how many you would color when counting by 2s and they started to count the blue lines, but then it got confusing because the ‘2’ kid had accidentally switched from evens to odds around 47.  This confused the counters so they didn’t end up with an answer.

We kept the candles up on the wall for a month after circle, and my 3-year-old son LOVED the candles. He would constantly count from 1-100 while pointing at the candles.


This activity did not go as well as I’d hoped. I divided the kids into 3 teams of 2, and each team was supposed to guess how many of their objects would weigh the same as my big object. Then each team got to use the pan balance to find the answer.  However, weighing took a long time, and the other kids got restless.  Also, some kids played around during the weighing. I ended up cutting this short and moving on to tesselations.


I had prepared bags with construction paper rectangles that should be covered by the shapes in the bag. No duplicate shapes could touch.

Half of the kids worked hard on this one, and half played around.  Some kids finished several bags of shapes, while other kids spent time swapping shapes with their neighbors.  One of the kids mentioned how she did *not* want to work on a tricky one.  Thankfully, this sentiment has been very rare in circle, and I hope it will stay that way.



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