Have a Math Fair

A math fair is set up like a carnival with an abundance of balloons, booths, and prizes.
The purpose of the math fair is for everyone to have fun enjoying math-related activities.
Many people will be quite surprised by how delightful math can be!

Activity Booths

Some activities are fun for all age levels. For example, three of these booths might include graphing with m&m’s, estimation challenges, and tangrams. The estimation challenges might include penny jars, popcorn jars (popped and unpopped), marble jars, even LEGO jars. Competitions can be held within each age division. The all-time favorite of our math fairs is the gumdrop booth. Participants build structures out of toothpicks and gumdrops. People can easily compare the strength of the tetrahedron with the wobble of a cube. Motivated students build other solids and look for relationships between the number of edges, vertices, and faces. And all enjoy the taste of a few chewy treats!

Other activities are only be appropriate for certain age levels. A good selection of activities can be found in the Family Math book series. Preschoolers can do a lot of hands on activities with shapes, solids, volume, and measurement. Family Math for Young Children: Comparing (Equals Series)) Elementary kids can solve problems with calendars, dice, and dominoes. Family Math (Equals Series) Middle schoolers can build on these activities: They might graph results from them, or learn some history of mathematics with the Mayan place value system, or explore recreational mathematics with polygonal numbers. Family Math : The Middle School Years, Algebraic Reasoning and Number Sense

Organization

To help people know which activities are best suited for them, we identified booths with balloons of specific colors. When registered, each child was given a math passport with the color to match their skill level. The passport also served as an indicator of which activities they had completed.

While most people chose to stay at the booths, we also had a math game room, a math book room, and, for those who needed a break, a video running of Donald in Mathmagic Land (Disney) [VHS].

After two hours of flexible time in the booths, we brought everyone together to pass out prizes and to talk about the life and work of a famous mathematician. At the last fair, we had problems related to Pascal’s triangle posted and so we talked about Blaise Pascal. The kids laughed when told that Pascal, who was taught at home, actually had his math books taken away by his father! Choose any mathematician who might particularly interest your group.

Planning

As you plan your event, keep in mind your goal. Make learning math fun! Create an environment with as much color, flavor, and entertainment as possible. You might have a math wizard or juggler entertain wandering minds. You might have playful background music. You might have a bubble booth outside for those who need space and some fresh air. As you think about ways to design this event, you will learn math yourself in the process. You might even surprise yourself with how much fun learning math can be!

This is math-mom.com, the website built on our belief that learning is naturally fun. With the right expectation and approach, anyone can enjoy learning. But since each of us is unique, we each must find our own best way to learn. We know that we have found our way when learning is fun.

Here you will find books, products, and ideas that our family has used to make learning fun for each one of us. We hope that it encourages you to find your own way to have the fun of learning.