Family carnival proves theory that math is fun

How can teachers help students and their families review mathematics? Some Radford University teacher education candidates came up with a way to sharpen skills while creating opportunities for family fun.

Family Math Night Carnival was a course project organized during spring semester 2013 by 16 elementary teacher candidates from Radford University’s School of Teacher Education and Leadership (STEL). The goal was to make connections with families and to share math games that could be used at home for an entertaining review of math skills.

The project was made possible through an RU Scholar-Citizen initiative Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) grant from the university. The focus of the Scholar-Citizen initiative is to promote a teaching and learning culture that fosters a sense of how people can best contribute to their communities.

On April 25, more than 40 families of children who attend Roanoke City's Westside Elementary School, along with the school's administrators and teachers, were treated to a carnival setting, complete with a big top, streamers, balloons and music. Nine carnival-themed games reinforcing SOL math skills were set up in the gym.

RU teacher candidates were joined by nine members of the 2013-14 cohort in teaching families how to play each of the games.

At the end of the night, door prizes were given away, and families were provided with donated dinners. Families also received a bag of math manipulatives, including dominos, dice, 100s charts and counting chips. Directions for all of the carnival games were included in the bags.

"This was just wonderful," said Kathy Hamlin, math coordinator for Roanoke City Public Schools. "Nothing like this has ever been done in our school."

In previous years, RU teacher candidates have raised funds for schools by holding book and food drives for local homeless shelters, art and dance after-school enrichment activities and yard sales.

Glenna Gustafson, RU Roanoke program cohort leader, said Family Math Carnival Night was such a hit, that she hopes to hold it again next school year.

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Jun 17, 2013
Chad Osborne
(540) 831-7761