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Here are several Halloween math ideas using clever pumpkin/ghost lima bean counters
PreK, K, 3, 2, 1
Title – Pumpkin and Ghost Lima Bean Math
By – Tammi Myers
Primary Subject – Math
Grade Level – PreK-3
A. Make the pumpkin/ghost counters (this takes a little time – but these can be reused other years – and I did mine while watching television in one evening.)
- – a 1 or 2 pound bag of large dried white lima beans
- – orange spray paint
- – a thin black permanent marker (Sharpie)
- Using the spray paint spray one side of the beans orange, leaving the other side white.
- After the beans dry, add two dots for eyes to the white (ghost) side. On the orange (pumpkin) side make two triangle eyes and a jagged squiggle mouth. Now you have two sided counters.
B. Use the pumpkin ghost counters. These can be used in a variety of ways from everything to 1 to 1 correspondence to probability.
- I. One to one correspondence – give each student a set of pumpkin ghost counters (how many you give depends on the age and ability of the students). Have students shake the counters in their hand or in a small cup and spill them on the table. Have the students look at how many counters fell ghost side up vs. how many fell pumpkin side up. Can they match up the ghosts with pumpkins? Are there more ghosts? More pumpkins? Or are the amounts of each equal?
- II. Counting and comparing – give each student a set of pumpkin ghost counters (how many you give depends on the age and ability of the students). Have students shake the counters in their hand or in a small cup and spill them on the table. Have the students look at how many counters fell ghost side up vs. how many fell pumpkin side up. Have them count the number of ghosts, the number of pumpkins and write a greater than or less than equation for each time they roll and spill.
- III. Addition or subtraction sentences. Using the same method of roll and spill as above, have the students create addition or subtraction equations (Ex 3 ghosts, 2 pumpkins — 3+2= 5 or 3-2=1) to show how many altogether or how many more. More advanced students could make up word problems for the equations.
- IV. Patterning – using the counters have students make up AB, AAB, ABB or similar patterns.
- V. Probability – Guess and record how many times will there be: more ghosts than pumpkins, pumpkins than ghosts, the same number of each, all of one or the other. On a recording sheet have groups of students work together to “spill the beans” a number of times and record how many times each event occurs. What conclusions can the class draw?
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