Encourage Math Discussion With This
Playing Exponent 'War' Card Game
Looking for an exponent activity for your middle school math class?
We played a little "exponent war" in our 6th grade math today, inspired by a couple of pins I saw on Pinterest.
I made a recording sheet, for each partner to record their exponential form and its value - you can download it by clicking the button at the bottom of this post:-)
How to Play This Exponent Card Game
1) Students play in partners
2) Each student gets half a deck of cards (if you keep the 'face' cards in the deck, assign a number value to them)
3) Each partner flips over 2 cards - the first is the base and the 2nd is the exponent
4) Students find the value of their exponential expressions
5) The student with the higher expressions 'wins' all the cards
6) Play continues until one player has won all the cards (or until time is up:-)
Using Calculators for This Exponent Activity?
I haven't allowed the students to use calculators to find the values of exponential expressions up to this point, but... I did allow them to use calculators for this exponent activity, because some of the numbers end up being so large! (We used the jacks, queens, and kings as 11, 12, and 13.)
In my first class, students discovered that the calculator converted the values of expressions with large bases and large exponents to scientific notation.
In my other classes, I explained the basics of scientific notation to the students before they began the activity and suggested that they might want to stick with bases and exponents less than 9. (My students haven't worked with scientific notation yet, but if they had, it would have been great to integrate that knowledge into the activity).
Having the choice to stay under 9 or to use those larger numbers was a great opportunity for self-differentiation!
The students really enjoyed the activity and it was interesting to listen to their comments about how they knew which one was larger, before they actually calculated the values. They want to play a little longer tomorrow, so this was definitely a hit!
What are your favorite exponent activities??
Resources to Teach and Practice Exponent Concepts
To Read Next
Problem Solving Worksheet for 5th or 6th Grade Math
Problem Solving for Fast Finishers
I used this week's problem of the week in my 6th grade math class today, for the fast finishers.
Because we aren't too "into" a particular topic at the moment, this problem solving activity uses a mix of operations, so students get some practice with basic operations along with the word problem practice.
I intended for students to use mostly division and multiplication, but I saw students using addition as well.
This problem solving activity gives students a 'bake sale scenario' and then asks four questions related to that scenario.
Math Conversations About Solving Word Problems
I really enjoy talking with my students about what they are thinking when they try to solve problems, for a few reasons:
I noticed a few different things when the students were solving the different parts of this week's problem:
For part A, I multiplied 85 times 3 to get the total number of cookies and then divided by 24 (when I wrote the problem, I wanted the students to have to interpret the quotient, so I approached it with a desire to use division).
BUT one student was just sitting and thinking, so I asked him what he was thinking. He started to say he divided 24 by 3 and then paused - I almost interrupted his thinking to redirect him to my way, but I successfully restrained myself, and asked why.
I really liked his thinking process, because it hadn't occurred to me to do it that way. Now, if the numbers hadn't worked out evenly, it might not have been the best approach, but we could expand our class discussion to explore that.
After deciding he could fill 8 baggies per batch, he added on sets of 8 until he reached the correct number of batches.
As some students worked on part C (below), I started to think I should adjust the wording of the problem.
When I wrote the problem, I thought it would be clear that the number of cookies for part C was the same as part A, but some students thought of the part C as using 85 baggies of 2 cookies (same number of baggies), instead of using the same number of cookies.
As more students worked on it though, other students seemed to understand that the number of cookies should be the same as the original number they were working with, so I haven't changed it yet. If you use the problem, please let me know what you think.
Again, a few students approached this part in a different way than I did - they said that in both cases, the cookies cost 25 cents each. Using this reasoning, some students said the cost was the same, while others did not - again, a great opportunity for discussion, both in small groups and as a whole class.
To see and/or use the entire problem and answer key, select the button below.
To access all of the Problem of the Week problems I've created over the past several years, check out the Free Math Resource Center!
Do you have some favorite problem solving activities?
Resources to Teach and Practice Problem Solving:
To Read Next:
Hey there! I'm Ellie - here to share math fun, best practices, and engaging, challenging, easy-prep activities ideas!