Partnering with a local teacher supply store, Conococheague Elementary School in Hagerstown, Maryland, invited families for an evening of math activities and games to provide a foundation for practice at home.
[content block] "Our math night came about because we were looking for ways to improve our state assessment scores," says Sherry Everitts, the school's parent partnership coordinator. "Teachers volunteered their time for the evening. We encouraged the students to go to their grade level and the levels above to prepare for next year. They could visit classrooms below their grade level to review concepts."
The store supplied professionally-made games for the students to play with and purchase, if desired. Staff members and PTA representatives gave instruction in the store's games, while classroom teachers presented additional free make-and-take activities. Everyone went home with materials to share together.
"We often hear from parents, 'That is not how I was taught to solve the problem,'" Everitts told Education World. "Parents liked this event because they became actively involved in their child's learning. They also became familiar with the curriculum and how the students were instructed to solve problems."
Skill review was the purpose of the games, but each one included an element of fun. A popular third grade game featured at the math event was "Sink or Swim." In it, players take on the roles of two divers in search of buried treasure when their tanks begin to run low on air. They roll dice and add, subtract, or multiply the numbers to obtain an answer and move toward a life raft or shark to earn points.
The PTA purchased four math games for door prizes, and students registered as they entered. Among other incentives, students who attended received a free homework pass. Flyers and the monthly school newsletter publicized the math event. It has been held for a few years, and the number of parents who attend continues to be impressive.
"We think this has been so successful because it has been well organized and has kept the students and parents involved in hands-on activities for the entire time period," Everitts observed. "Our teachers promote the activity and are active participants. It's fun to see parents (and students) become so involved with the activities that they want to go to all the games!"