Family Math Night is this Thursday and we cannot believe how fast it is approaching! Our activity is called "Build an Animal" and it is a math game based on probability. In my last post about Family Math Night I roughly explained the basis of the game and some of the game rules. In my last post I was preparing to play this game with the Grand Haven 5th Graders for the first time. Now, after playing the game with several different kids, they gave Sara and I excellent feedback. Some feedback was brutally honest, but as a whole the feedback we got helped us out in the long run. 

Questions/Feedback Received from the 5th Graders: 
"What math is in this game/what is probability?"
"There should be more animals to choose from"
"There should be a paper with all of the different rules and which each number on the die represents" 

Things Learned from 5th Graders Playing the Game:
  • We need a fair way to decide who goes first.
  •  We need to explain what probability is before we start the game and we need to possibly keep track of what the probability is after each turn (for more advanced/higher grade level students) 
  • We need more dice so there can be more players.
  • More animals are needed, for more choices and more fun.
  • To prevent fighting possibly have kids choose an animal part from a bag so it is random and fair. We could have the kids figure out the probability of getting their favorite animal.
New and Improved Game: 
Before the Game:
Before the game begins and is explained Sara & I are planning on explaining what probability is. We might hand out a handout on what probability is if needed. Then we will go on to explaining the game. 
Explanation of the Game: There will be four piles or bags with different animal parts. The different piles consist of tails, legs, bodies, and heads. The goal of the game is to create a complete animal with four legs, one tail, a body, and one head. The animal can be as crazy as the student wants. Each student will have a die and will take turns rolling a die. The number the student rolls represents a different rule/body part. Whoever is the first to complete an animal wins the game. 
To decide who gets to go first, Sara & I decided to have all of the players roll their dice and whoever rolled the highest number went first. 

Something we previously added to the game was a list of the rules for each number on the die to help guide the students as they play the game.  


Another thing added to the game was three more animals for more variety and more players. 

Unfortunately, I was not able to test out the game in Grand Haven a second time with these new additions, I was not able to receive more feedback from the 5th graders. To get the best test experience I could I played the game with my friend, Tony. The first time I won the game and the second time Tony won. The game went smoothly and no big catastrophes happened. 
Reflection: Making this Family Math Night activity took a lot of time and work with creating the different animal parts. The feedback from the fifth graders definitely helped the process. The activity is pretty much completed, but there are some finishing touches that need to be done. 
Feedback: Throughout this project I feel like I/we have been struggling with making this activity vividly have math. Is explaining probability before the game enough? Or should we have the students record the probability of winning the game after each turn? I feel like doing that would be difficult for the younger children and would make the game less fun, but I'm not sure. 

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