Powerful Number Sense: Where's The Math In The Date?

Number sense math in the date

     As a math teacher, I'm always looking for activities that build number sense. My criteria are simple. The best activities are fun, engaging for a whole class, no-prep, and quick. Sound impossible? Try "Find The Math In The Date". I'll bet you love it as much as I do!
     Every day that I'm in class, I write the day's date at the top of my white board. I generally use the M/D/YY format. However, when we want to "Find The Math In The Date", I quickly change it to MM/DD/YYYY. You'll see why below.
     We use the digits in the date to make any and all mathematical statements that we can. These are usually equations, but can be a number fact that is commonly known or can be proven. The only rules are 1) you can use the digits in any order you wish, and 2) you can only use the digits that are actually in the date.
     We generally spend 2-3 minutes playing, but you can adjust as needed. You can write student contributions on the board as you go, have students come up to write, or just let listen and affirm.
     As soon as I ask, "Where's the math in today's date?" hands start flying up. You might want to require about 30 seconds of thinking time to give everyone a shot.
Number sense math in the date

     Let's see what you might hear on February 25, 2017 or 02/25/2017.
Number sense math in the date game
2 + 5 = 7
7 + 1 = (2 + 2) x 2
2 + 2 + 5 = 2 + 7
5 x 2 = 2 + 1 + 7
25 - 20 = 7 - 2
(We have a 20 to use, but you could also use the first 0 and 2, if needed.)
2 x 5 = 10
 There are 725 students in our school. 
Valentine's Day was 11 days ago. That's 7 + 2 + 2.

     You'll be amazed at the math connections that your students can make! You could adapt this game for classroom use to address your own needs.
  • Have students work on it independently for a few minutes, maybe as a warm-up, giving students even more time to think. 
  • Use it as a center if you're doing center work one day. 
  • Have students use their own birthday as the date. Once they write a good number of equations/facts, they could swap with a partner and share.
     Give this fun, no-prep game a try. I'd love to hear how it works in your classroom. Also, let me know what number sense activities are a hit for you!

Pat McFadyen
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