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


     I'm a math teacher so I'm always looking for activities that build number sense. My criteria are simple: I want activities that 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!

     I write the day's date at the top of my whiteboard every day. 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.

     Our goal is to 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 
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 we heard 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 can modify this game to address your students' 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!

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  1. Woah... this just blew my mind.
    Your kids are luck to be learning it this way.

  2. What a great idea! I *love* using practical means to pull math into the real world for students and this just nails it. Thanks for sharing your specific ideas for how to use the date, too. That really helps boost the creative juices!

  3. This is fantastic! A great way to build number sense with flexible thinking!

  4. This is really good. You can check the math questions without calculator permission exam 2 for a better preparation. It helps you with standard question patterns and makes you ready for the test.


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