Googly Eye Math

Happy weekend everyone! Today was my youngest daughter's first day of indoor soccer. We have not done soccer for the last 5 years!! I forgot what it is like sitting on the sidelines with all the other parents :)

I wanted to share a math lesson that I started with my class on Friday and you may be able to use this month. If you have read some of my other posts you know that there is a focus in our area on inquiry based math lessons, getting students to talk to each other about their thinking, having students teach each other and working towards consensus to build understanding.

On Friday I introduced our Halloween craft. It is based on this picture and post I found on Pinterest.

I have made these with a class before. I use wooden picture frames from the dollar store, Halloween coloured paint and googly eyes galore. Since I have been teaching some of these kiddos for three years they have made a frame but will be making a second one and they are excited!

Here is what I told my students we need to figure out. How many packages of googly eyes do I need to buy?

I asked my students what do we need to know to figure this out. I recorded their questions. Then I answered the questions that I could.
First question was mine the rest are the questions that they thought we needed to solve before they could answer mine.

I brought in a sample frame from my daughter's room. (I made photocopies of the frame for them to work with but didn't pull those out yet!).

I brought in many different packages of googly eyes. We looked at each package and recorded the amounts.

Then they did not know how to move forward. Through some discussion they understood they needed to know how many googly eyes per person. They thought they would just guess by looking at the packages or saying 1 pack per person or 2 people split a pack (some were concerned with the cost and did not want to say too many!).

I told my class I did not just want to guess and end up back at the dollar store for more googly eyes. I wanted a really good idea. Finally a few students decided we could cover the frame with googly eyes but not glue them down to figure out how many we need.

I took out the photocopies, gave each group 1 package of googly eyes and sent them off to figure out how many googly eyes we need to cover the frame.

Since there were different sizes groups had different answers. Some groups could not cover their entire frame and had to do some estimation.

We put the googly eye covered frames under the document camera to present each group's solution.

A few samples of student work. Displayed this under the document camera and saved on a shelf till Monday.

We recorded the solutions and then looked for an average number. We had just been working on number lines last week so we made a number line and decided 200 would be in the middle of our numbers.

Next they needed to figure out how many googly eyes that would be in total if each person needed about 200. Again some kiddos were stumped but we got there - 4000.
A portion of our recording chart - how many pieces in a pkg. who used them, how many we needed to cover a frame using that package.

We had to call it a day there. On Monday we will be continuing with this problem. They will need to decide how many packages I should buy in order to have 4000 googly eyes. They will be having fun making decisions, arguing with other groups and reaching a consensus for me so that I can go shopping. I will be looking to see how the talk to each other about their thinking and how they work with large numbers. My advanced kiddos will need to come up with multiple solutions or use a variety of packages.

My students were totally engaged in this problems - they were motivated since this math problem is related to our class, it is real to them and they will be making a Halloween craft soon! Real-life problems and a craft, both big motivators for my class on a Friday so I am linking up this idea with the amazing Joanne at Head Over Heels for Teaching for her linky...

I hope you can use this idea too. Be sure and check out other motivating ideas at her blog!


  1. What a great meaningful problem! Last year we did one in June about planning a class party. I love listening to them share their ideas! Have a great night!
    Grade 4 Buzz

  2. Wow! Way more effective than those problems from the book that say "A man is planning to carpet his floor..." How many kids are interested in laying carpet? Googly eyes AND they get to make their own frame? They'll be eating out of your hand! Great lesson.

  3. That's so fun! Googly eyes just make everything better!

    Teacher at the Wheel

  4. This is amazing!! I absolutely love how authentic this is! We need to be doing more activities like this instead of following a scripted module lesson everyday. Thank you so much for the inspiration (as always!).
    Fourth Grade Flipper

  5. Oh, that's awesome! I love the thought processes they had. It takes on a whole new meaning when they are figuring out real-world problems :)


  6. What a fantastic lesson!!! I bet your kids loved this! Can't wait to see how it turns out!
    A Tall Drink of Water

  7. This lesson is fabulous AMC! It is so important to do this type of problem solving and not just follow word problems from a book. The craft is such a great motivator, and so cute.
    Enjoy your week.
    Coffee Cups and Lesson Plans

  8. What a great lesson! I have this same picture frame pinned from last year! (bought all the supplies for my own children and never had time to make them...thanks for reminding me!) I love that they had to solve a real life word problem! Now I want to make these with my students! So motivating and relevant! Thanks for sharing another great idea BBB!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

  9. What an amazing lesson! I am so impressed with the students' responses and thought processes. Wow!
    Fun in Room 4B

  10. Oh...I REALLY want to do this. What a great idea! Thank you so much for sharing. The wheels are definitely turning in my head on how to make this happen in my room!
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

  11. What a totally fun idea!! Love those googly eye frames!

    Science for Kids Blog


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