Monday, November 14, 2011

Mr. Potato Head in MATH?

Using Mr. Potato Head to.....
Introduce Combinations & Permutations Unit:

1. Give each student group a set of Mr. Potato Head Spud Buds.  
(I remove 1 of the round bodies in the set since it is a duplicate....but this activity is easily differentiated by taking away more spud bud pieces....)

2. Challenge the students to create as many combinations as they can  in a given time. 
(Answer = 54!)

3. Have the students list their combinations in a chart.
For example: 
Body     |       Feet      |     Face      |     Ears/Hat      
1. Round     Yellow     Red Nose      Blue Hat   
    2. Tall      Yellow     Brown Nose     Blue Hat   

4. Hold a discussion about what was frustrating or difficult about using a list... and/or what strategies they used to solve.
(In my experience, groups either lose track of the combinations they haven't made yet..
.or approach the activity very systematically. Both experiences are great to discuss.)

5. Move on to a mini-lesson on "tree diagrams" and "the counting principle" to show them quick and effective strategies to find their answer.
This really sells them on using "tree diagrams" and the "counting principle" because the students see how much faster they are to use when solving real-world problems like this....

Pictures of the Tree Diagrams and Counting Principle Stations (seen in storage bags above!)
and FREEBIE WORKSHEETS will be up later this week!

What other manipulatives or activities do you use to teach Combinations and Permutations?


S. Parker said...

Wow! I love this. You make teaching middle school look not so intimidating. I use toys too for math but I teach kinder.

Adrianne said...

Brilliant! You could use more grown up dress up dolls IE: justin beiber? Hee hee. I can just see my students rolling their eyes at that suggestion. :)

Cindy said...

How utterly awesome! Please, please post at Math Monday!!! ;)
Cindy @ love2learn2day

Happyscrapper42 said...

Absolutely Genius!! If I was still teaching 5th grade I would have to steal this idea.

elainaann said...


A Middle School Survival Guide said...

Thanks all! i just posted the freebie rubric and activity here !

@Adrianne- haha, yes, it would be fun to use dolls too! (is it just me or do barbies have such cute clothes these days?)

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