Fun and Engaging Aspects of Mathematics Evident at Elementary Math Nights

This year, two elementary schools have been holding activities designed to engage students and families in games that support and stimulate interest in mathematics. At Dallin, the first ever mathematics-focused STEAM Games Night held in January was part of the STEAM Team focus to involve families in areas related to math and science enrichment. Co-captained by parents Angela Elias and Beata Warrington with support from Kristin Pennarun, the free two-hour Games Night was designed to spotlight the fun and engaging aspects of math. Discussions and brainstorming with Dallin Math Coach Carolyn Snook helped to plan the evening where families played together in a structured but flexible environment. 

A variety of games at levels suitable for grades Kindergarten through five were placed throughout the Dallin Cafetorium. Parent volunteers manned the stations which held gross-motor games, paper and worksheet activities like connect-the-dots, mazes, and puzzles, and board games. The Afterschool Connection contributed most of the board games, with several additional items such as Giant Connect-Four coming from the event organizers.


The younger students were particularly interested in the gross-motor games, but Ms. Pennarun reports that the paper-based puzzles and worksheets were also very popular and that chess was a hit. Some young people chose familiar games such as Uno, but in general, families were motivated to move around and discover different activities. Well over 100 people took part, enjoyment was evident from the many smiles, and many families stayed until the end of the Night.


Math Family Nights have been held at Brackett throughout the year, beginning with the kindergarten and first grade in November, and followed by the second and third grades in January, and the fourth and fifth grades in March. These one-hour events, patterned after Nights that had taken place some years ago and with new games added, came about through discussions between parent Federico Fraschetti and other STEM Committee members, Principal Stephanie Zerchykov, Math Coach Michelle Crawley, and enthusiastic school staff.  Ms. Zerchykov attended all three events and engaged in the games with the students.

Each event was preceded by a flyer describing the upcoming evening that included “appetizers”, three math age-appropriate games designed to whet the appetite for more and encourage attendance at Math Night where the solutions were revealed. There were typically 12-13 tables with one or two games per station where each parent was able to work with their child independently. The tables had signs to indicate which grade the activities were designed for, but open to all. All attendees received a math-themed colorful pencil, and there were prizes for game winners. Parent volunteers assisted by printing and preparing the materials, manning tables, and helping out at the event. Each of the three events was attended by 30-50 children who spent the entire hour playing the games along with their parents.

Mr. Fraschetti is also involved in the Math Mornings that Brackett holds throughout the year. These are available separately for grades three through five. In contrast to Math Nights, the Mornings offer a 15-20 minute lesson delivered via Powerpoint followed by 15-20 minutes of time to work in teams and complete a worksheet on the material that was presented. The lessons are engaging and interactive with the scope of stimulating interest and enthusiasm and  revealing the utility of math and logic in everyday life. For about two months during the winter, the sessions switched to having the young people work together on math and logic puzzles instead of starting with a lesson.  Parent volunteers are present to offer help if needed. About five or six parents per grade lead the mornings, rotating which one gives the lesson.

Both Ms. Pennarun and Mr. Fraschetti believe that STEAM enrichment is important as a way to help bridge the gaps created by remote and hybrid learning that was necessary during the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only do the Games and Math Nights and Math Mornings increase the students' exposure to STEAM material, they also provide the opportunity for additional social interaction and collaboration. Although 7:20 am is early to get the school day started, Mr. Fraschetti believes that more students could benefit from the Math Mornings than currently attend, and he hopes to see more children come forward in the future.





There are six guests at a party. Each guest greets each of the other guests with a handshake. How many handshakes are there in all?


A circle of six avatars with an arm outstretched.