Fun with Dot Cards
Number 1 in a series of posts dedicated to playful exploration of math concepts, incorporating visual arts, experimentation, discussion, collaboration, and above all fun!
Intended for K-2, but feel free to try out with higher grades.
1. 7 dot cards
2. 7 dot cards example
3. Math problems
4. blank dot cards
• 7 dot cards
• colored pencils, crayons, markers
• scratch paper/math journals
• glue sticks (optional)
Distribute copies of Image 1 (7 dot cards) to students. Depending on time and preference, you may cut sheets up to give students individual cards or up to 4.
Ask students to use coloring materials to divide dots into different groups by drawing shapes and line. Make sure groups don’t “share” the same dot. (2 minutes)
Students may come up with something like these.
Have students share their revised dot cards with classmates, explaining designs in their own words.
To practice, have students tell the story of sample images or selected dot cards from your class. Feel free to give them prompts (I see.. I imagine.. I think..) and steer them away from numbers; we’ll get to those later!
You may hear explanations like these:
• I see two triangles and an eye
• “Z” and “V”
• A square with a line through it
• A smiley face with glasses
Next, math! Math has been happening all along, but here comes the more commonly seen expressions of it.
Using scratch paper or pages in a math journal, ask students to write out designs as addition problems. What would be an answer for all these different problems? Hopefully, students would come up with the number 7, as there are 7 dots on each card.
Challenge students to come up with 11 different ways to make 7, using decorated dot cards, and trying out different numbers of addends. For example:
• 2 addends: ____ + ____
• 4 addends: ____ + ____ + ____ + ____
• If using a math journal, students can glue dot cards and write problems next to them.
• Ask students to use the greatest number of addends in making 7
• What’s the highest number of addends that you can use, without repeating a number?
• Have students re-tell decorated dot cards as subtraction problems
Have students share their math. Discuss the multitude of ways 7 was shown. Discuss the value of multiple representations of the same concept. Is anyone’s better? More correct? Wrong? Discuss!
• Make your own/have students make their dot cards, using Image 4 template
• For additional ideas (see what I did there?), search online for “dot cards” and “subitizing” activities.