I’ve been having a great time with Math Clubs at my library lately. I know, Math Club, right? Aren’t most kids supposed to run screaming from Math Club? Not the Crazy 8s Math Club. Grab a nice, cold water, have a seat, let’s talk.
Most of the kids in my library community need help with math. Math can be intimidating and frustrating for them – I know it is for me – and it can be difficult to see the fun side of it. I had the idea of running a math club where we could play numbers games and taking some of that fear out of Math, so I started researching, and found Crazy 8s, a Math Club that developed out of the Bedtime Math Foundation. I was already familiar with the Bedtime Math app, having used it to do daily math games with my Kiddo when he was little, so finding out they had a Math Club was great news! The format reminds me of Girls Who Code, in that you get kits mailed to you, with lessons, for 8 weeks worth of math club sessions for Season 1, and there’s a coach login area with extra resources. I had a call with a Crazy 8s representative and about a week later, two boxes showed up!
I run two clubs every week: one for grades K-2, one for grades 3-5, and the sessions have been wonderful. Our first week, we did glow-in-the-dark geometry: Crazy 8s provided the glow-in-the-dark sticks, the kids provided the building knowledge to make the shapes. We counted sides, we talked about shapes and how many sides different shapes have and what we call them, and the kids had a blast.
Another week, we had hacky sack darts: Crazy 8s provided the hacky sacks and a floor-sized dartboard. We added up numbers, we played “darts”, and we had four teams compete with fun challenges, all while they were doing math. We had Beach Ball math another week, where they had to count how many breaths it took for me to blow up a beach ball (and not pass out), and called out math problems as they played catch.
The verdict: Get yourselves in on Crazy 8s Math Club. I am absolutely going for another season come the Fall! The website is super user-friendly and it’s a great program to run.
My Thursday group is the Grades 3-5 Math Club. They enjoy the games, but when time was up, they lingered around, wanting more. I’d been holding onto some games to introduce in September, particularly Dungeons & Dragons, but I figured there was no time like the present. I brought out character sheets and started explaining the idea of “storytelling, but with math” to my Corona Kids, and they were intrigued. I showed them the different kinds of dice – that was pretty great; I forget that a 20-sided die is a new thing to some people! – and explained how to work percentile dice. We started creating a quick adventure where one kid, playing a dwarf, had to roll his Intelligence to see what he could read; another kid, playing a wizard, got to roll Magic Missile to stop an orc bearing down on him. They loved it, I loved it, and we decided that Thursdays would now be Dungeons and Dragons math club. Huzzah!
The joy was increased tenfold when a friend put a link up on my Facebook page with the news that Wizards of the Coast – the company that owns Dungeons and Dragons AND the Magic: The Gathering card game – is providing activity kits to educators and librarians who want to start a Dungeons and Dragons group. I filled my form out, and my kit will arrive in the Fall! Until then, I’ll use the Starter Set I have at home from when my older kids were younger, and some of the freebies available on the Dungeons & Dragons resources area.
I mentioned Magic: The Gathering, which is a great fantasy card game that I played years ago, when my family and I learned it at the Wizards of the Coast pavilion at New York Comic Con. My cards have been dormant for a while, but that changed when I discovered this great nonprofit, MagiKids by Weirdcards. MagiKids is a nonprofit that has an education curriculum built around Magic: The Gathering! You fill out a form on their website, and they may send you a massive bunch of stuff. Look at this!
That’s not even the whole thing. I received this big card box full of donated M:TG cards; unopened booster packs, deck boxes for when the kids put together their decks, and score counters. It is INCREDIBLE. I was holding onto this one until September, too, but when the kids became so excited over Dungeons and Dragons, I had to introduce them to Magic. Sure enough, they couldn’t believe their eyes. We talked a little bit about the game, I let them open the boosters (honestly, it’s just so exciting), and we talked about MagiKids’s Sort, Build, Play curriculum. For the first week, we looked through the cards, talked about the different colors and what powers, what cards, attached to those colors. We talked about the numbers on the cards and what they meant; we talked about how many types of colors they could have in their decks (I suggested two to start, but agreed that yes, you can play all the lands in your deck if you want to). This coming week, we’ll talk about building their first decks. I may take that up to two weeks, because honestly, that’s a lot.
So for now, that’s it: Wednesdays is Crazy 8s for my Kindergarteners, First, and Second graders; Thursday, my bigger kids will have their Crazy 8s club, and then we’ll alternate between D&D and M:TG every week. I think I may be more excited than they are!