Math has been known to be some children least favorite subject in school. Why? Perhaps all of the memory involved. Or maybe because they can’t make sense out of all those numbers. Well, math can be fun and it is more than just learning addition and subtraction facts. Help young girls realize this by earning the Math Fun Try-It for Brownie Girl Scouts. This Try-It puts in everyday uses of math and shows girls that they are doing math without even realizing it in some of the most simple things they do each day. Give them the courage they need to make math more enjoyable in school where it tends to be hard and confusing to learn about math.
To earn this Try-It, girls must complete four activities. I like working on Try-Its as a whole troop but individual girls can work on them alone if they wish. The following activities are based on troop participation and can be set up as separate stations or to be completed one at a time with the whole troop together. How you work on them will depend on time constraints and troop size.
1. Troop Budget
A troop budget should be properly kept by the adults each year. The girls do need an opportunity to see where their money is going and how much they are earning. Keep it simple when showing it to the girls at first so they aren’t more confused than before. Start out by having the girls plan a trip. For example, if they want to go to the zoo, do the simple calculations with them regarding any fees that the troop will cover and how much it will be per person and for the troop as a whole. Then they can get an idea of a budget they will use to know how much they are going to spend at the zoo and how much money they need to have in order to take the trip. Don’t forget about food and other fees that may be associated with the trip. If there is no money in the bank, this will also be a good idea to know how much they need to earn by selling cookies in order to make the trip a reality.
2. Guessing Jar
This is a popular game at school carnivals and other places. Fill a jar with jelly beans or other small candies. Place this jar at the doorway to your meeting area. Have each girl guess how many are in the jar as they are coming into the meeting and write it down. This is a good game for an ice breaker or meeting opener. Once everyone has guessed, have them each tell everyone what they guessed and how they went about guessing that number. When everyone has made their guess, tell them what the answer is. Explain to them that they were just involved in a form of math called problem solving.
3. Alphabet Code
This is a fun activity to teach the girls and they may start to make up their own types of codes to send secret messages to their friends (if they haven’t thought of this already!). Using a large poster, write down the letters of the alphabet and in order number them 1-26. A=1, B=2 and so on. Then have each girl write a secret message to the whole group. Make it something friendly like “Good afternoon” or “Have a sunny day” or something silly like “Funny bunny has no money.” Make sure they keep them light and friendly and not directed towards any particular person so no one feels left out. If you have time, they can make up their own codes by switching the numbers around and maybe starting at 26 or picking random numbers for each letter. Whatever they choose, make sure they write down their code so they know it.
4. Making Cents of Words
This is another play on code words. Assign a monetary value to each letter of the alphabet similar to the alphabet code in #3. Make each letter equal a different amount, for example A=1 cent, B= 2 cents, and so on. Write this on a large poster for all to see. Then have each girl figure out how much their name costs. You can keep going with this game by making up words and having the girls figure out how much each word is, or try to get them to think of the most expensive word. You can also tell them to try to think of words that equal a dollar or 50 cents and see if they can come up with real words that equal a given amount.
All of these activities are meant for enjoyment. Girls need to enjoy math and think of it in a different way in order for them to want to learn about it. So many times, I hear my daughter say she doesn’t like math in her class, but she is good at it. She doesn’t like to learn from a book but when we do activities like these, she loves it! Also, add in any of your own ideas for using math outside of the classroom. Find fun games and activities they can do together as a troop to get them to enjoy math!