Valentine’s Day Number Sense Challenge: Open Ended Math

Provide a fun and engaging Valentine’s Day number sense building activity for students of all ages! This free download can be used and adapted in so many ways & is low-prep for the teacher.

I always enjoy incorporating seasonal or holiday-themed activities into our math lessons. It just adds a little something new and fun. Plus, it’s a welcome change of pace from the everyday routine. But what I really love is finding an activity all of my kids can do together (they’re in 2nd, 4th, 5th and 6th grade) and that requires very little prep on my part. If that sounds good to you, be sure to try out this Valentine’s Day number sense challenge! It’s so simple, and can be easily used and adapted for kids of all ages and abilities. Plus it won’t take up a ton of time to complete!

Valentine’s Day Equations:

The basic idea of this activity is simple: give students a target number and then see how many equations that can write that are equal to that number in one minute (or 2 minutes, or 5 minutes).

The beauty of this challenge is that it can be used with kids of any age.

For example, kids in kindergarten might focus on a number between 1-10. They can then write equations using addition and subtraction to practice composing and decomposing numbers.

Kids in grades 1-2 might do the same, but with a slightly larger number.

You might challenge kids in grades 3-4 with a 3-4 digit number, or a 2-digit number so that can work on factoring.

Kids in 5-6th grade might include multiple operations in their equation, following order of operations. Or you might challenge them with a fraction or decimal target number.

And you might challenge kids in 7-8th grade with an integer target number and some additional requirements (such as using 2 or more operations in each equation or using a combination of positive and negative values in each equation, etc.).

You know your students best, so choose a target number that meets your needs!

Using the Valentine’s Day Number Sense Challenge in the Classroom:

No matter what grade you teach, I suggest printing the pages front and back (there are two pages included in the download).

This way, you can work together as a class to write equations for a target number as a whole group to get started.

This will help students who struggle to see how it works, get ideas for different ways to come up with equations, and just feel more confident with the activity.

Then you can let kids use the back page to complete the challenge on their own.

If you teach older kids, however, it may not be necessary to work through it together first. In that case, you can let them work independently with two different numbers.

After discussing equations from the first round, kids will likely have more ideas and be motivated to beat their score from the first round.

You could also split students into small groups. Then give each group different target numbers based on their ability levels.

Adding Some Competition:

I came up for this idea based on a common activity that I often see (and remember from my childhood): “How many words can you make out of the letters in Valentine’s Day” (or any other holiday).

I always loved these challenges as a kid and it was fun to see who could create the most words with a given set of letters.

So the idea for this math challenge is the same: who can create the most equations for the given number?

After time is up, you can see who wrote the most equations, then have them share their equations to be sure they are in fact true.

But there are other ways to spice up the competition as well. Here are some ideas:

  • Student with the most ‘unique’ or ‘interesting’ equation (this might be using a math operation or numbers that no one else thought of)
  • Student with the most operations in a single equation (so it might be something like (25 + 4 – 10) x 2 = 38)
  • Student with the most multiplication equations (or other operation that you want students to focus on) <–This is helpful if you want them to focus on a particular skill, such as factoring, while they work

Ready to Get Started?

This download is free in my shop. Simply click the link below to go to my shop and grab it (along with any other math freebies you might like!).

{Click HERE to go to my shop and grab the FREE Valentine’s Day Number Sense Equation Challenge!}

Find MORE Valentine’s Day Math Fun Below:

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