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Playing With Sets

Children have fun playing detective with cards made by classmates to reinforce the mathematical concept of “sets”.

  • Grade 1
  • 30 Minutes or Less
  • Directions

    1. Help students practice identifying things that are the same and things that are different by using actual objects, photographs, or other images. Use the term “set” to describe a group of identical objects.
    2. Before class, cut pieces of drawing paper into equal pieces and distribute six to each student along with Crayola® Markers, Crayons, or Colored Pencils.
    3. Tell students they will be making cards for a detective game they will play with their classmates.
    4. Ask each student to draw a simple picture on one card. Suggest a house, a garden, a clown, or even a grouping of geometrical shapes. Encourage simple drawings that take no more than a few minutes to create.
    5. Then have students duplicate their drawings on two more cards so they will have three identical pictures.
    6. Ask students to think about what they could do to make their drawings slightly different. Suggest using a different color somewhere or a different number of objects. Perhaps a circle could be turned into a square, or polka dots could become stripes. Then have them make three more pictures similar to the original three drawings but with one change made to each one.
    7. When they are finished, have students shuffle their six cards and take turns partnering with various classmates to see if they can sort out identical “sets” and identify what is different in the other cards. Encourage discussion between partners.
  • Standards

    LA: Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade level topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.

    MATH: Classify objects and count the number of objects in categories.

    MATH: Analyze, compare, create, and compose shapes.

    VA: Students experience, analyze and interpret art and other aspects of the visual world.

    VA: Students will reflect on, share insights about, and refine works of art and design.

  • Adaptations

    If you wish to have older students practice measuring skills along with sets, do not pre cut the papers. Instead, give them the measurements you want them to use for their cards, and have them measure and cut their own.

    Turn this into a team teaching activity by asking students to draw pictures related to something they are studying in science or social studies. If they are studying flowers in science, ask them to create garden scenes. If they are studying architecture, have them all draw buildings.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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