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Black Walnut Shell Game



5 or more "empty" black walnut shells (squirrels already got the nuts)

Print out this page and cut out the scores | use the rest of the paper to keep score with a pencil

String, cut in 1', 3' and 6' lengths | Tape measure | Masking tape on a windy day


Here's a simple way to teach addition facts. They are very necessary for math tasks such as money matters. Each student adds up his or her score for each turn. After three turns, whoever has the largest score wins! Where can you get black walnut shells? The trees are everywhere, so ask a neighbor to share. If you can't find them, ping-pong balls, small rubber balls or marbles work, too.


To set up the game, print out this page and cut out the 10, 25, 50 and 100 points into squares:


10    25   50  100


Show the students how to measure the lengths of string. They will enjoy helping to form a small circle with the 1' length, a medium circle outside it with the 3' length, and a large circle outside that with the 6' length. These are "concentric circles." They encircle each other. There's a good math vocabulary word for the day! You can store the strings in separate snack-size zip-lock bags.


Place the 10-point square outside the largest circle, the 25-point square inside it, the 50-point square inside the middle circle, and the 100-point square inside the smallest circle in the middle.


Now use the measuring tape to measure 3 feet (36 inches) away from the outside circle. Lay the measuring tape sideways. It will serve as the "line" that each player has to stand behind.




To play, each player throws 5 shells. If it lands on the string, add the larger score. Each player adds up the score, and when the group agrees that the score is added correctly, the player can pick up the shells and hand them to the next player. After three turns, whoever has the most points wins!


By Susan Darst Williams • • 'Rithmetic 04 © 2012






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