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South Jordan Journal

Counting bones in a skeleton? Wicked!

Dec 01, 2017 08:00AM ● By Julie Slama

A Hawthorn Academy student dresses up in his costume for both trunk or treat and Halloween-themed math night activities. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

It may be ghoulish, but several first-graders were counting how many bones are in a skeleton. 

Others, like first-grader Owen Pierson, who was at Hawthorn Academy’s Trunk or Treat Math Night with his dad, Ryan, were measuring monster pictures with candy corns.

“I like math,” Owen said. “It’s easy.”

Owen and Ryan were trying to complete the first grade’s spooky math packet. The activities ranged from designing and building a cage using marshmallows and toothpicks to hold an angry monster to estimating and counting the number of eyeballs in a jar.

First-grade teacher Jenna Erlebach said the skills tie into the common core standards.

“We teach them these skills in school, but this night has a fun, Halloween theme to them,” she said. “Plus, it’s fun for them to do it as a scavenger hunt.”

Hawthorn Curriculum Director Candalyn Winder said by combining trunk or treat with math night, attendance has been greater, and the activities have a fun theme.

“The kids just have a blast doing Halloween-themed games and activities that tie to the core curriculum,” she said. “We’re trying to get kids excited about math, not just doing worksheets. Some of the activities have real-life applications.”

Winder also said that through the activities, the school is providing a sense of community and support for parents to learn how to help their kids learn math skills.

“Parents are seeing the students learn firsthand and also can understand how they can support or create similar activities at home, so the kids are having fun and being engaged in learning math,” she said.

Kindergartner Londyn Wismer, who was accompanied by Jillian Wismer and Tyler Chism, was engaged in creating her own monster tied to the book “Go Away Big Green Monster.” 

“We came for the activities as well as trunk or treat,” Wismer said. “She’s having fun, but she’s also reviewing her counting and shapes. We’re cutting a lot of shapes.”

In another classroom, kindergarten teacher Janet Scott was having students create spiders out of shapes.

“We’re wanting our community to be able to interact through math activities and learn that math can be fun,” she said. 

Fifth-grade teacher Brittney Garcia had families trying their hand at geoboards — boards with pegs or nails stuck out of them. Then, with rubber bands, the families created shapes and designs, including a pumpkin.

“Younger students are able to create a triangle or a square, while older ones can show me how to make a parallelogram or a trapezoid,” she said. “By making shapes on their own, they’re connecting it to a different part of their brain, and they’re understanding it better.”

Garcia also said she gives students real-life applications such as finding the perimeter and area of a given space, such as a square on the gym floor, or a house or of the school. 

“They’re able to gain recognition and put what they’ve learned to use,” she said. “Tonight, we’re giving a chance for them to create, learn and connect with their families.”