- Education and Science
Alligator Math: Fun Activities
Measure the Alligator
Alligator Math Fun!
Welcome to the Alligator Swamp! Today we will be learning math while studying alligators. That might surprise you. What do alligators have to do with math? Could a math lesson be fun? How can we make math fun with an alligator theme?
First let's think about alligators. Have you ever seen an alligator? Alligators come in many sizes but their mouths are big! When we visited the alligators in Everglades National Park in Florida we were amazed at how small the babies can be but even more impressed by how big the adults can be. We watched them open their mouths really wide to yawn and stared down into their throats beyond the rows of sharp white teeth. After growing up in New England, alligators were quite exotic. This began our fascination with alligators which has even extended to learning math with an alligator theme.
In this article you will find dozens of fun math activities with an alligator theme. Learn to count, add, subtract, multiply and divide with alligators. Math is made even more fun by creating the alligators using Cuisenaire Rods. What are Cuisenaire Rods and how can you make alligators from them? Slither on down to the swamp, pull out your wooden Cuisenaire Rods and let's discover the fun of math with alligators...
Running from an Alligator
Have you ever seen an alligator in real life?
Before I had ever seen an alligator in real life I was very scared of them. If someone had told me that I would walk withing 10 feet of an alligator on the Anhinga Trail in Everglades National Park I would not have believed them.
The first time I saw an alligator, it just sat there on the edge of the pathway. The alligator was sunning itself as alligators need heat from the sun to become active.
I learned that the safest time to observe alligators is when the temperatures are cool. Alligators move much more slowly on cold days than warm days.
Alligators: Hot or Cold!
In the study, Burst Swimming of Alligators and the Effect of Temperature, scientists found that alligators actually move slower when temperature are low and faster when temperatures are higher.
In reading this article we noticed that the dimensions of the tank used to do this experiment were recorded in centimeters.
Cuisenaire Rods are perfect for helping us to understand those measurements since each unit is exactly one centimeter square and the subsequent rods are one centimeter square with an increasing length of one centimeter until the 10th or orange Cuisenaire Rod measures 10 centimeters in length.
Today's fun math activity is to read this article about alligators and then use your Cuisenaire Rods to see the lengths and depth of the alligator runs made by the scientists for this experiment.
- We laid out the Cuisenaire Rods end to end and then stacked more rods on the corners to visualize the depth.
- Finally we checked our Thermometer and read the degrees in both Fahrenheit and Celsius to see if the alligators would be quick or slow if set down in our yard today.
- Test yourself by pretending to be alligators running in the yard. Can you run as fast as an alligator on a hot day? How about on a cold day?
Riding an Alligator
For our Morning Meeting Message I posted this picture of the girl riding an alligator and asked the question, Would you ride an alligator? We used post-its to graph our answers. Now it's your turn:
- Post the picture of a girl riding an alligator on an easel
- Write the the question "Would you ride an alligator?" under the picture leaving room for responses underneath
- Draw a line down the middle. Write YES on the left and NO on the right.
- Each child writes their name on a Post-it Note and then places their answer under the words yes or no.
As a group, discuss the responses.
- Note the total number of responses.
- Compare to see which most people chose.
NOTE: Advanced writers or children paired with good writers may wish to write about riding an alligator and then share their stories with the group later on.
Would you ride an alligator?
How to make an alligator from Cuisenaire Rods
The Cuisenaire Alphabet Book shows children how to construct an alligator using Cuisenaire Rods. In the book, the alligator is formed by using red, orange, black and green rods, however by changing the values you can make the alligator entirely out of green rods with white teeth.
Start by having your children build the Cuisenaire Alligator on the template in the book. Once they have mastered the shape and form they will be able to exchange some the other colored rods for light green and dark green rods to create a green alligator.
Alligator Math Fun
Math is fun with an alligator theme. Here are all the materials you will need to build your alligators out of Cuisenaire Rods.
The Cuisenaire Alphabet Book has a template for creating the alligator out of Cuisenaire Rods as well as dozens of other templates from A to Z.
Combine it with a set of wooden Cuisenaire Rods and you have all the essentials for creating Alligators.
Place Value Alligator - Greater Than Less Than Alligator
Greater Than Less Than Alligator
The greater than and less than signs can be confusing for children until you introduce them to the Mouth of the Alligator!
Alligators are always hungry as evidenced by their open mouths. Alligators are also greedy. They always want to eat the most or greatest amount.
In order to point the Greater Than Less Than sign in the right direction, all you have to do is think of them as alligator mouths and have the alligator open its mouth toward the bigger number.
What a fun way to learn math!
Alligator Math Song
Wooden or Plastic Cuisenaire Rods
Do you prefer wooden or plastic Cuisenaire Rods for fun math Alligator activities?
How do you measure an alligator?
How big is that alligator?
Do you just wade into a swamp with your fist full of Cuisenaire Rods to find out how long an alligator is? I don't think so!
- Here you see where a family has gone to a museum where the actual length of a 14 foot alligator has been painted on the wall.
- They used their bodies to measure the alligator.
What other ways could you measure an alligator?
It's Alligator Time!
Using the word ALLIGATOR you can estimate the amount of time that passes. '
- Watch the clock as you begin to count One Alligator, two alligator, three alligator...
- See if you can match your counting to the second hands on a clock
- Once you have gotten good at counting, use this method to estimate time lapses
You could set up an alligator race by having children pretend to be alligators crawling on their tummies trying to move across an open floor.
Ask the Alligator!
Do you have any questions to Ask the Alligator about these fun math ideas? Here is your chance to leave comments, ask questions or suggest other alligator math activities. What would you like to Ask the Alligator?