When you work with Grade 7/8 kids, your Halloween costume better be good. You want something unique, something that is going to impress and wow them. And you want something that is school friendly and going to be fun.
My three teaching partners and I decided to plan a “team costume.” We created a school license plate: LMMO-182. The letters are the initials of our last names, the dash was replaced with our school logo, and the 182 is the sum of our ages (Yes, we put ourselves out there with that part). But we didn’t tell our students what we were; they had to guess.
When our Grade 7’s first walked into our classes, they only saw one piece of the license, and they didn’t know that our costumes went together. “What are you suppose to be?” they asked. My response was very teacher-like. “That’s what you have to figure out.
During the first four periods, I was bombared with questions. Some of the best are:
1. Are you 82 years old? (Oh, good grief!) -No, and you need to work on your estimating skills.
2. Is it a Math question? -Math is involved.
3. Is there a back? -No, I don’t need a back.
4. Are you 82 squared? No, you’re a rectangle. -Ooo, thinking exponents. I like that one.
5. There isn’t a sign between the 8 and the 2, so that automatically means multiplication, so 8 x 2 = 16. You’re 16! -I like that answer better than 82 years old.
6. You’re a composite number! (Yay, they are listening to me!)
7. Are you a runner? -I am a runner, but I am not wearing a runner’s costume.
8. You’re a composite number, a square and a rectangle. -Can you show me where the square is? -Oh, that’s a rectangle too. What has 2 rectangles and an 82?
9. You’re a marathon runner!
10. (Said a student who saw the #1) You’re 182! -There goes your math mark.
11. Can I go to check the Book of World Records? -Why? -Because, apparently, you are the oldest person in the world.
We had the 12 year olds hooked. After all, who doesn’t love a good puzzle. If they weren’t asking us questions, they were looking at us, and I could see the gears in their heads turning. By the afternoon, a few kids had figured out that we were a license plate and the reasoning behind it, and they stood back to watch the others struggle to piece us together.
At the end of the day, we gave our students the answer to our puzzle. Our grade 7’s were impressed. I loved that they had so much fun with it, and I had a lot of fun with their own creative answers.
I am now tempted to ask “The sum of your teachers’ ages is 182 years. Find out how old your teachers are.” The possible answers have me curious. Dare I, or dare not? Nope. This time, I don’t think I want to know what our Grade 7’s think.