Hungry Hungry Hippos - Place Value Review

Happy Saturday, teacher friends! I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving, full of food, family and maybe even some Black Friday deals! I'm happy to be writing this post in my comfy clothes and messy ponytail, with a mug of hot chocolate by my side - and the scent of a candy cane candle on the warmer. Bring on the holidays!

I don't know about your kiddos, but mine were just a little out of sorts our last few days before break! I decided to have some fun with our place value review and do something REALLY exciting! I posted this picture on Instagram and Facebook and it got LOTS of attention:

That's right! I was inspired by the amazing Hope King over at Elementary Shenanigans to create my own version of Hungry, Hungry Hippos to play with my kiddos - place value style!

Here's what I did: I started by emailing staff and asking if anyone had balls from a ball pit that I could borrow - just the balls, not the pit! I had a few people share enough with me that we had about 250 balls - which does NOT take up much space. I was a little worried there wouldn't be enough balls for everyone, but it worked perfectly. I also went to Dollar Tree and bought some plastic baskets to use for the "catching." I planned on having my students work in pairs, so I bought 9 baskets. (Which of course, I know will come in handy for other things, as well!)

Now to decide how to make this all work! When Hope King shared her take on the game, she had a set of questions tied to each color. When kids came back with their balls, they took one out and answered a question for that color. I originally planned to use that idea and have question sets for expanded notation, adding and subtracting ten, base ten blocks, adding and subtracting multiples of ten and 100, etc. BUT - I had a brainstorm in the shower the next morning. (It's where I do my best work!) Why not use the colors of the balls as the numbers?! For example, in one round, students would collect red, blue and yellow balls. (Up to 12 total) The number of red balls would be the hundreds digit, the blues would be the tens and the yellow would be the ones. Then they could use that number as the basis for answering different questions. It ended up looking like this:

I created 4 different sheets - each using different color balls and different questions. I included two sheets at the end where students could choose their own colors, just in case anyone finished early. I put everything into a booklet and we were ready to go!

I placed 9 cones around the perimeter of the gym and assigned each pair of students to one cone. This as their home base and where they had to come back to after they had enough balls. Their job was to count each color and then roll the balls back into the middle of the gym before they started completing the sheet. (I did this so there would always be enough balls in play.) I also had each pair start on a different page of the booklet so everyone wasn't  going after the same color at once.

Ready, set, go!

We started by having one person lay on their stomach on a scooter, holding the basket in front of them, with the other person holding up their legs and pushing them along. That didn't work too well for my second graders! They had a hard time staying balanced and many of them ended getting pushed off the scooter. Most pairs decided having one person sit on the scooter and the other person push them around worked better!

Once they had gathered enough balls, it as back to their home base for some place value review!

My kiddos did a great job staying in control, being safe and just having fun! And I was pleased to see that they really knew their place value skills!

If you're interested in the booklet, you can grab it by clicking the image of the sample page earlier in this post. I'm not going to include the title on the cover because the name of the game is trademarked - but here's the link to the adorable FREE hippo clipart I used so you can make your own cover (or just write on the top of the one I included).

Let me know if you decide to try this out with your kiddos - I'd love to know how it goes!

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1 comment

  1. That is the best thing I've seen in ages! Wow! Your shower "lightbulb moments seem to work out really well! Have a great weekend.
    Laughter and Consistency


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