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Crazy 8s Club Brings Fun and Games to Math Education

Students at Owen Elementary are going crazy for Crazy 8s math club. Each week after school, 25 kids meet for an hour to learn math through fun games and imaginative projects.

“When they see me, they say, ‘Is it Crazy 8s day? Is it time yet? When do we get to do it again?’” said pre-K teacher Ashley Powell, who runs the club with ESS teacher Jennifer Kerns.

Ashley Powell shows the students how to decipher a code

The two teachers applied to be coaches through Bedtime Math, the nonprofit that created the club and provides all the supplies to schools for free. They offer two kits: kindergarten through 2nd grade and 3rd through fifth grade. Right now, Owen is generating interest with the younger kids in hopes the club can grow as they do. The response has been great.

“I like Crazy 8s because every time we come to Crazy 8s they have a new idea which is actually my favorite thing,” said Alex, one of the club members. “Whenever they come with good ideas, I just love them.”

For the record, he said they always come with good ideas.

The first week they used glow sticks to make shapes on the floor of the gym and then turned out the lights to see them glow. During week two, they used bouncy dice to learn about numbers and addition. Week three: they cracked codes – a sneaky way to teach them about patterns. 2nd grader Jaxton said that one was his favorite.

“Actually, I was going to grow up to actually be a spy,” he said.

To start out, the kids used a pigpen cipher to reveal a coded message: “Math club is so fun!” Then, the students used a letter-to-number cipher to decode multiple clues to find a prize hidden in the room.

Student grab clubs to solve a riddle

“From the kindergarten just learning numbers and letters all the way up to the second graders who were excelling at that way faster than I thought they would have,” said Ashley. “The math a lot of times is over the heads of a lot of our kids but the scaffolding that comes from pairing kindergarteners with 2nd graders has worked out really well.”

In the coming weeks, they will learn about perimeter by pretending to be farmers and cows. They will manipulate yarn to see how the area changes as they move and try to fit as many cows as they can inside the makeshift pen.

“I would hope that it is giving them that joy with math that it doesn’t just have to be something boring on paper. It can be fun and hands on and something they really get involved with,” said Ashley. “They seem to be having so much fun. It’s structured, but it’s a lot less structured than their school day.”

Ashley said these are skills students wouldn’t typically learn until 2nd or 3rd grade. Within the club, they are able to work ahead while having a great time.

Alex’s mom, Cori Lipford, said he even missed it during Fall Break.

“He was really upset that we didn’t have school, and he wasn’t going to have Crazy 8s,” she said.

Have no fear, Alex, Crazy 8s is here to stay. Ashley said the club will run until Christmas break and start back up in February for another eight weeks.

Student work together to solve a code

To learn about how Crazy 8s can reduce math anxiety, click here. Contact Ashley Powell or Jennifer Kerns for more information about the club at Owen.