# Unraveling Mathematics with the “Find the Longest Piece” Activity

We’ve all been there. Struggling to craft a lesson that keeps the students engaged while simultaneously reinforcing key concepts and meeting the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). If you find yourself in this predicament, look no further. Today, I’m thrilled to share with you an exciting hands-on mathematics activity – “Find the Longest Piece”. This ingenious task weaves elements of competition and teamwork into the learning process, turning the monotony of measurement into an enticing challenge.

Before we dive into the heart of the matter, let’s clarify what this activity entails. Essentially, “Find the Longest Piece” involves students working in teams to determine the longest piece from a collection of differently sized paper strips. While it may seem straightforward on the surface, there’s more to this task than meets the eye. By introducing lines drawn diagonally at varying angles, this activity allows students to delve deeper into concepts such as measurement, line segments, angles, and even estimation – all under the guise of an enjoyable game!

## Activity Setup and Materials

Setting up the “Find the Longest Piece” activity is refreshingly simple. First, gather your materials. You will need:

• A pencil and a ruler
• Multiple pieces of paper
• A paper cutter
• Several envelopes

Start by using your pencil and ruler to draw several different lines across the length or width of a piece of paper. To make it more interesting, draw these lines diagonally at different angles, rather than sticking to traditional horizontal or vertical lines. Next, use your paper cutter to slice the paper along the lines you’ve drawn, creating a variety of different-sized pieces. Distribute these pieces into separate envelopes, one for each group of students.

## Gameplay Instructions

Divide your students into groups, aiming for diverse skill sets within each team to encourage collaborative problem-solving. Hand each group one envelope.

The objective of the game is for the groups to race against each other to discover the longest measurement they can find among the pieces in their envelope. Students will need to utilize their measurement skills, logical thinking, and teamwork to succeed. The first group to correctly identify the longest piece wins.

## Accommodations and Modifications

While “Find the Longest Piece” is designed to be an inclusive activity, we understand that classrooms are diverse spaces and modifications may be necessary to cater to every student’s needs. Here are some suggestions:

1. Visual Impairments: For visually impaired students, consider using tactile materials such as textured or embossed paper. Measurements can be indicated using Braille rulers, allowing these students to engage fully in the activity.
2. Learning Disabilities: For students with learning disabilities, it might be beneficial to introduce a practice round or a demonstration before the game begins. This way, they can become comfortable with the task before the competitive aspect is introduced.
3. Physical Disabilities: Students with physical disabilities might find handling the paper pieces challenging. In these cases, a classroom aide or a fellow student can assist. Alternatively, using larger pieces of paper could help accommodate these students.

## Gameplay Scenarios and Examples

To illustrate the dynamic nature of “Find the Longest Piece,” let’s delve into a couple of gameplay scenarios.

1. Scenario One: Group A receives their envelope and immediately starts measuring each piece. However, they fail to communicate effectively and end up measuring some pieces twice, losing valuable time.
2. Scenario Two: Group B, having strategized before the start, divides their pieces evenly among the team members. Each person measures their assigned pieces, and they quickly identify the longest piece.

In these examples, Group B’s approach highlights the importance of teamwork and strategy, in addition to the core math skills being practiced.

## Connection to Common Core State Standards (CCSS)

“Find the Longest Piece” supports several CCSS, particularly within the Measurement and Data standards:

1. CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.2.MD.A.1 – Measure the length of an object by selecting and using appropriate tools such as rulers, yardsticks, meter sticks, and measuring tapes.
2. CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.2.MD.A.4 – Measure to determine how much longer one object is than another, expressing the length difference in terms of a standard length unit.
3. CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.4.MD.A.2 – Use the four operations to solve word problems involving distances, intervals of time, and money, including problems involving simple fractions or decimals.

The “Find the Longest Piece” activity is a potent tool that injects fun into the learning process while strengthening crucial mathematical skills. I encourage you to give it a try in your classrooms and share your experiences. And remember, in the quest to ignite our students’ passion for math, the journey is just as important as the destination.

Happy teaching!