Prime Climb Activity Round 3


  • Engage Daily - Deepens Understanding

  • Recap to Recall Lessons and Link to the New

  • Ask Guided Questions, Wait for Answers

I had my students go at Prime Climb (Review Prime Climb Number Activity here) for the third round on Monday, January 23rd, 2017. It was absolutely fascinating to listen to their thinking since the 2nd round (Second round here). It is important to keep in mind that my students are engaged daily in activity and discussion to further deepen their understanding of number.

To start the lesson today I put up the colored circles from Dan Finkel:

I said to the students,

Let’s recap what we have learned about these circles previously in connection to our learning of number in our daily routine.

Here is what I heard:

  • The circles with orange are numbers you can skip count by 2
  • The circles with green are numbers you can skip count by 3
  • The circles with blue are numbers you can skip count by 5
  • The circles with purple are numbers you can skip count by 7
  • The circles with red are prime numbers
  • 2 and 4 are factors of 8 and that is why there is orange in those circles and 2x4 is 8

Then I asked,

Why does the circle with the number 4 have 2 orange parts and why does the circle with the number 8 have 3 orange parts?

This took a little grappling which was a productive struggle. I referred my students to think about what they do daily with the school day number and divisibility. Then I had about 6 students who had made the connection. They said,

Because two 2’s is 4 (2 x 2 is 4) so that is why the circle with the number 4 has been shared in half. The circle with the number 8 has been shared into three orange parts because 2 parts represent 4 and 1 part represents 2 and 4 x 2 is 8.

One of my students put up his hand and asked,

3, 5 and 7 are also prime numbers so why aren’t they colored red?

After I asked him what he thought; the students grappled with this until one of my students replied,

The prime numbers begin with numbers greater than 10.

We also took the time to discuss why the circle with the number 1 was colored grey.

I put them with a partner and gave each one a piece of 11 by 17 paper with the numbers 20 to 40 on the bottom and space on the top to record their thinking.

They were given approximately 20 minutes and I wandered around listening to groups and asking questions when needed. It is important you know that not every one of my 26 students was fully grasping this.

For instance, I came across one pair who colored in 21 solid purple. I questioned their reasoning and they responded with, you can count by 7’s. I asked them to take out their hundreds chart and count by 7 to 21. Once they did this I asked, "So what can you tell me about this count?"

"Oh", was the reply. "You can count by 7’s three times."

"So", I asked, "Would the 21st circle be purple?"

Then they realized it needed to be green and purple.

Another example to share was a different pair who colored in 22 orange. I went through the same questioning for them to come to realize there were eleven groups of 2 in 22 so that circle needed to be red and orange.

As I engage with my students it allows me to gain insight into where they are at in their learning and this guides my teaching.

There were some students in my class rolling with this activity and demonstrating deep and transfer learning from our daily routine and various number concept activities we engage in regularly.

The pictures below show you this thinking.

The students love this activity and my plan and hope are to continue this until we reach 100.

Each time we do this activity, learning continues to grow and connections are being made.

I would love to purchase the Prime Climb game from Math4Love and it is now available to purchase and be shipped into Canada at Boardgame Bliss 

Your Turn!

Try it with your students!

If you haven’t tried this yet with your students, give it a go - start here!

If you have, go for Round 2 and see how their thinking has developed. 

For those of you in Kindergarten and Grade 1, you can work with the numbers 1 to 10. I am certain you’d be pleasantly surprised with the ability and reasoning our young students have. There is a productive struggle and it is perfectly ok for them to not know at first. Eventually, this surface level learning will lead to understanding.

I look forward to hearing how it is going! Leave a comment or question below. 


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