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Lesson Ideas
Warm-up Activities

Interesting Numbers

The world is full of numbers about which your students undoubtedly have ideas and opinions.  Use them to grab your class' attention.

  1. Pick a number that deals with a topic familiar to your students.  Web sites, newspapers and almanacs are usually good sources for such numbers.
  2. Formulate a question whose answer is either the number you've chosen, or something closely related to it.
  3. Pose the question to your class orally or in writing on the board.
  4. Asking them to think through the question using only their brains (no electronic, mechanical or written calculations), give your students a minute or two to formulate their answers.
  5. Lead a brief discussion in order to reach a consensus answer.
  6. Present the "correct" answer, citing its source.  Then, if this answer differs markedly from the group's consensus, briefly discuss why people might believe the incorrect answer.
  7. Here are some sample questions that I've used successfully.  Click on their links to find my answers and sources.
  1. How big is a billion?
  2. How much money do you owe?
  3. What is the most common crime committed in the U.S.?
  4. When a person dies at the hands of a gunman, who most often pulls the trigger?
  5. How much is an education worth?
  6. What is the most common name in the U.S.?
  7. How much sugar does the average American consume in one year?
  8. What percent of the U.S. population is actually overweight?
  9. Your "Inflationary Dollar," how much is it worth today?
  10. What language has the largest number of native speakers?
  11. Which is more valuable, a pile of pennies equaling your weight or a stack of quarters equaling your height?
  12. Which is largest, Greenland, South America or Africa?
  13. What is the average age of those currently in the room?
  14. How long is a second?
  1. Click here for more links to external web sites where you'll find interesting numbers.
  2. Interesting numbers find there way into books too.  Click here for a list of some exceptionally worthy titles.
  3. Other lesson ideas that allow students to work with numbers
  1. Putting Time in Perspective
  2. Taxes Made EZ
  3. activities that contain data tables with which students can work

other Warm-ups

School Safety Facts

from the sample questions listed under #7 above

What is the most common crime committed in the U.S.?

When a person dies at the hands of a gunman, who most often pulls the trigger?

How much is an education worth?

Main Events

Double, Double, Toil and Trouble

How much do they make?

The world in a room

Media use survey from Propaganda in the classroom



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original web posting: Wednesday, December 9, 1998
last modified: Thursday, September 21, 2006