Today I decided to take advantage of the children’s creativity and curiosity. I am reinforcing math skills by developing a secret code. We sat in a circle with math manipulative s. I carved potato stampers with various numbers on them. I put up a chart. The accompanying letter for each number was placed on the chart.

Each child was asked a question. They would enter the center of the circle and solve the math problem. The majority of the children tackled this activity with great fervor. The thought of using the potato stampers caused the children to forget the mundane task of solving the math problem. It was seen as a game. As a math problem was solved, the children collected their secret potato stamp number that corresponded with the alpha answer. The thought of making secret codes with their coveted numbers caused an air of excitement in the room. Children are naturally curious. If a curriculum is developed with this curiosity factor taken into account the children naturally want to participate.

As is common in terms of my mode of thinking, this lesson had multiple goals, the children were learning how to use math manipulative s and problem solve. The use of the coveted potato  stampers merely served as a reward for their efforts. It was a carrot on a stick. If they reached and strive high enough they could earn the carrot. Once the math project was complete, the children used their potato stamper numbers to make code words. Obviously a literacy lesson had been secretly blended in. What we see is not what always meets the eye. This project possessed more depth than was visibly possible. A lesson in logical abstract thinking is present. In order to spell secret words, the children had to decipher the letter and numeric companion on the wall chart to comprehend its secret meaning. I wanted to boost class room climate and enthusiasm. The children wore homemade pirate hats and patches crafted from construction paper. The project seemed more exciting due to the environment that was present.

We ended the project with a treasure hunt for gold. (Foil covered chocolate coins) hidden about the classroom and playground. The children had developed a new skill. I had used a child’s natural curiosity to my benefit. Eureka, the day was a productive success!


Mari Nosal M.Ed., CECE