Suggested starter Math Student Circle Activities

  • Mathematical content: Is it all skills and procedures, or is there significant attention to concepts and connections? This ties in well with the mathematical practices.
  • Cognitive demand: Is there “productive struggle” or “perplexity” on the part of the students, or are things broken down into steps so small that the students never have the opportunity to make an effort?
  • Access: Is everyone involved, or could only a few students participate while others spectate?
  • Agency: Is the teacher the authority, the source of information, and the judge of quality, or are students also involved in explaining their thinking and responding to other students’ ideas?
  • Assessment: Is there continuous use of student reasoning to advance the discussion and some times alter its path, or is the feedback limited to a correction when there is an error? Or, even worse, is student reasoning not elicited at all?

This is just a collection of suggested activities. To see more Math Circle activities or add your own, view our database.

Mondrian Art Puzzles

You’re Mondrian’s mathematical boss. Instead of allowing Mondrian to randomly draw rectangles and colors -you lay out requirements: 1) Mondrian must cover an N by N canvas entirely with rectangles. 2) Every rectangle in the painting must have different dimensions. 3) Mondrian must use as few colors as possible, and...

Mind Reading With Math

For the Math Mind Reading Trick, you’ll need a volunteer who’s willing to have their mind read. The person performing the trick holds out the four cards and askes their volunteer to pick a number (whole numbers only, no fractions allowed!) between 1 and 15 and keep it a secret....

Queen’s Move

Students will explore a game between two players moving a chess Queen from place to place on a square grid. The Queen may move any number of spaces to the left, any number of spaces downward, and any number of spaces on the downward-left pointing diagonal. Each player takes turns...

Bubbling Cauldrons

Place our numbers into the cauldrons in ascending order – you can choose which cauldron each one goes in. However, if two numbers in one cauldron add up to a third number in that same cauldron, they bubble up and cause an explosion! This means that all the numbers, leave...


Skyscrapers come in so many different sizes! Sometimes you can’t see small skyscrapers if tall ones are in front of them. Using clues about how many skyscrapers you can see from each side you look at them, can you figure out the layout of the entire city?


Merriam Webster defines gerrymandering as “the practice of dividing or arranging a territorial unit into election districts in a way that gives one political party an unfair advantage in elections.” This activity tries to make sense of that definition using a few examples.

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