Math Investigations

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Chapter 1

Part 1: Home and School Investigation

Send the Letter to Family (PDF file) home with each child. Once all of the children have brought in buttons, put them in a box or jar. As the children watch, create a group of buttons for them to study. Make a statement about the buttons, such as, “None of these buttons has two holes in them.” Ask the children if the statement is true or false. Continue creating groups of buttons and making statements about them. Use the words; some, every, many, none, and all in your statements. You might want to do this activity over a period of a few days.

Once the children are familiar with the activity, ask them to create groups of buttons and make their own statements about them. Have other children decide if the statements are true or false.

Part 2: Be an Investigator

A good time to do this investigation is after Lesson 1 on reading and writing numbers.


  • cut-out ice-cream balls, round cones, pointed cones (made from copies of the Investigator Worksheet (PDF file))
  • crayons
  • glue

Introducing the Investigation

Tell the children to imagine that they are at a fair buying an ice-cream cone. Tell them there are two different kinds of ice-cream cones they can choose from, round and pointed. There are also three different kinds of ice cream they can choose from; chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla. Ask the children how many different ways they can make an ice-cream cone with two scoops of ice cream given these choices. Accept whatever predictions the children make and then tell them that as a class you will learn the answer.

Have children to work in pairs. Give each pair about eight of each of the ice-cream cones and 20 ice-cream balls. Direct them to color the scoops of ice cream to show the flavor and glue them on the ice-cream cones. Tell them you want to see how many different ice-cream cones they can make. Make it clear that vanilla on top of strawberry is the same as strawberry on top of vanilla.

Provide students with the Investigator Worksheet (PDF file).

Doing the Investigation

Be sure to have extra cut-outs on hand.

There are six different ice cream cones that can be made.

  • round cone/chocolate, strawberry
  • round cone/chocolate, vanilla
  • round cone/strawberry, vanilla
  • pointed cone/chocolate, strawberry
  • pointed cone/chocolate, vanilla
  • pointed cone/strawberry, vanilla

Extending the Investigation

Have the children try this with four or more ice-cream flavor possibilities, such as chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, and orange.

Houghton Mifflin Math Grade 2