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09 July 2012

Even and Odd Apple Trees

One of the first concepts I will be teaching in math this year is even and odd numbers. There is an emphasis on pairing and determining if a group is odd or even and that moves into deciding if a specific number is odd or even. (Scroll to the end to see a fun game!) I'm one of those people who really pushes conceptual knowledge of math concepts. Don't get me wrong, I have a few songs up my sleeve to help kids remember things. But-I also want them to really understand why something is the way it is-like why a number is either even or odd!

I like to start with a concrete representation, using manipulatives like unifex cubes, counters, or the units from our place value kits. I've also been known to use plastic bugs and people, pencils, counting bears...pretty much anything the kids can put their hands on. We pick a number, write it on our whiteboards, count out that many pieces, and then work to determine if that group as a whole is odd or even using a pairing strategy.
Usually working in pairs, the kids move the manipulatives into pairs. If every one has a pair, the number is even. (Later we write to explain how we know the number is even or odd.)
After a few practice times, we move into odd numbers. (I don't tell the kids that we're changing...I wait to see what they do!)
Then we pair them up, only this time there is an ODD MAN OUT! Poor guy doesn't have a partner, so this means the number is odd.
This is what we work on before moving to drawing pictures to represent a number and circling pairs. 
This year I'm really putting an emphasis on the ones place from the get go, so as the numbers get larger the kids won't waste time drawing 47 dots and pairing them. They will only have to draw the digit in the ones place, and eventually just know that a number is even or odd. What a great way to practice place value, too!

After the kids complete a DOL (demonstration of learning), some move into an independent "funtivity" in which they practice what we've just learned, while others will be small grouped with me for reteaching. This is a file folder game that I call "Odd or Even Apples." It's so easy! The kids draw apple cards with numbers on them and use one of two strategies to determine if it is odd or even. Here is a picture of what the front of the file folder looks like:

And this is what it would look like put together:
And a close up of the back of my cards. What's great is that I make my cards self-checking, so they know if they are right or wrong. I would hate for them to be practicing incorrectly! I use a yellow highlighter on the reverse side to put an "e" for even or an "o" for odd. They typically work in pairs, so it's hard to cheat when you have an accountability buddy! You'll also notice small numbers on the backside with the answer. That number corresponds to a bag number to avoid lost pieces and mix-ups. 
You can click HERE to find the files for the game. It includes the front cover, inside trees and instructions, along with three additional files for the even apples, odd apples, and blank apples, in case you want to make some of your own. 


  1. Thanks for the game! This will be a fun way for my students to review even & odd. :)
    Learning Is Something to Treasure

  2. Thank you for this cute and fun game. We make apple trees for math mats and then use cherry sours for our "apples". My kiddos love it! I am happy to be the newest follower of your cute blog. I would love for you to hop over and visit me when you get the chance. =)

    Heather's Heart

    1. I will go check it out right now! Thanks!

  3. LOVE the game. Thanks so much for sharing it. I teach second grade too and we also start with odd/even. I read a book called Odd Todd and Even Steven. Have you ever heard of it? It's a great way to introduce the concept and get kids to practice with unifix cubes while you are reading it. I definitely emphasized looking at the ones place last year and it paid off big. Have you read Math Workstations by Debbie Diller? She's really big on talking bubbles, and one thing my students did when done proving their work with unifix cubes, or drawing dots was say "The digit ___ is in the ones place. This proves it is ____ (odd/even)". That way they were practicing the vocab digit and ones place and understanding WHY 27 is odd. You could also have them say "____ is odd/even. I know this because the digit ___ is in the ones place." Might be something for me to think about next year! :) Anytime you want to talk second grade, please email me! I love meeting new second grade blogger teachers! Definitely following you! :)

    Reaching for the TOP!

    1. Thanks so much for the great book suggestions! I also am a BIG supporter of understanding "why" something is what it is. I am struggling right now with my own soon to be 4th grader. I realized he had no idea "why" he was carrying into the tens place in addition last year, which is now leading to not knowing why he has to carry in multiplication. Agghhh! Can't wait to check out your blog!