Families + Math + PTA = Great Fun! With a STEM + Families Math Night SPOTLIGHT: Midvalley PTA (Midvale, Utah)

This post is part of a series authored by local PTA leaders who received STEM + Families Mathnasium Math Night grants. They share practical advice and lessons learned from planning and hosting their events.

Imagine an evening activity at your school—you want to have families attend, you want it to be fun and memorable, you want everyone to be so excited that the “fear of missing out” gets everyone through the door! When you sit down to plan this activity, is your first thought about math? Probably not! But I’m here to tell you that the most exciting activity hosted this year at our elementary school was just that—a math night.

Our math night journey started after we were awarded a grant, but a math night can be accessible to any school.  Our hope was that this activity would be a way to show kids and parents that math can be fun with a few simple games they could play together. We were pleased to have around 400-500 attendees. It was hard to get a count because once people came it just got crazy, but it was a big activity for our school!

We had tremendous support from our principal, teachers, and staff. All our teachers attended, and we had them working our game stations. That increased the kids’ excitement—they love their teachers!

We had a pizza dinner before starting games in the gym, where there were two tracks: K-2 on one side and 3+ on the other. Each track had 9 stations. It was crowded!

Despite the crazy mass of people, the kids and parents were engaged and having fun, even when they had to wait a while to play the games. The best games were those that could be played quickly and were reasonably simple to understand (the card games are a good example). The last station had families put in for a prize raffle—we had talked to local businesses to get donated prizes, with a total retail value of around $1,000. Even if they didn’t win the raffle, each student got some cards and dice to take home to use in playing the math games to keep the learning going!

If you are thinking of hosting a math night or other similar event, our school suggests the following:

  1. If you can offer food, even if it isn’t fancy, you will have better attendance.
  2. Prizes, like game or movie night baskets for families, are a nice bonus.
  3. Find a large indoor space or an appropriate outdoor space to spread people out.
  4. Ensure the games are fun, fast and age-appropriate.
  5. Reach out to your community to find partners who will support your event with donations.

Kirsti Raleigh is the President of the Midvalley Elementary PTA.


Franchise Feature: Geoff and Kim Dingle (Mathnasium of North Marietta, Ga.)

Geoff and Kim’s biggest key to hosting a successful Math Night is to find a way to determine a reasonably accurate estimation of expected attendance—whether by way of a RSVP count, having the school/PTA offer to sell food (as fundraising) or asking parents to order ahead of time.

This makes sure there are enough games, space, supplies and volunteers. Their very first Math Night was attended by over 450 parents and students. Since Geoff and Kim had requested RSVPs ahead of time, they avoided a catastrophe by having enough games and volunteers. The only feedback they received on how they could have made it better was from a student who replied, “kittens.”

Geoff’s pro-tips:

  • Volunteers, volunteers, volunteers: Mathnasium is here to take over the stressful coordination of the event. The biggest logistical item that PTAs have to plan is arranging volunteers to help run the event and lead the games at each station. Geoff’s crew will come ready with games, supplies, goody bags and more!
  • Market the event as a fun family event: Make sure families know this is a great event where they can spend a few hours without distractions of technology, phones and electronic games.
  • Have a planning meeting with PTA and Mathnasium ahead of the event: This will help make sure everyone is ready and on the same page prior to night-of setup. Geoff recommends splitting up grades between K-2 and 3-5 making it easy for all age groups to navigate the different stations.

Geoff and Kim are great proponents for Math Nights. Geoff was a franchise partner in the Math Night session at Mathnasium’s convention in 2018.

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Disclosure: Mathnasium is a Proud National Sponsor of National PTA and a Founding Sponsor of National PTA’s STEM + Families initiative. The local PTA spotlighted in this blog was a winner of a 2018 – 2019 National PTA STEM + Families Math Grant, sponsored by Mathnasium. The author was not compensated for this blog post and the author’s opinions are his/her own.