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Name of Activity:

Jack Math Scramble

Academic content:


Purpose of Activity:

Students will practice the throwing and catching skills used in the game of jacks to improve eye-hand coordination. Students will also practice low level math problem solving skills. This is a great cool-down activity.


1. Students should have practice with basic throwing & catching skills. 2. Students should know how to control and use manipulative objects so they can pick up and move the jacks. 3. Students should know how to throw the Jacks ball so it doesn’t bounce excessively high or out of control.

Suggested Grade Level:


Materials Needed:

1. A hard surface (like a desk, table, or the floor) for children to play on. 2. Each pair will need their own set of jacks (which can be a set of any 8 or 10 similar objects like trolls, shaped erasers, etc.) and bouncy balls of different sizes.

Physical activity:

throwing & catching

Description of Idea

1. Students should get into groups of two or three.
2. One student picks up a math flash card and solves the problem on the card. (The cards should have addition and subtraction problems with answers that are low digit numbers. There can also be multiplication and division problems for older children, if the answers remain below 8).
3. The student drops the jacks on the ground.
4. The student then throws the ball either up or down and tries to pick up the jacks that correspond with the answer to the flash card problems before catching the ball.
5. The jacks have to be picked up before the ball bounces twice.
6. The flash cards need to be returned to the pile and another student in the group gets a turn whether the student succeeds at picking up the jacks or not.

1. The same hand has to throw the ball, pick up the jacks and catch the ball.
2. The ball can either be thrown up or can be thrown down.
3. The student picks up the jacks before the ball bounces twice.
4. The student cannot touch the jacks that (s)he is not going to pick up.
5. The student chooses any size ball to throw/catch that will help her/him be successful.


* Switch to a smaller ball
* Use the non-dominant hand to throw/catch
* Catch/throw other objects than balls (scarfs)
* Use larger Jacks (or other objects) for better skill efficiency

Assessment Ideas:

Level 1: Absent -- did not participate.

Level 2: The student is able to throw a ball, pick up a jack and catch the ball using both hands. However, the student has difficulty following the rules of the game and did not know answers on the flashcards.

Level 3: The student can pick up more than one jack, but cannot use the same hand to throw and catch the ball and to pick up the jacks.

Level 4: The student uses the same hand to throw and catch the ball and to pick up the jacks, but cannot pick up more than three jacks without touching the other jacks.

Level 5: The student can pick up more than three jacks without touching the other ones while using the same hand. The student knew almost every or all answers to the flashcards.

Adaptations for Students with Disabilities:

1. This activity is performed at the pace of the individual child. Children who have learning disabilities are allowed to perform these activities at their own pace so they don’t have to struggle to keep up with the rest of the class.

2. A different object (like a scarf) could be used instead of the bouncy ball. The scarf will stay in the air longer than the bouncy ball so the child doesn’t need to be as quick to pick up the jacks.

3. If a child has a physical disability that would keep her/him from performing this activity, (s)he could be allowed to verbally teach someone (like the teacher) how to perform these activities.

4. To allow for success, the jacks could be changed to bigger or smaller objects.

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Submitted by sara Craig who teaches at University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point in Portage, WI. Thanks for contributing to PE Central! Posted on PEC: 7/30/2006.

Viewed 24947 times since 4/10/2006.

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