The Plate Game

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We sat down for dinner in early December after dragging out all our Christmas stuff, to include these plates. My 7 year old said, “Hey, the girls all have snowmen and the boys all have santas!” And, The Plate Game was born!

Rules: Find ways the people using the matching plates are connected that is different than the others….aka sorting, classifying, and comparing ATTRIBUTES! Which the NCTM (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics) put under Algebra! If only my parents had played The Plate Game with me before high school Algebra…

The next day our lunch plates looked the same as above, but with different recipients.  It took several tries to find a way the santas and snowmen eaters went together. After a few minutes, my 6 year old nailed it “Daddy and I were the only ones who went into Target today!”  Another meal John and I’s plates were different and the kids were the same. It was hilarious hearing ways they thought we may be different but weren’t.The winning answer was all 3 kids go to the same elementary school, John and I went to different ones.

I can say, I’ve never really been excited about plates before…not really my thing…until now. I have basic white. I have indestructible stainless steel purchased during the baby-toddler years. My favorite are the blue ones from a local Suffolk county potter when we lived in England. I am also a sucker for paper plates once in awhile. But with the birth of The Plate Game, the very plates I have owned for 13 and 10  and 7 years are all the sudden more exciting than ever.

“Mommy & Daddy (white plates) are adults and we are the kids!” This is the set up I have stared at for the past 7 years. This picture will make me cry one day.

And, tonight, this is our set up. On special occasions, a person gets to use the “red plate”. We used to have an actual red plate, but it broke in a move, so the past few years we have used a red pie plate. I get the red plate tonight for my birthday.  I love the idea of singling out someone once in awhile, red plate or not.

I’m bringing some funk with this  meal. 2 matches, 2 matches, and 1 stand alone.  The Plate Game will be fun with company. And, it should be noted, this was also a fun way to talk about and visualize the Fact Family of Five, something both our 2nd and 1st grader are talking about at school.

Happy Plating, Shelisa

Update: Over a month later and we can’t have a meal without playing The Plate Game;) We’ve come up with some doozies. We’ve had meals where everyone has come up with ideas and we’ve had a few meals where we were stumped until the end. I love games when there are more than one answer. Maybe I should switch it up with The Cup Game!

If you play The Plate Game at your house, tell me how it goes!

Malke, from Math in Your Feet, suggested a complementary book to The Plate Game called “Five Creatures” by Emily Jenkins. A great literary connection to the concept of comparing similarities and differences in a family. Make sure to check out Malke’s fascinating website and blog. She has developed a program called Math in Your Feet that combines dance, math, and creativity! Love it! I’m going to pass along her information to our school and keep my fingers crossed. Malke also mentioned The Plate Game in her blog post entitled “A Big Discovery.” How cool is that?

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  1. What a brilliant way to teach that subject. I bet the kids look forward to every meal so they can play the game. I love this idea and will be giving it a try when my daughter is a bit older. Way cool.

    Veronica @

    • Thanks Veronica! We’re still playing it! We did it using different cups the other night just to switch it up;) I like your blog. Looks like you have a lot of fun and learning with your daughters!

  2. I love this! Have you read the book Five Creatures by Emily Jenkins — three humans, two cats. Two who like…three who don’t, etc. It’s one of my favorite kid books ever.

    But, what memories you are making for your kids! Some of the brightest minds in science and math often tell of games and stories their parents played with them, just like the one you share here. 🙂

  3. How fun! We’ll have to do this. Thank you for posting at Math Monday!!
    Cindy @ love2learn2day


  1. […] of dance and math. I wish my high school Algebra class would have done the same. It turns out,  The Plate Game  had a bigger impact on her than just that night’s dinner. She tells how mulling over The […]

  2. […] nearly a year ago in January 2012, I blogged about our family Plate Game.  The dancing, math genius named Malke from “Math in Your Feet” left a comment. She […]

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