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Family Math Activity: Take Part in a Relay Race!

The athlete holding the relay race wood baton, is kneeling down on the track, preparing to start the first leg of a relay race. family math relay activity olympics
A relay activity can help kids practice collecting, graphing and comparing data. You can also make it as simple or difficult as needed, depending on your kids' ages. | kuarmungadd/Getty Images/iStockphoto
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Three ... two ... one ... GO! Can you race like an Olympian? Try out this simple family relay race activity, which will get your child moving, as well as collecting, graphing and comparing data.

Learning Goal

This activity will help your child:

  • Collect and sort data
  • Create a bar graph to display their findings
  • Compare and contrast the data collected

Materials

  • Empty paper towel roll
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Materials to decorate the baton (e.g. tin foil, gift wrap paper, stickers, pom poms, colorful tinsel paper, etc.)
  • Chalk or a piece of paper and something to write with
  • Clock or stopwatch to keep track of time

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Ask your child to decorate the baton. Cut tin foil or wrapping paper and wrap it around the hollow paper towel roll and tape in place. Decorate with stickers, pom poms, or colorful tinsel paper.
  2. Explain to your child that you are going to create a bar graph to help keep track of the results of the relay race. You can draw the bar graph on a piece of paper or on cement using chalk. Along the horizontal line, write the name of each relay team member. Along the vertical line, write time increments by minutes (1 minute, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, etc.).
  3. Whether on a track, open field, or sidewalk, mark your race track. Draw start lines for each racer in the relay and designate a parent or older sibling as the timekeeper.
  4. Take your marks. Ready, set, GO! Remember to pass off the baton to the next runner on your team. Try not to drop the baton!
  5. Record your times on your graph using chalk to draw bars over the team names.
  6. Review the findings on your bar graph with your child. You can ask your child:
  • "What does the bar graph show?"
  • "How can the bar graph tell us who won the race?"
  • "Who was the fastest runner and what was their time?"
  • "Who was the slowest runner and what was their time?"
  • "Does a smaller time mean a faster time?"
  • "Does a bigger time mean a slower time?"
  • "How much faster would the slowest runner need to improve to beat the fastest runner's time?"

Keep the Conversation Going

Have kids make predictions of which five countries will win the most Olympic medals and how many. Create a bar graph to keep track of total Olympic medals for each country. Compare and contrast your predictions with your findings.

Book Suggestions

"Tally O'Malley" written by Stuart J. Murphy and illustrated by Cynthia Jabar

Book cover of "Tally O'Malley" written by Stuart J. Murphy and illustrated by Cynthia Jabar featuring an illustration of a little girl holding a tally sheet in one hand at the beach.
Book cover of "Tally O'Malley" written by Stuart J. Murphy and illustrated by Cynthia Jabar

"Whose Shoes?: A Shoe for Every Job" written by Stephen R. Swinburne

Book cover of "Whose Shoes?: A Shoe for Every Job" written by Stephen R. Swinburne featuring a photo of lined up children stepping in adult shoes of different colors and styles.
"Whose Shoes?: A Shoe for Every Job" written by Stephen R. Swinburne

Corresponding Standards

Common Core State Standards
CCSS.Math.Content.1.MD.C.4 Organize, represent, and interpret data with up to three categories; ask and answer questions about the total number of data points, how many in each category, and how many more or less are in one category than in another.

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