Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Potato Head Combinations

It's Tuesday, time again for Tried it Tuesday with Holly over at Fourth Grade Flipper.

Last summer I found a lesson using Potato Heads to teach combinations. I thought, how stinking cute! I hoped I would remember it when it was time.

I did, but couldn't find it.

Thank heavens for Pinterest. I searched and it came up!

Thanks to Middle School Survival Guide and her awesome ideas!!! I don't think its an active blog right now, but the archives are still there.

I adapted my stations because of the potato head pieces I had. I didn't buy anything special for this activity. My kiddos have an abundance of potato heads. I am kind of embarrassed that we have so many, but thankful that I do because it was a fun activity!

 I started with this!

We apparently have a lot of potato heads! 

I sorted, sorted again, and resorted.
I really had to think this through. I actually took it home the night before as well, revamped it and gave myself a headache. It truly isn't that difficult, I just wanted to have my ducks in a row.

These were my 6 different stations. My students would be working on three, so I had 3 different combinations to be found.


Students received a bag and a card with directions. They had to create a tree diagram and use the counting principle to find the combinations.
The pictures really helped to have included. It helped them, but it also helped keep all my pieces together.

They sorted their bag.

They had to write what was in the bag. 
They had to draw a tree diagram and then write the counting principle equation to go with the diagram.

Then they had time to create the potato heads. They were so silly with their creations. If they had their work done, I was fine with what they created, all in good taste though.

For logistical purposes, my students stayed in their seats and the bags moved. I also set an online timer for them to see so they stayed on task. This is a very visual motivator for students.

Students used this recording sheet to prove their work. I made it very generic. Click on the picture to get a free copy of it.

I will definitely be doing this activity next year. I probably won't change it much because happily, I can say IT WORKED!


  1. I LOVE this idea!! What a great hands-on activity for teaching combinations! Thank you so much for linking up and the inspiration:)
    Fourth Grade Flipper

  2. I think this is a great idea - I love teaching combinations and tree diagrams. I will have to hunt up some more Mr. Potato Head accessories. I often wait until close to the end of the school year and we do combinations for ice cream sundaes and then we make them.

    Looking From Third to Fourth

  3. Excellent idea! I am definitely going to have to try this!

  4. That is super fun!! Combinations are an add-on standard to our state's common core in 4th grade, so I'm saving this one for next year! Thanks for sharing!

  5. You are brilliant and I love this idea :) I teach 3rd 4th and 5th graders but will be following your blog -- I love to read the middle school perspective and to see where my students are heading in the next few years.

    Polka Dots & Teaching Tots