This is Daniel.
He’s not feeling very happy.
“What’s wrong?” asked Mom.
“Mateo is having a bumper bowling party next week,” said Daniel. “I don’t want to go.”
“Why not?” asked Mom.
Daniel frowned. “I never knock down any pins,” he said.
“My ball always gets stuck in the middle!”
“Don’t give up,” said Mom. “Let’s go and practice.”
That night, Mom and Dad took Daniel bowling.
They found a lane with bumpers that would keep the ball from falling into the gutters on the sides.
“This is neat!” said Dad. “If the ball heads for the gutter, it bounces off the bumper!
“Want to give it a try?”
Daniel chose a bowling ball and set it down on the line.
He stood with the ball between his feet. Then he bent down and gave it a careful push.
The ball rolled down, down, down the lane.
It got slower and slower and slower.
Then it stopped. Right in the middle of the lane.
“Aargh!” cried Daniel. “See what I mean?”
“It’s okay,” Mom said. “The manager will get it.”
As Daniel waited for the manager to bring back his ball, he thought about what might be going wrong.
“Maybe I’m using an old, slow ball,” Daniel thought.
“Or maybe there’s a bump in my lane. Or maybe I’m not pushing the ball hard enough.”
Stop & Talk
“The ball didn’t go far enough,” Dad said. “How could you make it go farther?”
“I guess I could push harder,” Daniel replied.
“Try it and see!”
Daniel picked up his ball and tried again.
This time he pushed a lot harder.
He watched his ball roll down the lane.
It started in the middle, but then went to the side and rolled along the edge of the bumper.
The ball knocked down one pin.
“Oh!” cried Daniel.
“I only hit one pin. If I want to win, I need to knock down lots of pins.”
“You’re doing great!” Mom said.
“The ball went all the way down the lane, right? Think about what you did to make that happen.”
Daniel stopped and thought.
“I pushed the ball harder. It went faster and farther,” he said.
“But I still only hit one pin!”
Get Up & Move!
Daniel wasn’t ready to give up.
“I want to hit those pins right in the middle,” he thought.
“I need to try something new.”
Daniel did everything he could think of to make the ball roll down the middle.
He tried bowling from one side, and then the other.
He tried bowling with his eyes open and with his eyes closed.
But the ball always ended up rolling down the side.
Daniel sat down with his parents. “I don’t know what else to try,” he said.
“You’re good at other sports,” Dad replied. “Do they give you any ideas?"
“I play basketball,” Daniel said.
“Sometimes you have to bounce the ball off the backboard to get it into the net.”
“I like soccer, too. People bounce the ball all around before making a goal.”
Stop & Talk
“Hey,” Daniel cried. “That gives me an idea!”
He jumped up, grabbed his ball, and headed out to try one more time.
Daniel took a deep breath, set down his ball, and gave it a really hard push—straight toward the bumper!
He watched as the ball bounced off the bumper on one side, then bounced off the bumper on the other side, and then bounced back toward the pins.
CRASH! It was a strike!
Daniel’s ball knocked down all the pins.
“Wow!” said Mom. “How did you think of that?”
Daniel laughed. “I thought about the other games I play,” he said.
“When balls hit things, they go off in different directions.”
On the way home that night, Daniel and his parents got ice cream to celebrate.
Before he went to bed, Daniel wrote a reply to Mateo’s birthday invitation.
He couldn’t wait to go!
All you need to make a bowling alley in your classroom are some plastic cups (Solo cups work great) and a tennis ball. Mark a lane with masking tape, and set pool noodles along rows of building blocks if you want to add bumpers. Then make a pile of upside-down cups (for pins) and get things rolling! This activity gives students a way to explore the forces at work when one thing hits another.
See the next slide for ideas on how to use bowling in math practice, sight-word recognition, and physical skill building.
For more ideas—including ways to add math practice and sight words—go to the activity here and scroll down to #3).
If you want to focus more on numbers, look here.
If you’re interested in more in-depth, skill-building workshops, these activities can help students learn while playing. Included are a variety of teacher resources, from safety tips and assessment opportunities to notes on group dynamics.
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