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Get the Picture—Get the Story

Number and Operations
Location: Unknown

In the following lesson, students act as reporters at the Super Bowl. Students study four pictures of things that they would typically find at a football game: players, a scoreboard, a crowd, and a concession stand. Students are asked to create problem situations that correspond to their interpretation of each of the pictures.

Discuss with the students the idea that in many books, as well as in most testing situations, they have been given problems that they were asked to solve. Here they will also get a chance to become the problem writers.

The students will become reporters at the Super Bowl. One job of a reporter is to write about what he or she sees. Explain that in this activity they will look at some pictures taken at the game and will write some problems to go along with what they see in the pictures.

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Distribute a copy of the Get the Picture—Get the Story Activity Sheet to each student.

pdficon  Get the Picture—Get the Story Activity Sheet 

Explain to the class that for each of the four pictures, the pair of students is to create a problem and write it in the spaces below the pictures.

Encourage the class to be creative in formulating their problems by not necessarily writing down the first and easiest problem that comes to minds.

Also, encourage them to use a different operation, or an operation in a different way, for each picture.  This restriction will help avoid having every group write a simple addition problem for each picture.

This goal can also be accomplished by asking the students to write two different problems for each of the pictures.  as an optional activity, depending on the abilities of the class.

After everyone has finished writing four problems, have each pair of students get together with another pair (if even pairings do not result, then you may need to form one group of six) to share responses.

Once the students have compared their problems, ask, "How many of you discovered that the other pair in your group wrote a different problem for the picture than you did?"

Take this opportunity to discuss how a picture, a diagram, a graph, and the like, are often perceived differently by different people.

As a conclusion to the activity, go around the room and have the students read their problems and count how many different types of problems were formulated from each picture.


  1. After a Sunday of professional football games, clip from the newspaper the statistics from several games.

    Put each news clipping into an envelope with a sheet of paper and divide the class into teams of three or four students.  Give each team an envelope. Their task is to write on the piece of paper one word problem based on the data in the news clipping, put the clipping and the piece of paper back into the envelope, and pass it on to the next team.

    The next team takes out the contents, solves the problem on the sheet of paper, and writes a new problem.

    That team then passes the envelope on to the next team.  Continue this process until at least five questions have been written and solved for each clipping.

  2. To connect art to mathematics, have each student draw a picture and write a problem about the picture.  Then have students exchange their drawings, having each student write a problem about the picture that he or she received.

    Finally, each student compares the problem that she or he wrote to the problem that the artist wrote originally to see if they are the same.

Number and Operations

Super Bowl Scores

This activity focuses on analyzing the scores for football games.  Students study combinations of numbers to produce possible scores for football games.
Number and Operations

Super Bowl Scavenger Hunt

In many homes, the Super Bowl is an event of some significance. This activity is designed to have students examine some enjoyable (and, sometimes, obscure) questions using mathematics during the game. The questions on the activity sheet require that the students make observations about the game.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Create written problems generated by pictures

NCTM Standards and Expectations

  • Recognize equivalent representations for the same number and generate them by decomposing and composing numbers.
  • Develop fluency in adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing whole numbers.