People and Paper Dramas

A people and paper drama is a simple activity where a small group of students use paper as their only prop to act out a math concept. Why paper? It’s a readily available (at least most of the time) cheap supply. Why people? Readily available cheap labor (students).

Here are some ideas for this:

(1) The Human Equation. Create a human model of an equation like 2x+1=x+4 by having students either hold a piece of paper with an “x” on it or a “1.” So that would be two “x’s” and one “1” on the left and one “x” and four “1’s” on the right. Then solve the equation by eliminating students from it emphasizing that you are trying to get one “x” by itself and that “whatever I do to one side, I must do to the other!”

(2) A function machine. I printed out a picture of some gears and wrote machine on it, then printed out some sheets with a number on each side. Two students held up the machine and several students walked through, I instructed the walking students to flip their numbers over to the back as they walked through. Then the spectators could create a function map diagram and guess at the function rule. I was also able to demonstrate how it was possible to have two domain numbers that map to the same range number but could not have two range numbers for one domain number.

Any other ideas?

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