Planning Your Math Festival


❏ If at all possible, choose a date for your school’s Math Festival that has the fewest possible conflicts when ALL classes in the school can participate; avoid scheduling field trips, testing, off-site meetings, or other special programs on your Festival date. Individual classes are only involved in the Math Festival for 50 to 60 minutes maximum, so the Festival need not seriously disrupt the normal teaching day.

❏ The use of your gym or multi-use room ALL DAY for the Festival is mandatory; only the Festival can be going on in that room that day since it’s not possible to take down and put up the materials for other activities. Please check that no other programs must use the Math Festival facility on your chosen date.

❏ If we are using the cafeteria, students will have to each lunch somewhere else that day. However, we are happy to accommodate a lunch line for students to pass through the Math Festival—even during an active Math Festival session—in order to get their lunch and exit the facility. Please check carefully to make sure this arrangement is suitable on your chosen date.

❏ If there is a Family Math Festival planned for parents and students that evening, the Festival must remain set up after school and into the evening. Because the the Festival materials take significant time to set up and break down, after-school programs that day should be scheduled elsewhere.

❏ Before you confirm a date with the Math Festival Coordinator, please make sure that your school and district has authorized the estimated expenditure. We are happy to revise estimates based upon requested changes, or sign district contracts/consultant agreements if we are notified well in advance of your Math Festival. All financial details and arrangements must be settled weeks before your Math Festival date.


❏ One certificated person on your staff must be released for the entire day to assist your Math Festival presenter, preferably a teacher-leader. This is a legal requirement of the California Education Code since we are guests in your school. This certificated staff person will officially be in charge that day. The Math Festival presenter and this person will run the entire program with only the additional assistance of parent volunteers (see below).

❏ This designated staff person will need to be present in the Festival facility at all times during the Math Festival day, both before school for the set-up of the Math Festival materials, during each student session, and at all breaks between sessions. Note: Since our presenter is a guest in your school and not part of your staff, the California Education Code requires that the staff member you designate be in the Math Festival room at all times during the day when students are present.

❏ Principals and Vice Principals are NOT recommended as the person released to assist at the Math Festival—they are too often called out of the room on important business. Principals please note: this role and the logistical planning is an ideal leadership role to designate to a teacher-leader on your staff. Note: If a Family Mathematics Festival is scheduled for that evening, the certificated staff in charge at night can be either a teacher or administrator.

❏ Ideally, this designated teacher-leader will also be the person to work with the Math Festival Coordinator in setting up your Math Festival schedule weeks before your event. Email communication with this individual is essential to the success of the planning process; please identify this person to the Math Festival Coordinator at least a month in advance so contact can be established and planning can begin.


❏ The Math Festival activities and materials are suitable for K–8th  grade abilities, including special education students. Added assistance is only recommended for kindergarteners—and for them, only during the first semester of the year. Second semester kindergarteners can find activities at their ability level of at most Math Festival stations after January.

❏ The size of the school facility you designate for the Math Festival and the number of large tables available will determine the number of students who can attend any given Math Festival session. No more than 150 students can attend a single session. It’s best to make the sessions as fairly even in number as possible.


❏ Your California Math Festival will be a truly ungraded activity, therefore it works best to mix different grade-level classes attending in each session. The older students often help the little ones, and the younger kids have a positive influence on the older students. All students will find activities appropriate for their level and abilities, kindergarten through 8th grades.

❏ Sessions are 35 to 40 minutes in duration. Please allow at least 10 minutes between sessions for a passing period. We have found this amount of time to work well in most schools. Please do not plan longer sessions before consulting your Math Festival Coordinator first! By all means plan your sessions around your recess breaks. Please allow at least an hour for a lunch break for the staff and volunteers.

❏ For a school with up to 900 students please arrange for no more than SIX 35 to 40 minute sessions in a school day! There is an extra fee if more than six sessions are needed to accommodate your student body and schedule in one day.

❏ If your school has 400 or fewer students and would like our lower small-school Math Festival rate, please arrange for no more than FOUR 35 to 40 minute sessions in a school day! There is an extra fee if more than four sessions are needed to accommodate your students.

• Sample SIX SESSION SCHEDULE for schools with 400 up to 900 students

Setup: 7:30–9:00

Session 1: 9:00–9:35

Session 2: 9:45–10:20

Session 3: 10:30–11:05

Session 4: 11:15–11:50

LUNCH: 12:00–1:00

Session 5: 1:00–1:35

Session 6: 1:45–2:20

End & Cleanup by 2:45

Note: Additional sessions are available at extra charge.

After-school Teacher Math Festival Workshop (if scheduled): 3:00–4:30

Family Mathematics Festival (if scheduled): 6:30–7:30

• Sample FOUR SESSION SCHEDULE for schools with 400 or fewer students

Setup: 7:30–9:00

Session 1: 9:00–9:40

Session 2: 9:50–10:30

Session 3: 10:40–11:20

LUNCH: 11:30–1:00

Session 4: 1:00–1:40

End & Cleanup by 2:30

Teacher Mathematics Festival workshop (if scheduled): 3:00–4:30

Family Mathematics Festival (if scheduled): 6:30–7:30

• Sample VERY SMALL SCHOOL MATH FESTIVAL COMBINED SCHEDULE for schools with 200 or fewer students

Setup: 11:30 am–1:00 pm

Session 1: 1:00–1:40

Session 2: 1:50–2:30

End of student Math Festival

Family Mathematics Festival: 6:30–7:30 (one hour maximum)


❏ We ask that your school sign up parent volunteers to assist students during each of the Math Festival session. Having parents helping at each of the Math Festival station not only makes for a better learning experience for each student, it also provides a rich mathematics experience for the adults that are helping. Most parents find volunteering at a Math Festival to be a very pleasant experience—even fun!

❏ Parents do NOT need to be experts at math to volunteer at the Math Festival. They can learn everything they need to know that day! They will not be acting as teachers or teaching lessons; they will be giving simple assistance to students, helping them read the directions and get started with an activity.

❏ Parents need not be fluent English speakers to volunteer. Parents who speak other languages can be of great assistance to students whose primary language is not English. In addition, the directions for volunteers have been translated into Spanish. If your students and/or parent volunteers will need spoken directions translated, please make arrangements for someone to interpret, as your Math Festival may not be able to do so.

❏ Parents or guardians need not volunteer for the whole Math Festival. They can volunteer to work the morning or the afternoon sessions if that fits their schedules. Since it is important that parents get familiar with the activity at their table, it is best if they volunteer for at least two or three student Math Festival sessions (each session lasts approximately 50 minutes, so three sessions would be about 2.5 hours). Please make sure the whole Festival day is covered.

❏ A Math Festival consists of 12 to 16 Stations (depending on the size of your school). Each Station table will have a different math activity. Try to sign up at least one parent volunteer for each table. If you receive a healthy response to your request for volunteers, two adults at a table only enhances the student and parent experience.

❏ Parents volunteering will be told EVERYTHING they need to know BEFORE the first students arrive. Parent volunteers arrive about 20 minutes before the first student Math Festival session begins. At that time the Math Festival presenter will give the volunteers an overview of the Festival and information about the activity where they will be assisting students. After the very first session, they will be EXPERTS at their activity!


❏ 12 to 16 DIFFERENT Festival stations can be set up depending on your facility’s space and the number of tables available. The typical fold-down double cafeteria table, 12 to 16 feet long, is suitable for ONE Math Festival station’s materials, and can accommodate up to 12 students working in pairs. If folding tables are used instead, two 6-foot long folding tables placed end to end, will hold ONE Festival station.

❏ Students work together with a partner during the Math Festival. Please have teachers put their students in working pairs PRIOR to coming to their Festival session. This is frequently forgotten. A reminder the day before (and sometimes again that morning) is a good idea. Partners will visit Math Festival stations and work on tasks TOGETHER, so teachers should put some thought into choosing partners.

❏ Please emphasize to teachers the importance of arriving ON TIME for their session because it’s not possible to change the day’s schedule if one or more classes arrive late. Each session will begin with a brief orientation to the WHOLE group of students; that can’t begin until everyone is present.

❏ Classroom teachers MUST accompany their classes and stay with their students during the Festival. They are not required to assist at the tables but a Math Festival is a great opportunity for teachers to observe their students doing math on their own. Your school will receive access to PDF files of all the Math Festival printed materials used in your Festival. Use them to extend the learning of your Math Festival all year long!

If you have questions, please contact Paul Giganti, California Math Festival Director: