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Trashketball

Practice your aim, and your addition, with this flexible fun game!

Ages: 3+
Players: 2+
Time: 10-20 Minutes
Type: physical activities
Location: around the house
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Ages: 3+
Players: 2+
Time: 10-20 Minutes
Type: physical activities
Location: around the house

Instructions

Trashketball is a simple game. There are only two rules: 1) have fun, and 2) keep score. The fun part is throwing paper balls into a waste basket. Sit or stand a certain distance away, crumple up some paper, and start throwing!

Paper ball being thrown in a waste basket

If your younger child is struggling to make a shot, add a basket or two.

3 waste baskets lined up in a row

Keeping score is where the math comes in, and there are as many ways to keep score as you can dream up. Pick a scoring system tailored to your child's age and level of math ability. Here are two possibilities. (And see Variations below for more.)

Standard Scoring: This is a good one for kids just learning to count. Each time you make a shot, you get a point. For young kids, play collaboratively and count as you go: "We made 6 last time. Think we can make more this time?"

Or see who can make more shots. You can do this by having each player keep count as you play. Or you can each have a designated basket you're aiming for, then count the total in each afterwards. Or you can each throw different colors of paper, then count the total of each color afterwards.

Mystery Points: This is a really fun one, and good for the kid with, shall we say, "less than perfect" aim. (Or the adult, for that matter.) Let's say one player is red, and the other blue. Write the numbers 1 through 10 on pieces of paper in red. (Or better yet, let your child write the numbers.) Crumple them up as you go.

Writing numbers on pieces of paper

Then write the numbers again, but this time in blue. (You can of course use colors other than red and blue, or numbers other than 1 through 10.) Once all the numbers are written and every piece of paper is crumpled, mix up all the paper balls. Then, have fun trying to make some baskets. As you do, you won't know whether you are throwing red or blue, so don't worry about it. (Just work on improving your aim.)

Once all the paper balls have been thrown, take them out of the baskets and un-crumple them. Add up the total red points and the total blue points. Whichever player has more points of their color wins!

There are many, many ways to vary this game, so be sure to take a look at Variations below. Regardless of how you keep score, look for opportunities to sneak in some math talk: "Which basket has more? How many more? How many shots did we make all together? How many did we miss?"

Don't forget: it's Beast Academy Playground, not Beast Academy Study Hall. Change the rules, be silly, make mistakes, and try again. The Variations and Learning Notes are here for you if you want to dive deeper, but not all of them apply to learners of every age. The most important thing is to have fun.

Variations d

Skip-Counting:

Each shot you make is worth 3 points. When you tally up the points, skip count by 3's. (Or each shot is worth 2, or 5, or 10, or 1,000. You get the idea.)

Odds and Evens:

Like Mystery Points, described above, only instead of writing the same numbers but in two different colors, just write the numbers in one color. When scoring at the end, one player gets points for every even number, and the other player for every odd number.

Depending on what numbers you write, one player will have an advantage over the other. If you write the numbers 1 through 20, for example, the "odd" player can get a total of 1 + 3 + 5 + 7 + 9 + 11 + 13 + 15 + 17 + 19 = 100 points. The "even" player can get a total of 2 + 4 + 6 + 8 + 10 + 12 + 14 + 16 + 18 + 20 = 110 points. You can either let the poorer shooter be evens, or you can remove the 10 so that each player has a total of 100 possible points.

Subtraction Black Hole:

Arrange a few bigger waste baskets around a smaller basket or container. If you accidentally make a shot into the smaller basket, subtract a point from your total.

10's and 1's:

Practice place value by writing "10" on several sheets of paper, and "1" on several sheets of paper. Crumple up all pieces of paper and mix them up. Then each player aims for their own trashcan. At the end, each player counts up the points they earned in their trashcan. Compare the scores to the pieces of paper from each trashcan. Notice that a score of 21 comes from two 10's and one 1, 43 comes from four 10's and three 1's, etc.

Stairs or Chairs:

Arrange a few baskets on some stairs, so some are higher than others. Or put one on the ground and one up on a chair. Assign different point values to each basket (the hardest to get is worth the most points). Keep track of points as you play, or use different colors of paper and tally up points afterwards.

Taller, Wider, Rounder:

Set out 2 or more wastebaskets. Then use descriptive words to decide which trashcan each player will aim for. Don't be shy about bringing in some math vocabulary if you know it: "I'll aim for the rectangular one, and you can aim for the round one," or "You aim for the shorter trashcan."

Scores for Chores:

Keep score while throwing toys in the toy box, or sorting laundry into different bins.

Classroom Tips d

Clean up scraps after craft time by playing some Trashketball ("Purple scraps are worth 3 points!"). Or make a set of practice problems into a game with creative scoring options ("Odd problems are worth double points.")

Discussion Questions

  • How many more shots did we make this time than last time?
  • How many more pieces does the big basket have than the small basket?
  • Is there a clever way for us to add up all these mystery points?
  • What new scoring ideas can you think of?
  • What numbers do you think are easiest to skip-count by? What are the hardest?
  • What fraction of the shots did we make?

Alignment with Beast Academy Curriculum

  • Level 2, Chapter 8: Addition and Subtraction Strategies
  • Level 2, Chapter 9: Odds & Evens
  • Level 3: Chapter 2: Skip-Counting

See Variations and Learning Notes for more ideas on how to adapt this activity and incorporate it into your classroom.

Learning Notes d

Skip-Counting:

Skip-counting is counting by 2's or 3's or some other number. (Skip-counting by 2's, for example, means counting 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, etc.) If your child is new to skip-counting, count all the numbers, but say the "skip-count" numbers more loudly. So if each paper ball is worth 3 points, count, "1, 2, 3!, 4, 5, 6!, 7, 8, 9!" and so on.

Pairs That Add to Ten:

When adding up points after a game, look for pairs that add to ten to make the addition easier. For example, if you're playing the Odds and Evens variation, pair 2 with 8 and 6 with 4 to quickly determine that the sum is 20.

Adding up Odd Numbers:

If you are playing the Odds and Evens variation, you may notice that the sum of the first 10 odd numbers is 100, which also happens to be the square of 10. Is this always true? Use coins or blocks to experiment. 1 block can be arranged in to a very simple 1x1 "square." Now add 3 (the next odd number) more blocks. All together, these can be arranged into a 2x2 square. Add the next odd number, 5, more blocks, and find that these can all be arranged into a 3x3 square. Can your child explain why this will always work?

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Materials
  • trashcan
  • paper
  • markers
Learning Goals
  • counting
  • addition
  • comparison
  • skip-counting
  • writing numbers
  • pairs that add to ten
  • subtraction
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Ready to level up?

Keep problem solving with Beast Academy’s full math curriculum for students ages 7–13. Check out our captivating comic book series and immersive online platform.

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Bring problem-solving to your classroom

Keep your entire class engaged with a full book and online math curriculum, for students ages 7–13. 98% of teachers say they’re satisfied with Beast Academy.

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