File Folder Battleship from Junk Drawer Algebra by Bobby Mercer

I happened upon two books by Bobby Mercer on the Sam’s Club website: “Junk Drawer Algebra” and “Junk Drawer Geometry”. I was intrigued, and although I usually purchase books used, I went ahead and ordered them. The activities in the books are designed to use with one or more students with items commonly found around the home.

Since we begin our days doing group work in Bible or P.E. followed by history, I decided to use the activities in these books to transition to Math and independent work time. So far, the activities have been a hit! I have subbed in some supplies, such as using trail mix and cereal instead of candy for graphing. Since it is usually around 10am, my kids have enjoyed the snacks as well as the activity itself. Our most recent activity from the “Junk Drawer Algebra” book, File Folder Battleship, has proven to be a favorite.

My kids have actually never played the Battleship board game. In this version of the game, we used large paperclips as battleships. The kids taped their paper clips to their graph paper and labeled the x and y axis with numbers one through ten. They had to call out coordinates in (x,y) formation. The other kids then call out, “Hit!”, or, “Miss!”, or the dreaded, “You sank my battleship!”. We used colored markers to mark hits and misses in different colors.

To keep their battleship positions secret, we used foldable display boards from Dollar Tree for privacy.

The activities in the book do not take that long, around five to ten minutes. We spent a little longer on Battleship today. When it was time to move on to individual math lessons, we just left the paperclips taped in place, closed the file folders, and placed on the bookshelf to play again another day. It has been a fun break each day after history, and a perfect way to transition to math lessons with everyone in a good mood.


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