Developing Deductive Reasoning with Hula Hoop

Here is a fun game to help students in your elementary math classroom – develop their observation skills while at the same time practice their deductive reasoning. My students have named this game “Soup,” and we pretend that we are cooking up a delicious soup. Feel free to adapt it to your own students’ interests.

Materials: Attribute blocks(these are our ingredients) and a hula hoop (this is our pot in which to cook).


How to Play the Game:

1)    Have your students sit around the outside of the hula hoop so that they can all see and reach it. The teacher begins the game by creating a rule for the “soup” (e.g. square soup). Without telling the students the rule, the teacher places one attribute block into the center of the hula hoop, saying “This piece belongs in my soup today.”

2)    The first student in the circle chooses any other piece, places in in the “pot” and asks, “Does this belong in your soup today?” If the piece matches the rule, the teacher says, “Yes it does,” and the student gets another turn. If it does not, the student removes that piece from the center, and her turn is over.

3)    Students continue to take turns going around the circle. A student may guess the rule only during her turn. (e.g. “I think you are making blue soup.”) If the student is wrong, her turn is over. If she is correct, she wins the game.

4)    You can continue to play the game by creating a new rule or allowing the winning student to create a new rule for her classmates to figure out.


1)    Attribute blocks are excellent tools for this game because they contain four different attributes (color, shape, size and thickness). When I play with very young students, I choose only one attribute (e.g. red soup or triangle soup). However, when I play with older students, I use several attributes (e.g. thick yellow soup or small red triangle soup).

2)    When allowing students to create the rule and start the game, it is a good idea to have them whisper their “soup recipe” in your ear. They tend to forget their rule and provide false information at times!

3)    I find that continuing around the circle after a game is won keeps students from arguing about whose turn it is and gives everyone a chance to play. For example, if the sixth child in the circle correctly guessed the soup recipe, the next game starts with the seventh child in the circle.

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