by Lisa Jensen
Workers Compensation Fund
Leadership Circle Member

Two friends and I volunteered at Roosevelt Elementary School last Thursday evening with United Way of Salt Lake’s Leadership Circle! While my friends, Nicole Franzen and Gayleen Coats, read Dr. Seuss stories to children in the library, I played beach ball math.

I had never heard of beach ball math before Thursday night; however, it is a clever and fun game. There were four different colored beach balls and each ball was dedicated to a specific math function: addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division. Three math problems had been written in each section of the beach balls with permanent marker.

The rules of the game were simple:

  1. Name your preference: addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division
  2. Catch the beach ball when it is tossed to you
  3. Look at the section of the beach ball where your right thumb caught it
  4. Answer the three questions in the section where your thumb landed

Many of the children were confident and answered the relatively tough multiplication and division problems with ease. Other children were more timid and stuck with simpler addition problems. We counted on fingers when we needed to and everybody went away successful.


While part of the experience was about reinforcing math skills, the greater part of the experience for me was having a one-on-one opportunity to validate already confident students, and to bolster and reinforce the self-confidence of the children who were not so sure. We giggled, we laughed, and had a great time!

My friend, Nicole, said the following about her experience, “I am so grateful to be given the opportunity to help United Way of Salt Lake in any way that I can. Just being able to make someone happy or give them inspiration is amazing. I love seeing the smiles on the face of the people I get to interact with – and smiles are contagious!”

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Thank you to UWSL and Leadership Circle for the great opportunity! To learn more about how you can get involved with Leadership Circle, visit the website, or contact Drew Martinez at