While children are often very excited to learn during their elementary years, one subject where it can be difficult for teachers to maintain students' attention is elementary math.
Because of this, it is important for teachers to use certain techniques in their lesson plans in order to encourage their students to learn. Adding math games to the classroom curriculum is a fantastic way to make learning more fun, engaging, and motivating for young learners.
And the best part about starting early (kindergarten to grade 2) is that it helps your students to develop a positive attitude toward math from an early age, setting them up for a successful academic future.
Here are some classroom math activities that will have your students begging to do more.
Connect Math to life
You can take the opportunity to show your students how they will use math outside the classroom by inviting community members to talk about their careers and how they use math in their everyday lives. Students will better comprehend why they need math, and be more likely to practice with it when there are classroom guests.
This math game is bound to become a fast favorite with your students. By choosing what skill you want to review, such as addition, subtraction, or number sequencing, you can tailor the game to your student's needs. The game is just like regular bingo, except instead of calling out random numbers, students have to solve math problems.
To prepare, make a list of 25 math problems (e.g. 2+1, 3–0, or 2, 4, 6, _ ). Write the answers on the same sheet of paper.
Create your own 5x5 bingo cards or generate them online. At random, write the answers on the cards using the solutions from your list. There should be a bingo card for each student playing. You can laminate the cards to use for next time and have students place pennies or rocks to mark their answers.
This game is a great way to get your students outside on a nice sunny day. Using a piece of chalk, draw a hopscotch grid on the pavement mimicking a calculator layout. Ask students to form a line and one by one, give them a simple operation (e.g. 2+3, 5–0). Students should take turns hopping on each element of the equation in the correct order, landing finally on the answer.
In another game, you can call out a number and ask students to hop on any equation that equals to that number. For a fun twist, ask students to hop on one leg for odd numbers, and two legs for even numbers.
Utilize video and audio
There are several videos and CDs that many students love to watch or listen to in class. While the number of videos available for math may not be as high as for other subjects, such as social studies, science, etc., there are still a number of good math videos that can be found on the Internet and in other places. These videos can be helpful in making connections between math facts and everyday life, which is something that a lot of students have difficulty with.
Students sometimes learn best when they aren’t working directly with their teacher. Consider pairing your students, or those that struggle most, with a mentor that can help with difficult concepts. Working with a mentor can give kids a new perspective on math and how it is used. Some ideas for mentors include:
- Other students in class
- Older students
- Elementary math tutors
- Community members
There are many ways to make math lessons new and exciting. Teachers who are willing to go beyond the textbook and worksheet approach to elementary math can help mold students into lifelong learners who will grow up finding math enjoyable and useful—instead of dreading it.
Survey and graph
Ask every student to think of a question they would like to survey their fellow classmates about. For instance, they might want to ask their classmates what their favorite animal is out of a dog, monkey, pig, or chicken. Give students time to walk around the room quizzing each other and recording their data.
Once students have collected enough data, they should represent their results by building a bar graph using linking cubes, blocks, or Legos. Labels for each bar can be created using sticky notes or pieces of paper. Take a photo of each student's graph, which can later be printed out and used to make a class collage.
Divide students into groups and give each group a list of measurements and a measuring tool (e.g. a ruler, tape, trundle wheel). Instruct students to find items that are exactly the length of what they have listed. For younger students who haven't yet been introduced to measurement, draw various lines on their sheet and ask them to find items that are exactly the same length.
Make sure to have all the materials ready and in a safe and visible spot before starting the activity. This can either be done outside or inside the classroom.