As educators, we are always on the hunt for new ways to better engage our students. Math especially can be a hard subject to engage your students in. Perhaps you want to provide an exciting twist to your addition lessons or you want ways your students can better retain what you are teaching them. Here are some ways to make math fun and still educational.
Math Read Alouds
Do you need an easy way to hook your students on a new math lesson? Maybe you are looking to make math more relatable? Why not start with your basic read aloud? With the increasing number of math-themed books, you can focus on math topics like addition, geometry, fractions, and more!
Here are some book ideas to start with:
- 2nd – 3rd Grade
- 4th – 5th Grade
- Kindergarten – 3rd Grade
Students tend to be very interested when it is time to talk about social studies. Why not capitalize on their natural curiosity and integrate math into your lessons? With social studies, words such as compare, explain, articulate, analyze, predict, demonstrate, and interpret can all be used when discussing math as well. Use math to compare resources, numbers, and distances involved in exploration, war, and expansion. Have your students create charts, graphs, and tables to represent numerical data. Test their map skills using latitude and longitude, or talk about shapes in your community. Get creative!
Competition doesn’t have to be bad. Try bringing games into your class as a way to build skill and reinforce content. When students learn your expectations around competition, you will see high levels of engagement. This competition doesn’t even have to be against another team or student. Some students want to set personal goals and compete against themselves.
Around the Block
Put a list of questions together based on the unit you are on. Have your students stand in a circle, give one student a ball, and read a question from your list. Students will pass the ball clockwise around the circle. The student who started with the ball has to answer the question before receiving the ball again. If the student answers correctly, they can choose the next contestant. If they are wrong, the teacher can pass the ball to a classmate to answer the question.
One team will start at bat, scoring runs by choosing questions worth one, two or three bases. You’ll “pitch” the questions, which range in difficulty depending on how many bases they’re worth. If the at-bat team answers incorrectly, the defending team can respond correctly to earn an out. After three outs, switch sides. Play until one team hits 10 runs.
First, create bingo cards that contain answers to different multiplication tables. Second, hand them out to students and make sure they have a separate sheet for calculations. Finally, instead of calling numbers, state equations such as 8 × 7. After determining the product is 56, they can check off the number if it’s on their cards. This game can also be done with addition, subtraction, division or any math-based content.
Teaching with Music
You may not think that music and math can be used in the same lesson, but they can! Not only are some kids auditory learners, but, in general, kids pick up songs very quickly. When bringing songs into the classroom, discuss the lyrics so that students understand the content and why they are singing it. You can also write the lyrics on chart paper or ask questions and have students answer with lyrics from the song. Another way to bring music into the classroom is to use chants. These call and response activities are quick and engaging. Ask students to clap out the solutions to problems like “If you hear my voice clap the sum of 2 + 2.” Remember that music doesn’t have to be used to teach concepts, but it can serve as a way for your kids to make connections and deepen understanding.
Goofy Kooky Math Show
The “Goofy Kooky Math Show” assembly program is filled with games, contests, music, magic, zany humor, audience interaction, and more. It’s got a little of everything in it: There’s a contest between 4 kids involving tangram puzzles, a goofy odds and evens sorting game with stuffed chickens set to “Chariots of Fire,” slices of pizza are used to demonstrate concepts of percentages, three kids discover a topological secret to a stunt with ropes, a 3” x 5” notecard and a student’s head teaches concepts of perimeter and geometry, a ten minute contest between teachers and students, and of course “Danger Division,” which speaks for itself!