Math needs to be fun! And it should be also be engaging and challenging and rewarding and inspiring and motivating and _______ . But unfortunately too many adults and students don’t think so and would probably have different descriptors. Teachers need to lead the revolution of making math great again ;)! And it certainly can be.
Here are some ideas for starting the math school year off with some fun:
Capture the summer memories
Take polls and make class graphs to display around the classroom. Here are some ideas:
- Summer movies
- Pokemon Go levels or characters caught
- Vacation destinations: beach, camping, relatives, etc.
- Books read over the summer
- Favorite summer foods (I love watermelon!)
Make a math game center
Make a game center full of board games and puzzles and don’t just have them for special occasions or for finishing work early, it should be a part of your regular math routine. You can even allow families to check them out over the weekend. Here are some of my favorite board games that aren’t too mathy (and don’t take too long to play):
- Monopoly (this takes too long for a class session though)
- Connect Four
- Rush Hour
- or any game that counts like Chutes and Ladders and Candy Land.
I made this game for my 4-5th graders. The answers to the game cards are the answers the students give before they play the game, like how many pets do you have and what time do you wake up in the morning. It’s simple to set up, just needs to be printed, add a die and you are ready to go!
I also have this collection of math games that focus more on logic than math skills, so it’s great for all ages and levels. I have a set ready for families to check out too! It’s a best seller in my TPT store, so grab it while it’s on sale!
Don’t start with a test
Nothing says math is hard, like giving your students a test the first week of school, to see what they retained over the summer. I know, I know you need to know what “level” your students are. But wait. Play games with them, make people patterns (striped shirt, shorts, striped shirt, shorts), observe their thinking, have a pattern party, start with a whole class rich math experience, like what does a million look like? I did this the first weeks of school, after reading “How much is a million?” and “How big is a million?” and “Millions of Cats.”
We thought of different strategies of figuring out a million pieces of rice: by weight, surface area, counting groups of hundred, etc. It was a great way for me to see “levels” without testing and stressing.
For my 4-5th graders, we started by collecting recycling materials, like milk cartons, cans, and cereal boxes to design a desktop organizer. It’s a great way to get them thinking about geometry shapes. Geometry will be our theme for the year.
I hope you have a great start to your school year and check back here often for more math tips to make math fun!
Thanks for reading! – Evil Math Wizard
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