30 Tips for teaching Elementary Math

  1. Small dry erase boards (or white boards from your local home supply store cut into squares) and dry erase markers are great tools when teaching math. You write a problem out on the board and have all of your students copy it down and work it out. The first one that lifts their board in the air with the correct answer wins a treat. (Tip: Maybe set a time limit for each problem)

  2. You can create a game show in your classroom with touch light’s (those lights you push on and they turn on) and math problems. Divide your class into two teams (boys versus girls if you can) and each student gets a light. You give out math problems and the student or team that completes the problem first hits their light and their team gets a point (if the problem is right). Offer some type of prize to the winning team.

  1. Incorporate computers into your math lesson plans. There is a vast amount of math building skill games available and, moreover, you will be teaching your elementary student important computer skills.
  1. During other parts of your lessons plan, ask your children to do things by using math. Example: you can ask your students to get out 15÷5 pieces of paper or 2X3 folders. Incorporate the math into everything you do during the day.
  1. Bring children friendly tape measures to school and teach your students to measure each other first teach them how to read the measurements). Break your students into pairs and have them measure each other.
  1. Personalize your math lessons, especially when counting, by letting your students count how many things they have at home; I have 4 dogs or my mommy has two cars.

  1. This may seem simple but use flash cards as these can be pulled out at any time during the day to reinforce and repeat the math problems you are working on.
  1. Instead of asking your students to solve word problems, have them figure out what steps are needed to solve it, maybe even start with a math problem that uses the steps in the math word problem. (If addition and subtraction are needed, do a few of those math problems first)
  1. Take your math lessons outdoors and measure your student’s shadows at specified points during the day.
  1. On sunny days, teach your students about diameter, circumference, and ratio by measuring around a tree’s trunk and measuring its shadow. Start by holding a ruler to the ground, at a 90 degree angle from the ground, and measuring its shadow; from that ratio of measurements you can accurately estimate the tree’s height.
  1. The outdoors is also a great tool for learning charting and temperature measurements. You can chart the temperature changes, pollen count, precipitation, when the sun rose and set, etc…
  1. You can even teach your students to chart how long it takes you each day to go places in the school (lunch, restroom breaks, etc…) and compare the times.
  1. Use small packages of multi-colored candies to teach probability. Have your students sort the candy into piles of different colors and chart the numbers. The students can then figure out the ratio of each color and then figure out what the probability of selecting in particular color candy our of a large bag is.
  1. A simple, yet effective tool in teaching math is repetition.
  1. Alternate between lecturing, games, worksheets, and other activities so you can reach each of your students (who all have different learning styles).
  1. Use items, such as buttons, so that your students can create different numerical equations. Example, if you have 8 buttons, your students can write out 4+4=8, 2×4=8, 16÷2=8, etc…
  1. You can write out on the board different categories of shapes (geometrics) and then have the students find things in your classroom for each category. (Tiles on the floor are square, trash cans are cylinders, the clock is a circle, etc…)
  1. Have weigh-ins in your class, if it’s your students or different objects in the classroom, to teach the different weight measurements.
  1. This may seem obvious, but get the parents involved. Assign activities that have to be done at home or even over the summer to encourage continued learning.
  1. Have your students keep a math journal. This can help them record what they have learned, what they are having problems with, answer specific questions you have asked about math, even graphing things that happened at home (what time they had supper, when the phone rang) etc…
  1. If your school will allow it, actually tape different math problems in the bathrooms, that way your students will be thinking about solving math problems un-routinely during the day.
  1. You can encourage your students to learn multiplication (or whatever part of math you are learning), depending on there level of knowledge, by having a quick quiz right before lunch; the first one to finish the quiz is first in line, the second is second in line, etc… Eventually, the students at the end of the lunch line will study more so they can get lunch first.
  1. To help those shy students and encourage students to help each other all you need are green and red cups because, if during a math lesson (or any lesson) you can ask if everyone understands the math problem, those who understand lift the green cup, those who do not the red one. In addition, the student can leave the red cup on the corner of his/her desk to receive more help when practicing what you taught them.
  1. Try a new twist on baseball. Instead of using a ball and bat, use math problems. Have your class divided into two teams, who ever would be the batter is asked a math question, if he/she gets it right he/she moves to first base; it the answer is wrong, the team gets an out. (You can choose however many outs it takes to switch teams)
  1. A greater than/less than game that is good to play any time you have spare time is to think of a number in your head (between 1 and 25) and let your students guess at the number; you can say something like it is greater than the number your student guessed or you can say the number I am thinking of is greater than one but less than 25.
  1. Have your students, especially if they are having a problem, explain to you what needs to be done in order to solve the math problem, this way they may see what they are doing wrong while reinforcing what you have taught them.
  1. Come up with as many different ways as you can to teach the same problem.
  1. You can use different textures, such as sand paper, to cut out numbers and help your students learn how to write the numbers by tracing the cutouts.
  1. Label different containers in your classroom with what goes in them and the amount of that item that goes in them so that when your students are cleaning up they have to use math to do so.
  1. This works, especially if you need a quiet moment! Ask your students to be silent and not move for an entire minute or two and help them to time it; this helps them learn how long a minute is while learning to read a clock.

Comments (5)

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  1. Teach says:

    Your Teaching Math tips are great! I am always looking for creative ideas and this site really has them!

  2. Math says:

    Not bad! The web is full of teaching tips and this kind of more of the same but you do have a few really good points. Thanks!

  3. Kimberly says:

    Great suggestions! Have you heard about “Arithmetic Village” ? Brand new picture book maths series about the basic functions. Perfect for right brain learners. The site has lots of tips similar to yours.

  4. Rob says:

    Yes indeed – helpful. Thank you for these extras. Sweet graphics too.

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