# Order of Operations

Math is like a special type of language that has rules that must be followed. Understanding that the order of numbers and how they are combined is an important concept that elementary school students must master. Just as in everyday activities, like getting dressed, cooking, reading, the order of the steps matter. We would not put our shoes on before putting on socks, or read a book before opening it. Making this concept come to life for young students is easy to do using everyday analogies and hands-on activities.In this activity students will explore the mathematical order of operations.

Materials:

Several clothing items (coat, shirt, socks, hat, sunglasses, gloves)

Whiteboard and dry erase markers

Instructions

1. Invite a volunteer to come to the front of the classroom.
2. Provide them with the various clothing items and explain to the class that even in everyday tasks, like getting dressed, there is a particular order or “rules” that we follow.
3. Ask the student to put the items on (over top of their clothes to simulate getting dressed). As the student does, so point out what item went first, then next.
4. Acknowledge that the order of the hat and sunglasses did not matter. One could either put the sunglasses on first and then the hat or vice versa.
5. Explain how this relates to Math and the order of operations. You may consider saying, “Just like with getting dressed, Math has a special order to it. We do operations that are in parentheses first, then those that may involve exponents, then multiplication and division, then finally, addition and subtraction. However sometimes the order does not matter, like with the sunglasses and hat. When you are only left with addition and subtraction or multiplication and division, you do the operations as they appear from left to right.”
6. Write the following problem on the board: (3 x 5) – 60 ÷ 10 + 7 and walk students through the “order” of what has to be done first, then next, then last. If time permits, write additional problems on the whiteboard and have students work through the order of operations.

Additional Order of Operation Resources: As students graduate to more advanced math, it is essential that they be able to accurately manipulate and calculate values. This is especially true with solving equations or problem-solving. For more interactive ways to introduce and practice the order of operations, visit: