Jenna Lee is back again with more tips for us in how to engage students in math through unconventional methods. Enjoy these fast, inventive possibilities!
Many elementary school students struggle with math concepts because they have difficulty connecting the material to things that are important to them. Therefore the key to teaching basic mathematics is to engage students in activities that are meaningful and interactive. After all, the best teachers know that math help for 4th graders is most helpful if the students find it fun.
Try these five fun and interactive exercises in your class:
1. Teach fractions with food.
Use wooden play food cut into various numbers of pieces to introduce the concept. To whet their appetites for learning even more, bring in edible object lessons. Show students how pieces of a pumpkin pie make up the whole pie. Or, allow them to try their hand at cutting a piece of fruit into equal sections and challenge them to place the correct number of pieces onto a plate to represent a certain fraction.
2. Motivate students to memorize multiplication tables with games and speed contests.
Try the perennial classroom favorite by filling in blank bingo sheets with number solutions and call out multiplication problems. Students will need to solve the problems in their heads to place their markers on their bingo cards. Or boost interest with a competition. Give students a speed test of 20 multiplication or division problems and reward the first person to complete the problem set and get it onto your desk. Keep a chart at the front of the classroom to honor those with the fastest times and encourage all your students to try to beat the fastest time.
3. Teach money concepts with a classroom store filled with healthy snacks, school supplies, stickers and other fun items.
Students will love the incentive of picking out their own prizes. Draw paper money in common denominations. Enlist your class to cut out the money and then place it in a class wallet or piggy bank. Reward students who solve the daily bell ringer problem set correctly with the paper money and allow them to use the money to purchase prizes from the store. Require students to demonstrate their understanding of making the correct change in order to receive their desired prize.
4. Teach the concept of years, decades, centuries and millenniums by creating a wall-sized time line on butcher block paper.
Assign each student a few historical events from both recent and ancient history to research for homework. Help students to label the time line with their event and the date. Allow students to also place their own birthdays on the time line for an added way to personalize the project.
5. Make geometric concepts interactive by using shapes in a variety of fun activities.
For example, have a geometric shape show and tell day where students bring in a favorite object from home that represents a particular shape. Or, group students into teams and have them go on a shape scavenger hunt by collecting a certain number of objects for each shape on the scavenger list.
There is no reason why math should stick to the same ol’ boring routines when trying to get kids to learn and love it. Instead, learn to incorporate it into everyday living situations, as well as fun games, so that kids actually get excited by math.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]
Susan Riley is the founder and CEO of EducationCloset.com. She focuses on teacher professional development in arts integration, Common Core State Standards, 21st century learning skills, and technology. She is also a published author and frequent presenter at national conferences on Arts Integration and STEAM education.
Susan holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ and a Master of Science in Education Administration from McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. She lives in Westminster, MD with her husband and daughter.