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Engagement,  Math

10 of the Best Elementary Math Ideas and Activities

Brilliant Elementary Math Ideas

Are you on teacher Instagram? If not, you should be! Instagram is one of my favorite ways to find amazing ideas for teaching elementary math. When you connect with hundreds (or thousands) of teachers across the globe, you learn so much!

Today, I wanted to share some of the most GENIUS elementary teaching tips and ideas for math that I’ve found on Instagram. If you like the ideas, too, then click the links for each one and give them a follow!

1. Teaching Times Tables

Elementary math ideas

I love this tip from @perfectforprimary! Instead of teaching times tables in order from 1-12, she teaches them in a more natural order.

About this method, she says, “The children don’t move on to the next set of tables until they have mastered the ones they’re on. On a Friday they come up and get their own test and their partners correct them using their reference cards. They cross off the tables on the graph if they get them all correct in the Friday test and check what set they’re moving on to. (We use their numbers, not names!) They can also sign their name on the big number!”

2. Brilliant task card storage

Elementary math task cards

I absolutely love the way that @fifthismyjam stores her task cards! So organized and asethetically pleasing!

Here’s how she does it: “One of my favorite teacher hacks is to laminate file folders, place task cards, in a plastic bag along with other items, and place them inside the folder. Then I like to put all of my folders in a dish drying rack. Short and sweet!”

3. Pattern block storage

Here’s another organization hack from @primarilykate! Using these plastic photo boxes to store pattern blocks is a great way to organize your manipulatives!

“Just another way to use everyone’s favorite rainbow boxes. Pattern blocks!” Kate comments on her post.

4. QTIPS Problem Solving Strategy

I just love acronyms that are easy to remember to help students solve problems. This QTIPS problem solving strategy from @teachingoncloud9 is genius and fun!

QTIPS stands for:

  • Q – Write the question
  • T – Thinking: what operation or strategy?
  • I – Important information
  • P – Plan: show your work
  • S – Solution

The Instagrammer said she has had a lot of success using this strategy with her students. “It is amazing! It helps my students to slow down and really think about what the question is asking.

5. 3D Shape Models

This activity shared by @curiosity_and_the_hungry_mind is a great hands-on way to help elementary math students practice the attributes of 3D shapes!

“Using mini marshmallows to make our own 3D shapes,” the poster said about this activity. “We tried playdough but it wasn’t as strong as the mini marshmallows. Mr 7, clearly explained his cube, triangular prism and pyramid. The marshmallows easily show the vertices and the toothpicks show the edges. What a great hands on and visual activity.”

6. Place Value Robots

Okay, these base-10 robots are SO cute and a great way to practice place value! This activity was shared by @rocketdogteaching and I am absolutely obsessed with it. Here’s what she had to say about this activity:

“Made these place value robots as a fun, hands-on warm up activity recently. We had lots of fun, using base-ten blocks to create a robot and then work out its value. The discussions over how to make a robot with a higher or lower value were wonderful to overhear.”

7. Test Prep Activity

Here’s a fun test prep activity shared by @piecesofpedagogy! Here’s her caption explaining this activity:

“Today, we had our first full “test prep” day! Students were locked out of the classroom, given a stack of task cards, and had to earn their way into the room by answering the cards correctly! The task cards included standards we’ve covered throughout the year (including some throwbacks from August) and varied in difficulty. After answering five task cards, students raised their hands to have their answers checked. Once correct, they earned 10 minutes inside the room (where all the games were). Groups could choose to “gamble” by answering a “challenge card” and rolling a die. If they got the challenge card RIGHT, they got to ADD that many minutes onto their time. If they got it WRONG, they had to SUBTRACT that many minutes!”

8. Teach Volume with Sponges

This idea is just so darn creative! @mathallday shared how she uses sponges to help build her students’ understanding of volume. Here’s how she does this activity:

“If you’re teaching volume, then you need sponges to explain the formulas! I learned this trick years ago and now my sponges are showing their age! Show the green base and discuss the area. Then layer on the other colors to show why the area of the base is multiplied by the height to find the volume.”

9. Estimation Station

Here’s another one from @mathallday because I couldn’t choose just one! I love the idea of using an estimation station with elementary math students. It can be really fun for them, but also good practice with estimation skills!

The Instagrammer sets up a new estimation station each month for students to guess how many items are in the container. So genius!

10. Math Boggle

Last but not least, here’s on of my own! I’m @theaverageteacher on Instagram, and this math Boggle board is one of my most popular posts!

Boggle is one my students’ and my favorite activities! You can play with words, but I prefer to play it with numbers. I made this Boggle board out of poster board, cardstock, and Velcro, but I’ve also simply used a laminated poster board and dry erase marker for the numbers!”

If you want to read more about how to use or play Boggle in the elementary math class, check out this blog post.

What is the best math idea you’ve found on Instagram? Share the idea or post link in the comments!


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