Below are some activities that I return to time and time again. I recommend them to my friends, make more of the same style, and feel confident that they will work well with any and every group of students. What makes these activities so great? There are a few common threads. They fit my ideal of play…persist…and prove. There are often choices in how to engage and how to demonstrate learning. They promote conversation and deep thinking. And they celebrate joyful math! The titles below are categories of activities with specific examples that are attached to defined learning outcomes. But these activity types could be created for any learning target. Check back often. As I create more I will link them up.
It is amazing the engagement that can happen when students are offered a choice! The following activities have been used as summative events in place of a more traditional test. Teachers have reported that they learned more about what students can and can’t do by using these menus than they would have with a quiz. Try them out! What do you notice?
“I used the Percent Menu as a final assessment in Grade 7. The students loved the fact that they could choose questions and tasks that aligned to their strengths and learning styles. The only complaints I received were from students asking for more time so they can complete more appetizers and desserts!”
~ Justin Deveau (Ebullient Educator)
Who doesn’t love a scavenger hunt!?! Set up in your classroom, down the hallway, or out on the school grounds. I love the conversation and teamwork that comes with figuring out clues and the excitement when students confirm they are on the right track. And with converation – it is easy to tell what kids know and what might be worth a chatting about tomorrow. Here’s a few scavenger hunts I made recently. These have several versions so all learners can participate. All versions have the same answers and exclamation at the bottom. Let me know how it goes!
Two Truths & A Lie
Completed one a day as warm-ups or all at once set up as stations, these activites are among my favourites. Students love figuring out the lie, and seem more willing to provide proof in this context than in others. These activities promote conversation, representing with models or pictures, and connecting and generalizing main ideas. And… they are fun!
Math Libs is just a fun way to handle a series of multiple choice questions. Students solve a problem and choose the answer from four or so possible options. Each option has a corresponding word or phrase that creates a fun sentence when pieced together with the rest. Students are eager to share out their sentence at the end of the activity to confirm answers. Making an error in a sentence seems less risky than a problem and enagagement is always high. Easy to prepare and execute, I have loved this format to celebrate learning at the end of a unit or for cumulative review. Pro tip: If the phrase says you are going to celebrate with smarties and starburst – you must actually celebrate with smarties and starburst!
Earn money for solving math problems? Sign me up! Kids love this activity and the fun play money that comes with it. Working in teams to solve problems at their chosen degree of difficulty, students strategize to rake in the largest profit possible. I like Math Market towards the end of a unit for review or before a break for some fun. I have pitted my class against another to which class can earn the most money, which was super fun – use however it makes sense for you and your learners.
Mystery Number Riddles
These riddles are a great way to build, review, and retain math concepts as well as math vocabulary.
A Mystery Number Riddle is a great warm-up option (I often do Mystery Number Monday), but you can also use a series of riddles as a class activity to review a bunch of concepts at once. Having students build their own riddle is a great way to assess student knowledge in an alternative format. Here are a few Mystery Number Collections I have made, others coming soon!