If you’re like most students, math was one of your least favorite subjects in school. But learning and doing math can be fun! Here are five ways to make math more enjoyable and less frustrating in your classroom, so you can have an easier time understanding the subject matter.
What’s not fun about math manipulatives, otherwise known as tactile learning? This hands-on way of learning is a quick and easy way to engage students and spark their interest in math. Teachers can easily find plenty of free printables online or on Pinterest; or, if they want something more original, they can make their own tactile items with materials found around their homes.
2) Brain Breaks
It’s hard to keep focused on a math problem for long periods of time, but short brain breaks can help students fight off drowsiness. Jumping jacks and jump rope are great ways to wake up students’ brains. So is dancing around in their seats or running laps around their classroom. Anything that requires movement will freshen kids’ thinking and make it easier for them to return to more serious work. Short brain breaks also allow students’ brains a chance to rest during challenging tasks, preventing them from becoming overly tired while they work.
3) Group Challenges
Create a competition between groups of students. Give them a series of math problems, and have them compete against each other by working in teams of two or three. The team that solves all problems correctly first wins a prize! You can offer prizes such as candy, extra recess time, or even a pizza party! This is especially fun if you incorporate some creative activities into your math lessons—many companies sell toys and games with an educational twist.
Music is a great way to get students excited about math, and there are all kinds of different songs and poems out there that will make learning more fun. Find a collection of songs that work for your grade level, learn them with your class, and use them during your math lesson as part of problem-solving exercises. They’ll help energize your lessons and give you an opportunity to change things up from time to time.
The key to making math fun is that it’s a group activity. Remember back in school when you would sit with your friends and ask each other how many jelly beans were in a jar? It was fun because you were with your friends. So help make learning math more exciting by breaking out groups of students. Not only will they enjoy working together, but doing so will help them become familiar with numbers and how things are measured. If you have trouble choosing who goes into what group, try breaking off teams randomly. If a student ends up without a partner, he or she can team up with another student at any time during the activity. This method is less stressful than competitive games like basketball or soccer where all eyes are on an individual player’s performance, and can bring out creativity in both independent learners and quiet kids who may not normally participate much in class discussions.