Sponteneous Math Activites

These are some ideas for activities I've learned to use over the years while students are doing independent practice in the math classroom. In the mid to late stages of working by themselves, I've thrown these in on occasion to build a classroom atmosphere of fun, but with an emphasis on basic computational skills. They're not overly disruptive and students can chime in when needed but still go back to the work they're doing. These are also quick, taking less than a minute and I sometimes thrown these in at 7-10 minute intervals. Some are competitive, some are cooperative.

Around the World-Around the world is a competition between two people over a multiplication or division fact. The competitor takes their work and stands behind the challenger. The one faster on the "draw" goes on. The loser stays. Around the world is great because everyone gets a chance to compete and it shuffles up the seating arrangement, if only for a day. I use a box of multiplication and division flashcards for this.

Buzz-I got this idea from Rafe Esquith wherein while students were seated, the teacher initiated a number sequence. Starting at "0" when the students got to a certain number, instead of saying it, they say "buzz". For example, if the challenge is multiples of "5" a sequence would be 1, 2, 3, 4, "buzz", 6, 7, etc..You can vary up synonyms with the word "buzz" or substitute a word of the day, student's name, whatever! Some variations:
  1. Perfect Squares
  2. Prime Numbers
  3. Common Multiples of 2 and 3
  4. Even or Odd Numbers
Multiplication Race Smackdown-I invented this one, or so I'd like to think. A student will challenge another to list the first ten multiples of a number and compete to see who can do it faster. My students really like this activity and confess to practicing these count up strategies in their free time. For example if the race is "9" students would see who could say: 9, 18, 17, 36, .... up to 90. I have a stop watch handy. .

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