Our brains like repetition and practice. Practice strengthens the neural pathways in the brain, which helps concepts to move more quickly from working memory to long-term memory.
As a teacher, you will already be aware of this fact. Except, it is not easy to come up with multiple ways to practice and reinforce learning.
Many of our maths books have been designed with this in mind – providing primary school teachers with fun maths activities to consolidate learning. Here, we outline just a few.
This series provides teachers with complete units to add to their primary mathematics program. Each unit contains planning, assessment, tracking sheets and differentiated activities to support number and algebra learning.
We have taken ‘What Comes First’ from the Year 6 to 7 maths book.
Students work in small groups to sequence different parts of an event. Then, they estimate how long each part takes.
For example, students below the expected level sequence the ‘Time for school’ cards, with parts such as “First I eat my breakfast” and “I pack my school bags.”
The students ‘at level’ sequence the process of making a sundae, and those ‘above level’ order the cards for baking a cake.
The sequencing of events is an exercise in comprehension and logic. There can be more than one correct answer as long as students demonstrate logical reasoning.
Similarly, the estimated times have no right or wrong answers, rather those that are more and less reasonable. Teachers should ask students to justify their estimations and encourage them to create a reference point.
As an add-on, students can compare their group’s estimated times with others who did the same event.
Games are an enjoyable way to reinforce learning. The ones in No Nonsense Number Games take a lively approach to consolidating learning number knowledge.
What is more, these have been designed to be used in the classroom as well as at home for children to play with families.
‘Fractions Bingo’ is for students aged 6 to 9 years. The aim is to help them recognise fraction symbols, fraction names, and fractions of a region.
Each student is given a game board and counters, with one student being designated the caller.
The caller chooses one fraction from anywhere on the caller’s card and tells the other players. Anyone with that fraction on the game board covers it with a counter.
The winner is the first player to cover three fractions in a straight line.
Playing cards are a great tool for reinforcing maths learning. They are used in this activity taken from the same popular series of maths books for primary school as above, No Nonsense Number Games.
‘The Tortoise and the Hare’ reinforces children’s learning of basic facts. Students play in pairs for the activity.
Firstly, all picture cards are removed from the pack of cards. The aces are given a value of one.
Next, the cards are shuffled and dealt out, face down, equally between the two players. The players decide whether they are going to add or subtract.
Simultaneously, the players turn over the top card of their pile.
The first player to say the answer for the two cards keeps the pair. They place the cards at the bottom of their pile.
The game continues until one player has all the cards.
Read another of our blogs for more fun maths activities for primary students using cards.
We have already seen how one well-known game (bingo) can support maths learning. At Home with Maths transforms dominoes into a fun maths activity to reinforce the strategy of doubling and halving.
The maths resource provides a set of dominoes with numbers (the answers) on one half and a problem (eg, ‘double 8’) on the other.
The activity is designed to be done in twos or threes.
The dealer shuffles the dominoes and deals them all out. The player to their left places one card on the ground.
Players place their dominoes to match the correct number with each problem.
The first player to use up all their cards wins!
‘Double and Half Dominoes’ is one of the many engaging activities in this series. These have been designed to help students practice essential maths skills after they have been introduced in the classroom.
Adding movement to maths learning can bring something fresh and unexpected, which the brain likes. The novelty helps to keep students’ attention, making their maths learning efficient (Peterson, 2022).
In ‘One minute limit’, students work in pairs with a stopwatch between them to work through the following steps:
- Brainstorm activities they can repeat numerous times within one minute, eg, jumping on the spot. Choose one of these.
- Estimate the number of times they think they can do their chosen activity and record their estimate.
- One person does the activity while the other times one-minute and counts how many repeats of the activity are done. Results get recorded.
- Repeat step three with the students swapping roles.
- Choose other activities to investigate and repeat steps two to four.
- Calculate the difference between what was estimated and what was actually done.
Wrapping up the fun maths activities
What is great about the fun maths activities we have presented here is that they can easily be adapted to suit the level of your class. For example, adding more players to ‘The Tortoise and the Hare’ game.
Try these ideas out. They will bring enthusiasm and engagement, and help learning to stick.