4 Quick Ways for Your Students to Practice Math Every Single Day [with Free Printables]
Math is undoubtedly one of the most important subjects in school. It also happens to be many students' least favorite subject, and it's no wonder. Many math concepts can be foreign, and many curricula require teachers to move on from concepts before students have a good grasp of the content. That leaves them at a disadvantage, and it will make learning new math concepts in the future harder.
Practicing old and new concepts is something you should do with your students every day. Fortunately, it's not something that has to be difficult! Quick math and math minutes can be done quickly and easily, and they can even be fun!
Before we dive into exactly how you're supposed to find more time for your students to practice math every single day, we have to talk about exactly what kind of practice you want them to do.
First, Determine If Your Students Need Drill or Practice
There has been a lot of debate on whether or not drill and practice are effective ways for students to learn and retain math knowledge. Preliminary studies show that they are effective ways for students to learn and retain more math concepts, especially among students who are already struggling. However, it is also important to understand that drill and practice are two different things before you decide what math minute activities to do with your students.
Drill refers to exercises not based on problem-solving. These types of activities improve skills that have already been learned. Timed multiplication tests are an example of this kind of learning. Students must already understand how multiplication works. The worksheets just allow them to practice their facts.
Practice refers to problem-solving exercises. These concepts are still being learned and should be revisited in many different ways throughout may different class periods. For example, having students add cubes one math period and having them add different groups of students in another allows them to see all the ways addition works before memorizing the answer to 9+5.
More practice for concepts already learned can bore students, while drill can encourage students to memorize a procedure they don't understand. Determine where your students are at and choose fast math activities accordingly.
#1 - Do Some Quick Math Problems Together as a Class
Whether you want to work on drills or practice, taking a minute or two to do some quick math problems together as a class can be a fast and easy way to squeeze in a little more math time.
Quick problems can be done as a class first thing in the morning, when returning from recess, or even while waiting in line outside art class. Practice mental math by asking students to solve double-digit subtraction problems, or ask them to come up with other fractions that are equal to one third.
More formal problems can be created by you ahead of time and presented to the class later. For example, if your class is working on place value, write a few base-ten riddles on the board for students to ponder as they arrive at the beginning of the day.
Free Timed Math Practice Worksheets
#2 - Make Time for Math Minutes During Math Class
Teachers are used to organizing their day into chunks of time. Students are used to it, too! They know what time they go to lunch, what time they go to art, and what time math starts. However, each block of time is sometimes unstructured, which can make you feel like you didn't get anything done, even if you spent the whole hour talking about math.
Try breaking your math class into even smaller chunks of time. Teach a lesson for 15 minutes, have students practice for 10 minutes, then come together as a class for another 15 minutes.
Dividing your time this way can also enable you to plan a few minutes at the start of math class for extra practice. Math minute practice worksheets are especially great for this, as students can quiet down and get their minds geared toward math before class begins.
#3 - Create a Box of Activities for Early Finishers
No matter how carefully you plan out your day, there are always surprises. You may discover that your class picks up on a concept really quickly, or a few students finish early while everyone else is still working.
Finding ways to fill that time can be stressful. Asking your students to read quietly is one option, but if you want them to get some extra math practice, set up a box of early finisher activities that students can access on their own.
Although nearly any kind of math worksheet can be a great addition to your early-finisher box, word problems are especially good as they require plenty of time to solve.
Make sure you include fun activities too! Color by addition and other color-by-math facts sheets are a fun way for students to practice math in their spare time. Not only can they practice math when they get done early in math class, they can also pull out extra worksheets when they finish early in other subjects too!
#4 - Make a Game That Kids Can Play on Their Own
Most kids will sit and tolerate math class because that's what they are supposed to do. However, it's rare for students to practice math on their own. You can change this if you find ways to make math more exciting. One way to do that is to show them how to play math games on their own!
Tic Tac Math is a fun one to play because all that students need is a pencil and a piece of paper. Draw a tic-tac-toe board with math problems to be solved in each square. In order for each player to mark a square with an X or an O, they have to solve the math problem correctly. This game can be played with addition, subtraction, or multiplication, depending on the facts that your students are practicing.
There are a lot of great math games you can play on the playground too! Not only does it make learning active, but it also encourages them to play the games again with their friends when recess rolls around.
The more practice students get with math, the more they will understand important math concepts, and the more likely they are to experience success in future math classes. With just a few minutes here and there, you really can give your students a chance to practice more math every single day.