With new standards of math requiring more and more points to cover, some teachers are overwhelmed with ways they can present new materials to students; while making the activities fun and informative. One way teachers in grades three through five can maximize the math skills block is to present lessons that are both interactive and involving. Below are tried and true lessons that kids love because they make learning math fun.
One of my favorite things to do is to help everyone get to know each other at the beginning of the year using an activity called “Measure Me”. I use this hour long activity in my classroom to help build relationships and to help children discover more about themselves; while learning about measurement. First I pair off the class, then I have one lie down on a piece of bulletin board paper while the other one traces the outline of the body. I have a template on the board that the children write on the body. An example is they write “My hand is – – – centimeters” “My arms is – – – inches long”. The children switch off and next the other one gets measured. I also like to have a scale from the nurse or clinic in the classroom for the day. The nurse will come in and make a presentation on how to use the scale. The partnered pairs then weigh each other while I supervise that station for accuracy and to provide help. It works out good for the class because they measure in inches, centimeters, yards (length of body), feet, and pounds.
When teaching about area and perimeter, I like to use a measuring and drawing activity called, “I’m the Architect”. I use this two part activity for a weekend homework assignment that continues into a lesson for the next day. First, I help the student measure the classroom and we find the areas and perimeter. Then I ask them “What would happen if our classroom was doubled?” We find our new area and perimeter of the classroom. I have the children measure the area and perimeter for each room of their house, and then they give me a total for the entire house (both area and perimeter). In class the next day, I tell the children to draw their dream house using those dimensions they have in front of them. Some make a mansion and put ten 11×14 bedrooms, five 6×10 bathrooms. I make sure they label each room on their “dream floor plan”. Then we find the area and perimeter of our new floor plan. It generally takes a good while for this activity and the kids really like it.
In order to make teaching decimals and Roman numerals fun, I developed a lesson called, “Let’s Talk Roman.” For this hour long activity I have a sheet of paper some with numbers in decimal point, others in Roman numerals. An example is “C.VII = _______ ” and the students have to fill in what the number would translate to using decimals. Another one would be “5.14 = _________” and the students would have to translate that to a Roman numeral. I take their worksheets and make a bulletin board out of it where I hang the student’s work and include a picture of them in Roman dress. For their picture I tie a white sheet around them in toga fashion and put a crown of leaves around their head (which I made with craft store items). The activity is a big hit with the kids as they like seeing themselves in costume.
As with all of the above ideas, if time constraints are a concern, many of them can be started during math time and completed as “seat work” when students are finished with their other work. If a volunteer parent is available, they can help with the photography and assembly of the bulletin board display or assist students with the costume change.