Growing up, math was never my favorite subject. I was fortunate to have a really gifted teacher my junior and senior years in high school for pre-calculus, analytic geometry, and probability & statistics that helped me to see that math is really not awful after all! I want my kids to see how mathematical thinking relates to life. I want them to explore mathematical problem solving, and they might even discover that they enjoy it. My oldest recently announced that he hates math, but this kid does things in his spare time like time his Hot Wheels cars racing through a homemade track and figuring out how many feet per second they were traveling. He doesn’t hate math – he just doesn’t enjoy math worksheets.
Math is so much more appealing (or at least more tolerable for those who don’t prefer it) when you add a hands-on dimension. Here is a collection of activity ideas for math in the elementary years – 1st through 4th grade.
And just to clarify… We don’t do “fun” math activities all the time. Mastering the facts is an important part of math education! But it’s fun to throw in a hands-on project every now and then to keep math fun and practical.
Addition and Subtraction
Math Facts Baseball – Kids will love this competitive game!
Musical Composition with Math – This is one of my absolute favorite math activities! It’s addition practice with a musical twist – click the link for all the details.
Part/Whole Relationships with LEGO – Improve kids’ word problems skills with this LEGO activity.
“Magic Math” Addition Practice – the answers magically appear so students can check their work in a fun way!
LEGO Math Activities for First Grade – Greater than/less than, missing addend, number bonds, and measuring.
Multiplication and Division/Fractions
LEGO Grouping – Grouping items is an important skill to master before learning multiplication.
3-D Multiplication with a LEGO graph – Perfect for really understanding multiplication.
Multiplication Football – a fun game that is very easy to make!
Multiplication snack store – the storekeeper figures the total, takes the money, and makes change!
Candy Store Math Problem – Multiplication and Division with LEGO
Fair or Not Fair game – A game about trading coins. Are the values equal – or not?
Learning to make change – This is such a hard concept. Hands on really helps!
Patterns and Combinations
Teaching patterns and combinations with ice cream flavors – Make sure you have ice cream to eat after this one!
Graphs and Measurement
Venn Diagrams – Wipe off markers and toy animals make this seem like playing!
Favorite Candy Survey and Graph – Conduct a survey of favorite candies and graph your results! Facebook is a great tool for taking your survey.
Book Sorting and Graphing – Use the books on your shelf to explore categories, organizing, tally marks, and graphing
How many Legos does it weigh? A fun introduction to weight and using a balance.
Need more math ideas? Head over to Creekside Learning for the Ultimate Guide to Hands-on Math for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grades. Tons of ideas!! You’ll want to pin this post to come back to.