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Hands-on Math Classroom Activities

Janelle Cox

When it comes to math classroom activities, many teachers find it difficult to think outside of the box. Many of us are used to the traditional classroom setting where worksheets, flashcards and textbooks are all that is used. However, even with the growth of technology and the implementation of the Common Core, it’s still quite easy to incorporate hands-on learning classroom activities into all subjects. Here are 5 math ideas that you can incorporate into your lesson plans.

Classroom Activities Including Shopping

Shopping is a great hands-on learning activity that incorporates math. You can either take your students on a field trip to your local grocery store, or create a shopping spree right in your classroom. There is so much to be learned when you are shopping that it makes for a great educational experience. Students can compare and contrast prices, estimate sales tax or the grocery bill, count money, or categorize items in their cart. This real-world experience is something that they will need to learn in the future, so why not get a jump-start on it now.

Baking

The most fun hands-on math experience you could give a student is to bake. They actually get to eat their homework, what’s better than that? Baking offers students the opportunity to learn and practice measurement, liquid volume, adding, multiplication, division, subtraction, percentages, fractions, and estimation. There is always some kind of holiday upon us, so try and correlate your baking experience in the classroom around that. Assign each student a few ingredients to bring into the classroom, and have yourself a friendly little bake-off.

Building

How many times have you heard a student say, “Why do I need to learn that?” You can teach these students that there really are practical uses to algebra and geometry in the real world. Give your students some building materials and challenge them to build a house, a building, a store, or whatever they want. Their goal is to make a smaller version of the real thing. They must configure building costs, and look at the square feet. They need to use measurements, area and perimeter, as well as basic math and maybe even trigonometry. This is a great hands-on learning experience for the students who love to use their hands to create things.

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Sports Stats

Who ever said you can’t have a fantasy football league in your classroom? What a great way for students to figure out the stats of their favorite players. Even if you don’t like football, you will still have fun learning batting averages, rushing yards, and rebounds. Fantasy sports are based on real-world data and students can follow their players and make connections between math and school. Students make trades and draft players, which facilitates the transition into the abstract world of algebra. You won’t even have to motivate your students to do math, because they will already be motived to compete against their peers.

Games

Minecraft is one the best math games out there today. The popularity of the game is outstanding and you will not have to push for students to get involved in this math lesson. Students don’t even need a computer to create and build their own math city. You can use graph paper and colored pencils, or even clay or boxes to create the slopes. 

Yahtzee is another great hands-on math activity for students. It helps students understand the meanings of operations and how they relate to one another. Students also have to make reasonable estimates, understand quantitative relationships, and the effects of adding and subjecting whole numbers. Students will be having so much fun playing the games that they won’t even realize that they are practicing their math skills.

The opportunities for incorporating math into your daily curriculum are endless. Hands-on learning is all around us, all we have to do is just look for a few, new fun ideas based on our students’ interests. Students will be more inclined to do hand-on activities with real-world applications than those boring old worksheets.

Do you use any of these hands-on math activities in your classroom? Which is your favorite? Or, do you have any new ideas that you would like to share with us? Please feel free to comment in the space below, we would love to hear your ideas.

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.