Want to be successful in mathematics?

1. Memorize place value:

Place Value

2. Memorize math facts:

Addition Facts to 10

Multiplication Facts

Math Language

3. Play group games: (Praise effort more than achievement!)

  • Hundreds chart (1+ students) – useful as a 5-10 minute warm-up for a math lesson
    • Each student uses a finger to track the answers on their own hundreds chart
      • If the chart is put in a plastic sleeve, a whiteboard marker can be used to write on the chart and then the marks erased with a tissue after each round
    • Teacher starts with the number of the day – which is the date; e.g. 17 – and uses math vocabulary to give directions. Students raise a hand when the answer returns to the number of the day. Here’s an example…
      • Start with 17.
      • Add 3.
      • Divide by 2.
      • Triple your number.
      • Subtract 5.
      • Divide by 5.
      • Double your number.
      • Multiply by 4.
      • Divide by 2.
      • Subtract 3.
      • You’re back to 17!
    • Use the math language handout (see PDF above) to use as many different vocabulary words as possible. It is useful to teach new vocabulary as part of this game before using it in a math lesson; e.g. “raise your number to the power of 2″ or ” square your number”.
    • This game helps both students and the teacher focus on numbers and tune out other thoughts before a math lesson begins. It also helps bond a group as everyone is thinking about the same thing and not mentally going off into other worlds. That ‘group feeling’ generally brings joy all on its own. This game also helps students increase their speed with math facts and increase their mental flexibility as the directions use so many different concepts.


  • Group recitations (10+ students)
    • divide class into groups of 4 to 6
    • each group memorizes a set of facts – e.g. 6 times table – and practises reciting it together
    • each group takes turns coming up and reciting the facts together in front of the whole class
    • before beginning, each person in the group chooses a person in the class to be their ‘judge’
    • scores are as follows: 4 = knows the facts and speaks in a clear voice; 3 = knows the facts; 2 = knows most of the facts; 1 = gets up and stands with the group
    • after reciting, each student tells the teacher their own score; each judge either ‘concurs’ or offers their own judgement; the teacher makes the final decision but if it differs from either the student or the judge must provide reasons for that decision
    • the entire group bows together and everyone else applauds (emphasize good citizenship skills: participation and appreciation)
    • if a group is especially fearful, make the work easier and more fun:
      • e.g. learn only 6 facts: 1 x 6 is 6, 2 x 6 is 12, 3 x 6 is 18, 4 x 6 is 24, 5 x 6 is 30, 6 x 6 is 36
      • e.g. write the facts in a cheerful colour on a large piece of chart paper and have two smiling students hold it up at the back of the classroom; the group reciting gets to read the chart and receives points for reading loudly and in unison
      • let each group going up decide for itself if it will be reading the facts or reciting from memory
      • have each judge give a score only for enthusiastic participation rather than achievement
      • (having students praise each other is much more powerful than having only the teacher’s praise; hearing praise from other students increases children’s sense of belonging and safety which is especially important for fearful students)


  • Group games (10 – 30 students)
    • divide class into groups of 3 to 6
    • assign each group a place at the board to write answers
    • choose a student to be a score keeper: stand at the board and use tally marks to mark the scores for each group
    • procedure:
      • students sit in their groups with scrap paper and markers or pencils
      • teacher sits on a stool so  as to see the whole class but still appear relaxed as this is a ‘game’
      • teacher says a question or problem
        • e.g. Thirty people go to gym class and sit in groups of five. How many groups are there?
        • e.g. Use order of operations to find the answer: 5 x 2 + 60 ÷ 5 – 2 to the power of 3
      • each group solves the problem without letting other groups hear what is said
      • teacher decides who from each group will go up to the board – e.g. the person with the shortest hair; the person wearing the most blue; someone who has not yet gone up to the board – generally decide based on the appearance of a student who doesn’t seem to be participating
      • teacher announces who will go up to the board and gives another 30 seconds or so for those students to prepare
      • chosen students go up to the board and complete the question on the board, showing all their work
      • students at the board may not take up any paper but they may call on a ‘lifeline’: other students in the group may give hints or tips as to how to correctly do the work; this does get noisy but everyone in the class is constantly engaged and the child at the board need not fear going up
      • teacher counts down the last 5 seconds before time is up
      • students sit down and the score keeper stands at the board
      • teacher calmly looks at each solution and explains how it will be awarded points; this is a game, so do not announce the method ahead of time; students learn the rules as they go along; e.g….
        • the answer is correct so one point
        • the word is neatly written with all the numbers lined up properly so another point (or even two points as this game is an excellent way to teach students to neatly show their work; e.g. “Wow! You lined up your equal signs below each other. That looks so elegant!”)
        • there is an equation to go with the problem so another point
        • there is a sentence answer so another point
      • there may be quite a bit of discussion throughout this process; if students say something is not fair, the teacher tells that fairness is following the rules and the rule of this game is to cheerfully participate while practising math; therefore, if a group is disruptive, it loses points
      • continue with more questions until everyone has had enough practise; in grades 6 to 8, this will take almost an hour
      • this game is an excellent way to review a unit of math study before a test
      • prize: the group with the most points stands and takes a bow while everyone else applauds and practises being happy for other people


  • Last Person Standing (10+ students)
    • a good game to review facts, encourage listening, and fill a few minutes at the end of a lesson
    • teacher chooses one student to choose another 6 students (all students chosen must cheerfully participate; remind them that if they are eliminated, someone else in the group will be happy to get a better chance to win)
    • all 7 students stand up in front of the class
    • teacher announces a topic; e.g. expressions of 12
    • teacher asks each person in the line to provide an answer; eg. 2 x 6, 11 + 1
    • the students answer in the order they are standing
    • if a student makes a mistake, they sit down
    • if more than one student is left in line, the teacher asks another question and students again take turns answering
    • rule: no repeated answers (the rest of the students in the class listen avidly to catch any repeated answers)
    • the winner takes a bow while the class applauds and then gets to choose from the following:
      • choose 6 more students and return for another round (you may want to make some specifications: e.g. students that have not been up before, half boys and half girls)
      • choose 7 students and sit out the next round
    • an alternate method: the teacher announces a theme and asks each student in line a separate question
      • e.g. the 6 times table
        • if students are relatively new to the 6 times table,
          • say the questions in order: 1 x 6, 2 x 6, 3 x 6…
          • repeat the same questions in the same order round after round, so that the other students in the class are listening and learning before they’re chosen to come up
        • if students should already know the 6 times table, say the questions out of order: 2 x 6, 5 x 6, 3 x 6…
      • e.g. addition facts to 100: 4 + 16, 15 + 15, 75 + 25…


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