How to Make Math Fun: 5 Ideas & 5 Resources for Teachers
“I hate math.” “Math is too hard.” “When am I going to use this in real life?” Sadly, many teachers have heard these arguments all too often in the classroom. The good news is that if you take some time to learn how to make math fun for students, you’ll likely see a boost in math performance – and a more engaged class.
Sometimes all it takes is a little thinking outside the box to find nontraditional ways to make math fun and get students excited about learning. Here are five tips and five of our favorite online math resources to help your class learn to love math!
5 Ideas for Engaging & Fun Math Activities
While the content you teach is crucial, sometimes the way you teach it is just as important. Here are five tips for developing engaging, memorable, and fun math lessons for your students.
1. Create Hands-On Experiences
You may have learned math only through lectures and worksheets, but these days there are so many more options when it comes to how to make math fun. Have students use manipulatives, play math games (check out some of our favorites down below), and get up and move!
Students are far more likely to take interest in (and remember) a lesson where they got to count or divide candy or other manipulatives. While worksheets and flashcards are an important part of practicing math, hands-on lessons are great for introducing new concepts and getting students excited about new units and skills.
2. Diversify Your Math Lessons
Not every student feels confident enough to raise their hand during a math lesson. On the flipside, extroverted students may learn best in a group where they can talk through problems. Every child learns differently, so providing diverse lesson plans (especially in a tough subject like math) can make a world of difference for your class.
Be sure to include discussions, small groups, worksheets, flashcards, and hands-on experiences when teaching math. And, offer options for testing math skills wherever possible. Some students may be overwhelmed by a page full of math problems but can solve them correctly when shown one at a time on flashcards or an online quiz. While standardized tests may not cater to their learning style, you can build confidence in the classroom through flashcards and games that can translate into standardized test performance.
3. Extend Math Past Math Class
If you’re wondering how to make math fun for your class, start by making it meaningful. Include math in your discussions about science, history, and even language arts. Have students calculate how many years ago the Revolutionary War took place. Create word problems related to a book the class is reading. Estimate expected results before performing a science experiment.
Integrating your lessons will help students gain a more holistic view of math and its applications. They’ll see why it matters and why they’ll need it for the rest of their lives, even if they don’t plan on becoming a mathematician. And, by combining math with a subject your students already enjoy, you can sneak in a little extra math practice without them even noticing!
4. Make Math Personal
One of the easiest ways to get students excited about math is to incorporate their interests into your problems and equations. Talking probability? Use their favorite sports team. Teaching money? Have students figure out how much they need to save each week to afford the popular new toy or piece of technology they all want.
Even just including your students’ names in word problems can make them more interesting. And, when in doubt, make it silly. Your students are far more likely to remember a concept with a funny acronym or a word problem about polka-dotted elephants, so lean into the laughter in math class!
5. Encourage Questions
Many teachers struggle to figure out how to make math fun for their students. But the truth is that if you pay attention and encourage questions your students may make it fun for you!
Maybe your students want to know how fast they’d have to fly to get to the moon and back before recess is over. While the answer to that question is complicated, don’t dismiss it. Use it as a jumping-off point to discuss grade-appropriate math concepts and skills instead.
Have students practice estimating, such as how fast do they think they’d have to fly? Calculate the area of the spaceship needed to take the whole class. Divide up the resources you’d need like food and water. Talk about distance and the idea of infinity. Sure, you can google the answer, but you can also turn their curiosity into a teachable moment.
Encouraging questions in math class can lead to so many new discoveries and fun lessons. Remind students that there are no stupid questions. Consider creating a drop box for students to leave their wacky math questions and answer them as a class during a brain break.
5 Resources for Fun Math Activities
If you’re looking for new ways to make math fun, the good news is that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of math resources available across the Internet. Here are five of our favorite websites and apps to enrich your math lessons.
1. Pair Math and Movement with GoNoodle
You may be familiar with GoNoodle already, as it hosts tons of great brain break videos and activities for students to enjoy. But, using GoNoodle is also an awesome way to sneak in extra math practice. Explore activities like Hollabaloo and Round It Up! Round It Down!, which pepper in math concepts alongside fun dance moves to help get students out of their seats.
2. Make it Fun with Math vs. Zombies
For every student who has ever asked you “when will I use math in real life?” now you can answer: during the zombie apocalypse, of course!
Your students may not even realize they are learning as they practice math facts in order to escape the zombies following them. The game has several difficulty levels and practices skills from basic math facts through multiple-digit multiplication and division. The app is available for both Apple and Android devices and is appropriate for students in first through sixth grade.
3. See Long-Term Progress with Prodigy
Prodigy is a curriculum-aligned program that provides fun math games to play in the classroom for students in first through eighth grades. After completing a diagnostic test, teachers can set the pace for each individual student.
With real-time reporting on students’ progression and skill mastery, teachers can identify which students need additional support and what concepts need to be reinforced in future lesson plans. There’s even the option to create summative assessments right in the Prodigy program for your review or to share with parents.
4. Engage Students Who “Don’t Like Math”
Unfortunately, not every student loves math. Math can be daunting for many students, while others may simply prefer reading or writing.
If you have students who can’t seem to put down their books, meet them halfway with a math-inspired series of stories. Sir Cumference’s Math Adventures are books for ages 8-12 that introduce students to math concepts like place value, geometry, algebra, charting, and estimating. The stories are set in the era of King Arthur and are full of silly moments that can help your students learn how to make math fun.
5. Create Interactive Lessons with Osmo
If you have a shared classroom iPad, a 1:1 classroom, or are looking for engaging homework assignments, check out Osmo! This gaming system turns any iPad into an interactive math experience for students.
Osmo uses a dock and a reflector over the iPad’s camera to scan the student’s work area. They can then use physical game pieces that Osmo scans and brings to life on the screen! Students can practice counting, solving math problems, building equations, and even coding. Teachers can also download lesson plans created by Osmo and their educator community.