Monday, September 8, 2014

4 Engaging Ways to Practice Math without Worksheets

Put away those worksheets people! Save the are 4 ways we've done Math in our 2nd grade classroom this year that are more fun, engaging, and provide great practice for all of our most important math skills.

Sidenote : 2 years ago, my kids did a worksheet every day for math.  I was a newbie and was just trying to survive!  Did they learn? yes - but they were not thriving in my math classroom.  They just did it because they had to.  They were not enjoying math and I knew I had to make a change for my future students.

1. Manipulatives - Yes, I know everyone uses them - but we use them in so many ways.  Sometimes, I just simply pull out manipulatives and ask my kids to show me their knowledge of something.  In this task, my students were asked to create a picture out of base 10 blocks & tell me their number.  Then, students went around to see other students creations and count to figure out the number.

Creativity and Learning? Score!

2. Math Journals - Why copy a worksheet when I can save a ton of time & paper.  Just simply write a problem on the board and students solve in their journal.  It's a bonus that I don't have to be prepared with this ahead of time. Oh Yeah, I forgot to mention that checking 1 problem for 23 kids is easier than checking 10 each for 23 kids=better feedback from me! And for the kiddos? It's so fun to bust out their journals. (Probably the most fun for them comes from the fact that they can show it however they choose- as long as I can make sense of it!)

3. White Boards - SO simple!  Pull out white boards, dry erase markers, and erasers (Or old socks!) and do some problems together.  Then, ask them to solve 1 or 2 on their own.  They can't leave the meeting area until they've solved problems correctly.  This means- I get to the kids who didn't get it right away!  The rest head off to group stations.

4. Shaving Cream. or Sand, or Play doh - I pulled out the shaving cream today to review comparing numbers, place value, and even/odd.  They were beyond excited and so enjoying their work.  After, the buzz around the classroom was, "I want to do that AGAIN! That was so much fun!" 

There was/is absolutely no shortage of learning in any of these ways to get kiddos engaged in math.  Actually- they don't even realize they are learning - but can explain exactly what they are doing!  

So today I want to challenge you - if you use worksheets in math often (and I used to people, every day!!) - Try to switch out 1 each week.  Once you see the change in your students and their excitement for math, you'll wonder why you ever used those darn worksheets before!


  1. This is a fantastic post. I am also in the beginning of my teaching career so I definitely can see why you may have used worksheets before. With experience, now I do not advocate for using worksheets. Students will remember experiences, not a piece of paper. Thanks for providing great examples! I love using white boards as well.


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