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Assess While Making Math Alive


  • The importance of starting early 

  • Number sense activities

  • The importance of engagement = fun 

How have you or how are you starting your math class this Fall?

  • Paper and pencil assessment
  • Teach a lesson and have students practice by completing a worksheet or questions out of a textbook or workbook
  • Printables to make math fun. Eg. Coloring in numbers on a hundreds chart to create a picture
  • Mad minutes
  • Games  
  • Or have you even started yet because you are doing ‘get to know you’ activities

I start engaging my students in math from Day 1 of school with the following intentions:

  • Setting classroom norms regarding expectations of what math class will look like
  • Getting them excited about math by making it active and alive
  • Checking in on their understanding of number as well as a few other concepts.

I understand if your district or school has given clear direction to complete an assessment with the purpose to identify students requiring targeted instruction. However, can you also include ‘informal’ activities (assessment) in which you engage your students in a way they don’t even realize they’re doing math?

I know from many years of experience that if you can get your students hooked right from the get go, you will have them eating out of the palm of your hands and success will follow.

I have provided you with a few different number activities to  engage your students. Whatever level you are teaching, each and every one of the  activities can be modified or adapted.


Activity One


Ask students where numbers are important to them in their lives?


  • Birthday, age, house number, street number or number of family members
  • A lock code or password
  • Amount of money in their piggy bank or bank account
  • Earning a specific amount of money to purchase an item

Write this out on a piece of chart paper and post in your classroom

Activity Two

Give students a number and ask what they know about this number or how it can be represented mathematically

Eg. Five (5)  

  • 3+2
  • Number of fingers on one hand
  • Number of toes on one foot
  • Half of 10
  • The value of a nickel
  • Years in one half of one decade
  • Comes after or to the right of 4
  • Comes before or to the left of 6

Activity Three

Put a few numbers up and ask, What can you tell me about these numbers?

9, 7, 13, 3, 33, 35, 21, 5

  • All are odd numbers
  • 3 is a factor of 33
  • 3 groups of 7 is 21
  • 5 is 1/7 of 35
  • 33 and 9 are multiples of 3

Activity Four

Write a few numbers and ask, "Which of the numbers does not belong and why?"

28, 20, 10, 16, 24, 36

Possible answer: 10 doesn’t belong because it is a multiple of 2 but not a multiple of 4

Activity Five

Can you determine my secret number from the following clues:     

Eg. My secret number is:

  • A two digit number
  • Greater than 35 but less than 48
  • Not odd
  • A multiple of 2, 3, 6 and 7
  • The difference between 100 and 58

Answer: 42

Eg. My secret number is:

  • Less than 5
  • More than 2
  • A number I can count by 1’s and 2’s to get to when I start counting at 0

Activity Six

Give students a hundreds chart and ask the following questions

  • Is the sum of 1 and 99, 100?
  • Is the sum of 2 and 98, 100?
  • Is the sum of 3 and 97, 100?
  • Is the sum of 4 and 96, 100?
  • Is the sum of 5 and 95, 100?
  • Are you noticing anything with the addends?
  • Without writing all the word sentences or equations out, is there a way to determine how many two addend equations have a sum of 100?   
  • Can a relationship/connection be made to subtraction? Eg. Is the difference between 100 and 1, 99? Is the difference between 100 and 2, 98? Is the difference between 100 and 3, 97? Is the difference between 100 and 4, 96? Is the difference between 100 and 5, 95?
  • What are you noticing? Is there a pattern?

Grade 5&6 Math About Me September 2017

The number of activities to engage our students in is endless.

Do you want your young students to be excited and engaged in mathematics class?

OR do you want your students bored and disliking math?

Your Turn!


Give one of the above activities a try with your students and comment to this blog.

Tell us what you did and how you changed or modified it to your grade level. Tell us how your students reacted. Tell us what the outcome was. Did it give you insight about your students’ number sense?

I know from many years of experience that if you can get your students hooked right from the get go, you will have them eating out of the palm of your hands and success will follow.

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