Supply teacher maths – instant lessons that develop mathematical thinking

As the new year starts many new teachers begin the year on contract or as supply teachers.  Often this means having to run a whole day in a classroom on very short notice, with no planning left for you.  Here are a few ideas that can be used to develop mathematical thinking when you find yourself in this situation.

  1. Team number of the day: divide the class in two. Each team picks a representative. Write a number on the board. Give each team 2 mins to write as many ways to make that number as they can think of. Team members can call out ideas or leave it up to the rep. Swap reps and numbers each round. For an added edge, make a third team by yourself!
  2. Dice totals: Take 3 dice and roll them. Try to get as close as possible to a particular total. Vary the operations allowed and if you need to use all the numbers or just some, including using them more than once.
  3. From Sally Joan Lowe: Make 10 with a deck of cards organized as a 3X3 array – place cards over two numbers that add up to ten. My JP kids love it! Remember to take K, Q, and J out of the pack – the Ace is worth 1.
  4. From Robyn Haywood: Children play in pairs. 10 playing cards arranged from 1 (Ace) -10. Roll two dice, add numbers together. Turn the correct card over. First player to turn over all their cards wins. How do you turn over the one? Great discussion arise between the players. Do a subtraction sum or roll one dice etc.
  5. Party plan:  Take in a grocery catalogue and some recipe books.  Cost out some recipes.
  6. Game board:  Give each of the kids blank or grid paper.  Design a game board with cards (e.g. move back two, go forward 3, double your current score…).  Play.
  7. Game boards advanced:  Design a game board where players can move in any direction (e.g. just a grid of squares).  Have 4 squares that they need to get to in a particular order.  Roll two dice.  The numbers on the two dice can be used in any direction (e.g. north by 2 then south by 3 or east by 2 then south by 3…).  The winner is the player who gets to all four squares first.  Good for grid references and directions too.
  8. Make the weirdest half:  Using an A4 piece of paper have kids fold and cut out the weirdest shape that they can that makes an exact half of the paper.
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