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Carpet or Tiled Floor as GridEdit

Have teacher stand at the origin. Give each student an ordered pair. Have them stand at their point to make a line, parabola, exponential function, etc.

Use Arms to Make FunctionsEdit

Have students stand up and form parabolas, exponential functions, etc. with their arms.

Targeted Group WorkEdit

Group students by interest and then give them appropriate word problems. For example give a musical group problems involving soundwaves/sin waves. Give a naturalist group questions about bacterial growth or radioactive decay. Give kinesthetic learners questions about sprinting speeds, etc.

Matching GameEdit

Give each student an index card with either an equation or an answer. Have them stand up and find their partner.

Quadratic Formula SongsEdit

There are many versions out there but click here for a few.

Clothes Line Number Line ( properties of numbers)Edit

Hang a clothesline across the room, as students learn the various types of numbers have them add to the number line. This allows the students to begin to see how numbers "live" amongst each other.


Ask students to create cartoons to depict mathematical concepts. For example, when zero is the denominator the fraction is undefined. Have students draw unstable fractions with zero on the bottom.

Use Music For Independent & Dependent VariablesEdit

Listen to a song counting the beats per second for 5 seconds. Then count for 10 seconds, etc. Before graphing, use your data to discuss which variable should be on the x and y-axis. Since you decided to count for 5, then 10 seconds, etc. that is your independent variable (x-axis) whereas what you measured (# of beats) is the dependent variable (y-axis).

Music Jam Sessions for FunctionsEdit

Introduce the idea of functions by listening to your students’ favorite music. X=# beats in 10 seconds so 2x = # of beats in 20 seconds.

Solving for X with Cotton Balls & SkittlesEdit

This activity can be used to practice performing the same operation to both sides of the equation. Cotton balls represent X (since they are amorphous) and skittles represent 1. Students draw a see-saw on their paper (a line with a triangle underneath it). They then represent the equation x + 1 = 3 by placing one cotton ball and one skittle on the left and 3 skittles on the right. They then remove one skittle from the left to get the cotton ball alone but must also remove one skittle from the right to keep the see-saw balanced (ie they must subtract 1 from both sides).

Practicing the Distributive Property with Cotton Balls & SkittlesEdit

In this activity, cotton balls represent x and skittles represent 1. To show that 2(x + 2) = 2x + 4 give each student 2 plastic baggies with a cotton ball and 2 skittles in each. They then empty the bags and count up how many cotton balls (x’s) and skittles (1’s) they have.

Pass the ProblemEdit

The purpose of this activity is to practice writing down all of the steps to an equation neatly and for more advanced students it can be used to demonstrate that some steps can be done in any order (ie you can divide by 2 first or subtract 7). Each group is given a problem to solve. Each student does the first step on their own paper and then passes their paper to the person on their left. Then everyone puts the next step on their new piece of paper and the papers rotate again until the problem is solved. Alternately you can put big sheets up around the room and groups rotate from paper to paper. Each time they can either do the next step in the problem, or correct a previously done step.

Building Ellipses & ParabolasEdit

As a class, have students use string, meter sticks, and masking tape to create large ellipses, parabolas, etc. using the definitions of foci. It really helps students visualize what each shape is.

Mystery BagsEdit

Use for systems of equations. Use 3 types of candy with different masses and paper bags. Put two types of candy in each bag (use 3 types for a challenge bag). Seal the bags and give the types of candy and total number of pieces. Have students find the mass of the bags and individual pieces of candy. Students can use systems of equations to determine the contents of each bag.

Walking To Demonstrate SlopeEdit

Introduce slope using a piece-wise linear graph of time vs. distance. The time should be graphed on the x-axis and in seconds. The distance should be on the y-axis and the units should be steps from the starting point. They start at time zero and distance zero, and recreate the graph by stepping to the time that their partner counts out. When that is done, you can flip the activity into a conversation about two things. Positive and negative slopes are the same as stepping forward and backwards, while steeper slopes require that you step more quickly, so the rate of change is higher, while the opposite is true for line segments closer to flat.

Writing InstructionsEdit

After explaining how to do a process and having the students practice, have them write, in their own words, how they think the process should be done. It can be in either prose or list form. When done, they switch with a partner. The partner tries to solve a problem using only the steps that are given. This then becomes a conversation about what is left out of each person’s written description. It shows gaps in understanding.

Geometry WalkEdit

Start the year by walking around campus with the class. Students are given a set of shapes that they had to find in nature, sketch the shape as it appeared, and then, for homework, find the equation of the area of that shape.

Mind MapsEdit

Create a mind map of the characteristics of Triangles or any other mathematical concept, allowing the students to build off of each other's ideas. ( (Spatial Intelligence)

Group Slope PracticeEdit

When writing equations of lines, assign each student either a point or a slope. Then have them partner up with other students in the class and have them write an equation of the line described by their combined information. This makes them think about the information you need to make a line, as a slope student can't pair up with another slope student, but a point could pair up with a slope or another point. I'll then have each pair graph their line on the board when they're done before moving on to pair up with someone else. Because each student has the same slope or point each time, they see what different lines with a common slope or through a common point look like. It also gives students the chance to work with as many other students as possible (I like to make it a game and see who can have the most graphs on the board by the end of class).


Create a Sudoku puzzle using the Fibonacci sequence

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