You’ll love this round-up of fun, hands-on math activities and children’s books to teach number sense, addition and subtraction, time, patterning, money, graphing, measurement, and graphing skills in K-3!
Fun and Engaging Math Activities for the Primary Classroom
Ready to build a classroom of mathematicians? You’re in the right place!
Math is a fundamental subject we must teach effectively. We have the fun job of creating and designing math activities that grab our student’s attention, provide opportunities for exploration, and build important math skills.
Math is more than just numbers on a page or equations to be memorized. Sometimes, we can get caught up in worksheets and tests and forget about letting math be fun!
With a bit of preparation, there are fun, engaging math activities that you can implement in your classroom that will be enjoyable for kids and help them to master key concepts. Look at this round-up of topics and activities to add to your list of favorites.
Fun Activities to Teach Number Sense to 20
The most fundamental math skill taught is number sense. This means being able to recognize numbers, count them, order them and understand quantity. Kids must be able to interact with numbers before advancing to more complex concepts confidently.
Try these fun ways to connect kids with numbers to 20.
- Make a Number Caterpillar – Work with a partner to order number cards from 0 to 20, creating a number caterpillar.
- Playdough Numbers – Students use playdough to form numbers. This makes a great center activity.
- Dot Numbers – Use different colored BINGO dabbers to trace numbers drawn on paper.
- Estimation Station – Set up stations around the room with containers with objects inside. Kids take a close look and make estimates.
- Some books and videos to teach numbers to 20:
- I Spy Numbers by Jean Marzollo
- 1,2,3 Peas by Keith Baker
- Chicka Chicka 1,2,3 by Bill Martin Jr.
- Counting Numbers 1-20 – The Singing Walrus
- Learn Numbers up to 20 – Counting for Kids- Kids Academy
- Find more hands-on activities to teach number sense!
Fun Math Activities for Teaching Numbers Up to 100
Once kids have mastered numbers to 20, it is time to move up to higher numbers!
These activities build students’ knowledge of numbers 0-100.
- Number BINGO – Call out numbers to 100 for kids to find on their own BINGO board. Make sure to include various numbers, up to 100, in the game.
- Clip Cards – Give students cards with three numbers on them. Ask kids to place a clip on the largest number or the number that comes first in a sequence.
- Beads – Count by 2’s or 5’s with pipe cleaners and beads by moving two beads to the end as you count.
- Some books and videos to teach numbers to 100:
- One Watermelon Seed by Celia Lottridge.
- 100 Snowmen by Jen Arena
- 100 Bugs!: A Counting Book by Kate Narita
- Let’s Count To 100 – Super Simple Songs
- Find more hands-on activities to teach numbers to 100.
Fun Activities to Teach Addition and Subtraction to 20
As kids begin to learn addition and subtraction, practice is vital! The more opportunities kids have for working on adding and subtracting strategies, the more proficient they will become.
Here are some ideas that will help and that are fun too!
- Human Number Line Game – Kids will love this fun way to add and subtract! Place the numbers on the floor and give kids different equations to “jump out.”
- Card Game – Play Addition War with a deck of cards: Each player turns over two cards, adds them up, and the player with the higher number gets the cards. Play until one player loses all of their cards.
- Matching – Have students read examples of word problems and match them together with an equation it represents.
- Playdough “Smash” Subtraction – Roll balls of playdough to represent the first number in a subtraction equation. Then, “smash away” the second number to find the answer.
- Some books and videos to teach addition and subtraction to 20:
- The Action of Subtraction by Brian Cleary
- The Mission of Addition by Brian Cleary
- If You Were a Minus Sign by Trisha Shaskan
- Move and Add, Add and Move – Jack Hartmann Song
- Addition for Kids – Learning to add with Dinosaurs – Mathematics for Kids
- Find more hands-on activities for teaching addition and subtraction to 20.
Fun Math Activities to Teach Telling Time
Telling time is a fun skill to teach kids because it is so practical. Kids will love practicing telling time on any clocks they come across! Providing lots of practice and exposure is critical.
Here are some fun ways to help kids master the concepts of time on the clock.
- Time Card Sort – Using pictures of events and actions, have students sort them into categories depending on how long they take (such as, minutes, hours, days, etc.).
- Matching Cards – Use cards with different ways to write times and have the students match them. Ex: Match analog clocks to digital times.
- Playdough Mats – Give kids a clock printout and have them practice representing time using playdough. Roll playdough into clock hands or even use pieces of candy, such as a candy cane at Christmas time or a lollipop any time of year.
- Make a Clock – Have kids make the moveable parts of a clock with paper and a brass pin. Cut out a circle for the face of the clock, two rectangles to represent the hour and minute hand, and pin them together for a practice clock. Have them practice writing the numbers on the clock in the correct spots.
- Books and videos to teach telling time:
- Dinosaur Tells the Time by Jan Lewis
- Telling Time by Jules Older
- Bats Around the Clock by Kathi Applet
- Hip-Hop Around the Clock – Learn How to Tell Time- Jack Hartmann
- Telling Time Song for Kids – Telling Time to 5 Minutes by Numberock
- Find more hands-on activities about telling time.
Fun Patterning Activities for Math
Patterning is a foundational skill that teaches kids concepts such as observation and prediction. These are essential skills to build on to more complex math concepts.
Patterns are fun to work with, and there are many ways to practice them!
- Stamps – Set out different stamps and ink pads and let kids have fun creating patterns by image or color.
- Pattern Cards – Give kids cards with a pattern started, and they must finish it with manipulatives, such as colored counters, snap cubes, or counting bears.
- Pattern Hat – Kids create a unique pattern and display it on a pattern hat they can wear.
- Snap Cubes – Use cubes to create different patterns. Create one and then have students recreate it.
- Books and videos to teach patterning:
- Beep, Beep, Vroom!, Vroom! by Stuart J. Murphy
- Pattern Fish (Math is Fun!) by Trudy Harris
- Learning Patterns for Kids- ABB Patterns for Children
- Pump Up the Pattern– Jack Hartmann
- Find more hands-on activities to work on patterning.
Hands-On Math Activities to Teach Money and Coins
Kids LOVE learning about money! And why wouldn’t they? It is empowering to know how to count and spend money. There are several skills embedded in being able to use money.
As teachers, we can provide a solid foundation by helping kids master all of the necessary skills. Some things to work on include: identifying money, learning values, adding, making change, etc.
- Coin Rubbings – Make coin rubbings by placing coins under a sheet of paper and using a colored pencil to produce the image on the paper. Then, have kids match actual coins to the rubbings.
- Bingo – Make it fun with BINGO! Kids will love competing with this Money BINGO game that challenges them to count the coins as you call the totals.
- Coin Sorting – Use a coin sorting mat to sort real (or plastic) coins.
- Value of Real-Life Products – Give each child a specified amount of money and let them “go shopping” by looking through store flyers and choosing things to buy.
- Books and videos to teach counting money:
- One Cent, Two Cents, Old Cent, New Cent: All About Money by Bonnie Worth
- A Dollar, A Penny, How Much, and How Many by Brian P. Cleary
- The Coin Counting Book by Rozanne Lanczak Williams
- Counting Coins Song for Kids- Penny, Nickel, Dime, Quarter by Numberock
- The Money Song– Penny, Nickel, Dime, Quarter by Jack Hartmann
- Find more hands-on activities for teaching money and coins.
Fun Activities to Teach Graphing and Probability
Graphing is a tool we use to organize and understand data. Teaching kids how to graph information is essential. Also, it helps them to understand probability. These concepts are ones they will use throughout their lives.
Check out some fun ways to teach graphing, sorting, and probability.
- Human Graphing – You can graph the class! If graphing the color of shirts kids have on, then have kids line up on a grid taped to the floor. All of the kids with white shirts line up in one column, while kids in yellow shirts line up in the next, and so on.
- Sorting Cards – Use sorting cards to sort different items, such as pictures or Skittles, into colors. Then, graph your findings.
- Spinner Games – Use a pie graph split into several equal sections and labeled by color or number. Use a pencil and a paper clip as a simple spinner. Then, have students estimate the probability of the spinner landing on a specific section.
- Dice Data – Gather dice and a blank graph to play a roll-and-graph game. To play, kids roll the dice and mark the number they rolled on the graph. They continue this, getting more data for the graph with each roll.
- Books and videos to teach graphing and probability:
- Lemonade for Sale by Stuart J. Murphy
- The Great Graph Contest by Loreen Leedy
- Tally O’Malley by Stuart J. Murphy
- Graphs for Kids- Learn all about basic graphs- Learn Bright
- Find more hands-on activities for teaching graphing.
Fun Activities for Teaching Measurement
When thinking about math skills that we use daily, measurement is at the top of the list. We have to measure various things, including ingredients when we are baking, distances to places we are going, and objects around the house.
Kids begin learning these basics early in school and build on them as time goes on. Make sure they grasp measurement well by doing these fun activities.
- Measure a Friend – Kids take turns measuring how many cubes long their friends’ arms, legs, and hands are with this hands-on activity.
- Scavenger Hunts – Go on a hunt for objects that meet specific criteria. For example, find something bigger than 3 feet wide or between 5 and 10 inches long.
- Mapping with Cubes – Use snap cubes or other items to map the distance between two points.
- Scale – Use a scale to measure different objects, predict their weight, record the data, and compare other objects.
- Books and videos to teach measurement:
- Inch by Inch by Leo Lionni
- Measuring Penny by Loreen Leedy
- Me and the Measure of Things by Joan Sweeney
- The Longer Shorter Song- by Numerock
- Find more hands-on activities for teaching measurement.
Fun Activities to Teach Geometry and Shapes
Children need many opportunities to learn about shapes. Learning to identify and understand what the different shapes are, as well as their parts, are essential concepts. Although it seems like a simple concept, we teach it to help later learning.
Check out the geometry and shape activities below.
- Popsicle Stick Shapes – Use colored popsicle sticks to form the 2D shapes with straight sides and leave them in a center for kids to put together independently.
- Board Game – Play the board game, Name that Shape! While providing lots of practice, it is fun too!
- Find 3D shapes – Look through old magazines for pictures of the different 3D shapes. Add the pictures to a class anchor chart.
- Magnetic Tiles – Let kids play with magnetic tiles to create 3D shapes.
- Some books and videos to teach geometry:
- Up, Down, and Around by Katherine Ayes
- Go, Shapes, Go by Denise Fleming
- When a Line Bends… a Shape Begins by Rhonda Greene
- Learn Shapes for Kids with Blippi– The Shapes Song
- Learn Shapes and Colors with Pete the Kitty!– Kids Learning Video
- Find more hands-on activities about teaching geometry and shapes.
There are many essential math skills to teach in the early elementary years. It is easy to make them fun with a little thought and planning.
Hopefully, the resources in this post will help you get some fun activities into your classroom!
Resources For Math Activities
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Math Teaching Resources for K-2
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Kindergarten Mindful Math Curriculum
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FREE Printable Math Activities
Try this FREE set of math review worksheets for daily math practice with your class.
You can download them NOW by clicking the image below!
More Fun Math Activities for Kids
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