Try these six simple and fun ideas for math warm-up activities for kids! They will engage students and get them ready for any math lesson.
Math Warm-Up Ideas for K-2
Want to know the secret to hooking students into your math lessons? Start with a math warm-up. These fun math routines are highly engaging and get kids eager to participate.
Math warm-ups are quick activities usually completed as a whole group. They allow you to get your students ready for the math lesson by activating their brains.
Warm-up activities build mathematical reasoning, communication, problem-solving, and further understanding. They also allow for students to review and practice math skills.
Start your math lessons with a short 10-minute or so warm-up activity that reinforces a math skill and engages your students in a meaningful way.
Below are quick and effective math warm-ups that you can start using in your classroom TODAY!
1. Quick Math Warm-Up Activities
Give students a short task to complete on their own before beginning your formal lesson. These can be short, engaging activities that get their brains thinking about math and ready to learn more! Kids can work on them alone, or you can pair them up to work together.
- Task cards – Use task cards to assign short math warm-ups that students can complete independently or with a partner. Task cards include a short mathematical task students must complete using manipulatives or readily-available materials. Select tasks that review a previously taught concept or one that provides you with a glimpse at a child’s prior knowledge. The Mindful Math Curriculum includes math task cards for each lesson.
- Math Mats – Use Math Mat activities to kick off a lesson with a review of previously taught material. They are effective activities because they contain different math skills and standards for students to practice and review on one page. Have students complete one mat a day as your warm-up.
- Journals – Have students solve a word problem in a math journal to begin math time. Print out prompts to paste them into the kids’ notebooks or have one to write down. Math journals provide a valuable, quick check for understanding.
- Mental Math Flashcards – These cards are helpful to use as math warm-ups as they build a child’s mental math ability and fact fluency. Try paying a game with the cards or use them to quiz students as a class, or have them quiz each other!
2. Number Warm-Up Activities
Use math warm-up time to ensure that kids have a solid understanding of numbers. Building number sense and fluency requires daily practice. Using the math warm-up time right before a math lesson is an excellent opportunity to strengthen skills.
- Number Sense – Build number sense through a variety of activities that focus on recognizing, understanding, and becoming fluent with numbers.
- Number Talks – This is when you take time to let students solve math problems in various ways and then have them talk aloud about how they arrived at the answer. Starting out your math lesson with a number talk as a class can be fun and effective.
- Number of the Day – A Number of the Day routine allows you to build number skills each day as you dissect new numbers together. Write the number word, draw the number using dice, use tally marks, and more. You can also create a number of the day poster to organize your routine!
3. Calendar Activities
A daily calendar time is a great opportunity to review and reinforce math concepts. You can incorporate the calendar into our morning meeting time or use it as a warm-up before your math lesson.
- Count – Count aloud the days of the month together. Point to the numbers as you count to the current day. You could have the student of the day come up and lead the class in counting. The repetition of saying and seeing the numbers is important, especially in kindergarten.
- Discuss – Ask and talk about how many days are left in the month. You can easily turn that into a math equation. Ex: if there are 30 days in the month and today is the 15th, how many days are left?
- Build a calendar routine that serves your students and develops their math skills. Once students have memorized the routine and are no longer engaged in the same way, move on to another math warm-up.
4. Math Games as Warm-Up Activities
Classroom Math Games always make learning fun! They can be played together or in small groups, and students will be engaged and hardly notice that they are practicing their math simultaneously!
- Uno Flip – Turn over Uno cards to create math equations and then solve, or determine which number is bigger. This would be played with a partner. These giant sized Uno cards would be great for younger students.
- Math Fact Smack – Write math facts on the board for students to solve. Take turns reading a problem and then smack the equation as they call out the answer.
- Human Number Line – Create a large number line with tape on the floor and have students take turns counting and hopping to act out equations.
- Online Math Games – Kids love playing digital math games. Fun Brain online math games kids are sure to enjoy!
- Math Websites – If you are looking for ways for kids to practice math online, these math websites for kids provide plenty of online math games to play.
5. Engage with Books
Children’s books are a fantastic way to warm-up students and get them thinking about math! Read a book to kick off your math lesson and connect the book and the concepts you will be teaching that day.
Here are some titles to get you started.
- I Spy Numbers by Jean Marzollo
- 1, 2, 3 Peas by Keith Baker
- Chicka, Chicka, 1, 2, 3 by Bill Martin, Jr.
- Numbers Everywhere by Elliott Kaufman
- 10 Little Rubber Ducks by Eric Carle
Select books from the lists in this Math Books for Kids guide for each math topic you teach!
6. Using Math Manipulatives
Math manipulatives support students’ development in math skills. They provide us with tools to teach math concepts more efficiently in a “hands-on” way. Giving kids time with math manipulatives as a warm-up to a math lesson can be effective.
Provide tubs of math manipulatives for students to work with independently or with a partner. They can contain items such as snap cubes, pattern blocks, shape counters, magnetic numbers, and so much more. A great warm-up is to give students an open-ended question and ask them to solve it using their choice of math tool.
Make sure every student has access to a laminated number line and hundreds chart to use during math. These can be used to practice counting in different ways.
Free Math Warm-Up Task Cards
Try the Mindful Math task cards as fun and quick math warm-up activities. Click the image below to grab a copy.
Using Mindful Math for Your Math Warm-Up
If you are looking for a comprehensive math program that allows for easy differentiation and provides supportive lessons and activities to support your Guided Math block, then Mindful Math is for you!
The Mindful Math curriculum by Proud to be Primary includes detailed lessons that can be broken down into whole-group mini-lessons and small-group instruction. It also has various math practice options, such as journals, warm-up task cards, practice sheets, centers and games, and assessments.
See the Mindful Math program in action here.
Hopefully, you feel inspired to make your math lessons a little more FUN with math warm-up activities!
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