Sunday, March 29, 2020

5 Hands-On Math Activities Kids Actually WANT to Do

Congratulations on your new title of Distance Learning Instructor!

Not thrilled? Yeah, me, neither.

I had really been praying that we were going to be able to get back into the classroom this year and be with the students again, but with the way things are right now due to Covid-19, that's just not going to be possible. The safety of the students comes first!

However, that has put me at a little bit of a loss when it comes to how to reach and teach my students without being with them in the classroom.

My school district is not 1:1 with devices, and several locations do not even have internet access. However, I also don't want to send home a giant packet of worksheets. Keeping long-distance engagement high is going to be tricky, but the trick is to create highly engaging activities.

I drew from my experiences with my students and teaching my own daughter and came up with this list of hands-on, exciting activities that are educational, but also engaging.


The Stay-at-Home Chef
There are SO MANY ways to turn cooking into learning! And what is better at bringing people together than food? I found an amazing, simple brownie recipe from The Stay-at-Home Chef.  The recipe is easy to follow and perfect for a math lesson, not to mention sequencing! I included the recipe and math questions for both upper and lower grades here as an exclusive freebie just for my blog audience. They can easily be shared by printing or email. You can even take a screen shot and send it directly to your students' parents' phones! And when class is over, they'll have delicious brownies to enjoy. No better incentive than that!


Where I live in Alabama, we have been blessed with beautiful weather the last few weeks. It has been so nice to get outdoors with my family going on walks and playing games. One game you probably remember from your own childhood is hopscotch. Y'all, there are SO MANY WAYS to make this an academic activity that you can share with parents. Students can compare numbers, add and subtract, multiply... I even had my daughter working on missing addends! I would give her a number from 2-20 as an "answer" and tell her one number that HAD to be used. She then had to figure out what number was missing to make the answer true. And older students can use four bean bags to make two two-digit numbers to work with. It's a great way to get kids moving and thinking! No sidewalk chalk or dealing with poor weather? No problem! Make an indoor hopscotch with masking tape or painters tape.

I don't know about your kiddos, but my daughter LOVES playing with my tape measure. It's never left where I put it, because she's carried it around the house to see how tall her bed is or how long her shoes are. And if she wants to play with it anyway, we might as well make it a teaching moment. Send your students a list of objects around the house to measure and compare lengths. Have your older students figure out the perimeter or area of their bedroom or kitchen. Speaking of area, I need to figure out the area of my living room. Mama's been wanting some new flooring! 😆 Who says you'll never use math?


Social distancing means plenty of time for family game night. A simple deck of cards can be used for so many different games, and the possibilities for math games you can send to your students are virtually endless. The youngest students can match cards based on number, color, or symbol. They can put the cards in numerical order, forwards or backwards. Older students can play by flipping two cards over. They can compare them, add or subtract, multiply... Flipping four cards makes two two-digit numbers that can be used for students ready for a greater challenge. I usually take the face cards out, but you do you! And leave some fresh ideas for them in the comments!

Not gonna lie; this might be my favorite of all the ideas 😆 Because who doesn't love candy? Before
Covid-19 came in and derailed our Easter plans, I had purchased an unnecessarily large bag of jelly beans to put inside eggs for the egg hunt. They have since turned into quarantine snacks, but they also make perfect math manipulatives. One of my favorite ways to use them is to work on graphing.  Students can grab a handful (after washing their hands, of course!) and graph how many are each color and then answer questions about the data they collected. Which color has the greatest number? Which color has the least? How many more pink jelly beans than yellow? Older students can work on ratios or fractions. And if they don't have jelly beans, they can use any other kind of candy, marshmallow cereal, or even trail mix, just as long as they have several different pieces of several different kinds.



There are so many ways to make distance learning accessible for students without relying heavily on technology or printing page after page of worksheets. From brownies and candy to tape measures and sidewalk chalk, lets give our students the opportunity to dive into distance learning in a fun, hands-on, unforgettable way!

Thanks for reading!


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