Winter Math Activity: Warm Up to Mitten Math
Teachers are always looking for ways to motivate students, especially at this time of year when it seems just a bit more challenging to crawl out of bed and head to school. So, it’s important to find ways to help students have fun in math class. Last year, I created “Mitten Math”, an activity that I used to help my 5th grade students practice long division. Now, if you’ve ever taught long division, you know that it’s not the most exciting topic to teach, and likewise, it’s not always fun for students to practice this skill.
In this activity, students practice four challenging long division problems in a unique way. Students receive the following materials: Mitten Math Recording Sheet, 8 Math Mittens (made from construction paper with holes punched in the “wrists”), and yarn. Four of the mittens have a division problem written on them; two of the mittens have a quotient written on them and two of the mittens are left blank. The students’ goal is to pair the problem mitten with its correct quotient mitten. Two of the quotients are provided to students, and two of the quotients must be filled after the problem is completed. All work is completed on the mitten math sheet, and once a pair is found, students use the yarn to tie the pair (problem and quotient) of mittens together.
A few things to think about...first, problems need to be selected so that students aren’t able to easily recognize the quotient by looking at the problem. This is part of the reason why I left two of the mittens blank. Students aren’t able to match all four pairs because they don’t know the value of the missing quotients. Second, this activity is great for differentiation. I created a different set of mittens for each of my students. You could do the same and base the problems on students’ ability levels. Or, you could make just a few sets of mittens based on different levels and group students accordingly.
The activity is relatively simple and the “fun” part doesn’t take up much class time, but it motivated students to work hard to solve challenging division problems and seemed more effective than giving them just another worksheet. Have fun!
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