Using Math Warm Ups in Your Classroom

What are math stretchers? These are math warm ups that are facilitated by the teacher to encourage deeper thinking in a variety of math concepts. They are meant to be only a few minutes in length and should help students to recognize patterns and relationships in the bigger ideas of math. They should always be created with the standards, students’ needs, and grade level in mind. They do not need to be complex and should first be completed by the students independently before being discussed and analyzed together as a class. This provides opportunities for purposeful math talk and use of math vocabulary.

Fun and easy math warm ups for your elementary math classroom. Easy to set up and challenging for some kids! Great for morning work or before starting your math lessons! Your students will LOVE these!


Five Math Warm Up Ideas

Math Warm Ups: Data Collection & AnalysisData Collection and Analysis

These math warm ups are a fun way to get to know your students! Teachers select ahead of time what question he or she would like to pose and the three answer choices. This could easily be posed first thing in the morning when students arrive and are making their lunch choices. After all students have answered the question, together as a class decide what kind of graph to create. In the beginning, the teacher should provide think alouds and strong support. Then help students progress to work more independently. It’s important to discuss what they observed and inferred, and to ask open-ended questions. I have created quick graphs using sticky notes, tally marks, and so on.

How Did My Family Use Math Last Night?How Did My Family Use Math Last Night?

This math stretcher is something that you would only want to implement occasionally. For homework the night before, you would have students record the different ways they (and their families) utilized math. They can write about them, draw them, use number sentences, or any other representation. When students arrive at school, simply have them add their examples to a chart. Together at the start of math, discuss the results. It really helps students see the value of math in our everyday lives.

Number of the Day

Number of the Day

I have seen many teachers implement this over the years.  It is meant to be a quick review to show students patterns and relationships among the numbers. Like most math warm ups, it doesn’t need to be long nor elaborate. Simply provide students with a number, and then they figure out multiple ways to represent it. Their representations could involve base ten, pictures, operations, decimals, comparisons, and so on. The further you explore your curriculum the more representations students will create. Discuss together any patterns they have observed or any relationships. Also, have students explain their reasoning.

Math Warm Ups: Makes Me Think Of...
Makes Me Think Of…

This mini-activating strategy is good for introducing new concepts in math or for review of a previously studied concept. Begin by having students record a word (or words) that they think of when given a concept, such as fractions. Have students explain what they wrote and why they chose those words. As you progress through the unit, students can add more words to this chart.

Math Warm Ups: What's Next?
 What’s Next?

On chart paper, place a pattern followed by enough blank spaces for each child in the class. The pattern does not have to be whole numbers. Students take turns filling in the next step in the pattern, and then they write their initials under it. After your class has finished, you could have students discuss if they agree or do not agree with one another’s response and why. Students who made mistakes should correct their own errors.

Again, all math stretchers are meant to be brief and as warm ups. Typically I provide the math warm ups first thing in the morning as part of my students’ routine, and then we come back to it and discuss it at the start of the math block. I do not use a math stretcher each day, but I do try to do several a week and rotate between them. Of course, you are more than welcome to assign a day of the week to each type.

Happy Teaching!


Looking for more math ideas? Check out the posts here!

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    This Post Has 5 Comments

    1. Deb Hanson

      These are such GREAT ideas! I especially love the "How did my family…", and "Makes me think of…"- probably because I have never thought of those ideas before! I can't wait to read tomorrow's post! Thanks!

    2. Lisateacher5

      These look like the Math Stretches from the Guided Math books, are they the same?

      1. Tammy

        They are. We used that book to guide our understanding and implementation.

    3. Lori

      Which guided math books did you use to guide your implementation? I use guided reading, daily 5 (love them!!!), and have implemented daily 3 math framework but looking for something to spice up math instruction!

      1. Tammy

        Hi! I had already been using writing workshop and reading workshop (district implemented) in my classroom for years prior so when our district started math workshop, it wasn’t really a big leap. Most of my training had come from within the district, as they put on a math institute during the summer. However, I did read the book Guided Math: A Framework for Mathematics Instruction by Laney Sammons. A while later I read the book Guided Math in Action by Nicki Newton. That’s all I have read. I hope that helps! 🙂

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