Math Wheels for Note-taking?

Daily Math Activities to Incorporate and Retain More Math Concepts

Use these fun daily math activities to help your students retain more math concepts as you incorporate them into everything from daily work to cross-curricular learning.

You know what I love doing every day? Sneaking in some math-related fun! Now, you might say, “Well, of course, you’re a math teacher!” Sure, that’s true, but let me tell you, over the years, I’ve stumbled upon some discoveries by incorporating daily math activities into more than just our math class. It’s been a game-changer, and I’ve noticed something pretty awesome. When I find ways to apply math concepts in different areas outside of math class, it does wonders for my students’ retention skills. Suddenly, they’re not just seeing math as this one-off class they have to endure. Nope! They’re realizing how math seeps into all corners of their lives, making a real impact from dawn ’til dusk. Today, I’m sharing with you a few of the different ways I incorporate daily math activities to incorporate more math practice and build retention.

Importance of Incorporating Daily Math

Math isn’t a subject you cram for and forget about once the test is over. At least, that’s not what we want our students to do! We want them to see that math is full of lifelong skills. The more they practice, the better they become. So why limit math to just one class period a day?

Incorporating daily math into your every day lessons will help your students become more confident learners.

When we weave math into our daily lives, it becomes more approachable. Suddenly, math isn’t this scary monster hiding under the bed. Math skills come up to help solve challenges or scenarios. From measuring ingredients in the kitchen to calculating discounts at the store, math is there, quietly helping to navigate the day.

By making math a part of our everyday routines, we learn numbers and equations. We also learn problem-solving skills, critical thinking, and maybe even a little patience along the way. While we work on that patience, we also strengthen our growth mindset. Practice makes progress!

But don’t worry, weaving daily math activities into your classroom routine doesn’t need to be hard or time consuming. These five types of daily math activities are not only easy to do but sure to make a big impact on your students.

5 Daily Math Activities for Middle School

Now that we know a little more about the power of daily math activities, let’s dive into some of my favorites. These tried-and-true tricks have worked wonders in keeping math concepts fresh in my students’ minds.

1. Using the Date for Math Practice

Let me tell you about this genius hack I stumbled upon that’s been a game-changer in my classroom. Using the date for daily math review is an easy and low-maintenance way to incorporate more math practice. It’s one of the secrets to squeezing in some math practice every single day without breaking a sweat. I have everything you need to start using the date to your students’ math benefit! Check out my 4th – 5th grade Date Warmups or my 6th – 8th Grade Date Warmups that will help you get set up and going with your students.

Use the date for math practice with fun worksheets like these to use each and every day of the school year as part of your daily math activities.

There are two simple methods I swear by for using the date for math practice:

Method 1: Equation Creation

Take the digits in the date and create an equation. The digits stay in the same order as they are in the date, and you can sprinkle in any operation signs or parentheses to create the equation. For example, on February 2, 2016, I used this equation using the numbers from the date (222016): (2 * 2)2 + 0 = 16.

Method 2: Expression Evaluation

Write the date so that each number becomes an expression to evaluate. For example, on September 27, 2024, you could write the date as 9/27/24 or you could turn that into: 234/26 / 33 / 2(3*4). Just look at all the different skills students will practice on that one date! And. . . there are multiple ways you can use the digits of the date to make different expressions!

The best part about these warmups is that you can make them as quick or as elaborate as you want. Some days, you can simply pop the date on the board and let your students mull it over. On other days, you can turn it into a full-blown warm-up activity or incorporate it into your math centers. Better yet, just write the date and have students come up with the date in math terms. The possibilities are endless!

Discover more detail about the ways I use the date for math by reading Include More Daily Math Review in Middle School.

2. Spiral Review for Daily Math

Next up is using a daily spiral math review as the secret to math education. As a math educator, I am always asking myself how I can ensure that my students are applying and retaining their math skills. I reflect on whether the strategies are useful to them or if there are better ones out there. As testing season approaches, I wonder if what we are spending time on in class is beneficial in preparing them.

This is where my spiral math reviews enter. Think of spiral reviews as a continuous loop of revisiting and reinforcing concepts we’ve covered before. So often we get caught in this cycle: teach the concepts, practice them, assess them, and move on to the next standard. With spiral reviews, we avoid doing that. We start with the basics, gradually layer on more complex concepts, and keep circling back to reinforce everything we’ve learned.

The key to doing this successfully is doing it daily. The results are amazing when we stick to this daily math routine consistently. Not only do the skills get reinforced but they stay front of mind for our students. Since so much of our math builds upon previous skills this is very important.

You can get more details on how I use a daily spiral review Using Spiral Math Daily Review in Middle School Math.

Here’s what I’ve noticed:

  1. Better Retention: My students remember math concepts like they’re second nature because we’re reviewing them all year long. It’s muscle memory for the brain!
  2. Deeper Understanding: By revisiting concepts multiple times, my students aren’t just memorizing formulas. They’re truly understanding the why behind the math.
  3. Excitement for Learning: There’s genuine excitement when we dive into new math concepts because my students already have the background knowledge from our daily warm-ups.
  4. Fearless Problem Solvers: No more math phobia! My students are fearless when it comes to tackling unfamiliar problems because they’ve been exposed to a variety of math challenges every day.
  5. Less Test Prep Stress: With daily spiral reviews, we’re constantly reinforcing the skills needed for standardized tests. So when testing time rolls around, my students are calm, cool, and collected.

The daily spiral math review has also made my job easier! With everything set up and ready to go, I can focus on what really matters: guiding my students on their mathematical journey.

So, if you’re ready to shake up your math class and take your students to new mathematical heights, give daily spiral math review a chance with either my 6th Grade Spiral Review or my 7th Grade Spiral Review. You’ll be set for the entire year!

3. Using Mixed Math for More Math Practice

Imagine that you’re racing against the clock to cover all the curriculum before the end of the year rolls around. It’s a familiar scenario, right? What if I have a trick that could help you? By taking the time for mixed math practice you will have the secret piece you’ve been missing. I know what you’re thinking. How can adding more reviews possibly save time? By consistently reviewing throughout the year, you’re actually setting yourself up for success down the road. When it’s time to introduce new concepts or revisit old ones, your students will be ready to hit the ground running, saving you precious reteaching time.

Remember that old saying, practice makes perfect? Well, it holds true in math, too! Instead of perfection though, I tell my kiddos practice makes progress. By regularly revisiting concepts through mixed practice, your students get the chance to truly be exposed and be able to practice those math skills. On the flip side, it also helps to show you where your students may need some extra practice with some of the skills. It’s laying down a solid foundation for future learning.

Also, who says test prep has to be a once-a-year ordeal? With mixed math practice, you’re prepping your students for standardized tests year-round. The more exposure they get to a variety of problems, the more confident they’ll become in tackling anything that comes their way.

Math isn’t just about plugging numbers into formulas. It’s about thinking critically and solving problems creatively. With mixed math practice, your students get the chance to flex those problem-solving muscles, whether it’s tackling word problems or approaching unfamiliar problems with confidence.

Read Five Reasons to Use Mixed Math Practice to learn more about how I incorporate Mixed Math in different areas.

4. Daily Math Challenges

Daily math challenges are little pieces of mathematical excitement waiting to be uncovered each morning. Think of it like a bell ringer activity that students do each day as they arrive. You can vary the challenge to create your own spiral review or use this time for a little extra practice on a skill that students haven’t quite mastered.

Take, for example, a scenario where you’re covering fractions in your middle school math class. You could kick off the day with a challenge like this:

“Divide 12 candy bars into equal parts so that each person gets 3/4 of a candy bar. How many people can share the 12 candy bars?”

This challenge reinforces the concept of fractions and division. It also prompts students to think critically about real-world scenarios. That’s a skill that’s invaluable both inside and outside the classroom.

More Examples

Let’s take a look at another example. This one focuses on diving into algebraic expressions. Your daily math challenge might look something like this:

“Solve the equation 3x + 5 = 20. What is the value of x? Once you know x, write your own true equation where x has the same value.”

As your students jump into this algebraic puzzle, they’re not just practicing solving equations. They’re also building essential problem-solving skills that will serve them well as they continue building on the math foundation.

An example of a geometry challenge that’ll put your students’ spatial reasoning to the test:

“Calculate the area of a triangle with a base of 8 inches and a height of 6 inches. What is the area in square inches? Once you have your answer, use 4 straight lines and see how many triangles you make inside the first triangle.”

By incorporating these daily math challenges into your classroom routine, you’re engaging your students’ minds and providing them with opportunities to apply their math knowledge in meaningful ways. Plus, with a new puzzle awaiting them each day, you’ll keep their curiosity piqued and a consistent routine in place.

5. Add Daily Math Activities to Other Subject Areas

Help your students see the role math plays all around them by including math in other subject areas as it naturally connects! Imagine the possibilities. Historical timelines become a playground for calculating intervals, science experiments transform into opportunities for precision measurement, and language arts activities morph into data analysis adventures.

Let’s dive into some examples of how you can integrate math across different subjects in your middle school classroom:

1. Historical Timelines

Take your students on a journey through history and turn those dates and events into mathematical marvels. For instance, when studying World War II, you could challenge your students to calculate the duration between key battles or the distance traveled by troops.

2. Science Experiments

Who says science and math have to be separate entities? In fact, the two often walk hand in hand!

During a chemistry lab, students can practice measuring volumes, calculating concentrations, and analyzing data to draw conclusions. For example, in a density experiment, students can calculate the density of various substances by dividing mass by volume.

3. Language Arts

Incorporate data analysis and statistics to transform language arts activities into math-infused adventures. Have students analyze the frequency of certain words in a text, create graphs to represent character development over time, or calculate the average sentence length in a passage.

By integrating math into different subject areas, you reinforce math concepts. At the same time, your students begin to see the interconnectedness of different subjects. Suddenly, math isn’t just about numbers and equations. Math becomes a tool they can use to explore and understand the world around them. Even more importantly, integrating math across subjects helps our students see the real-world applications of math concepts. This opens them up to being more engaged and invested in their learning.

If you are in a self-contained classroom or teach more than math, this can be easily done. If you only teach math, find a teacher that would be open to collaboration. They weave math into their class and you can reinforce their subject in yours. This could be easily done through a daily math challenge (see above) or some creative word problems. Imagine the excitement as students are learning about arthropods in science and they just happen to stumble upon an arthropod based math challenge.

Bring Daily Math Into Your Classroom

While incorporating daily math activities into your classroom, remember it’s not just about checking off a to-do list. It’s about igniting a spark of curiosity and fostering a lifelong love for math. From using the date for daily math practice to integrating math across various subjects, these strategies open doors to endless possibilities for learning and exploration.

By embracing the power of daily math, we empower our students to see math not as a solitary subject, but as an essential part of their daily lives. So, as we are planning for upcoming lessons, think about ways you can weave numbers, equations, and problem-solving skills into the routines of your classrooms. Together, we can inspire a generation of confident and capable mathematicians ready to tackle any challenge that comes their way.

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Welcome to Cognitive Cardio Math! I’m Ellie, a wife, mom, grandma, and dog ‘mom,’ and I’ve spent just about my whole life in school! With nearly 30 years in education, I’ve taught:

  • All subject areas in 4th and 5th grades
  • Math, ELA, and science in 6th grade (middle school)

I’ve been creating resources for teachers since 2012 and have worked in the elearning industry for about five years as well!

If you’re looking for ideas and resources to help you teach math (and a little ELA), I can help you out!



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