Order of Operations Sequencing Activity for 5th and 6th Grade Math
Early last week, I was trying to think of a different kind of activity to help my middle school math students who needed more reinforcement with order of operations. So I decided to make a sequencing activity.
I hadn’t tried this before, so I wasn’t sure about the best way to design it. But the activity ended up working quite well. Here’s how I put this math activity together and used it with my 6th grade math classes.
To prepare the activity for the students:
1) I copied the expressions and steps onto different colored papers, so that two expressions would be on the same color.
2) I cut the steps apart into strips, and then put two expressions and their steps (of the same colored paper) into a baggie.
- I figured if I put only one equation in a baggie, the activity would be too simple.
- If I put two expressions of two different colors, it would be too easy.
- So I went with two expressions in the same color. That way they’d have to do some sorting of the expressions.:-)
Using the Order of Operations Activity
- Groups were mostly just partners, with an occasional group of 3.
I typed directions to include in the envelopes, and asked students to do their best to follow those directions before asking for clarification (some of the students worked on this activity, while others completed different activities, so I needed them to try to work through the directions themselves before I got to each group to discuss with them).
After students put the steps into the correct order of operations sequence (shown in the image above), they had to write those steps onto a recording sheet, pictured below.
I will definitely use this again next year:)
Other Resources for Order of Operations Instruction and Practice
- The Math Wheel is great for notes as you’re teaching or reviewing the order of operations, and the others offer a variety of ways to practice:-)
- Order of Operations Footloose is a FREE resource: 30 task cards.
- Google Task Cards and Quiz – same 30 task cards questions as the Footloose. These cards are self-checking and the Google Forms quiz offers a quick assessment.
- Truth or Dare Game: This is a fun way to practice order of operations concepts! Students choose Truth or Dare questions, which allows them to self-differentiate and think a little more deeply about the concepts. There is a separate digital version of this one as well.
- Order of Operations Color by Answer Pixel Art: Digital practice with the pattern/pictures appearing with students’ correct answers.
- Order of Operations Color by Number: This is a long-time favorite printable resource that now has digital options!