Free Order of Operations Activity


Order of Operations Sequencing Activity for 5th and 6th Grade Math

fun, free activity to practice order of operations

Are you looking for an easy and effective and FREE order of operations activity to help students practice order of operations in math class?

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.

Activity Design

​For this free order of operations activity, I created 8 different expressions, and then typed out the steps to simplify each expression.

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

Order of Operations sequencing activity for middle school math

I put 3 baggies (6 different expressions and their order of operations steps) into a manila envelope for each group.

  • 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). 

Order of Operations sequencing activity

Some students needed additional instruction, while others did not.

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.

Order of Operations sequencing activity recording sheet

In each of my math classes, students worked on this activity for about 15-20 minutes. Some groups completed all 6 expressions, while others completed only 2-3. A few more minutes would have been helpful for those students who didn’t complete as many expressions, but I can revisit the activity with those students this week.
I will definitely use this again next year:)

Other Resources for Order of Operations Instruction and Practice

If you’re looking for other resources to help your students practice with order of operations, I have several in my TPT shop – some print and some digital.

  • 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!


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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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