One of the best parts about the beginning of the school year is having the time to get to know our students and their interests, including their interests in different subjects. I love using activities that allow me to get to know my students’ interests as well as their math skills. This post shares my favorite back to school math activities for grades 4-5 (free download near the end of the post). Some of the activities focus more on getting to know your students and their math interests and some will help you informally assess their math skills (while engaging them).
Math Partner Activity
For this simple math partner activity, pair your students up. Then have them take turns asking each other the questions on the printable, which will be numerical responses. Each question has a math task that the students will complete with the answer.
You can have your students take turns asking one question at a time and then completing the math task with that answer. Or you could have them ask and answer all of the questions and then complete the math all at once. Whichever works best for you and your students.
The math tasks included in this activity are a review of 4th grade math skills.
Math About Me
I love using “math about me” activities but by 4th and 5th grade, my students have done it over and over. So, I need to “grow it up” a bit. To do this, I give my students lots of options for what facts they want to share and I require the students to write equations instead of numbers.
You can make this activity as easy or as difficult as needed. For example, you can require the students to create two-step equations or require them to use each operation at least once. Or you can allow the students complete choice with the equations they create.
After the students have created their equations and facts (see the example below and in the file), you can have the students use sticky notes or cut up scrap paper to hide the answers. Then either hang the papers or place them on desks. The students could go around the room and figure out the facts about each person by solving the equations and then checking the answers (by lifting up the sticky note or scrap of paper to reveal the answer).
I also model this for the students with my own completed activity. This helps teach the activity and lets the students get to know more about me.
Math Interest Inventory/Survey
I love getting to know how my students feel about subjects and how they view themselves as learners using interest inventory questions. Click here to grab a free reading interest inventory.
This back to school math activity includes 24 questions that will help you get to know your students’ feelings and attitudes toward math. You can use all of the questions or pick and choose the ones that work best for your students.
Here are some options for using this activity:
Scoot Activity – Take a class period and have the students “play” SCOOT. To do this, simply place a question on each desk. Have the students rotate (at your signal) around the desks until they have answered all of the questions. Give the students enough time to read the question and answer it before having them rotate.
Around the Room – Tape the questions around the room and have the students work in pairs or triads to answer the questions. You can rotate the students at your signal or allow them to move around freely. If you allow them to move around freely, I recommend having a rule that no more than one pair/triad of students can be at a card at a time. I use “around the room” reviews and activities throughout the year so using the reflection questions for this also allows me to teach procedures and expectations for this type of work.
1-2 Questions a Day – Have your students reflect and share their thoughts on math during that first week of school. You could have your students discuss their answers with groups or partners (they love this and it doubles as a brain break).
Math Center or Station – Place the questions at a center. Have the students answer the questions on the included recording sheet (or a piece of paper) or simply discuss their answers with their groups.
Math Around the Room Activity
For this activity, prep the problems by printing one set, cutting the problems out (one single cut through the middle), and taping the problems around the room. Place your students in pairs (recommended) or triads. Place the students at their starting locations, and have them use the recording sheets or pieces of paper to record their work. You can have the students move around the room at their pace or at your signal.
If you have the students move at their pace, I recommend having a rule that no more than one or two pairs can be at a problem at a time. For any students who finish early, I check their work and send them back to any that they missed to double check. If you move the students at your signal, I recommend giving the students time at the end to go back and finish any problems they did not complete.
I love using this as one of my back to school math activities because I use this type of activity a lot throughout the year for review and test prep. Using this as a back to school activity allows me to introduce the activity and teach the expectations and procedures.
This activity works well with any task cards that you have if you want to continue this throughout the school year. Need task cards? Click on the links below to see the sets I have in my store.
Math Color by Answer Printables
For the most part, students love to color. This back to school math activity will let them color while you get some valuable information about their math skills. There are two versions for this activity: one that reviews 3rd grade math skills and one that reviews 4th grade math skills. The pictures and colors are the same, so make sure you only choose the one that works for your students.
To complete the printables, the students will solve each equation in the table. They will then choose the answer from the choices in the table. The answer they choose is assigned a color. They will color the number (assigned to the problem or equation) using the color that matches the correct answer.
For accountability and to make sure the students don’t just guess the correct color (only a possibility on a couple of the numbers), make sure the students show their work on the back of the paper or on a separate piece of paper. Another option is to have them get their answers (and work) checked by you (or a partner) and then color in their picture.
Get the Free Back to School Math Activities Here
Interested in Math Centers? Grab Free Starter Packs!
In addition to the above back to school math activities, we also launch math centers that first month of school. I do so using my free starter packs that mirror my regular math centers.
These math center starter packs allow me to:
- Introduce all of my consistent math centers in the first two weeks of school.
- Teach and reteach the center expectations in a meaningful way (using the actual centers the students will be using all year).
- Ensure that my students know exactly how to complete each center (quality and quantity).
- Clear up any misconceptions about my center expectations
Click on your grade level to grab the free starter kits.
Want More Back to School Math Activities?
More Back-to-School Activities, Freebies, and Blog Posts
Click on the links below to check out more activities and resources that are perfect for back to school.