When we hit the end of the year, everyone is just burned out. The kids have just endured endless high stakes testing prep and then can the actual tests. Teachers have been running on empty since Spring Break.
But some learning still needs to happen. Because, you know, school.
Here are some of my best ideas for end of the year math fun.
A little time to play around online can be a great incentive to our tech-loving kiddos. Before you let the kids loose on the internet, it pays to do a little digging or set up a list of “authorized” sites to visit.
One of my favs is Khan Academy. This is almost a sneaky way to get your kids to learn because it is set up like a game. Or you can have everyone learn to program and code using their built in tutorial. I have had kids do almost anything just to get some time coding on Khan!
FunBrain is another great source of fun and educational math games. The have everything from logic to basic facts, all disguised as arcade style video games. This would be a great down time activity or a math center.
For younger kids, or students who need more sneaky practice on basics, check out PBS Kids. The games feature the familiar characters that our students know and love, like Curious George and Peg + Cat.
Sheppard Software is another great website that has online math games. While there are no fancy characters, you can narrow down the focus of your gaming session by topic (multiplication, division, etc.).
Project Based Learning
The end of the year is a great time to let your kids explore math at their own pace, using longer term projects and assignments to help review key facts or concepts.
Teaching with a Mountain View is my hands down favorite way to engage students in real-world, fun math projects. I especially love her “Resort Report” and “Movie Marathon” projects.
You may need to scale some of the work down with smaller numbers, but it’s pretty easy to accomplish. I would also suggest that you do each project yourself before you offer them to students. Some of the directions are multi-step and can create very large numbers.
The kids love how multi-dimensional each project is, requiring art, math, reading, and writing skills. One great way to work to different strengths would be to put kids into small groups.
Other great projects are more classroom specific, but so take some work on your part to create them.
One thing I assigned my students in years past is to create a library catalog and borrowing system. Students, working in teams, need to put the books in order, make note of what is there, and create documents to help guide next year’s class. This is math because it involves organizing, problem solving, and planning.
Another great thing to do is to have students work on supply planning for the next year. This means that you, or a student, needs to keep track of what you have used for at least one month. I’m talking white board markers, lined paper, construction paper, erasers, pencils, and anything else that is a consumable product. Then, have students in teams work together to figure out how many of each item you will need for the next school year. Students could also break it down into per student needs or figure out how much all those supplies would cost or determine the actual need based on the difference with how much you already have in stock.
At my last school, I was lucky enough to have an amazing math specialist who created purpose-designed games for teachers based on standards and student needs. All the games were ziplock bag games, meaning the play space and all the supplies fit into one bag.
I really like BUMP games, which involve solving problems in order to cover spaces on the board. The player with the most spaces covered wins. These are so easy to set up, take down, and play that you will be using them all year long.
Or go the traditional board game route with Monopoly, Life, Masterpiece, or any other money-based game. Kids will get used to keeping track of how much they have, how much they owe, and making good investments.
Another fun game is Mancala. This old game challenges students to think ahead a few moves in order to gather the most pieces. Other games that challenge thinking are chess and checkers.
What are your end of the year math plans? Do you have any favorite games or activities?