Here’s the Answer, What’s the Question?
This is one of my favorite math warm ups. Post a number on the board or on a chart, then give students 5 minutes to come up with as many ways to represent the number as possible. Some students draw or diagram pictures, others write story problems, others write number sentences (often including more than one operation!). It becomes a challenge to see how many ways students can come up with the given number. Sometimes I’ve made the class keep the same number for the entire week, so that by Wednesday, kids are REALLY having to stretch and think outside of their immediate problems! I’ve used this from 1st grade on up; it is so simple, yet allows for natural differentiation. This same warm up can be used with whole numbers, fractions, decimals, and even percentages!
Marcy Cook Tiles and Books
If you are not yet familiar with Marcy Cook, you MUST go to her website NOW!! She is the most brilliant, yet easy-going mathematician ever!! She looks like a surfer chick from OC, but when she starts to speak, your mouth will drop open. I can’t even fathom how her brain works because she does all her math mentally and somehow guides you along and then you’re solving problems, too!! Her tile packets and many of her math thinking books use number tiles (basically ten 1"x1" squares with the digits 0-9, one written on each tile). Anyway, I’ve used her materials when I taught 1st & 2nd grades, as well as 4th grade. She has materials through high school! While seemingly simple at first, students REALLY have to think!! Kids initially think the solution is easy so they start to fill in the blanks, but they may only use each tile once. This changes everything!! I always tell my class to NOT write anything until all 10 tiles are on their task card because they may assume to have the answers, but then the 2 spaces left do not fit the 2 tiles they have left!! Lots of moaning & groaning at the beginning of the year, but wow do these get kids to think!!
A daily 5-minute (written) math warm up I used last year was Math Moves by Fun in Room 4B. Each day has 4 problems; there are 16 problems per sheet (Monday through Thursday), with an optional quiz on Fridays. The math concepts covered each week are mixed domains, all Common Core aligned to my grade level. Although some of the problems are difficult for some students (especially measuring angles and learning to use a protractor!!), the spiral repetition of each concept help tremendously by the time we actually get to the full teaching unit!! I had to spend much less time last year on teaching area & perimeter because my students had been exposed to area & perimeter each week on Math Moves; the same for prime & composite numbers. It's also great for differentiating math because those students who are ready for the more complicated concepts, soak it up, and those students who need more practice, get plenty of repetition week after week. Check out Math Moves!!