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Fun Math Icebreaker Activity

Get elementary students excited for back-to-school and ready for math class 

Marlo Fountaine

Elementary students measure their heights and graph the results in a fun math activity. 

One of the many things I love about being a math teacher is being able to share my positive math mindset with students. I begin as soon as the school year starts and continue all year long.

During back-to-school, I especially enjoy team-building activities. These activities help break the ice with a new group of students and introduce my group-oriented teaching style. I encourage my students to work collaboratively during math instruction at all times. Here’s an example of how I do it.

Marlo Fountaine

1. Create a Graph of Class Data

I love reading through the DynaMath Teacher’s Guide for lesson planning and teaching tips. One differentiation tip suggested a fun activity that has students measure each other’s heights and graph the results.

To begin, I placed my students into small groups to measure their heights (in inches). Students had to work together, take turns measuring each other with yard sticks or rulers, and record their findings. I had a volunteer from each group come up to the SmartBoard to display the height data for his or her group. Then each group had to discuss how they should best organize the data to create a bar graph.  

2. Reinforce With a Video Lesson

To help students draw their graphs, we viewed an instructional DynaMath video, “All About Graphs,” to reinforce understanding of how people use graphs in the real world.

Then I had each group create their first draft of their bar graphs. As I walked around the room to check for understanding, I noticed that their bar graphs looked like city skylines from a distance. Realizing this could make for a great bulletin board display, I challenged them to color their bar graphs to reflect a city skyline. They enjoyed coming up with their own names for their cities, such as “Sunset Heights” or “Supreme Heights.” It was a fun and enjoyable activity to reinforce measurement and graphing. 

Marlo Fountaine

3. Build a Math Bulletin Board 

The graphs turned out beautifully, and I quickly realized that they were the perfect display for the bulletin board outside of our classroom. This would be a great activity to have completed just before your “Back-to-School Night!” 

Have other ideas for fun icebreakers that build a positive math culture in your classroom? Email us!

Want more elementary math education tips and news? Check out Scholastic's archive.

Marlo Fountaine is a 5th and 6th grade math teacher in Rockaway Beach, New York. She has been teaching for 16 years at the middle school and high school levels. Marlo also serves as a staff developer and educational technologist. She loves to share her enthusiasm for math with her students each day with math jokes, riddles, real-life applications and STEM projects. 

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