Math Tips To Start The Year Strong

Last week I shared literacy tips and ideas to help you start the new school year strong, so today I'm sharing similar math tips. I find that a little bit of prep and planning now saves me so much time and stress when school starts in August. These math ideas will come in super handy for those crucial first days of school, as well as provide year-long staples that save prep time all year long.

Math tips and activities to start the year strong in upper elementary. Includes ideas for morning work, centers, and review.

How To Start Your Math Block

I use a math workshop approach and absolutely LOVE it! This math workshop organization post has alllll the details for how I organize our routines, lessons, groups, and centers.

math tips on how to organize math workshop in upper elementary

As we're setting our routines, I kick the math year off with Calendar Task Cards and School Supply List Math, which are both included FOR FREE here in my first week of school lesson plans. I also use these back to school “all about me” math task cards, which are FREE on TPT. They are a hit every year and a great level for most of my learners at the beginning of the year.

free back to school math task cards calendar activity
free back to school math about me task cards activity

Print Math Skill of the Day

Just like with reading, I also prep Math Skill of the Day work at the beginning of the year. These notebooks are thoughtfully spiraled skill reviews that focus on just one skill every day, created especially for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades. Each one will routinely reintroduce your students to the important skills they learn throughout the year (and in years prior) and engage them in meaningful, relevant practice. Plus they cover every grade level standard! If you can print and bind them all at once before the school start, it will save you so much time! I know that's sometimes difficult to do with copy counts. In that case, I tried to print a month at a time and hole punch instead.

morning work journal math skill of the day

Schedule Math Projects

I consistently turn to math projects throughout the year. They are PACKED with real-world connections, differentiation options, collaborative learning opportunities, and cross curricular learning too. If you're new to math projects, you can read this post for tips on implementing math projects.

tips for using math projects in upper elementary

I recommended mapping out when you’ll use each math project now so that you have a year’s worth of practice at your fingertips! I use both concept-based math projects to focus on specific standards and seasonal math projects that integrate several skills.

I love to begin the year with this road trip themed math project. It is FUN for students, but earns real bonus points because you will get an excellent gauge of your students' math, problem solving, and critical thinking abilities. The pages stand alone, so you can use a few of the pages or all of them depending on how much time you have. This also makes it PERFECT for differentiation. For extra themed practice, mix in this FREE set of road sign math task cards.

road trip themed math project back to school
free road trip themed math task cards back to school

Place Value Detectives is another great math project to start with for back to school. Whether or not your curriculum standards are full of place value review, it is such a crucial skill to master when preparing for most other math concepts, so I always like to start there. This FREE place value activity is nice to mix in, but I have tons of place value ideas in this blog post too.

place value math project back to school detective theme

Organize Math Games

In addition to projects, we use a ton of games in our math centers throughout the year. I like to set the tone for cooperative learning right from the start. You can use this FREE math facts and mental math topple block game to do just that! Students will learn expectations for playing games in a math workshop format while practicing their basic math facts. After this, your students will be set to play educational topple blocks games all year long.

Plan For Early Finishers

The beginning of the year is also the perfect time to establish routines for those, “I’m finished, now what?” moments. I have students create Early Finisher Notebooks, which you can read more about in this post.

early finisher ideas upper elementary task cards

To make these notebooks super simple for you, I recommend grabbing this bundle of Early Finisher task cards. Your students will love the challenging extensions of their learning (and you’ll love that they aren’t just busy work!). Not only will they cover math, but literacy skills too!

Join our FREE Facebook Group

The beginning of the year can be overwhelming, but you’ve got this! We’d love to see you in our Inspired in Upper Elementary Facebook group to share your best ideas for what to prep now so you can enjoy your summer break!

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