Engaging Math Practice when the Holiday Craze Hits

Almost every teacher would agree that keeping students engaged before winter break is challenging! Whether students are virtual or in-person and celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or no holidays, there is so much excitement simply over having some extra time off school and it can be impossible to engage students in math practice once that holiday craze hits. 

Since there’s so much content to cover during the school year, it is still essential to use all the provided time. However, teachers can bring the excitement of the holidays into the classroom! In this lesson, students are going to practice adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing with and without decimals through holiday word problems. Students will be so excited to practice word problems by reading fun holiday-themed questions.

There are also many options to complete this exciting math activity! Each one follows the basis of the strategy called SCOOT, which is a high engagement game that gets students up and moving while practicing content! 

Here are some tips for using this strategy to keep your students engaged:

Timed Stations

If students need to be up and moving, stations are a great activity to incorporate. In this setup, you can leave one question strip on each desk. Each student will have an answer sheet and be able to walk to each desk in order to solve the problems. The teacher can set a timer to ensure everyone knows when to move. Students will love getting to get up and walk around while working on math! It may be helpful to tell students not to worry about the timer because this may stress some out. A reminder may help them know some problems may not be finished or there may be some tougher math to solve. As a class, you can go over the answers and spend some time on ones students struggled with. 

Self-Paced Stations

If you have a class who really struggles on timed math problems, you can take the timer aspect out. Since the most important aspect is solving math, it is okay to focus on just that. As students become more comfortable with the mathematical process, the time spent on each problem may naturally decrease. Problems can be posted around the classroom and students can walk from question to question to answer at their own pace. Each question is numbered, so students will know where to put the answer on the answer sheet. In this option, a few students may even be at the same spot and have the opportunity to discuss the problem. 

As a Class

If working as a whole class works best, the word problems can be placed on the board one at a time. Students can solve problems and respond on their answer sheets. This is a great option to help students have fun while taking an assessment. If you see students struggling with certain concepts or trends among the word problems, this format will also provide a way to know where additional help is needed. 

Group Work 

If your students work well together and are able to stay focused before the holidays, group work is also an option. You can leave four questions at a table and allow students to work together. When each group finishes, students can move to another table and then solve the next set of problems. This will provide time for classmates to help each other while being able to discuss the content. It may be helpful to walk around the classroom to ensure all students are sharing the work. 

Pair and Share

If students get distracted in a larger group, pair and share is a great solution. Students will still be able to work together but will be paired up. Each pair will receive the word problem strips and an answer key. The pair can work together and then check the answer. Groups can keep score or just solve the problems together. 

When students reach a certain percentage, they can earn a certificate to celebrate their success. Students will have so much fun working to become a SCOOT champion that they won’t even realize how much learning is occurring! Students will stay engaged and focused during such an exciting time of the year.

Check out this amazing lesson and keep your students engaged in their math practice – even when the holiday season is upon you and everything is a little bit hectic →  5th Grade Holiday Math Word Problems SCOOT – Add, Subtract, Multiply & Divide