Math Warm Ups to Start Your Math Block!

I wanted to share 5 of my favorite math warm ups that I use to start my math block!

My math block has always been in the afternoon and generally right after lunch which can be a bit of a transition nightmare. So instead of jumping right into our skill of the day, I always start our math block with a warm up.

I tell my first graders we need to get our brains ready for math so this gives us a good 5 minutes to "prepare" for the lesson. I switch up the type of warm up we do daily to keep it fresh and interesting. Also, depending on the class' mood, energy level, etc. we may need to be up and moving around to get the jitters out or we may need to turn out the lights and have a quiet drill-type of warm up.

So here are my 5 FAVORITE types of math warm ups:

Number talks are such an amazing way to get students thinking abstractly about numbers and their relationships! We begin the year with students identifying numbers displayed different ways in 10 frames. The most important part of a number talk is to let the students TALK. This is when I train them to explain their thinking with guiding questions. I don't focus on whether they are right or wrong immediately. Through discussion, they generally find this out on their own. My goal is to act as the facilitator in this talk.

Some ideas for number talks:
dot cards
10/20 frames
in and out boxes
missing addend problems
word problems

The Brown Bag Teacher write an amazing post all about number talks that I highly recommend taking the time to read:

Every once in a while my students will come in from recess very.... lethargic... 
I can tell that if I were to try and have a number talk, half my kids would be zoning out and not paying attention. So instead, I get them up and moving! These 5 games are quick and we play them all year long!

Students stand in a circle and practice counting. Each game has a rule for buzz. For instance, the buzz may be multiples of 5. So each student goes around saying a number, but if their turn is a multiple of 5 they must say BUZZ instead! If they do this correctly, the person after them must sit down. If a student messes up or doesn't know the next number, they sit down. The last person standing wins!
{1, 2, 3, 4, BUZZ, 6, 7, 8, 9, BUZZ}

You can do this while skip counting as well!

Make 11:
This is a simple partner game where students face one another with their hands behind their back. On the count of 3, they throw out any combination of their fingers and together, with their partner, they try to make 11. They do this over and over for 5 minutes seeing how many times they can do it.

Addition and Subtraction flash cards are perfect for this Kagan game. Students walk around the room and find a partner. They will each quiz one another and check the answer. Once they have both done the quizzing they trade flash cards and find another partner. We play this for 5 minutes or until everyone has paired up with one another.

Mix & Match:
This is an easy game where each student gets their own card. When I say GO! students will mix around the room until each student has found their partner. You can find many mix and match cards or just write your own on index cards. Once all partners are found, I gather all the cards, shuffle, and play again!

  • 2D/3D shapes and their properties - One card will say 3 sides, 3 corners and they have to find the person who has a triangle. 
  • Place Value - one card will say 5 tens and 7 ones and they find the person with 57.
  • Addition and Subtraction - one card will have an equation and they find the person with the sum or difference

I Have, Who Has:
In this game each student gets a card that looks something like this:
I have my students sit in their desks and when it is their turn they must stand up and read their card. This game is great because EVERY student must check their card to see if they have the correct answer.
{To get the cards above, you can click HERE. I have them for 6 different math skills}

 Later in the year, I like to challenge my students during a warm up with a higher order thinking task.
Some of these I will do whole group and I will listen (and guide) their discussions the same way I do in a number talk. As my students become more comfortable with these types of questions I will pair them up and give them a task to complete me together.

Two years ago I compiled all the HOT questions I had been using by math standard.
You can see more about those by clicking the picture above! 

Generally once a skill has been taught already, I will use a fix-it card as a warm up for review! 

These are some examples for nonstandard measurement:
These are great to throw under the projector and again, have students EXPLAIN their thinking and not only identify what is wrong, but also how they could fix it. Listening to their explanations really lets me see what they have learned and if they need to review certain skills.

You can find fix it cards for every math subject HERE!

Last, but certainly not least, are fluency drills! Let's face it, by the end of first grade there are certain facts that I want my students to KNOW and know quickly for that matter. Doubles facts, addition and subtraction within 20, and adding tens are just some of those skills. 
I don't put too much emphasis on timed fact drills, but a warm up is the perfect time to do it. Especially since we don't do it that often, my students get excited when they get to sit and race the clock to see how many facts they can solve in a minute or two.

I always offer incentives for this and once a student completes more correctly than their last try, they earn something special - reward ticket, sticker, new pencil, skittle, etc.


 I find that these math warm ups are most beneficial when they are SHORT, purposeful, and ever-changing! These are not supposed to take too much time out of your math block, but they are supposed to be purposeful and intentional. 

I always have a goal when completing a math warm up

Some of my goals have been: 
  • to review a previously taught skill
  • to give my students more practice explaining their thinking
  • to get my students up and moving while learning
  •  to calm my students down while learning
  • to have my students practice math facts
  • to practice thinking critically
and many more!

Lastly, my students genuinely enjoy these warm ups when they change often. They don't get sick of them easily and often they will ask to play a specific one that they've been missing!

Pin it:

So there you have it, those are 5 of my FAVORITE types of math warm ups!
Do you incorporate any of these into your math block?


Place Value Print and Play Games!

I am horrible at storing centers.
Like, really, reallllyyyy bad.

I used to spend so much time printing things in color, laminating them, and getting them ready for use in the classroom. They were beautiful... until I had to put them away and store them for next year. I would always lose pieces. Honestly, I have NO idea where they would all go! Unfortunately these things happen in all aspects of my life... and I am always re-buying or re-making things because who know where the originals went!?!

Anywho, I would HATE to have to re-print my beautiful centers and get all the pieces together, so instead I came out with a bunch of print and play math games that are black and white ONLY, can be thrown in the recycling bin after each use, or thrown into a binder with some page protectors and used with markers. The only things you need for these games are dice, paperclips, pencils, crayons and cubes! All stuff you should have in your classroom already!

I just added some place value games to my unit, so I wanted to share a couple with you!

 Fill a Row:
Students simply spin the tens and ones spinners to make their 2-digit number. They then find it in the grid. Once it is found they can take their color cube and place it in that row. The goal is to try and be the first player to fill a row with ONLY their color! As they play they are identifying numbers and also using number sense to find their number in each row. The numbers are not in order, but they are listed from least to greatest in every row.

Best of Ten:
This is a simple game to get students comparing 2 digit numbers.
They simple roll two different dice and place them in the tens and ones boxes on the card.
Each player will write their numbers down and students will circle who has the higher number. At the end they see who had the higher number the most times. 

Roll & Take:
There are two version of this game in the place value portion of my game unit and this is the more challenging one
Students simply roll a die and move that many spaces on the board. They then have to take cubes and see who has the most at the end. This one is a bit trickier because as they play they will also be subtracting and giving cubes to their opponent if they land on a special place. With any of the place value games that require collecting and counting cubes, I make sure that they are constantly re-assessing to see if they can trade in ten ones for a 10s stack.

If you want to see any more of the print and play games available, you can check them out here:

Pin it:

Want to try 3 FREE games for your classroom? Just sign up for my newsletter and they will be delivered right to your inbox! Click the image below:

Print and Play Number Sense Games

 Number sense is CRITICAL in the younger grades. It is so important for my students to be able to understand what numbers mean and their relationship to one another. Once they have a solid number sense they can then build upon their mathematical skills both inside and outside of the classroom. 

I have a unit that I teach in August/September filled with hands-on activities so students can really SEE the numbers and FEEL the numbers. You can see more about that HERE.

After they have a beginning understanding, it's all about practice, practice, practice to help build fluency! That's where my print and play partner games come in. I have created 6 different no-prep printable games that will help your students practice number sense. 

I thought I would showcase a few of the games:

 Spin and Collect:
Students each spin the spinner 10 times and circle the number they landed on. At the end, they collect that many cubes and count them up to see who has the most. An easy game to have students identify numbers in different forms and practice counting up to 30. They also compare numbers at the end!

 One More, One Less:
In this simple game, students take turns rolling a die and then coloring in a hexagon that is one more or one less of that number. Students continue playing until all the pieces are colored in. The student with the most colored in at the end, wins! This game also has a 2 and 3 dice version.

 Get to Ten:
This game is SUPER simple and is great practice for comparing numbers. Students each roll one die and compare the numbers. Whoever has the bigger number gets to add 1 cube to their tower. The first student to build a tower of 10 wins. If students roll the same number, neither will get a cube. This game has many different options - you could have each student roll 2 or 3 dice at a time. You can also have students get to 15 or 20 before they win.

Practicing these skills over and over helps build fluency and what better way to practice than playing games?! I have print and play games for every math subject taught in 1st grade and if you'd like to see more, just click the image below to check out the unit!

Pin it:

Want to try 3 FREE games for your classroom? Just sign up for my newsletter and they will be delivered right to your inbox! Click the image below:

Back to Top