Mental Math (Printable Puzzles)

Mental math. It causes so many students anxiety, but it’s a critical skill to be able to do more complex math. I’ve seen ideas similar to this, but they seem to use more prep (like writing things on craft sticks), so I’ve made my own. If you want each student to complete this puzzle, I recommend giving this page to each student, having them cut out the strips and glue them on a piece of paper in the right order. If you only want one set for your classroom, be sure to print it on card stock and then laminate the strips so they last longer!

Mental Math A Sticker

Mental Math Puzzle A – Answer Key
Mental Math Puzzle A

Mental Math B Sticker

Mental Math Puzzle B – Answer Key
Mental Math Puzzle B

Mental Math C Sticker

Mental Math Puzzle C – Answer Key
Mental Math Puzzle C

What’s My Equation? Array Math Puzzles

Here’s a simple idea that one reader submitted. Cut out a bunch of paper fall leaves (or any seasonal shape, like snowflakes for winter, hearts for Valentine’s Day, etc.) and laminate them. Then attach a magnet to the back.

Fall Equations 1Then put an array up on your white board. Ask your students what equation is depicted. There will be more than one way to write the equation.

Fall Equations 2 Fall Equations 3


Then discuss the answers as a class. For younger grades, the answer could be “4+4+4 = 12″ or +3+3+3+3=12”, but for upper grades the answer could also include “4×3=12” or “3×4=12”.Fall Equations 4This would make a great warm up for math lessons. Have any great ideas for building number sense? Send them to me at squareheadteachers at gmail dot com. 🙂

Printable Math Flash Cards

math flash cards STICKERHere are some printable math flash cards that I made using the Microsoft Word 2013 templates. (Can you tell I’m a big fan of the new Office suite!?)

Click below to view the free printable math flash cards:
Addition Flash Cards- back side
Addition Flash Cards- Front side

Division flash cards – back side
Division flash cards – front side

Multiplication Flash Cards- Back side
Multiplication Flash Cards- Front side

Subtraction flash cards – Back side
Subtraction flash cards – Front side

Fact Families Graphic Organizer

Fact Family G.O. STICKERI saw this idea somewhere and fell in love with it! This little house is home to a “fact family.” You could use this for addition/subtraction or for multiplication/division.  I’ve made a full page version and a half page version. Sometimes having to complete a half sheet (rather than a full sheet) seems less intimidating to kids even if it’s got the same thing on it. I’ve included a page to use as an example of how to complete the graphic organizer.

Click here for the free printables:
Fact Family graphic organizer – double
Fact Family graphic organizer – full page
Fact Family graphic organizer- example


Counting on Fingers (Number Sense Activity)

I love this math activity. It’s genius on so many levels! This would help students with addition and subtraction, but also to teach “the 9’s trick” with multiplication! It would be a great introductory/review activity at the beginning of the year, especially to have each student trace their own hands and make one of these themselves.  (source)

I know many parents (and some teachers) don’t like it when kids use their fingers to count or do math. Many see it as a sign of weakness of lack of understanding. However, each time you allow a child to use their fingers (or a hundreds chart or multiplication chart, for that matter) to get the right answer, you’re providing them an opportunity to discover and work for the CORRECT answer. Eventually kids will learn their facts from repetition or they’ll get tired of being the only one without them memorized and they’ll fix the problem. After all, speed isn’t what’s important in math. YES, it definitely helps and it has clear advantages, but it’s not the end-all, be-all. There, I’m done with my soap box; I’ll put it away now. 🙂

Chip Method for Teaching Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication and Division

Are your students struggling with addition, subtraction, multiplication or division? These videos explain it in a method that may just do the trick for your confused learners:

Place Value (Number Disks With Place Value Charts) by the NY Common Core Mathematics Project

Teaching Math (Child Narrated) by Kid Snippets


12 Days of Christmas Math (Multiplication)

I saw this idea and thought it was a genius way to incorporate the holiday season into math practice (multiplication facts specifically). This worksheet has kids total up the cost of everything in the song “12 Days of Christmas.” Here‘s the worksheet, and here‘s the full lesson plan. This would be great for any class 3rd grade and up (with varied amounts of scaffolding), or for practice with your kids at home. Merry Christmas!!

Genius Teaching Tips!

no name tags

Desk name tags drive me nuts. So when I saw this idea (source) and just HAD to share it with you! Use an oil based Sharpie Paint Pen (available at craft and office supply stores) to write on the desk. It stays on just like a permanent marker, but you can see it better. Then at the end of the year when you’re ready to take it off, color over it with a whiteboard marker and it wipes off with a tissue! This same idea of erasing permanent marker with whiteboard markers also works on whiteboards, laminated posters, anchor charts, etc.

I’ve been focusing on multiplication facts with my kids lately, so, when I saw this idea I about fell over. (Yes, I’m always impressed by the creativity and pure genius I see in other educators!)!  Kids shake the egg carton (above), and then multiply whatever numbers the chips land on. This can easily be switched to addition for younger kids. I love this idea and I’m excited to try it! (source)

This next genius idea (source) helps kids practice writing their letters the right size. It really helps younger students see what space should be used for lower case vs. upper case letters. This would be an awesome activity for kindergarten or first grade, even if you only did it once. You can buy pre-highlighted paper or just make your own using a highlighter. Making a bunch of these pages yourself is totally doable, but I recommend putting on a movie while you do it! 😉