20+ Quick Math Warm-Up Activities for the Classroom

Photo of Holly (Teach Starter)
Updated | 7 min read

Daily math warm-ups are intended to be a quick way to loosen up a student’s brain. They are not meant to be something that is going to take a long time to organize or plan. But, something that can be used quickly for the whole class! 

Math warm-up activities are for students to practice concepts they’ve learned in previous classes, but may still need to work on such as counting, addition, subtraction, place value, etc.

The Importance of Math Warm-Ups

You wouldn’t ask an athlete to run a race or a singer to go on stage without warming up first! Some might say that warming up your students’ math brains at the start of a lesson is the most important part of the session. Warm-ups spark student interest before diving into your content by practicing known, related information.

Reviewing familiar math content can help students practice their base knowledge, bringing this understanding to the front of their minds so it’s ready to access when they dive into the newer, trickier stuff!


Math Warm-Up Activities

We’ll kick things off with warm-ups you can do right on your whiteboard, then dive into number talks, circle games, and a lot more to get their math minds working.

Math Warm-Ups on the Whiteboard

File this under quick and easy math activities! Using your classroom whiteboard and writing quick math word problems on the board can be a great way to work those little minds, and it doesn’t take much more than your marker and a few ideas … which we have plenty of!

Whiteboard Maths Warm-Up Ideas

Play Who Am I using numbers

I am a number. I am 4 digits long. 3 and 5 are 2 of my many factors. What number could I be?

Work it out – the answer is… what is the question?

The answer is 3/4. What is the question?

Use numbers to get an answer.

The answer is 345. Use these numbers to work out a number of questions – 10, 3, 4, 5, 2, 1, 100.

Balance an even group of numbers using addition.

Use addition to balance these numbers so both sides are equal – 56, 38, 22, 16, 6, 40, 24, 27, 19, 32.

Make a number using different methods and provided numbers.

Make 126. Use all of the numbers (200, 5, 4, 2, 6) to arrive at an answer of 126. You can use addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division, but each number may only be used once.

Guess the number 

A fun math warm-up that can be played as a whole class or in groups of 3. Students stand up and without looking at the other player’s numbers, write a number between 2 and 9. The third player calls out the sum of the numbers and the winner is the person who can figure out what number the other player has first. This can be differentiated by increasing or decreasing numbers, or by having the third player find the product instead of the sum.

Number of the day

Write a new number on the board each day and make it a daily practice for students to interact with the number in a number of ways  — you can use flip sticks and call on students one by one to give you a number that is “more” or “less” than the number of the day. You can also ask one student to identify if the number of the day is odd or even, then call on other students to tell you another number that is odd or even!


Number Talk Activities

Number Talks are short, daily activities that allow students to have meaningful and highly engaging conversations about mathematics. Show students the front of the card, and ask the prompts on the back. These exchanges will lead to the development of more accurate, efficient, and flexible strategies for students!

There are a number of number talk resources — from volume to measurement and beyond! Number Talks - Making Ten


 

Play Around the World

One math warm-up game I used to play a lot of in the classroom was – Around the World. It’s quick, easy, and can be changed to suit whatever you may be learning in the classroom. Also, if you feel your students need some outdoor fresh air – you can easily take this math warm-up outdoors!

Here’s how to play Around the World:

  • Students sit in a circle.
  • One student is picked to stand behind the class member next to them (these two students will play first).
  • The teacher asks a question such as, what is double 5?
  • The student who answers correctly first moves ‘around the world’.
  • If the winner is the student standing they simply move to the next student sitting down.
  • If the winner is the student sitting down they stand and move around the outside of the circle.

Math Warm-Up Poster Activities

tummy filler multiplication activity template

Working on multiplication? These multiplication tummy filler posters are a lot of fun and an easy way to get kids thinking about how multiplication helps us expand numbers!

Choose a gorilla, panda, or monster poster template to print. The number of copies made will depend on the multiplication number sentence being discussed. For example, if the number sentence was 3 x 4, three copies of the gorilla could be displayed.

Students then attach four concrete objects to each of the gorillas’ tummies. The concrete objects, which could be attached with sticky tack, might include linking cubes, match sticks, counters, etc. These objects represent the number of things eaten by the character. Write the matching repeated addition sentence below each gorilla, e.g., 4 + 4 + 4 — on your whiteboard! 


Large Craft Stick Ladder Activity

This math warm-up idea is gold! Yes, it takes a little time with the initial making of the activity, however, no time to set up once it has been created.

If you can, make a class set so that each student has their own each time. Alternatively, in pairs is another great option!

The basic concept is that students get handed the full set and they begin with the craft stick that has ‘start’. They must find the matching answers to the math questions until all of the craft sticks are in order.

math warm-up using popsicle sticks


Math Warm-Up PowerPoints

Using a variety of different methods for each day’s math warm-up keeps it interesting for your students. Having a bank of different interactive PowerPoints (or Google slides) is another fantastic way to get those little minds thinking mathematically!

We have a variety of math interactive PowerPoints, covering a range of topics including;  place value, money, and multiplication and division.

Our Number of the Day Warm-Up PowerPoint is the perfect addition to your math warm-up collection. All you need is a chosen number, and there are more than 20 different activities included in the PowerPoint. Easily change the level of this math warm-up by changing the number used.

 

Check out these Multiplication PowerPoints as well!


Matching Activities

Having a collection of match-up activity cards laminated and ready to go is also another quick and easy math warm-up idea.

I liked using the whiteboard for these activities when I was in the classroom — as my students entered the classroom, they would match one set of cards. It made for a great bell-ringer activity while I took attendance.

Maths Warm-Up Ideas

Here are some great math matching activities you can use:


‘I Have, Who Has’ Math Warm-Up Game

This game was one of my favorite math warm-up activities to do with my class.

There are so many different variations of it, and we would keep track of how quickly the class got through the cards. They kept wanting to beat their record time!

The student that has the sentence ‘I am the starter’ begins the game by standing up and reading their card. Once they have read their clue, the student that has the matching number on their card stands up and reads what is on their card. The game continues until the last person reads out ‘I am the last number!’.

The best part about this is that once you have printed and laminated these game cards, you can use them again and again! Perfect!

I Have, Who Has? Place Value Game

We have a huge collection of I Have, Who Has game cards. Plus, an editable word version of ‘I Have, Who Has’ game cards that you can use to create your very own, depending on the topic you want to cover.

Here is our collection of I Have, Who Has cards:


Use a Deck of Cards

The old faithful deck of cards can be used in a multitude of ways! Here’s just one simple way you could use a deck of cards as a math warm-up. Project our printable place value mat onto your interactive whiteboard, then, randomly pull out four cards from your deck of cards.

Here’s what you can get your students to do with the four cards:

  • Students make the largest number they can with the four numbers.
  • Make the smallest number they can with the four numbers.
  • Get students to add the four numbers together.
  • Students pick two numbers to create a fact family tree.


Number Charts for the Win

Utilizing hundreds charts and number charts is another simple way to get your students’ mathematics brains active!

Use our Numbers 21-130 charts in a variety of ways. Print the black and white versions and laminate them so they can be used again and again.

Here are some activity ideas:

  • Get students to fill in the gaps on the hundreds chart.
  • Have students circle all of the even numbers on the first row in green.
  • Then ask the students to circle all of the uneven numbers pink on the second row.
  • Get students to close their eyes and point to a number – that is their number of the day and they can fill out our Number of the Day worksheet.

The options are endless with a number chart!

 

Get more inspiration from our collection of Math Warm-Ups Resource Collection. Or up your math teaching game with these math anchor chart ideas you’re going to want to steal!

 

Banner image via shutterstock/rido

2 Comments

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  • Damien Middelton
    ·
    It seems that the warm up "Balance an even group of numbers using addition. Use addition to balance these numbers so both sides are equal – 56, 38, 24, 32, 18, 19, 40, 6, 16, 22." has an error. The sum of the numbers is odd, leaving it not possible to balance using only addition. My class would love a response! Mr. M [email protected]
    • Holly (Teach Starter)
      ·
      Hi Damien! Good pick up, thanks so much to your class for finding this error! Tell them they are very clever. We have made a change to this activity so that it is correct. Many thanks again.

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