The first component of my math program is what I call a starter. I first learned about the idea of a starter at a workshop presented by Marcy Cook. A starter is designed to get the students thinking about math. Starters include critical thinking activities incorporating grade-level content and skills, vocabulary, and strategic thinking.
Starters are designed to take no more than five minutes of instructional time. Therefore, in order to accomplish this goal, the activities are short but full of opportunities to review and extend the required content and skills at your grade level.
I typically choose starters that are fun and challenging for students in order to hold their interest. For variety, each day of the week features a different starter. This allows me to stretch the available resources I have a bit further since each activity is only used once a week. For example, with my last group of fifth graders, I used the following schedule:
- Monday: Number of the Day– This activity challenges the students to show ways to compose and decompose a number. I featured this activity in my Engaging Mathematics series. Click the links above to learn more.
- Tuesday: Critical Thinking Activity– This task builds critical thinking and strategic thinking skills. It includes a wide variety of activities and challenges. I generally use the same activity for 4-6 weeks before changing to another activity. Click the link above to download a free resource to support this goal. (See the picture to the right.)
- Wednesday: Today’s Number– This activity is similar to calendar math in the younger grades but has been adapted to suit the skill level of older students. It reviews important number sense-related vocabulary. Generally, I choose a number (1-100) for the students to use as “Today’s Number”. (You can also use the current day of the month as your number.) Students complete the half-sheet using this number. (If the arrays are large, students can just write the factor pair instead of drawing the array.) Click the link above to download a free resource to support this goal. Please Note: The top portion of the sheet includes even/ odd vocabulary. The bottom portion of the sheet includes prime/ composite vocabulary. Choose the portion of the page that is most appropriate for your students.
- Thursday: Word Wall Activity– This activity emphasizes important math terms and vocabulary displayed on your math word wall. I featured this activity in my Engaging Mathematics series. Click the link above to learn more.
- Friday: There is no starter due to our weekly homework review.
Additional Resources for Starters:
- The Routty Math Teacher Critical Thinking File Cabinet– FREE!
- Marcy Cook Math– Resources are generally around $15 each.