My All Time Favorite Middle School Math Lessons and Activities!

I’m teaching high school now, but here are the lessons that I miss the very most.  These are my “Must Do” lessons.  I have a few friends who will teach middle school math (or Algebra 1) for the first time this year.  Thanks to Jami for the inspiration for organizing these lessons.  It’s been a walk down memory lane for me.  I really miss middle school.

My All Time Favorite Lessons

These lessons really kicked ass.  Not only did I love teaching them, but students had a blast.  Best of all, these are the lessons that students learned the most from.  They were totally engaged and the ideas stuck.  Of course my number one lesson of all time is Barbie Bungee.  And, I just realized that I never blogged about some of my all time favorite lessons!  Goals!

1. Barbie Bungee (Linear equations), 2 – 4 days.  I can never, ever say enough about this lesson.  It is my students favorite every year.  The last year, I even bought cheap tiaras for the winning group.  YES, the boys wore them.  My only regret was not dressing up like Barbie after seeing Matt and Fawn do it.
2. The Black Death (Ratio and proportions), 1 day.  This is great for a cross-curricular activity if your students are learning about the middle ages as well.  Be sure to play the turn off the lights and play scary medieval music during the lesson! Also, you will find out years later that your students memorized every word to the “Fleas On Rats” YouTube video you showed them and will sing it everytime “Hollar Back Girl” comes on.  Epic.
3. Monster Math (Introduction to solving equations), 2 days and ongoing.  There is NOTHING worse in the world than trying to make 6th graders (read boys) write down every step when they are solving equations on paper for the first time, nothing.  This makes equation solving so fun and helps them understand what is happening.  Be sure to do the “Pass the paper” activity in the lesson so your students have no choice but to write their steps down.  But don’t worry, they will WANT to so they can draw extra monsters!  Protip:  Wear the hat!
4. Army Men and Circle Stickers for Learning Integer Operations (Negative Numbers), 2 – 3 days and ongoing.  So, I know that army men killing each other is not “PC”.  BUT, it’s such a fun way to illustrate a zero pair that it has to be done.  I start with Army Men (days 1-2), then move onto Circle Stickers for a few days.  Let them use the men and the stickers on the first few assessments!  They won’t always need them, I promise!
5. Paper Airplanes for Measures of Central Tendencies (Mean, Median, and Mode, and negative numbers), 2 days.  AND following directions, and negative numbers.  When students throw their plane and it goes backwards you get bonus math.  What is the furthest distance from the negative distance minus the longest distance?  Subtraction of a negative!!  This is the a very visual way to see subtract of a negative.
6. Mathemagic (More advanced simplifying equations and equation solving), 2 days.  I love this because even beginner can do very advanced equations very quickly.  Plus, who doesn’t love magic?  The hook is when you guess their numbers, so don’t forget to do that first!
7. The Pattern Function Connection (learning the connection between patterns, tables, and graphs and how to write a function from a pattern).  2 days or 2 weeks, however  much you want to use it.  It goes great with Fawn’s Visual Patterns.  I used this in 6th grade, and this year I will use it in Honors Algebra 2.  Classic.
8. Square Root Cheez-Its (Square roots, perfect squares), 1 day.  I used this in MS and in 9th grade geometry.
9. Playdoh and Cheerios for Volume  (Discovering volume formulas), 1 – 2 days.  Students know many of the formulas, but slicing playdoh helps them discover what the formulas mean.  You can also use marshmallows instead of cheerios.
10. Algebra Tiles, Ongoing.
11. The CLAW (Distributive Property), 1 day then ongoing.  Thank you Sean for introducing me to the CLAW!!  It’s so much fun and when we factor, we are retracting the claw!
12. Ski Slopes and Slope Guy (Slope – Puff, puff positive), 1 day.  Don’t write off the video, I promise your students will love it.  And, it will help them!
13. Equation of a Line Song (y = mx + b), 1 day then ongoing.  My students still sing this song and will never ever forget what a 0 slope or undefined slope look like.  I miss it!!
14. Fraction Song, 2 days then ongoing FOREVER.  I have hs students who see me out and tell me they sing it all of the time.  Songs are a fantastic way to access their memory!  (I just read “Make It Stick”).
15. Geometry Booklets, 1 unit.  This made the 1 million Geometry terms you have to go over in MS fun.  And they can keep it for later classes.
16. M&M Percents (need to blog), 1 day.  Paper plates, M&M’s and percents.  I did this activity the first day of our percent unit.  I found the somewhere and loved it.  I can’t believe I never blogged about it.
17. Kinesthetic Algebra (Introducing Variables), 1 day.  I still use this with HS students.  It is a short activity that gets a lot of ah-ha! moments.
18. Turning Words into Math (Translating Algebraic Expressions), 2 days.
19. Fibonacci Rabbits (need to blog), 1 day
20. Factor Craze and Pascal’s Triangle (Factors and Exponents), 1 – 2 days
21. Solving for Y with Cups and Kisses (Solving equations for a variable), 1 day
22. Goldfish – Capture Recapture (Ratios and Proportions), 1 day
23. Dominoes Pizza (Linear equations), 2 – 4 days.  This is a free Mathalicious lesson.

My Favorite Activities

1. White Boards – Individual and Mega
2. Problem Solving – Fawn is the queen, and her site will help you!  Kids love it!
3. Math Stations – Great for review days.  I also did this with proof writing in Geometry.
4. Trasketball – Awesome review game.  Kids can get too competitive.
5. Speed Dating – Great to get kids working with different people all period. HS students will be embarrassed bc of the name and work quietly. lol!
6. Flyswatter Game – Protip:  Buy sturdy flyswatters, and have extras!
7. Draw It!
8. Dry Erase Necklaces
9. Mathalicious Lessons – my students loved these and they were very structured so they were easy for me to implement.

Middle School Bloggers

Check out the fabulous middle school math teachers below!  These teachers believe in the #MTBoS gift culture community as promoted by Dan, Kate, Sam, Fawn, Megan and every other math teaching blogger that I follow.  We all give and share freely on our blogs and at webinars like Global Math.  If you know of (or HAVE) your own fabulous Middle School Math blog and would like to be a part of our community – PLEASE add it to the comments below so I can add you to my page!

Based on a work at https://ispeakmath.wordpress.com.

85 thoughts on “Middle School Math Everything”

1. five triangles

• Thanks! I’ll add you. 🙂

• Thank you for adding your site! I love that our middle school math blog list is growing! 🙂

• I also am looking forward to following this blog and think the list of fellow bloggers is awesome. Collaboration through social through social media is new to me, but I am already finding it so helpful!

2. Hi! I just started a blog and my blog is
http://educationprospector.wordpress.com/

I really like your blog and I appreciate you posting other peoples blogs here as well. Also, I enjoy Pinterest as you do…I am Cathy Jeremko on pinterest.

I am very excited to find other middle school math teachers who would be interested in collaborating on some social media projects next school year!

• Hey Cathy!

I am so glad that you found my blog. I have added you to this page and am looking forward to reading your blog. 🙂

3. I’ve been working on building mine recently. The blog is ibreezethroughmath.blogspot.com and I’m currently writing a series on things teachers can do over the summer to make their August/September easier!

4. I am just getting started with my blog. I have gotten a lot of info and ideas from you and have started following you on Twitter as well. I look forward to making connections and taking my classes this year to the next level.

My blog is at http://hsimmons32.wordpress.com/

Heather

5. I really enjoy your blog! I have found so many awesome resources and strategies. I bought a book from a conference. It is called the Outstanding Math Guide (OMG). It is a book of graphic organizers and how to creatively place them inside of a folder. My had my students create it last year. I realized that it helped bring their state-mandated test scores up.
I thought that I should share a resource with everyone since I have borrowed so many strategies.
Dana

6. I have a fabulous math blog that needs to be here, Julie! Says who? Says me. Damn, and only me apparently. http://fawnnguyen.com
Thanks! 🙂

• Complete oversight. You can beat me up when you see me at #tmc13. 😉

7. Thanks for adding me! I have had some visitors from this link up 🙂

• Awesome!! 🙂

8. I would love to be added! Thank you so much! For the Love of Teaching Math

• Great! I’ll add you. Did you fill out the middle school math teacher survey?

9. Hello – thanks for getting middle school teachers in one place. Sam S. sent me your way. I’m a middle school math/science teacher just starting off with blogging about my practice. My blog is @ http://findingtheprocess.wordpress.com

10. I’ve gotten SO many great ideas from this creative list of middle school math bloggers. I’m hoping to blog more this year, and I really appreciate all the effort you are putting into getting more of us to blog!!! http://mrswilliamsmath.wordpress.com/

• Oh Angie! I’m so sorry. I’ve been busy and it slipped my mind. 🙂

• How are you not on here? Ack! So sorry. 🙂

11. Wondering if you could add my new blog as well. Any traffic/feedback I get would be great. Thanks. Summathmadness.wordpress.com

12. Could you add my middle school algebra blog? Thank you! This is great!!!

13. Just tried the Snakes and Ladders Game board for reinforcing what we’ve learned in Algebra. They loved it!

14. I blog over at iisanumber.blogspot.com and would love to be added to your list! Thanks for providing this great resource.

15. Hi Julie,
I have a middle school math blog which also lists my Middle School Math Teacher Pro podcast episodes. It can be found at http://www.digitallesson.com/middle-school-math-blog. Thanks for creating this great resource!
Mark Tully
Founder, DigitalLesson.com

16. Pingback: Classroom Blogs | slm508mls

17. Julie, LOVE the Bungee Barbies! You could also catapult GI Joe using elastics to investigate the Scientific Method and Elastic Potential Energy.
http://tglennb.wordpress.com/ is my blog. I’m a 6th Grade Math and Science teacher in a suburban charter school.

• Oh wow! Catapult GI Joe! How much fun! I’d love to do that!

18. Hi Julie –

I have run into some difficulty with wordpress, so I moved my blog (formerly Instillnessthedancing) to Blogger. My new blog is Algebra’s Friend (http://algebrasfriend.blogspot.com/). I’d love to be included in your list again.

• Yes! I tried to read your blog today and couldn’t! What happened?

• I’m not sure what happened … WordPress deactivated the blog with no explanation. If I did something wrong, I don’t know what it was. I wish that if I had broken some term of agreement that I could know what it was so I can learn from that mistake but wordpress won’t answer my emails.

I am creating a self-hosted blog … http://instillnessthedancing.com/ for my inspirational writing. Been thinking for some time about separating the blog into 2 since the content is very different.

So … I’m not sure how to get the word out …
http://instillnessthedancing.com/ for inspirational reading
http://algebrasfriend.blogspot.com/ for math

It will take me a few days to build the content back up on the math one.

• Julie –
Wordpress finally contacted me … I included a link (yes, just one!) in my “related links” at the bottom of a post on New Year’s Eve that shut the blog down. It’s restored now. I will create a post there that directs my readers to my new platforms!

Beth

19. somebecomepearls.wordpress.com
I’m new!

20. I just stated blogging can you add to the list..teachingmathinroom14.wordpress.com

21. Could you please add my site. It is a mix of high school and middle school because I have taught both. Over 300 videos, examples,free no ads
http://www.moomoomath.com/

22. I love your list of Middle School Math blogs. I come here often for inspiration and I would be thrilled if you added my blog to your list! Math to the 7th Power
http://mathtothe7thpower.blogspot.com/

23. This is a great blog! I’m a middle school math teacher, and I’ve started my own math website. I would be honored if you would add it to your site, and please feel free to give me any feedback.
Best regards,
~Mr. Ace
http://www.mracemath.com.

24. My blog http://jenisesexton.wordpress.com Elementary Teacher in Middle School chronicles my journey from teaching elementary mathematics and bringing those conceptual practices to middle school.

25. I love that this post started in 2012 and it is still growing. You can include my blog on the list, if you think it fits: http://musingmrsg.blogspot.com/

26. Please add my blog to your list . I post resources,and Math videos. I think I have shared some of your stuff on Pinterest Thanks for this list.
http://moomoomath.blogspot.com/

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28. Middle school addition perhaps?

Pre-algebra.info

29. These links don’t appear to be working:
7th Grade Math Mania
Awilda’s Daughter
Fast Times of a Middle School Math Teacher
Fawn Nguyen
in stillness dancing => moved to: http://algebrasfriend.blogspot.com/
Kimberly Howard
Out Rockin’ Constantly
Shyra Dawson (would not load)
Solving Problems

30. Pingback: Math is Everywhere! | My Blog

31. Thanks for the comprehnsive list! Can you add mine to the list, please?
Mathematic Fanatic – 6th Grade Math Teacher
mathematicfanatic.wordpress.com

Thanks!

32. Yeah Nice One, I like the Bloggers List, Surely I will be Back with by Blog

33. I love how there is a list of blogs sites seeing as how I am new to blogging!

34. What a fantastic list, thanks! I’m definitely going to check these out and add them to my Bloglovin feed : )

35. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this! I know we all have busy lives. I cannot tell you how helpful it is to be able to access a variety of worthwhile and fun activities! My class will be jumping into algebraic expressions this week and seeing how you implemented your ideas in class were beyond helpful!!

36. I am new to the Blog world…I am just creating my own, no content yet, so, for now, I will just say that I love the idea of having all of these Blogs in one spot and I will be trying out as many new lessons and activities as I can! Keep up the good work!

37. Thank you for sharing all of your resources! Can’t wait to peruse more! 🙂
https://mathsux.org/

38. Hi, my name is Megan and I am currently a 3rd-year student in my Elementary Education Major. I was assigned to choose a topic and blog about it, so here I am doing so. The topic I want to discuss is strategies for teachers teaching struggling students math. There are so many different kinds of ways to help those students that struggle and I would like to just cover a few important ones that can help you along the way. As a future teacher, I see that relationships with our students are important. Getting to know students’ interests and how they learn are what will help you as a teacher plan and prep to better teach these students.
Having many ideas on the table for students to choose from is also a great strategy when addressing math. All students are going to learn differently, and we know there are more than a few ways to do math problems. having options is going to broaden the student’s minds as they grow into harder and more complex math initiatives.
Not only is relationships and more options important for math, but so is the fact that we need to make math fun. Many students doubt their math abilities and that leads to poor grades and self-esteem. As teachers, we need to teach the complex steps but also teach it in ways students will understand. Bringing in real-life situations will help grab those students and have them bounce from confused to “light bulb”. As teachers, we need to repeat, repeat, repeat all things we can so students are understanding in the future when there on there own.
As I bring this to a closing I hope the few strategies that I emphasized in this blog will help future teachers grow with their students in the math background. Math is a touchy subject, but what the right mindset and strategies many kids will walk away from you as a teacher happy with what they know now than what they knew before.

Megan

39. There are a lot of great activities here! Barbie Bungie is such a great math activity for students and very engaging for everyone. Great to learn about graphing and linear equations.

40. This blog is awesome. There are so many different references and resources to use for lessons. I love that there is one spot for all the different lessons, activities and technologies. This is great to look back at!

41. In mathematics, factorising is the process of finding the factors of a number. Factors are numbers that can be multiplied together to produce the original number. For example, the factors of 24 are 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 12 and 24. Factorising is often used to simplify equations or to find the greatest common factor of a set of numbers. It can also be used as a way of finding prime numbers. To factorise a number, you need to determine what factors will multiply together to produce that number. This can be done by creating a factor tree, listing all the possible factors or using a factorisation method such as trial and error.Read another amazing blog: https://lead-academy.org/blog/what-does-factorising-mean-in-maths/