30+ Ways To Teach Math Without a Textbook

Try these 30+ ways to teach math without a textbook, with interactive ideas from kindergarten to high school.
Try these 30+ ways to teach math without a textbook, with interactive ideas from kindergarten to high school.

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30+ Ways to Teach Math Without a Textbook

We use math in our everyday lives! Practically speaking, you probably won’t ever need to know the pythagorean formula outside of school. However, many people use mathematics in everyday life, and certain professions in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) use upper-level mathematics regularly.

Math Ideas for Grades K-3

1. Play games while learning addition and subtraction. Enjoy these 20+ addition and subtraction games. From math facts baseball to “war” with playing cards, these games are more interesting and memorable than worksheets!

2. Play math memory, except with addition/subtraction/multiplication/division problems and answers. (if the card is 2+2 the matching card is 4)

3. Use visuals like candy, cereal, or toys for adding or subtracting. Everyday object visuals can bring basic mathematics to life, and can show the practical side of math.

4. Watch the show Nick Jr. show Team Umizoomi.

5. Build towers with Legos. Build one tower with 4 Legos, the next tower with 3. How many towers do you have total? How many Legos do you have total? What happens if you take away 2 legos?

6. Make fractions with flowers or pizza.

7. Practice counting with scoops of ice cream.

8. Learn about fractions through books.

9. Practice addition (and fractions) up to 10 with pool noodles!

10. Everyone loves Jenga! Put an addition twist on it. (You can also do something similar with subtraction, multiplication and division)

Math Ideas for Grades 4-6

11. Watch the PBS show Cyberchase.

12. Teach fractions with marbles or different varieties/colors of food. For example, if you have 3 green M&Ms and 3 red M&Ms, what percentage is red? What is the decimal equivalent? How do you figure out the decimal equivalent? (HINT: Divide the numerator by the denominator)

13. Learn how to estimate by counting in 4s, 5s, 6s, etc.

14. Use a Geoboard to teach fun geometry and multiplication! 15. Calculate how many miles it takes you to get from here-to-there, how many gallons of gasoline you need, and how much it costs.

15. Plant a garden. (or draw one) if you have 6 rows with 7 plants in each row, how many plants are you going to get? etc.

16. Bake something. (double the recipe or slice the recipe in half)

17. Build 3D and 2D shapes with gumdrops and toothpicks.

18. Keep division fresh on your mind with these division bookmarks.

19. Budget allowance. (use percentage, decimals, etc.)

20. Create a lemonade stand. You can use this free entrepreneurship for kids packet. (To properly make money, you must add up the price and quantity your ingredients and figure out how much money you have into one glass of lemonade. Then, up that price to make money. In order to make money, one must correctly calculate all costs.)

21. Only three countries don’t use the metric system. Learn and memorize the conversions (1 inch is officially known as 2.54 centimeters, etc.)

22. Play the game “squares” with a multiplication twist! There’s a free printable included.

23. Have a math scavenger hunt to see how math is used in everyday life!

Math Ideas for Grades 6-12 

24. Create a budget, and allocate a certain percentage of your money in a handful of categories such as food, rent, savings, etc.

25. Create a meal plan and figure out exactly how much you will spend a week on food.

26. Host a party. Calculate everything you need, the cost, the time, the materials, etc.

27. Watch a crime/forensic/medical show and note how they measure things like blood splatter or falling distance with mathematics.

28. Try the book This Is NOT a Math Book by Kane MillerAs the name implies, this isn’t a math book! This hands-on book filled with whimsical geometrical designs explores the ways that math and art can collide.

29. Calculate tips quickly in your head. Learn how to quickly subtract from 100.

30. Learn about slopes with this DIY flip book.

31. Try the million dollar project in your classroom or homeschool. Encourage students to dream big while practicing budgeting, fractions, addition, subtraction, and more!

32. Explore trigonometry with miniature golf.

33. Start a business, something simple like a craft business or car wash. Calculate cost of one unit, cost of labor, etc. Figure out other costs like insurance, utility, etc.

What ideas do you have? Comment and let me know!

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