Math

6 Fun 5th Grade Math Games and Activities for the Classroom

Want to make math instruction effective? Make it fun! Think about ways that students can engage with mathematical ideas and think mathematical thoughts, no matter what their interests are or where they are in their mathematical achievement.

Try these fun math games for 5th graders, along with activities, warm-ups, and lesson plans to promote fun math learning in your classroom. When choosing which activities to offer, we thought not only about standards coverage, but also the need to differentiate and ensure access for all of your students.

Activity 1: Venn Diagram Your Class

Key Objective: Students will reason mentally and talk about their thinking as they find percent by participating in a community building activity involving Venn diagrams.

The Venn diagram is more than a math object. It's a way of organizing ideas that span every subject. Students know it and can talk about it. Here's an activity that makes math real for students and can speak to what's important to them.

• Choose 3 categories that your students would be interested in identifying with, for example "Has Dogs," "Has Cats," and "Has Fish." (You can change these to any three categories your students would like. They don't need to be related for this activity to work, but if they are, it promotes richer discussion.)
• Publicly display a Venn diagram of the categories that the students can interact with.
• Students identify where they fall within the Venn diagram. If completing the activity in person, have students write their name on a sticky note and place it in the spot that represents them. If completing the activity remotely, consider using Jamboard or a similar platform.
• Facilitate a discussion around percent. For example, "About what percent of the class do you think uses Instagram?" "What's the exact percent?" "How do you calculate what percent uses either Facebook or Instagram?"

For further details around this activity, read more on the Math Solutions website.

Activity 2: Clear the Board

Key Objective: Students will build number and operation sense by thinking flexibly and considering many possibilities throughout the game to find the solutions to the computation challenge.

Practically every math student would benefit from fluency practice. But steer clear of worksheets of endless calculations. They're a surefire way to turn students off of math! Instead consider this activity that promotes lateral math thinking and has many entry points, allowing students below-, on-, and above-grade level to have a voice and share their thinking.

• Write the numbers 1 through 12 on a board, either physical or digital.
• Roll 3 number cubes until you have 3 different numbers (for example 1, 3, and 5). Cross those three numbers off the board. They're already "cleared."
• Can students clear the remaining 9 numbers only using the results of the rolls? For example, they could clear "9" by showing that 9 = 5 + 3 + 1. They could clear "2" by showing that 2 = (5 + 1) ÷ 3.
• The activity is flexible. Students could individually compete to clear as many numbers as possible. Or you could call on students one at a time to clear a new number. This allows for students to engage with negative numbers, exponents, or other math concepts no matter where they fall in the curriculum.

For further details around this activity, read more on the Math Solutions website.

Activity 3: Number Strings

Key Objective: Students will apply previous understanding of multiplication to multiply a fraction by a whole number.

This activity, taken from our Math 180 solution, is a quick opportunity (can be as short as 5 minutes!) for formative assessment, along with a fun way to get students thinking and talking about math. Not only does it allow for multiple entry points for students of varying levels, it also facilitates discourse in the math classroom—a key component of mathematical sense-making.

This is a useful activity for discussing mathematical properties. Model for students how they can use vocabulary like the Commutative Property, Associative Property, and Identity Property to explain their reasoning. Ask students how they make these mental calculations, and have them design a similar string of factors.

This activity also facilitates rich mathematical discourse—a key element in developing conceptual understanding, and in turn building fact fluency. Ask what would happen when you change the factor of 7 to 14 or 70? What if you change the denominator to 14 or 70? Use this mathematical expression as a way to instill one of the Habits of Mathematical Thinkers: reasoning abstractly.

Activity 4: Which Does Not Belong?

Key Objective: Students will analyze a set of fractions and mixed numbers to identify which number does not belong in the given set and explain why.

Similar to Activity 3, this activity (also taken from Math 180) is a way to get all students to find an entry point and then think and talk about mathematics. Use this to not only facilitate discourse in the math classroom but also formatively assess your students.

Students are tasked with identifying which number, out of a set of five, does not belong. Although 5/4 is the natural answer (it's the only number not equal to 2.5), encourage students who find other answers, such as "2 1/2 because it's the only number with no digit above a 2 in it" to explain and justify their thinking as well.

In terms of Habits of Mathematical Thinkers, this activity requires that students attend to precision. Even though this content generally aligns with fourth grade standards, it would benefit any student as it promotes the urgency of why equivalent fractions are important. Extend this activity by asking for other numbers that would belong to the same set or, more generally, asking how to generate infinitely many new numbers for this set.

Activity 5: Wipeout

Key Objective: Students will be able to add and subtract fractions with unlike denominators by finding fractional equivalences to solve.

Fraction equivalence is a place where many 5th graders struggle, and understanding it is essential in order to master the 5th grade standard of adding and subtracting unlike fractions.

This game, which is adapted from Lessons for Introducing Fractions: Grades 4–5 by Marilyn Burns, makes fifth grade math games visual and lets students see fractions using pattern blocks. They build out models, and in turn build their understanding of fraction equivalence conceptually before moving to a more abstract understanding.

This game is a powerful way to introduce fraction equivalence at the start of a unit, or it can be used flexibly in a small group or intervention setting as a math workshop rotation.

If your learning is virtual or hybrid, consider using virtual pattern blocks or creating fraction cards and paper pattern block pieces that students can cut at home.

Activity 6: Coordinates Secrecy

Key Objective: Students will understand key vocabulary related to coordinate graphing (coordinates, axes, x, and y), and be able to graph points on a coordinate plane.

Have your students ever played the game Battleship? Well, here's the math version! This game could easily be played either face-to-face or remotely and introduces plotting points on a coordinate graph. For students ready for a more advanced version, extend to all four quadrants.

The teacher instruction in this free downloadable, published in Math Games for Geometry and Measurement by Jamee Petersen, includes ample support around ways to differentiate math instruction, the why behind the game, and ways to discuss strategy. Use this game to not only practice coordinate graphing and geometry, but consciously build vocabulary around the concepts.

Looking for More 5th Grade Classroom Math Games?

These fun math activities for 5th grade are just the tip of the iceberg! We realize it's a never-ending goal of getting all of your students to love and engage with math with an endless number of ways to seek entry points and differentiate instruction.

Try some of our previous posts where we offer 5th grade math games, puzzles, and activities to get your fifth graders' brains churning!

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