Tips for Teaching Math Virtually

September 4, 2020

Teaching math through distance learning can pose a great challenge to our youngest learners. Everything I have ever learned about teaching math to our primary students involved hands-on learning! This can difficult to achieve through a computer screen.

Today, I wanted to share 3 tips I have for teaching math while distance learning!

Before I dive in, I wanted to let you know that if you want to watch or listen to the same information, you can do so by clicking my YouTube video below! I actually share a video every single week with tips, strategies, or freebies you can take and use in your K-2 classroom. Be sure to subscribe to my channel while you are there:

To read the tips, just keep scrolling!

Before I share the 3 main tips, I wanted to share a cautionary tip that I have shared in many of my distance learning videos and that is to keep your main lessons SHORT and bite-sized. Even in the classroom, our main lessons to our K-2 learners are supposed to be concise and focus on just one new learning target. It’s even more important through distance learning that our lessons be short. At home, there are endless distractions, and learning from a computer just isn’t as engaging as seeing your teacher in real life!

Okay onto the main math tips!

Tip 1: Use the At-Home Connection

Since students are at home and they’ll be able to have more real-life experiences, we should aim to make our lessons and activities as applicable to their real life.  Think about what your students may have in their homes to help aide in your lessons. Last Spring, I shared a data-collection activity and lesson where students can go around their living space and count how many outlets, doorknobs, windows, etc. they have in their home. They could create a tally chart and graph the results as well.

You can see that video and grab the free collection sheet below:

Another fun task would be to tell students their job is to set the table for the people living in their home. You could tell them everyone will need one fork and one spoon and their problem would be to figure out how many utensils they will need in all to complete this task. I like this because students could go around and physically collect the utensils and set the table to find the answer. They could also draw it or solve it in one of the many other ways you have taught them.

You could also have students use things around their house as manipulatives. Some ideas include:

– grab 3 things around your home and put them in order from longest to shortest

– using small snacks (Cheerios, goldfish, Cheez-its, etc.) to aide in addition and subtraction problems

Tip 2: Try to make math engaging

In the classroom, I would do this with games, games, games! If you’ve been following me for a while, you will know that I am an avid lover of using games to help students practice all sorts of skills, but I particularly love games for practicing math!

One of my best sellers in my TPT store is an entire Print and Play Math Games bundle where students have tons of options for playing simple to follow math games that are also really engaging. The games are all just one or two sheets of paper and require little to no prep at all to play! You can see that below:

I also love to share all sorts of fun and easy-to-play math games students can play with a simple deck of cards or pair of dice. I have a whole playlist of simple card and dice games over on my YouTube channel:

Since so many teachers are currently doing distance learning, I wanted to offer that same engaging practice for students even though they are behind a computer screen. To do that, I went ahead and created some digital math board games that students can play independently, or in small groups with a teacher! When students play WITH a teacher or small group, you can simply share your screen and mouse control and students can move their own number of spaces!

I show you a little bit about how the number sense game version works below:

These games are a TON of fun and they’re getting great feedback from teachers, parents, and students alike. I currently have a version for number sense, addition, and subtraction, but there is also a growing bundle (where you’ll get the cheapest price) for all the versions that will be added.  Each of these has 45-51 unique problems so as students play over and over again, they will get different problems to solve!

You can see those games below:

So whether you decide to switch something up and play a game digitally with students, teach some fun card games, or play printable games, I would try to keep it fun and engaging with your students!

Tip 3: Use Manipulatives

Now, in tip 1 I shared to use things your students may have around the house and in some of my last videos, I shared ideas for sending home take-home kits. But, if none of those options are possible… rest assured! There are SO many great options for digital math manipulatives that students can use… and guess what? They’re free!

Two of the best ones I found include McGraw Hill Education:

This site lets you choose a grade and a bunch of different workmates you can use with this site. There are 10 frames, a part-part-whole mat, and so much more. Then students can choose all sorts of fun manipulatives to choose from to share their learning: connecting cubes, base 10 blocks, game pieces, double-sided counters, and so on.

The second one I love is actually from The Techie Teacher and she created a little database of all these other free manipulatives:

Here students will just click the manipulative they need, like dice, pattern blocks, teddy bear counters, clocks, and more! It will bring them right to the free site to access it. I would try to stick to just one database for those manipulatives though, so students can get used to all different sites since they will already be learning so many new things!

I hope you enjoyed these tips! If you have others, please go ahead and leave them down in the comments.

Pin to remember: