Maths starters are a fantastic primary teaching tool thanks to the fact that they can serve a multitude of purposes and provide the perfect opportunity to introduce new content or concepts to eager primary minds. Building up a strong collection of maths starters that can be used across all year groups is well worth a teachers time, and yet these simple classroom tools are often underutilised in the world of primary schools!
If used correctly, they can help ease the often chaotic transition between break time and lesson time and help us as teachers make the most of every moment we have in the school day.
Once you find the perfect type of maths starter for your class, there is no looking back!
How To Use Maths Starters In The Classroom
Maths starter activities are very adaptable and there are a lot of ways to use them to kick off a lesson.
They are only really limited buy your imagination, but some ideas could include:
• Consolidating previously taught work;
• using them as an assessment opportunity;
• simply starting off a lesson with a (shhh!) fun maths game.
However you use them, KS2 maths starter games can really help a lesson flow from session transition chaos to a calm and collected primary classroom, setting the scene for the rest of the lesson.
These 10 minutes are often considered a bit of a throwaway, but, if planned carefully into both long-term and mid-term plans as well as your weekly planning, they can be beneficial.
No Topic Gets Left Behind With Maths Starters
Maths lesson starters are a great way to ensure no maths topic or concept is left alone for so long that pupils forget key elements and leave you teaching a topic all over again with no chance to move on to new concepts.
No teacher has time for this…
That’s why well timed and planned primary starters can make a difference to your whole day – making every minute purposeful and structured.
To provide you with a source of inspiration, we have put together a free, downloadable PDF filled with 15 maths starters. KS2 is the ideal time to bring these exciting primary activities into the classroom, so take a look at what you can expect inside!
15 Free & Fun Maths Starters For KS2
The KS2 lesson starters included in this PDF are:
• Today’s Number – A simple starter activity to test knowledge of the four operations.
• Shape Property Bingo – An updated version of the classic game which will help cement shape property knowledge.
• Shape Feely Bag – Vocalisation is crucial in this shape description game.
• Time Challenge – Some tricky time based challenges for your primary class to solve.
• Same Time Card Match – Can your class match the times?
• Number Bonds Practice – No worksheets or maths books required. All you need for this game is paddles and some number bond knowledge.
• Find The Missing Number – A classroom classic. There is a number missing in the sequence, but which is it?
• Classic Puzzle – The tricky Chicken, Fox and Grain puzzle may have been around for years, but it is still the perfect way to start a class!
• Price It Up! Money Challenge – Tying takeaways into teaching monetary maths? What could be better?
• Make Some Profit – Part maths, part business studies, this is a great starter for budding business bods!
• Venn Diagram Games – Who doesn’t love making their own Venn Diagrams?
• Tally Chart Practice – This KS2 Maths Starter is a great way to reintroduce your class to data collection
• Code Breakers – Bring a touch of the Da Vinci Code into the classroom with this fun and exciting lesson starter.
• Vocabulary Quiz – Does your class know their division from their decimals?
• Probability – Use dice, money, or even the weather for this activity. Probability is always around us!
15 Amazingly Fun KS2 Maths Lesson Starters
Get this amazing resource which is packed with starters you can use in your classroom! Each starter comes with an active or passive option so it is easily adaptable to every primary classroom.
The Benefits Of Using Maths Starters In The KS2 Classroom
There are plenty of reasons you should be using these fun and often active maths puzzles and activities in your primary school lessons, and here are some of the main benefits of doing so:
Benefit 1 – Maths Starters Are The Perfect Way To Introduce A New Topic
When introducing something new, a starter could be a game or activity which contextualises the new learning you are about to impart.
Playing a dice game to introduce probability is a good example of this.
Playing simple dice games does not require any skills or knowledge of probability as pupils are used to using them for board games.
Therefore, they will happily follow instructions for a game or try and work something out if given a simple task as a starter.
This can lead you straight, and very neatly, into looking more in depth at probability and using their results in the main part of the lesson.
Perfect for Year 6 – Take a look at Starter 15 in our downloadable KS2 Lesson Starter PDF!
Benefit 2 – Primary Maths Starters Are A Great Way To Recap A Topic Or Previously Taught Skill
If multiplication was on the teaching schedule last week, then having a quick recap at the beginning of each lesson this week can provide the perfect opportunity to ensure that the skills are embedded.
Remember, well placed maths starter questions are an invaluable tool in any teacher’s arsenal!
Using starters to recap will also give you the chance to assess and record this information if you are using independent tasks in the starter.
It is also worth mentioning that if a few students struggled last week, it gives you a chance to remind them again in new ways each day to ensure that it knowledge is embedded before moving on completely.
Perfect for Year 4 – Starter 14 in our list tells you how you can use a maths vocabulary quiz to revise all of the technical terms your KS2 class has learnt this year! If you are looking for other ways to increase the use of maths language in your classroom, take a look at our blog on Maths Terminology and How to Teach Primary Pupils The Maths Vocab They Will Need.
How Third Space Learning uses maths starters in our 1-to-1 tuition lessons
If you have pupils who need to make rapid progress in maths, or require a significant confidence boost to make the breakthrough our tutors work 1-to-1 with thousands of pupils every week. All lessons begin with some questions that establish precursor knowledge as well as warm up activities related to the topic in hand to get pupils thinking deeply right from the start.
Book your no commitment 10 minute demo to discover the impact our 1-to-1 interventions can have for your pupils – it’s never been easier or more affordable. Call us on 0203 771 0095 or contact us here to learn more about how we can help turbocharge maths in your school!
Benefit 3 – Maths Starter Questions And Tasks Can Get Every Member Of Your Class Thinking Quickly
Maths starter activities and games can really help to transition pupils from playtime or lunchtime particularly, into a maths lesson.
If tensions have been running high, or it’s just too hot and they are all drifting concentration wise, a good active maths activity can help them to concentrate and ensure they are engaged in maths as soon as they enter the classroom.
Perfect for Year 5 – Lesson Starter 3 in the PDF is called Shape Feely Bag and it is a great way to grab your class’s attention after break time.
Benefit 4 – Silent Maths Lesson Starters Can Settle An Excited Class
If everyone is excited coming into class from the playground or lunch hall, then having the chance to sit in silence and complete the task on the board gives the students time to settle and prepare their learning behaviours for the lesson.
It also helps you, the teacher, to deal quietly with any children who may need extra support to transition – or even just because you need to count the school trip money that arrived in envelopes that morning!
Mental Maths Starters Idea – Finding the missing number in a sequence is a classic KS2 classroom activity, but take a look at Lesson Starter 7 for inspiration of how to use this as a starter!
Benefit 5 – KS2 Maths Starters Can Help You Drip Feed Areas Of The Curriculum That May Otherwise Be Forgotten About
To put things simply, some areas of the curriculum do not lend themselves to being taught out of context at random six weekly intervals if you really want them embedded.
Telling the time is a prime example.
Introducing regular maths lessons starters, once a week or more, which involve telling the time can be a real benefit if your class has a few children who struggle with the concept of time.
By introducing topics as something to begin with rather than a full lesson, you will be able to slowly ensure that the topics you are teaching are embedded without distracting from whatever the curriculum focus is on at that particular time.
Perfect For Year 3 – Lesson Starter 5, The Same Time Card Match is a great way to bring teaching time back into the classroom in a non-disruptive way.
How To Plan A Week’s Worth Of Maths Lesson Starters
When planning a week of lessons I find it useful to have some specific objectives for the lesson.
However, I also like to have a range of ideas in my arsenal so that I am ready to switch the type of activity if needs be.
For example I may need to change tack based on; how the students enter the classroom, the weather (a lesson after wet play can always be tricky!), or due to one of the many external factors that affect daily life in a primary school.
That might sound like extra work, but once you have repeated certain games a few times it can be easy enough, when using a starter for consolidation at least, to switch to a different game or activity.
As the year goes on you will learn your class well enough to know which days they can cope with more active starters, and which days they need a calm and purposeful endeavour to work on quietly (while you tackle the after-playtime mood swings for example).
You may wish to plan different types of activity depending on the day and how you work your weekly plan.
It is also crucial that you plan your week in such a way that you do not have too much marking every day, for a bit of work life balance (whatever that is!)
For example, a money activity might be independent and recorded in books (requiring marking at some point), so the next day you will plan an active starter talking about properties of shapes.
Introducing something like a maths starter of the day doesn’t have to mean a lot more work, I promise!
An example week may look like this:
|Starter||Recap of last week’s work and homework answers with a practice into books – independent passive task||Time/money game not linked to current topics – active game||Mini assessment of how students are doing with current content – independent passive task||Graphing/tally chart – active practice in pairs||Introduce next week’s learning briefly to reassess what they have remember from prior teaching – active whole class game|
The starters in the example plan could be active (“fun games”) or passive (independent task from prompt on the whiteboard) and once you have the resources ready it is usually very easy to switch from active to passive, or vice versa, if you feel a change of tack is required.
We have put together a maths starters PDF which is easy to use, easy to share among all year groups, and includes starters that are easy to adapt to passive or active activities. Let us know about your favourite starters and how you use them!
Looking for more classroom inspiration? Take a look at the 20 Maths Strategies At KS2 That We Use in Our Teaching to Guarantee Progress for Any Pupil.