How to teach maths creatively in primary school?


Discovering maths forms a vital part of early education and one of the challenges for those teaching the subject is around how to keep youngsters engaged.

Most maths teachers will turn to creative methods, all designed to foster a love for the subject and to promote free-thinking at a young age.

Here, we explore some of the creative ways to bring primary maths teaching alive…

It’s all in the language

Firstly, the language used in lessons can make a huge difference to how a child views mathematical problems.

Young children should be encouraged to view problem solving as a creative process, as this way there could be any number of ways to find an answer, and the approach could differ every time.

Not only does this go some way to eliminating the fear of failure, but it can open their eyes to the vast number of different possibilities that may exist when faced with challenges and obstacles.

Maths teachers will often use phrases such as ‘did you try?’ or ‘could you do?’ to broaden thinking, while an alternative is to ask children what they would do should one part of a problem change.

By using a cross-curricular approach which encompasses other subjects too, it’s also possible to weave maths into other elements of a child’s learning, helping to enhance their understanding further.

What about story time?

From picture books to complex tales outlining different problems, using stories is another way to teach maths creatively.

This method is often highly engaging and can be used to introduce a range of topics and ideas, from algebra and fractions to the basics like multiplication and division.

Maths Through Stories has a range of lesson plans and inspirational ideas for maths teachers to discover, all with storytelling at their heart.

Turn to games

Whether it’s introducing some healthy competition into the classroom in a bid to encourage pupils to excel, or just adding a dose of fun, games can help to make the teaching more memorable.

This is especially the case if youngsters are able to associate certain maths problems with a type of game, as their knowledge retention can be improved.

From board games to digital apps, using them in class is a great way to embed mathematical processes into a child’s thinking, while they have the added benefit of boosting social interaction too.

Make a song and dance of teaching!

Just as stories can maths memorable, so can teaching it through the use of music, songs and even dance.

Not only does this take advantage of high energy levels among primary school pupils, but it can also help them to remember key snippets of information.

Using song to teach times tables is perhaps one of the more obvious examples of this technique, but it could be used to accompany the maths teaching of any number of other parts of the curriculum.