6 Activities For Improving Math Reasoning Skills

Last Updated on October 9, 2023 by Editorial Team

‘How can I make math reasoning more fun?’ When I saw a student struggling with a gap in mathematical thinking, I asked myself this question. Math reasoning is all about applying mathematical concepts and deducting abstract learning from them. Clearly, stuffing the study hour with explanatory lectures was not taking me and my students anywhere. We needed something extra, more convincing, and less stressful than conventional methods of practicing math reasoning. It was when the idea of doing activities to sharpen math reasoning skills struck me.

The reasoning is not something that can be developed by mugging up formulas. Actually, there is no formula as such. But there can be a pattern to find, a logic to understand. How to solve a puzzle requires understanding the logic behind it. This ability to think, analyze, and apply develops from sharpening reasoning skills.

Building math reasoning skills supports advanced learning

Maths-related discomforts are a reality. A considerable population (5-7%) reports their inability to comprehend numbers, numeric reasoning, or appreciate abstract concepts. Lots of these discomforts are attributed to reasoning skills neglected in the early years. Hence, devising intervention strategies that promote math reasoning skills in young learners is necessary.

Solving advanced math problems requires coupling the already learned facts with new revelations built through the application process. This ease of applying learned skills and embracing new learnings emerges from proficiency in math reasoning.

Children efficient in math reasoning display:

  • Exceptional problem-solving skills
  • Enhanced systematic thinking and analytical approach
  • Ability to arrive at a solution using multiple strategies
  • Improved critical evaluation skills

These learning benefits become easier to achieve with activity-based sessions. Here is the list of activities one can include to build math reasoning skills among students.

Activities to boost mathematical reasoning abilities

1. Quiz time

Reasoning improves when the kids are encouraged to think over the process. How they arrive at a particular solution is a must-think to gain analytical skills. In quiz time, you make a few cue cards having different situations and talk to kids about them. Here are a few examples you can choose:

Quiz time  pic
  • How you can equally divide 8 candies among you and your friend?
  • Which is bigger – a mouse or a cat?
  • When you are climbing the stairs, do you reach a higher or lower level?

Such questions drive analytical thinking among kids and they understand the logic behind various mathematical operations they read about in the books.

2. Fit in the box

Spread a set of things such as a tennis racket, tennis ball, basketball, pencils, and their corresponding packing boxes in front of children. Ask them to put these things by choosing the correct boxes. Alternatively, you can pick up things and boxes and ask them whether the chosen item will fit in the box or not. This activity promotes shaping intelligence and reasoning ability in kids.

Fit in the box pic

Parents can do this activity at home too and ask kids to put a set of scattered items in their respective locations. Give them a mental nudge by asking why they chose the particular location for an item

3. Heavier or lighter?

In this activity, the kids are given a set of things. The order of giving is the same as the order of weight of things. For example, put a pencil, a stuffed bag, a cricket bat, or a chair in front of the kids. Ask the child to pick these items and hold them for a few seconds. By way of observing how easy or difficult they find the item to hold, they learn to differentiate between lighter and heavier items.

Heavier or lighter?

This activity can be revisited to develop a logic behind differentiating things as bigger and smaller too. Further, ask questions like how easily they could move items. It can lead them to develop the mathematical thinking required for decision-making.

4. What comes next

What comes next

Make four slots and fill the first three with 1, 2, and 4 balls respectively. Give a hint that the balls’ number doubles with each slot. Using this logic, ask students to fill the fourth slot with the required number of balls. It is the activity that helps build an understanding of patterns.

You may change the number of balls in the first slot and encourage kids to design a pattern of their choice. More and less, bigger and smaller sets, increasing and decreasing order are some of the reasoning-based problems kids can attain mastery of by doing this activity.

5. Play money activities

Play money activities

Play money-based activities may comprise designing a money maze. The cells of the maze include operations like ‘divide by 3’, ‘multiply by 4’, ‘subtract 5’, etc. hypothetically speaking. Students are given an amount initially and they need to find the possible paths to reach the resultant amount given at the ending cell of the maze. Using their learnings of math operations, and evaluating the results, they can explain whether the resultant amount is possible to achieve or not.

How to find changes, add money to the piggy bank, or share the money for any cause are some of the mathematical thinking-based actions that children can learn and become wiser in money matters.

6. Solving geometry puzzles

Solving geometry puzzles

Prepare puzzle cards based on geometric concepts. For instance, draw an isosceles triangle and an equilateral triangle on a card and write the definition of one of those. You may ask the child to circle the relevant one that matches the definition. Such puzzle cards make very good material for boosting critical thinking.

Similarly, you can create ‘true’ and ‘false’ cards. You can make these cards based on geometry facts. Draw two similar and two congruent figures and write a few points explaining their properties. Ask the child what holds true for the figures given. Differently sized figures can also be drawn on puzzle cards. The kids can explain which has more area or pick the smaller/bigger of the two. Exploring the concept deeper, kids can be asked questions like, “Which figure will occupy more space?”, “Which of the figures will require you to apply more color to paint?” etc.

Wrapping up,

Mathematical reasoning ability is required to apply conceptual learning. Kids feel driven to learn, are involved deeply in the process, and are intrigued by the outcomes that activities may offer. The practical learning support offered by activities also helps understand the real-life application of mathematical concepts.

When you want to bridge the gap between conceptual and practical learning, you may choose activities on math reasoning and help kids improve their analytical and critical evaluation skills. These do add more to the study hour and help you groom children into mathematical thinkers.

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