The lambda of gamma is equal to the delta of a theta.
Did this sentence sound like gibberish to you? If yes, then chances are this is exactly what math classes sound like to someone who doesn’t understand what the terms being used actually mean.
While there are many math games available in this digital era, however, understanding math vocabulary is also an essential step and part of doing well in math. This blog highlights various class activities that help in learning, practicing, and retaining various mathematical terms, their use, and meanings.
Activities for mastering the math lingo
Math might not be the easiest subject to crack, but it can definitely be made fun with the use of various activities. Hence, similar to vocabulary games that help students become better with vocabulary, here is a list of several activities that can be used in the classroom to make learning about math vocabulary fun.
1. Math Scrabble
For this game, the educator will need several regular Scrabble sets. The students can be divided into groups of 4 students and be given one set each.
The goal of the students will be to get the highest points by using different letters and building on other students’ words. But the catch is that they can only make words related to math. The educator can also decide to award extra points for using math words recently learned in the class.
The students will have to keep track of scores, which will use their basic arithmetic skills, and they will be racking their brains for unique math-related words, which will exercise and enhance their math vocabulary.
2. Math Word Find
For this activity, the educator will have to prepare a word find with various mathematical terms hidden amongst random letters. They can easily prepare this sheet on Microsoft Word, Google Docs or any other writing software.
The task of the students will be to find as many words as they can under a short and pre-decided amount of time, for example, 15 minutes. To help the students, the educator can also give several hints on the word find sheet. For example, if the hidden word is ‘line segment’, the educator can give a hint as “a line with two fixed endpoints”.
This game will break the monotony of regular lectures and introduce a fun new element to learning. Students will exercise their math vocabulary knowledge to find all the words before the time runs out.
3. Sort it out
For this activity, the educator will have to decide on a theme. It could be anything number-related, like prime numbers and composite numbers, odd and even numbers, factors and multiples, etc.
The educator will then present a pouch full of number tiles from 1-100 to a student at random. The task of the student will be to randomly pick a number tile and place it in the correct pile. For example, if the theme is prime and composite numbers and the student picks the number tile 7, they will have to place that in the prime category.
This fun game does not require much preparation. The theme can be customized based on whatever topic is going on in the class, and it can be used to assess students’ actual understanding of the terms and concepts being used and taught.
4. Illustrate it
For this activity, the educator will have to prepare a bowl full of chits with various mathematical terms written on them. The terms should not be simple shapes but instead related to mathematical operations and concepts like factorisation, lowest common multiple, etc.
The class will be divided into two teams with an equal number of students in each. The teams will then take turns sending one student up to pick a chit, read the turn, and illustrate it on the board, either with an example, a figure, or whatever is convenient to the student. The goal of the team member will be to have their team guess the concept on the chit in under 30 seconds. Whichever team correctly guesses the most illustrations will win the game.
This game will allow the students to compete with each other over their knowledge of math vocabulary and showcase it using illustrations. Additionally, while bringing in the LCM, teachers, and educators can also introduce some examples of concepts like LCM to make their understanding of the concept better.
5. 3 clues
For this activity as well, the educator will have to prepare a bowl full of mathematical terms. The terms could range from concepts like congruence to operations like multiplication and division to even shapes like pentagons and triangles.
The class will be divided into two teams with an equal number of students in each. The teams will take turns, sending one person at a time to pick a chit and give three clues to help their team guess the term. For example, if the term is a triangle, the clue could be a closed shape with three sides. The team that can guess the highest number of terms will win.
This game will help students revise their mathematical terms, both when they are guessing it as well as when they are giving hints about it.
6. Find your partner
For this activity, the educator will have to prepare several pairs of cards. In each pair, one card will have the name of a mathematical concept, operation or term, and the other will have a fact related to it.
One card will be placed under each student’s seat. The task of the students as soon as they pick up their own cards would be to look at their classmates’ cards and find their pair. For example, if a student gets a card titled Congruence, their pair could be a student who has a card describing the Side-Angle-Side rule of triangle congruence. The first two or three teams to find their pair could be awarded. This activity can also be supplemented with other activities to brush up the concept of triangle congruence.
This game will not only help students brush up their math vocabulary but will also help them revise various concepts they might have learned or are currently learning in class.
7. I object
For this activity, the educator will have to prepare slides with various mathematical shapes and concepts written on them, like line segments, congruent triangles, hypotenuses, etc.
The class will be divided into two teams with an equal number of students in each. When it’s the first team’s turn, they’ll be presented with a term, and their task will be to come up with as many real-life examples of that term as possible in under 30 seconds. For example, a real-life example of a line segment could be a straight road, a tube light, a scale or ruler, etc.
When the 30 seconds are up, the other team will be presented with another term, and their 30 seconds will be started. By the end of the game, whichever team is able to come up with the most real-life objects will be declared the winner.
This activity will help students apply mathematical, conceptual vocabulary to real-life objects, simultaneously aiding their understanding and recall of the same.
8. Finding letters
For this activity, the educator will have to prepare slides with several mathematical terms written on them. The catch will be that those terms will only have the first letter, the last letter and the total number of letters are visible.
The class will be divided into 4-5 teams with an equal number of students in each. The teams will take turns and will be shown a complete word, which they will have to complete either by guessing the letters or racking their brains for all the possible words that could fit. To make it easier for the students, the educator can allow them to guess 5 letters incorrectly or give a hint about the term mentioned.
This game will have students using their mental encyclopedia and dictionary full of mathematical terms throughout.
9. Buzz for it
For this game, the educator will have to prepare slides with various math terms written on them and 3-4 facts related to those terms mentioned below.
The class can be divided into teams of two with an equal number of students in each. Each team will be given a buzzer. The task of the students will be to identify the false statement among the facts related to the mathematical term mentioned at the top of the slide. For example, if the term is a hexagon, the facts mentioned can be
- It has 6 sides
- The sum of its interior angles is 580°
- It had 6 angles
In this example, the first team to point out that option b is false and also give the correct answer, which is 720°, will get the point. The team with the most points will be declared the winner.
This game will not only test students’ math vocabulary but also help them learn more about various terms and concepts.
10. The Alphabet Game
For this activity, the educator will have to get a ball and have the students stand or sit around in a circle.
The game will start with the alphabet A and progress in alphabetical order. The educator will randomly pass the ball to a student who will have to mention a mathematical term starting from the letter A and define it as well. The student, once successful in stating and explaining the term, can then randomly pass the ball to another student. Any student who cannot come up with a term under 30 seconds will be out of the circle.
This game will help students revise concepts, come up with mathematical terms on the spot as well as learn and expand their math vocabulary by learning from each other.
Learning math requires the individual to first learn about the terms used while referring to different concepts, operations, etc. Math activities and games are always a fun way of making tough subjects like math easier to understand, recall and remember. Furthermore, when used in the right way, these activities can help students get better with the vocabulary of a daunting subject like Math! So, go on, play, and learn the concepts so that you can retain them for a lifetime!
An engineer, Maths expert, Online Tutor and animal rights activist. In more than 5+ years of my online teaching experience, I closely worked with many students struggling with dyscalculia and dyslexia. With the years passing, I learned that not much effort being put into the awareness of this learning disorder. Students with dyscalculia often misunderstood for having just a simple math fear. This is still an underresearched and understudied subject. I am also the founder of Smartynote -‘The notepad app for dyslexia’,