5 Easy Ideas to Make Math Meaningful

So many students struggle with math. When I was a kid, I was one of them. Part of the problem was that I didn’t really understand why math was important. Many math curricula are so disconnected from reality that students have trouble seeing how the concepts and algorithms are applicable to everyday life. As teachers, we have the power to change this course by helping students see how math is part of everyday life. Here are five easy ideas you can use to make math meaningful to your students.

Two students working with math resources and engaging with each other

1. Using Project Based Learning to Apply Math Skills

Project Based Learning (PBL) is when students learn by actively partaking in real-world projects. Often time PBL is cross-curricular and incorporates multiple subject areas and real-life skills. When you use project-based learning in the classroom, students work on a themed project for an extended amount of time. The project can solve a problem, answer a question, or relate to a real-life scenario. PBL incorporates many key life skills including teamwork and collaboration and critical thinking.

Here are some ideas for project-based learning themes students can work on.

Run a Pizza Restaurant:

Students use fractions to determine how to serve various pizzas to customers.

Dinosaur Measurement:

Students learn to relate measurement skills to measure and compare heights of various types of dinosaurs.

Cupcake Baking:

Students plan and prepare batches of cupcakes for a bake sale to raise money for a new playground.

Even More Ideas!

For even more ideas, explore all of my Project Based Learning resources.

2. Using Picture Math to Make Math Meaningful

Math is everywhere we look! Why not encourage students to see math in everything they do. You can use photographs to have students solve real-life math problems. You can use my picture math resources for 1st grade, 2nd grade, and 3rd grade, or find your own photographs and work with your students to create their own!

Image of math resource showing math ideas for picture problems

3. Take a Math Field Trip!

You don’t have to go far. Go for a walk around your school, the nearby park, or have students go to a location of their choice for homework. Have students write their own math problems based on the location they travel. For the grocery store, they could make and track their own budget. For the playground they could create a set of exercises or activities to fit a schedule.

A little girl with a male adult shopping for ingredients so they can learn math while baking

4. Cook in Class to Integrate Various Skills

Cooking requires a lot of applicable math skills including measurement, fractions, multiplication, and time. Here are some simple ideas to incorporate math into a cooking lesson:

  • Students have to double or triple a recipe to feed the class or school.
  • Convert a metric recipe to US Standard
  • Determine ratios of ingredients
  • Divide a cake into fractional pieces
  • You can make simple recipes such as no-bake cookies or cake.
three children are mixing ingredients to learn math while cooking in school

5. Teach Time Management and Scheduling

Have your students give input and make changes to the class schedule based on set requirements. Challenge students to come up with their own after-school schedule and calendar.

These project based learning ideas will help make math more meaningful and help your students learn key skills that will benefit your students for years to come! I hope these ideas help you and your students.

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