Star Math Students! September 24 2009

Once I heard a student say, “I like math!”

Once. In nine years.

I find this sad, because so much of math lends itself to solving puzzles and practicing basic math skills through playing games. Math can actually be fun.

And this week is all about Stars, so I decided to put together some math lessons or activities that reinforce two ideas. The first is improving math skills, which is important to teachers. The second is to make it fun, which is also important to teachers but appeals to students as well.

You’ll need the Star Template for these math lessons. To find the Star Template, go to my colleague Carol’s post about her “Star Student” Bulletin Board (if you haven’t yet read Carol’s post, bookmark it! It’s a great read!). Click on “Star Template and Directions” for free PDF to get “star”ted!

Ready-Made Bulletin Board

If you’re like me, bulletin boards are more about being resourceful than they are about being inherently creative or artsy (skills which I admire greatly, but do not possess). And I like to make bulletin boards about the kids and their hard work across the curriculum throughout the school year.

Use Carol’s template to create a bulletin board with the title, “Star Math Students!” Copy enough star templates so that there’s one for each student and keep them in a file folder or manila envelope. As each student masters a skill – some skill-based activities are provided below – write the achievement in the students’ stars and hang them up on the bulletin board!

Reinforce Basic Skills

Teaching basic math skills doesn’t have to be drill, Drill, DRILL! Provided below are some activities to help kids practice addition, subtraction, multiplication or division skills, depending upon the needs of your students.


Photocopy several star templates. Cut and laminate beforehand or afterward for stronger stars. If you laminate first, use sharpie to write permanent math problems or erasable marker for reusable stars.


Use the star template to make a set of addition, subtraction, multiplication or division flashcards. Write a math problem on one side, but do not include the answer on the other side, leave it blank. Make a set of cards that don’t have the problems on them, but instead have the answers only, and match up to the problems you've written on other stars. If students encounter an answer-only card, then they have to create a problem (in the skill you are reinforcing) that results in that answer.

If playing individually, students can write the answers to the problem with erasable markers directly on the laminated stars. If playing with a partner or in a small group, students can check a chart or each other for accuracy as they go.


Use the same star template cards that you made for Flashcards. Students, playing in partners, can either match up the cards into problem and solution pairs, or they can lay them out on a tabletop face down. Then, they can take turns flipping two cards over to try and match a problem and solution. If they find a math problem and solution that go together, then they have a match and get another turn.

Star Struck!

Enlarge the Star Template on a copy machine. Glue onto cardstock and laminate for a stronger star, and use dry- or wet-erase markers to make it reusable. On the top point of the star, write the word, “TOP” and a number of your choice.

On each subsequent point of the star, write a piece of a math problem (i.e. +5). In the center of the star, write “ANSWER” and a space for students to write an answer. Students work out the problem starting at the number at the TOP all the way around to the last point of the star. The answer goes in the middle! (Drawing arrows might help kids stay on track...)

If you want, you can use the small templates for this activity as well, and for a variety of skill levels.

Practicing basic math skills doesn't have to be only timed tests - it can be fun! Use these math activities to reinforce basic skills any time!