start math class

If you’re anything like me, then you’re a teacher looking for ways to start math class calmly and engage every single student. That’s what we want right? We want our students to walk into math class and immediately engage in some deep math thinking. However, we want it to be calm, welcoming, and easy for every child to engage with the work. That’s where math warm ups come into play. Math warm ups can help our students start math class calmly every day with deep math thinking.

Before we get too far into all this I want to make sure you have the conditions in your math class. Grab my ebook to start creating your student- centered math class. (Also, this is going away super soon– so grab it now!)

math warm ups

Math Warm Ups Help Start Class Calmly

To start math class calmly each day I focus my students on jumping into the math in those first 10 minutes. We do not collect homework, check in assignments, or anything else. Instead, we start off the class with some of my favorite math warm ups- Which One Doesn’t Belong, Today’s Number and Alike & Different. Although these are my personal favorites, there are tons of high-quality math warm ups. These math warm ups get students engaged in reasoning and mathematical thinking right away.

start math class number sense

Daily Routines to Jump Start Math Class

As you start using a daily routine to jump start math class calmly, you’ll want to consider the essentials. In my opinion the essentials are… the math routine, the task, and the debrief. So, let’s break each of those down.

The Math Routine

For math warm ups I like to establish a clear and consistent routine so my students know exactly what to do when they enter the classroom. This routine allows students to take ownership for this part of our class. After they know the routine, they can independently complete the daily math warm up with little to no help from me. This keeps our entrance routine peaceful and calm allowing me time to check in with students and handle the inevitable things that pop up at the start of class.

The Task

When choosing a math warm up I always consider a few things. First, is it open ended allowing for multiple ways to arrive at a solution? Second, does it require higher order thinking? I want my students to not only have to practice key skills, but I want them to practice reasoning and justifying their ideas, too. Third, is it engaging? My students won’t be on task and working diligently if the task is not engaging … like say a page of computation practice problems. I like to provide math warm ups that are relatable and relevant to their learning and lives.

The Debrief

I never skip the debrief. As part of a student centered classroom, I use the debrief to solidify the teaching. (Let me jump in here to say- if you’re not sure what I mean by a student centered classroom click here to grab my ebook with 5tips to creating a student centered classroom.)
The debrief is the time where students share their ideas. It is because of the debrief that they do the work. The debrief is the reason to do the work. In fact, that’s very real world… amiright? We complete our reports, paperwork, data collection in preparation for the team meeting. That way, when we’re in the meeting we can do the real work of putting it all together and making sense of it.

For the math warm up, we often spend 3-5 minutes sharing a few ideas and debriefing them. We inch toward deeper understanding and students make breakthroughs at different points. By trusting the fact that students’ thinking and understanding progresses along a trajectory I know that we are making progress each day.

start math class

How to start Math with a Math Warm Up

Okay, let’s talk about what you need to do to get ALL you ever wanted—a calm start to your math class. First, decide what standards you want your students to work on. For me this is often a mix of our current unit and a review of past units. Next, choose a math warm up to teach your students. (A personal favorite is Which One Doesn’t Belong- I have several monthly packs in my shop. Check them out here.) After you’ve chosen a math warm up, teach your students the routine. With any routine you’ll need time to practice with your students to ensure they know exactly what is expected of them. Then, sit back and relax. I’m kidding, who has time to relax. I’m sure you’ll use all the extra time you have to conference with your students, listen to their thinking, and observe as they reason about mathematics.

I hope you get all the things you needed here, but if not reach out on my Instagram or leave a commit below. And of course, don’t forget to download my guide to creating a student centered math class!

I can’t wait for you to get exactly what’s on your teacher wish list this year- a calm, welcoming, and engaged classroom community. So, now you’re off to start math classroom calmly with math warm ups!

More Ideas & Ways to Start Math Class

Using Math Warm Ups to Increase Math Engagement 

Resources to support you in creating math warm ups!

Why Use Math Tasks to Engage Students in Math This Year?


Math Teacher Wish List!

60 Minute Math Block from Jay at @JoyfulMath

Realistic Differentiation in the Elementary Math Classroom from Melanie @MathCoachConnection










Are you an Elementary Math Teacher that loves Podcasts?

Check out the Honest Math Chat podcast! You can listen on any of your favorite podcast providers!

Honest Math Chat Episode One

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