Pre-Algebraic Thinking for Elementary Students

We came back from winter break with a two day week last week. I really wanted to do a review of multiplication concepts, because we had been away from school for twelve days. So I had planned some games to practice their facts.

That’s when I saw this on Pinterest:

Math Activity

Click the picture to go straight to Amber’s post!

Amazing! I’ve seen the “all about me in numbers” things on Pinterest, but this one gets them thinking deeper (because they have to make an appropriate number sentence that matches the number!) I dropped my lame game from my plans and whipped up my own version in about 5 minutes on the easel.  Clearly, I am not even half the artist that she is! (Also, I have WAY bigger feet!)

Elementary Math Project Idea

All of the number sentences could have been ___ x 1, but we brought it up a notch!

I showed them how to make it, and we talked about challenging ourselves with the number sentences.  The students who were comfortable could take this pretty far! This project totally differentiated itself naturally, AND we have the added bonus of trying to figure each other’s posters out.  This type of thing really helps develop pre-algebraic thinking, which can be very difficult for third graders to understand.  The activity was age appropriate and helped them see how multiplication and division were related!

Here are some of the student samples:

Elementary Math Project Idea

He *really* likes pigs.

Elementary Math Project

She actually measured her hair!

Thanks to Amber Thomas over at Shut the Door and Teach. I love that the more we share, the more we learn in education!

Shut the Door and Teach!


    1. Hey Teach Me First! That is so kind of you to say…:) Our district adopted a math program, but no matter what math program a district uses, it is never enough. You’ll always supplement lessons with things that you see that work better and get you better results. We unpacked the math common core state standards, and our curriculum is a set of “I can” statements. We use our books as a resource and from there our team shares a lot. I also get great ideas from blogs, like in this example. I wish you lots of luck this semester!



  1. This is awesome! Thank you for reaching out to me and featuring my idea! 😀 It’s so exciting to see this done with kids I’ve never even met. 🙂 I’m glad your students enjoyed and learned from this project.



  2. Love this activity! I’m using it for the first day of school for my 8th graders (SPED). We are going to use order of operations to get the right answer. I am going to share this with my team also!



  3. This is a great idea! I’m using this in my 7th grade math tomorrow to wrap up a unit on multiplying, dividing, adding and subtracting rational numbers. They are going to write expressions to come up with the numbers to describe themselves. Looks like fun and educational too! love it!



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