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Home » Blog » Math » 4 Free Activities for Making Math Groups Fun (& Effective Too!)

4 Free Activities for Making Math Groups Fun (& Effective Too!)

Math, Small Groups & Math Centers

Written by: Mary Kate Bolinder

Students in the same grade, but all working at different levels. Does this sound familiar? It can be a challenge to give each student exactly what they need to develop math skills. But with our Small Math Groups Kit, teachers can easily prep fun, engaging, and targeted activities to keep students progressing. Add this Math Small Groups Kit Freebie to your math routine to see the DIFFERENCE!

BONUS: Not only will these games help improve math skills, but they will also strengthen fine motor skills.

4 free activities for making math groups effective engaging and fun

The freebie includes four engaging activities, and we’ve described each of them in this post. Grab your free math groups activities below, then keep reading to learn how to set up and use these fun activities with kids!

Setting Up Intervention Boxes for Math Groups

Check out this post for the best tips for small group organization. Plus, it includes an Amazon shopping list for all the supplies needed for small group intervention boxes.

Free Math Activity #1: Four Square

four square place value math activity

How to Play Four Square

Yes, the favorite playground game is now a classroom activity! Students will have a ball practicing these important math skills:

  • Base Ten Value
  • Place Value
  • Expanded Form
  • Word Form

To play Four Square, give each student a blank four square mat and a bouncy ball. Tell the students a 2 or 3 digit number, and write it in the center circle. Students will then take turns bouncing the ball on the mat. Wherever the ball bounces, they must fill in that square with the correct information. Keep bouncing until all the squares are complete!

Place the mat inside a dry erase pocket to use over and over again. Save on paper and prep time!

four square math game to practice place value

Free Math Activity #2: Place Value Popsicles

place value popsicles math intervention activity

How to Use Place Value Popsicles

This activity gives students a hands-on way to visually represent place value. To prep the place value popsicle activity, write 0-9 on the edge of popsicle sticks. Then, write “100” “10” and “1” on 9 clothespins each.

place value popsicle sticks hands on math activity to build understanding of place value in early grades

Have the student choose three popsicle sticks and arrange them into a 3-digit number. Then, pick the clothespins to represent the correct amount, and clip on the matching popsicle stick. Write the problem in expanded form to check your work. Repeat again and again. How many different numbers can you make with the same popsicle sticks?

use hands on tools like popsicle sticks and clothespins in small math groups to strengthen place value skills

Free Math Activity #3: Addition Beads

addition beads math intervention activity

How to Use Addition Beads

The addition beads activity is so easy to set up and use over and over again. Simply twist a pipe cleaner so there is a circle and two ends sticking out (see picture).

teach addition with hands on tools like pony beads and pipe cleaners

Give each student a math fact. Place one addend on one end, and the second addend on the other end. The student can then recite the number sentence or write it on paper for extra practice. Beads make adding easy-peasy!

Free Math Activity#4: Subtraction Smash

incorporate play doh into small group math lessons to make addition and subtraction concepts more concrete

How to Play Subtraction Smash

Ready, set, SMASH! Students will love this hands-on subtraction practice. All you need is a bit of play-doh and a number line. Give each student a subtraction fact. The student will roll tiny play-doh balls for the larger number, and line them up on the number line. Then the fun begins! Students will “smash” each ball for the smaller number to “take them away” and subtract. The remaining number of balls is the answer.

how to play subtraction smash  with your second graders

These free activities are a small sample of our 700+ page small group and intervention math kit. This kit is designed to give 1st or 2nd grade teachers all the tools needed to organize, assess, and teach effective and fun math groups all year long! Check it out in our shop by clicking below:

Get these on All Access

toothy task kits

Join All Access to download everything we've ever made.

If you’re looking for even more ways to make math practice fun, take a look at Digital Math Manipulatives, No Stress Worksheets, and Spiral Math Review!

FREE Small Group Math Activities for 1st or 2nd Grade


  1. Victoria C Devlin

    This looks like a lovely sensory activity where the pupils can physically see what numbers they have counted and don’t lose their place on the number line. A win- win! Fantastic!

  2. April Lehman

    Can’t wait to try these!

  3. April Lehman

    I love how you think like a kid and still keep them learning in fun ways.

  4. Lindsay B

    I am super excited about having these freebies and my students will be even more excited 😊

  5. Jennifer J Martin

    I would like to get the freebie: 4 free math group activities.
    I complete the form and click the button to “send these to me” and it doesn’t seem to be working.
    Please advise.


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