How to Challenge Gifted Students in Math

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How to Challenge Gifted Students in Math

Let loose and move to the numbers! Younger students in grades K, 1, 2, and 3 are full of energy. Put their extra steam to good use by utilizing games involving body movement to help them grasp and practice math concepts in the classroom.


At Spirit of Math, our Grade 1 curriculum introduces students to the core elements of our program: drills, number theory, problem solving, and cooperative group work. By taking a kinesthetic approach to teaching math concepts, you can harness your younger student’s seemingly endless bounds of energy to help them grasp these key concepts of our curriculum.


“Moving” Around Pathways Problems
One of the core concepts introduced to SMS Grade 1 students is pathways problems. Gary is headed to the store for some milk. If he can only travel north and east, how many ways can Gary get to the store? These types of problems introduce students to the concept of logically thinking through directions using a grid and Pascal’s Triangle. Get your students up and about by laying out a grid with masking tape on your classroom’s carpet. From there, have one student stand at the southwest corner and another at the northeast corner. As they move thorough the grid and discover the number of ways they can get to a certain intersection of the grid, they can write the numbers right on the tape as they make their way to the other end of the map.

It’s a Dance-Off! Sequences and Series
At Joe’s birthday party, five of his friends have hit the dance floor! If each of the 5 friends danced with each of the other once, how many different dances were there? These types of “handshakes” questions introduce students to division and help them sharpen their addition and multiplication skills. Gather your students at the carpet and ask for five volunteers to stand up by the board.

  • Tell them they are dancers named A, B, C, D and E. They can each do their own funky moves! 
  • Ask the students to guess how many different dances there will be and write the answers on the corner of the board.
  • Ask dancer “A” to dance with everyone and instruct the class to count how many dances “A” does. Write the answer on the board.
  • Ask dancer “B” to dance with the other dancers. When they are done write “4” on the board above their head. 
  • Continue this process with the other dancers. When the dances are complete, it should be written on the board that each dancer has done four different dances. 
  •  Now that you’ve set the stage for the problem, work with the students to find the solution using the numbers written on the board.

The Solution:

5 X 4 ÷ 2 = 10

There were a total of 10 different dances at Joe’s birthday party. 

From directions to the store to a dance off at Joe’s party, there are a wide range of great ways to incorporate kinetic movement into your lesson plan. How do you challenge gifted students in math? Be sure to Engage and share your thoughts with the Spirit of Math community! 

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