ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Ideas for Maths Lesson Starters

Updated on May 19, 2020
David3142 profile image

I am a former maths teacher and owner of Doingmaths. I love writing about maths, its applications and fun mathematical facts.

Maths lesson starters

Over the years, I have collected together many different ideas for lesson starters across the different maths topics. Some of these starters are related to particular topics, some are number practice, some are just great little puzzles or sheets to get a class in and settled to work with. On this lens, I am going to share some of these ideas with you and give you links to find some more great starters.

Image used is my own from

Multiplication Grid


Times table practice

This is a great starter to do when you need something in a hurry as it requires no preparation. Simply draw a 4x4 grid on the board, put a multiplication symbol in the top left and then fill in the rest of the top row and left column with any numbers from 1-12. The pupils then need to fill in the remaining squares by multiplying the number at the top of the square's column by the number at the far left of its row.

Simple, quick and easy, this starter works especially well once the pupils have seen it a couple of times as they soon get used to what is required and can get on with it quickly. It's great times table practice and can be made trickier by missing out one of the edge numbers and filling in one of the central numbers instead, to allow for a bit of division practice.

Alternatively, I've set up an excel spreadsheet from which I can print out multiple copies of the same grid so they are ready on desks as the class enters.

Image is my own.

Maths Starters books on Amazon

Sometimes you need a bit of inspiration. I especially love the Red Hot Starters book and regularly use ideas from it. It's a great book just to pick up when you're short of ideas and contains many activities that can be used with little or no preparation.

101 Red Hot Maths Starters (Letts Framework Focus)
101 Red Hot Maths Starters (Letts Framework Focus)
As the title suggests, 101 starters along with recommended year groups for each activity. Activities are indexed by topic as well.
Quadrilateral wordsearch
Quadrilateral wordsearch


Some schools I have visited don't like this one, but in the right circumstances a maths-based word search can make a fantastic start to a lesson. In my first year in teaching I had a difficult group who I really struggled to get started in the lesson, so it was recommended to me that I had something accessible on their desks each lesson ready for when they came in. That way, each pupil knew they were to come in, sit down and get straight on with their work. Word searches were one of the activities I used.

Word searches are great for vocabulary practice as well. For example, you could do a polygon word search and ask each child to sketch the shape as they find it in the grid. You could do similar things with circle words such as arc, diameter, chord etc. or many other things.

There are many places on the internet where you can make word searches. Just Google 'word search maker' and choose the one you like. They're extremely easy to use and usually allow you save a pdf version to your computer when you have finished.

Image is my own word search I made.


A riddle can be a great way to get a class thinking and warm their brains up ready for a great maths lesson. I often use these to encourage thinking outside of the box, but beware, it can be tempting to spend a long time allowing the class to think the riddle through. Make sure you are strict with your timings.

Here's an example of a riddle I've used in class:

You are trying to make 3 slices of toast under the grill.

Your grill can only take 2 slices at a time and only toasts one side at a time.

If it takes 30 seconds to toast one side and moving a slice takes no time at all, how quickly can you toast all three slices on both sides?

Hint: It takes less than 120 seconds.

I love this one, classes are always adamant that it is 120 seconds. I add the hint to the bottom as it gets tedious repeatedly saying "no, it's less than 120 seconds".

If anybody thinks they know the answer, you are welcome to put your guess in the comments module at the bottom of the page.

Sudoku | Source


I have a lot of puzzle books ready for some quick photocopying for a starter. Just like the wordsearches, these are great activities to get a class in a settled with as they are easily accessible, but require enough thought to be worthwhile and to get the pupils thinking.

There are a lot of puzzle books available out there. I regularly use Sudoku (either the traditional 1-9 or the easier 1-6 grids) or puzzles from a Mensa book that I have. It's also easy enough to find free, printable puzzles on the internet.

Topic specific starters

The starters I have mentioned on this page are all quick, easily done starters that are easy to pull out of the hat during that frantic few seconds between one class leaving your room and the next class arriving.

However, it is generally good practice to have a starter related to the topic you are doing.

I very often have several reasonably simple questions up on the board to remind pupils what we have been doing and to test how much they have remembered. As with the other starters on this lens, these are easy enough to be quickly accessible and to get pupils in and working. but challenging enough to get pupils thinking. I generally end with a question to lead pupils into the current lesson's idea and get them thinking for themselves on how to progress.

For example, for a lesson on finding averages from a frequency table, I would have a list of numbers on the board and ask the pupils to find the mean, median, mode and range of the list. This gets them remembering the different averages and practising their use.

The final question would be a very simple frequency table and pupils would be asked to find the averages and range. I make the pupils aware that this is new and they shouldn't panic if they find it difficult, but many pupils relish the challenge of pushing themselves and showing off that they understand more difficult problems.

Use a quiz from

My brother introduced me to this website and I suddenly became hooked. It's a collection of topic based lists where you are given a set amount of time to fill in as much of the list as possible. For example, can you name all 50 US states in 10 minutes, or the 200 most mentioned Harry Potter characters in 20 minutes.

This can also be used effectively in maths lessons. Just search maths, or even a particular topics and see what quizzes come up. In one I found, you must name the Least Common Multiple of 36 sets of numbers in just 2 minutes. Difficult, but the timer counting down gives it that extra edge of excitement. You could even give it a go yourself and challenge your students to beat your time.

If you are worried about getting your class too overexcited with this one, it could also make a great plenary.

© 2013 David

New Guestbook Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • David3142 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from West Midlands, England

      @TanoCalvenoa: Thank you for the comment and the Squidlike. They're hugely appreciated.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      This lens makes it obvious you're a math teacher. Very good for kids who need practice.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)