One-Minute Math Drills

Instructor: David Wood

David has taught Honors Physics, AP Physics, IB Physics and general science courses. He has a Masters in Education, and a Bachelors in Physics.

Sometimes you only have a minute. Try some of these quick, one minute math drills, to help your students improve their memory, math accuracy, and speed.

What are Math Drills?

Math drills are quick sets of math questions that allow students to practice the concepts they've learned through repetition. Math drills are focused around improving the accuracy and speed with which students answer questions. They are also especially useful for filling extra time available here and there in the classroom.

Many math drills are timed, both because it encourages students to practice answering questions more quickly, and because there's usually only a limited amount of time available. Sometimes there's only a few minutes, and sometimes it's only one minute. Here are a number of math drills that students can complete in a single minute.

The Long List

Memorizing lists is not always fun for students, but sometimes it needs to be done. However, put a time limit on the list, and suddenly it seems a little more engaging, like a game. Students can rush to write down as many things as they can. For example, you could have students list

  • names of shapes
  • equations for the area of a shape
  • types of equations
  • math key terms
  • topics they've studied this year
  • trigonometric identities

Anything where students need to remember a list is a great opportunity for a one minute math drill.

Sequences Drill

Not all drills have to be in worksheet form; verbal drills are often more fun. Have students practice number sequences verbally in groups. Students can easily practice number sequences in a single minute.

One way of doing this is to get into a circle and throw a ball from person to person. As each student catches the ball, they can say the next number in a particular number sequence. This sequence can be as easy or hard as appropriate for the age of the students. However, a sequence that gets progressively harder can be a lot of fun, as students try to pass the ball once per second and think faster with every throw. Such sequences could be:

  • doubling the previous number
  • tripling the previous number
  • square numbers
  • cube numbers
  • adding the previous two numbers
  • multiplying the previous two numbers
  • adding one more each time (adding 1, then 2, then 3...)
  • starting on a large number, and dividing it by two each time (if you want to avoid decimals, choose a number that is 2 to the power n)

Card Matching

For students who like things hands-on, give them a set of cards where they have to match them into pairs. For example, you could have a set of cards with words like hexagon, triangle, right angle, or parallel lines. The matching set would have the picture of the corresponding shapes.

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