No Series: Hand Gestures: Movements Make Math Memorable

Hand Gestures: Movements Make Math Memorable

Lesson Objective: Students use gestures for math symbols to help recall math terms
Grades K-5 / Math / Retention


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Discussion and Supporting Materials

Thought starters

  1. How do hand gestures support both kinesthetic and visual learners?
  2. How do the gestures give students confidence when working written problems?
  3. How do the gestures help make student thinking more visible?


  • Private message to Lauren Crandall

This reminds me of Whole Brain Teaching. Works wonders!

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  • Private message to Karen Gillespie
The video gave me enough information to be convinced that this can be effective and helpful, but not enough to replicate it in my own class. Could you please share a document listing the symbols and accompanying sounds and/or any words used to explain the gesture to the students? Thanks!
Recommended (3)
  • Private message to Courtney Petzold
Love the idea of using body movements to help remind students of clue words. I am blown away by how many adults were in this classroom, too! I wish I had more help.
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  • Private message to Linda Tolbert
I thought this activity creative--for prekindergarten: fingerplay, puppets, songs. props and manipulatives can generate and maintain motivation too.
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  • Private message to Lauren Kennedy
I really like the idea of this strategy. I am always seeking strategies that encourage children to talk to one another productively. In this case, they really had to listen to their peer read a problem, find the key words, restate them, them assign the appropriate operation. My one question involves the inverse relationship between the operations. Many problems can be solved with addition or subtraction, so I am wondering how the teacher addresses this. I suppose this would be a key part of the peer to peer conversations, in which case the students have to justify their chosen operation to their peers and hopefully would see that there could be several correct answers.
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External Resource Materials


  • Summary

    Hand gestures are used to emphasize math symbols and aid pupil learning during a KS2 math lesson.
    The teacher leads


    Hand gestures are used to emphasize math symbols and aid pupil learning during a KS2 math lesson.
    The teacher leads a numeracy lesson using karate-style moves, such as chops and punches, to emphasis the symbols for addition, subtraction, division and multiplication. Pupils then use the moves when working on written maths problems.
    Philippa Cordingley, director of the Centre for the Use of Research and Evidence in Education, observes the lesson and explains that the technique makes learning more visible and physical which aids learning, especially when dealing with abstract problems.
    The technique, shown at Heather Primary School, can also be adapted to support literacy, with different gestures for punctuation marks.


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