Elementary Math Clubs Explained

Why Have a Math Club?

A Math Club gives the school and students:

  • An academic club for those students that want to participate in non-athletic opportunities to compete.
  • Access to recognized leading-edge contests, specifically Mathleague.ORG and Mathematical Olympiads; these contests help open the doors for competing in HS Math Clubs.
  • One more opportunity to develop a passion for math through exposure to the collaborative and engaging side of math.  

What is a Math Club?

A Math Club can provide a collaborative environment for children to solve challenging math problems and strengthen their number sense while offering opportunities to compete in mathematics.  At NJLovesMath, our principles are:

Promote curiosity and agility in math.

We do this through presenting challenging problems to solve,
practicing mental math to improve our sense of numbers and
exploring engaging activities that help us further explore math.

Math Club is for everyone.

We provide an environment that supports Problem Solvers
(i.e. non-competing) and Mathletes (i.e. competitors) alike.

Math Talk is encouraged.

Peer communication and respect are foundational elements of the
math problem solving process.  We put our thoughts into words to
help clarify our thinking and surface any misunderstandings.

What Areas of Math Do We Cover?

Number Sense.  The philosophy behind Number Sense is that students should know how to solve problems in one’s head without the help of a pencil, paper or calculator.  Each meet-up is typically started with a team number sense competition with a new strategy being introduced and practiced weekly.

Problem Solving.  “Math was created as a result of problem solving,
not as a result of rote learning. Students love challenges.” – Mathematical Olympiad Founder.  Solving logic problems is the core focus of math club. The problems from the contests are engaging and solvable using multiple approaches making them suitable for all skill levels.

Engaging Activities.  Games and manipulatives (e.g. 3D-shape marshmallows, fraction cakes and big chalk number lines) can be an engaging approach to introducing, developing and reinforcing concepts and multi-step strategies to children.  Our activities are from NRICH from Cambridge University, Numberphile, G’Day Math, and the Art of Problem Solving and Mathcounts Foundation.

What our Math Club is Not?

We are Not Advanced Math.

The mathlete is presented with logic problems that are applicable to all math levels; the problems can be solved with 2-3 approaches and the more advanced mathlete can apply a higher-order of math strategies.

Math concepts are typically aligned to what has been covered in class.  However, areas of math that frequently appear on these logic problems (e.g. prime numbers, cryptarithms and π) are introduced and best practices are reinforced in club as they are foundational to building agility in problem solving.

We are Not a Homework Club / Remedial Math.

We do not cover or provide assistance with homework problems or questions that come up during math class. 

We do NOT do Speed Math.

A Math Club should not practice on speed.  Problems are solved faster and with greater accuracy through practice and use of best practices.

Which Grades Participate?

Early Learners Math Club

3rd Grade

Seed an early readiness for problem solving and mental math.

Build problem solving skills through fun activities in a scaffolded, collaborative environment.

Introduction to “Mental Math” and how we add in our heads.

“Math Talk” promotes peer communication and respect as is needed to solve problems in teams.

Each child’s unique individual math talents are celebrated.

Elementary Math Club

4 – 6th Grades

Build accuracy and speed through problem solving and number sense.

Build resilience through exposure to a variety of problems.

Review common math areas that frequent logic problems.

Cover number sense best practices.

“How to Manage Contest Anxiety?”

Compete in-club and at area schools (e.g. MOEMS, Mathleague.org, WWPMT.)

Middle School Math Club

6 – 8th Grades

Transition to higher-order problem solving and seed interest for HS Math Club.

Expose mathletes to higher order problem solving skills through exposure to a variety of problems in a collaborative setting.

Compete as interest exists in middle school level contests (e.g. iLearn, Mathleague.ORG, MOEMS, Math Counts and/or AMCs.)

Seed an enthusiasm for joining High School Math Clubs in the following academic year.

This club can be offered as an elective.

Which Competitions are We Involved With?

Mathletes can start competing in the 4th grade, but we generally recommend 5th grade, and recommend waiting further when a child is experiencing stress. Our clubs continue through 8th grade. Whether one wants to compete or just problem solve in club is driven by the child.

Mathematical Olympiads (E for 4-6th Grades, M for 6-8th Grades)

Unlike other mixed-math contest sets, MOEMS is entirely about problem solving and our focus becomes one of problem solving approaches – just do something, using number lines, drawing a picture, ordered lists, factor trees, process of elimination, working backwards and more. The time-frame of 30 minutes for 5 problems is one that doesn’t seem to stress or tire the child out. There is always another problem to solve and and the mathlete works on improving their personal best.

Mathleague.ORG (E for 4-6th Grades, M for 7-8th Grades)

Mathleague.ORG is for students that have an aptitude in number sense skills and core math plus are comfortable in a challenging competitive setting.  The contest covers mental math, multiple choice, and both team and individual problem solving. This contest requires consistent practice over the year and the Math Club will provide the materials, time and opportunities to help mathletes reach States in May.

WWPMT (3-8th Grades)

WWPMT is a popular Plainsboro high school run contest with the goal to expose younger kids to the adventure of math.  The tournament includes testing and a series of group mini-events that are geared towards exposing children to the fun side of math.

iLearn (6-8th Grades)

iLearn is a fun team challenge-based contest to promote an enthusiasm for math.

What are the Next Steps?

Typical next steps involve identifying a classroom for the club to meet-up in, establishing membership dues, creating a calendar, sending out parent communications, reaching out for teen and parent volunteers as needed, and setting a start date!

Please reach out to victoria@njlovesmath.com for more information.

Thank You!