How to Make Math Distance Learning FUN in maternelle

Flash back to almost 9 years ago, when I very first started teaching maternelle.

First of all, two words for you…

Pure. Chaos.

Our days were PURE CHAOS.

It was rough, guys!

But for me, the roughest part of the day, where I felt like my teaching was the least effective of all, seemed to be math.

I was following a boxed curriculum, and I did not like it.

It wasn’t hands-on enough, and when it was, it was NIGHTMARE.

The “hands-on” lessons didn’t permit every student to participate, and generally wound the kids up so much that the lesson had to be abandoned anyway.

Guys. I will NEVER forget the lesson for the number six where I had to invite six students up to the front to PRETEND TO BE PUPPIES.

I had puppies in my class for the rest of the day. No children, only puppies. And let me tell you, no one who didn’t already know what six meant learned it.

My philosophy on teaching math has changed a lot since then, and now it’s one of my favourite subjects to teach (I love all things math & literacy!).

Now, we do hands-on activities with every single student participating, every single day.

I have some blog posts in the pipeline to touch more on that soon, but to put those lessons into practice, one does have to be actually physically in the classroom.

So, I thought it might be more relevant today to talk about how I’ve adjusted my math teaching to make it still be hands-on, but better fit with distance learning.

Read on the find out what my students have been doing daily over the past few weeks, to review skills learned at school and learn new ones!

Struggling with making math fun in maternelle during distance learning? Check out this blog post to learn how to implement fun, hands-on daily math challenges in your Google classroom!

In order for me to feel successful at teaching math, a few things need to happen.

  1. I teach my students something new
  2. EVERYONE gets to collaborate & practice, with another human that they can learn from/solve problems with
  3. Everyone does some sort of independent work/exit ticket so I can quickly see if the skill was acquired, or if they need more practice
  4. We talk about/share what we learned!

In the classroom, I teach a new concept at the tapis, everyone goes and practices with a partner, then they do some kind of sheet/exit ticket independently, and then we share/discuss.

Pretty simple!

Now that my students are at home though, making my math lessons fit that framework was a bit of a challenge.

How in the world could I get my students working hands-on (without “official” math manipulates), and sharing/collaborating with their peers… from their own homes??


Le défi quotidien de mathématiques!


Well, in a nutshell… daily math challenges!

Each day, I send my students a math challenge that has to do with one of our maternelle outcomes.

I’ve sent challenges about shapes, sorting, counting, number sense, making 10, more/less, measurement, and more.

They read the bilingual prompt with their parents, complete it, and submit a picture into our collaborative document.

I check in throughout the day and see their amazing work!

Struggling with making math fun in maternelle during distance learning? Check out this blog post to learn how to implement fun, hands-on daily math challenges in your Google classroom!


I use Google Classroom for distance learning, so each morning, I schedule a challenge to post at 8am.

The challenges are Google Docs – there is a header at the top explaining the challenge, what they will need, and an optional extension activity, and underneath, there is a table with a spot for each student.

Instructions are in both French and English, so parents can read in their desired language (I teach at a francophone school and French instructions are mandatory).

All the challenges use materials found in the home – nothing for parents to purchase or anything like that! The materials list is pretty broad – for example “find 5 red objects” or “find 3 large objects”.

Students complete the challenge and optional extension, and parents take a picture of their work.

When I post the challenge each day, I make sure that it is “editable” by students.

That way, parents can type the name of their child on one side of the table, and add the picture of their work to the other side.

My students and I can check in throughout the day to see everyone else’s work.

I LOVE how they can see that there is more than one way to answer the prompt! For example, in a prompt that says “make a group of 5 red objects. Then, make a group of yellow objects. The yellow group should contain MORE objects than the red group”, one student might have 6 yellow objects, one might have 10, and one might have 20… and they are all correct!

Struggling with making math fun in maternelle during distance learning? Check out this blog post to learn how to implement fun, hands-on daily math challenges in your Google classroom!

My students have really taken to posing in the pictures along with their work, and they love seeing either other when they check back throughout the day, too!


Checking in on my students’ challenges is one of my favourite parts of distance learning!

Here’s a few reasons why I love them:

  • Routine, routine, routine! My students and their parents look forward to the routine of our daily math challenges, because they happen every day.  You can read more about why routine is clutch in maternelle *in this blog post*, but suffice it to say that kids LOVE knowing what to expect!
  • Everyone can participate – No printer required, no video to eat up data, and the challenges can all be completed with materials my students already have lying around the house
  • Collaborative – the challenges encourage parents to collaborate with their children, and the prompts help guide their “teaching”. Students share their pictures and can check in throughout the day, and love seeing each other!
  • More than one “right” answer – math is often seen as black or white, right or wrong. These challenges help show students (and their parents!) that there is, in fact, often more than one right way to answer a math problem!
  • Hands-on – worksheets have a time and place, but I did NOT want my math lessons to be parents begging/bribing their children to fill out worksheets. I have many students for whom worksheets aren’t a great fit, and many parents who believe that worksheets are how you learn (through no fault of their own – that’s how most of us DID learn when we were in school!). These prompts are hands-on, and kind of like a scavenger hunt – my little movers enjoy them and I love that they are manipulating real objects
  • Less stress – since these are “challenges” and feel fun/a bit competitive, parents have given me feedback saying that their kids enjoy them and there are few-to-no arguments during math challenge time. YAHOO!
  • Simple, quick, and easy to extend – for my students who just want to get their work done, these challenges are pretty quick to complete. For those who want more, I always provide extensions, and since they complete the challenges with objects found at home, it’s easy for them to extend on their own and come up with more examples/problems.
  • Positive parent feedback – I surveyed my parents for feedback and 100% of those who answered picked Défi quotidien de mathématiques as one type of activity they/their kids liked best. Winning!!


If you are interested in adding daily math challenges to your distance teaching routine, great news!

I have two sets of prompts in my store, ready to go!

All you have to do is open them and assign them to the desired day via Google Classroom (make sure that you change the setting to “students can edit”)!

Each set has 20 prompts, perfect for maternelle.

There is also a bundle with both sets, if you need more than 20.

You can check them out HERE on TPT, or by clicking either of the photos below:


Struggling with making math fun in maternelle during distance learning? Check out this blog post to learn how to implement fun, hands-on daily math challenges in your Google classroom!

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