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great post on introduction to arrays!

Rays of Arrays

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great post on introduction to arrays!

School’s been out for a little less then a week… Now that I’ve slept for about five days straight, I’m energized enough to share our last few weeks of activities with you! In math, our focus was on one of my favorite math concepts from third grade: Arrays! Not just arrays, but using arrays to show repeated addition and later multiplication.

When I taught arrays in third grade, (which you can read about here!) we spent about a month working with them. At the time, I thought it was a little overkill for such a simple concept, but later in the year when we started really diving into multiplication and division, I was so thankful for my student’s strong number sense and ability to problem solve using this simple mathematical concept. I knew I needed to build a STRONG understanding of arrays with my seconds and that meant LOADS of hands-on fun and repeated practice. Not to mention we were on T-minus three weeks left of school and my seconds were D.O.N.E…

First up, we discussed the meaning of arrays and discussed some of the key vocabulary attached to arrays. I used this reference poster through out our unit. Seriously, every time we started discussing arrays, we referred back to this poster!

Array reference poster


Once we had the vocabulary down, we started discussing where we’ve seen arrays in “real life”.  This group of cuties are major talkers. The kind that would literally just talk right over you without batting an eye… and then wonder why you were giving them the “Teacher Stank Eye”. To combat this, we discuss things… A LOT! So this classroom discussion was just what we needed to help the idea of arrays really sink in!

In our discussion, I talked to my students about how arrays are used to help count up larger numbers quickly. I showed them how I could quickly skip count up a group of geometric blocks because the array organized the pieces into easy to count groups of 5.

arrays to skip count

I also demonstrated that I could see a dozen eggs may actually be missing an egg by looking just at the rows with in the array. Math is real life here people!


To practice using arrays to recognize numbers quickly, we play a little sorting game as a class. Each student got a card with an array made of water balloons. Using the array to help them, students had to decide if the array showed a number over 15 or under 15. Then, sort it accordingly.

water balloon arrays sorting game


The next day, we were ready to start building our arrays!

rainbow arrays- build arrays using skittles



Food and math always go well together, so I gave each student a little baggie of Skittles and dice. To build their arrays, students rolled the dice and used the numbers for the rows and columns. Then, they placed down the candy pieces to build the array. Next, they counted up the amount to show how many pieces were in each array. To help record their answers, students copied their arrays using array boards. Once I “approved” their completed sheets with a quick spot check, they were free to eat their rainbow pieces. Yum!


rainbow array- super cute activity building arrays using skittles


Once my kiddos were pretty good at making arrays, it was time to add in some matching equations. I modeled for students how to create a repeated addition equation to match an array, then we pulled out the dice and foam squares and worked to make a few of our own.

building arrays and relating them to repeated addition


Later in the week, I showed my students how it could also be related to multiplication. The word multiplication to second graders is like the words “free coffee” to teachers. They were all over this like white on rice!


using arrays to teach multiplication


By this point in the year, attention spans and printer ink is VERY LOW, so we continued to practice with lots of hands on games! YAY! Save the trees!  We played a fun “Silent” version of whole group class match up using arrays and equations. To play, I gave each student one half of an array/equation pair. Then, they found a place around the classroom to stand. When I gave the silent signal, students had to walk around and look for their match.

array and equation match up game


To make this game friendly for all my seconds, I cut each card pair using a unique design. It didn’t take long, and it was a PERFECT self-checking tool for the kiddos. If the cards didn’t match up, then they had to keep looking silently for their match. Did I mention this game is perfect for when the teacher *may* have a headache and needs to entertain 17 little 8-year-olds?



Another fun game we played was “Spin an Array”. Seriously, my class LOVES spinner games and they are really so simple to make! Just a paperclip and a pencil and BOOM you have a spinner!

spin an array game

To help differentiated, I created three different array spinner games. To start with, pairs of students all played with the level one game cards. I walked around and spot checked student understanding of the concept. If they were ready, I gave them a level two or three game card. My high fliers were so excited!


spin an array game


As a culminating review, we also played a Kahoot Quiz in teams of three using the Ipads.

array kahoot quiz

Perfect way for me to spot check the understanding without having to grade a bunch of papers! If you’ve never played… you’ll love it! It is so easy to set up and the kiddos love seeing their team scores and racing against the clock! You can grab the one I used with my kiddos for FREE here!

Arrays activities- free KAHOOT quiz for introducing arrays in your 2nd or 3rd grade classroom #arrays #math #3rdgrademath #2ndgrademath

We had so much fun exploring arrays! I know my seconds will be ready for any third-grade math thrown at them! Well at least in the array department!


You can grab all these activities AND so much more in my unit “Rays of Arrays”. This unit also includes two weeks worth of lesson plans AND a teaching presentation!


Rays of Arrays unit- A perfect introduction to arrays for second or third grade


Just in case you were wondering, this pack seriously has EVERYTHING you need to introduce arrays to your 2nd or 3rd graders! From posters and games, to a 30 page teaching PowerPoint and assessments, this unit has it all. Oh and did I mention I’ve included a 10 day lesson plan to help you utilize everything in the pack? You’re welcome! 😉



Introducing arrays is a perfect way to set students up for success with multiplication and division. Great post outlining how to build a thorough understanding of this simple mathematical concept

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Hi, I'm Leigh.

The Applicious Teacher is all about creating hands-on and engaging lessons that align with the standards while still having time for your life. This is your place for ideas, tips, and resources for the REAL teacher!


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