Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Mental Math Relay

Sandra Pickard
Santa Rosa District Schools


Students use mental math, paper and pencil and calculators to solve problems. The students are put into teams and “race” to see who will get the most correct answers per round.


Adds, subtracts, multiplies, and divides real numbers, including square roots and exponents using appropriate methods of computing (mental mathematics, paper-and-pencil, calculator).

Uses estimation strategies in complex situations to predict results and to check the reasonableness of results.


- Overhead
- List of problems
- Calculators for all students
- Mental math relay template
- Stop watch
- Colored pencils
- Grading pens or markers


1. Obtain overhead
2. Create templates (blank and with answers)
3. Make copies of templates for students (if necessary)
4. Secure a colored pencil for each student
5. Secure grading pens or markers for each team.
6. Secure calculators for each student (if necessary)
7. Write problems.


I use this activity to strengthen mental math and estimation skills. In the first round students do mental math, the second round they use pencil and paper and in the third round they use a calculator.

1. I begin by doing several warm-up exercises with the students.

2. Put students in rows and move them around so that the teams are of equal ability. (teams should have at least 4 – 5 members). Each member gets a different colored pencil (so you can tell if they change each other’s answers)

3. Display the mental math relay template for each team to copy (one sheet per round – use front and back) or provide a copy for each team.

4. Each team will put the team name and team members on their sheet.

5. The sheet goes to the person at the front of the row.

6. Display the first problem for 30 seconds (time determined by the ability of students).

7. After 30 seconds the sheet goes back to the next team member and another problem is displayed for 30 seconds.

8. This process is repeated until everyone on the team has worked a problem and the sheet is at the end of the row.

9. For the second round the sheet comes to the front of the row.

10. Conduct the second round the same as the first.

11. For the third round the sheet goes to the back.

12. Conduct the third round the same as the others.

13. Display the template with the correct answers and have the teams get together and check their answers.

14. Work the problems and discuss strategies for solving them.

15. The team(s) with the most correct answers is recognized.


Teacher circulates and takes note of students that are having difficulty with any of the activities. Students having difficulty will need additional instruction.
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