27 July 2014

Your First Maths Lesson with Year 7

A Year 7's first ever maths lesson in secondary school is rather daunting. For both the students and the teacher. As this is the time of year when many maths teachers will be planning those first lessons, I thought it might be helpful to suggest some ideas.

With a new Year 7 class, the first lesson is not just about setting expectations about behaviour and the like, it’s also about getting your students excited about maths and building their confidence. It’s about helping them to quickly settle into their new environment. And - on a more practical note - it’s about learning their names.

First I’ll talk you through my suggestions for that first Year 7 lesson, then I’ll share some ideas suggested by other teachers. And I’d love to hear your ideas too.

A number lesson
As students arrive, greet them at your classroom door and hand them a card or sticker with a number on it. I suggest the numbers 1 – 30 but any numbers will work. While they find their seats, an instruction on the board tells them to think about the properties of their number (bear in mind they might not know the meaning of the word property in this context).

Tell students to stand up and hold their card up if they have a multiple of 5. Each student standing up says their name and number in turn (one of the benefits of this activity is that you - and their classmates - learn their names). Ask one of the students standing to define the word multiple.

Now do the same for various number properties eg ‘stand up if you have a factor of 24’, ‘stand up if you have a prime number’, ‘stand up if you have a square number’ and so on. There are various discussion points relating to the definitions, such as whether one is a prime number. You get the idea. Try to arrange it so each pupil stands up at least twice, to help with the name learning.

There’s various other activities you could use with students when they have number cards. Perhaps get the pupils with numbers 3 – 8 to line up at the front and ask the class to name the polygons with each number of sides. It will be encouraging if you start the year by letting students share with you some of the maths they already know. But you could also give them a taste of the exciting new maths to come. For example you could ask the students with the cards 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13 and 21 to stand in order at the front of the class and ask their classmates to spot the pattern (add an extra 1 at the beginning!). It's unlikely they would have seen Fibonacci before.

Sticking with the number theme, you could try:

30 Maths Starters - Puzzle 2

If you want the class to settle with some individual or pair activities, try some of these '30 Maths Starters'. I suggest activities two and nine.

And how about a nice game of Fizz Buzz to end the lesson?

If you have administrative bits to do with the class, such as handing out books, they could wait until next lesson.

More ideas
Here are a few ideas I've found online:
  • Try these Ordering by Numbers activities by Frank Tapson 
  • I like 'Back to School' by Transum
  • Suffolk Maths suggests lots of good ideas for a Year 7 transition lesson. This includes 'Stand Up' - which is similar to my suggestion. Whenever I think I've been creative and original I find that someone's already thought of the same ideas! :)

While looking for these lessons, I found this 'Moving on in my Mathematics - Year 6 to Year 7' booklet that you may be interested in.

Craig Barton's blog post on transition in secondary maths is a must-read for new Year 7 teachers. I know that my Key Stage 3 teaching would be improved if I knew more about what children cover at primary school.

And finally, here's some more ideas for learning names!

A level
I hope that’s been helpful. Please comment if you have your own ideas to share. My next post will be about the first Year 12 lesson of the year.


  1. Link to Moving on in my Mathematics - Year 6 to Year 7 doesn't seem to be working?

    1. Thanks! You're right, it had been moved. I've changed the link, should be ok now.

  2. The STEM Centre blog post and Year 7 transition lesson links don't seem to be working?

    1. Thanks for letting me know! I wish people wouldn't change their links!

      I had to remove the STEM Centre link - I found the post but it contains a broken link to a list of resources so it's not helpful anymore. The 'transition lesson' link is now fixed - it downloads a Word document.

    2. The Year 7 transition link doesn't work I am afraid.

    3. Thanks. This post is 6 years old so it’s inevitable that links will break. I have a more up-to-date post here: https://www.resourceaholic.com/2018/08/Yr7.html