Seat Finders

One of my favourite math routines are seat finders. I use these right from day one, which gets students thinking and doing math before they even step foot into the classroom. They are low-prep, and easy to implement. The routine works as follows:

  1. Greet students at the door and hand them a playing card. They will need to sit at the table that corresponds to the number on their playing card.
  2. Inside the classroom, desks are arranged into groups of four. Each desk features a problem whose solution reveals that table’s number.

Below are some examples.

I like this version because students can support and help each other, especially for those that may experience math anxiety. In the past, I’ve created individualized cards for each student (i.e. no two students solve the same problem). Not only was this inefficient from a planning perspective, but I learned that even at a ninth grade level, many students struggled with basic order of operations. What was originally intended as a quick check for understanding had the opposite effect!

Version 1 of my seat finder activity.

Here’s another version that minimizes physical contact and adheres to current social distancing norms. This one requires more preparation.

  1. Post your student roster outside the classroom, with column headers that include: student name, x-coordinate, and y-coordinate.
  2. Students must solve a quick check for understanding question (usually related to the unit in question or a mental math problem) in order to find their x and y seating coordinates.
  3. In a visible location in the classroom, include a seating chart that is mapped onto an XY coordinate plane (see below).
Seating clues posted outside the door.
Seating chart mapped onto an XY coordinate plane.

Click HERE if you’d like access to my seat finder activities for math class.

Seat Finder Ideas for Other Subjects

This activity can be modified for all subject areas. Ideas include:

  • Give students a vocabulary word (e.g. figures of speech for English class) as they walk in and have them match it to the appropriate definition or example
  • Give students a word, phrase, picture or formula (e.g. velocity, acceleration, position) and have them match it to a correct overarching theme (e.g. kinematics)
  • For younger students, matching pictures to words or pictures to pictures can work well (e.g. matching animals to their correct habitats)

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