Focus on Five: Teacher Time Math Themes for Each Day of the Week

Categories: Curriculum Ideas | Math

Full disclosure- this is not one of my original ideas. This was actually something one of my work colleagues uses in her classroom and I adopted it too.  This year for math, I cover a different math theme depending on the day of the week in my teacher time, small group instruction (e.g. Money Monday, Time Tuesday).  There are so many benefits for using a day of the week theme for my math instruction. First, it allows me (and my students!) to remember what math content I am covering in small groups each day. The alliteration definitely helps for remembering (Fluency Friday) and it kind of makes each day special and fun. It also ensures that I will have lessons each week for each one of my students’ math goals. Another benefit is that it keeps things fresh for my emerging group. The goals I am addressing with my emerging group are counting (a set and out from a larger set) and number identification. These skills can get repetitive and a little boring if you are doing very similar activities each day. Having a theme helps to mix up the manipulative my emerging students are using, which helps keep them (and me!) engaged and interested. I will share the themes I use each day of the week, the goals they address, some of the activities I use, modifications for my emerging group and the progression/sets I use. Here are the math themes I use each day of the week in my classroom….

1. Money Monday

Goal: Students will be able to determine the values of coin combinations (with or without using touch points).  

Warm-Up/Activities:I have students warm-up by counting by 5’s, using the hundred number chart. Depending on time, I may also have the students go through coin flashcards for coin identification and coin value identification. I scaffold my instruction to first demonstrate putting the touch points on the coins and counting each touch point by fives (I do, we do, you do). Then, I will write down the value of the coins with the cent sign. You could use a worksheet or flashcards with groups of coins, but I use fake coins, a clear sheet to put them in, and a dry erase marker. I have students put the fake coins in the clear sheet and add the touch points by putting them in the correct position on the coins, on the clear sheet. Eventually, students will be able to do this independently, although, I currently have a group where I am adding the touch points for them in order move at a quicker pace, but continue having multiple practice opportunities so this group will be able to add their own touch points in the future. 

Activities for for Emerging Students: Emerging students will warm-up with number flashcards to address number identification. Students will count out different kinds of coins or bills from a larger set. Students will also be introduced to coin names and basic money concepts like the dollar sign or cent sign. 


  1. Quarters
  2. Dimes
  3. Quarters & dimes
  4. Nickels
  5. Quarters, dimes & nickels
  6. Pennies
  7. All coin combinations 

The reasoning behind my progression has to do with teaching the coin touch points. Since the quarter has 5 touch points, that will be the most involved one to teach. The coins will progressively have less touch points, so I predict that students will have an easier time grasping this concept. I put pennies last because students count touch points by fives, but they will need to switch counting by ones if they have a group of coins that includes pennies. I decided to try teaching this concept at the end so students would learn to count pennies after they have counted all the touch points on the silver coins.

2. Time Tuesday

Goal: Students will be able to tell time on an analog clock to the nearest minute.

Warm-Up/Activities: have the students go through analog clock flashcards. I usually run through zero-second trials 3 times and then I have students take turns saying a a few of the analog clock times. For the activity, I will introduce the new sets of times using flashcards an have students cut out their own flashcards. I also have students work on looking at a digital time and putting the hands on the teaching clocks in the correct position. In addition, I will also show them a time on a teaching clock and they will write the digital time on whiteboards.  

Activities for for Emerging Students: Emerging students will identify numbers on the clock and focus on times to the nearest hour. Although this group is focusing on number identification, they will also follow the progression/sets for telling time to the minute because they will also need to start identifying numbers all the way up to 100, Time is a relevant way to incorporate and teach number identification to students, even if they are just reading digital times.


  1. Time to the hour
  2. Time to the :15
  3. Times to the hour and :15
  4. Times to the nearest half hour
  5. Times to the nearest hour, :15 and half hour
  6. Times to the :45
  7. Times to the nearest hour, :15, half hour and :45
  8. Times to the nearest 5 minutes
  9. Times to the nearest hour

I used to teach time first to the hour and then the half hour, but decided to go from the nearest hour to all the 15 minutes after the hour times (e.g. 1:15. 2:15, 3:15). My reasoning was that the hour hand would be pointing the the nearest hour, so it would be easier for students to learn this set quickly.

3. Word Problem Wednesday

Goal: Students will be able to solve word problems using a step-by-step process and identifying key words to determine the operation they should use.  

Warm-Up/Activities:I have students warm-up by going through math fact flashcards, since math facts come up in word problem solving. I scaffold my instruction to first demonstrate solving a math word problem using the steps pictured in the anchor chart below and follow the progression of “I do, we do, you do”.  I also utilize the anchor chart of key words below as we encounter them in different word problems. 

Activities for for Emerging Students: Emerging students will warm-up with number flashcards to address number identification. I make up word “problems” for students in this group, using their names and writing it on a whiteboard. I will have the students act out the word problem by counting out items from a larger set. I will also have students identify the number in the written word problem. I will also model writing the answer to the word problem for students. Examples of beginning word problems I have used are:

“Jacob has 8 friends. How many oranges will he need?”

“Jamie has 3 pennies. How many cents does she have?”

“Rosemary put the big hand on the 3 and the little hand on the 12. What time did she put on her clock?”


  1. Addition
  2. Subtraction
  3. Addition & subtraction

These are the sets for now, but eventually, I will add multiplication and division as students master word problems and their addition and subtraction math facts.

4. Think About It Thursday

Goal: This varies weekly (it was hard to come up with a math concept that began with “th”). My original vision was to have students complete an on-level written assignment with the concepts we went over during the week (money, time, word problems, operations), but Thursdays have turned into a catch-up/make-up time or housekeeping (e.g. students make flashcards to put in their goal boxes). It actually works well to have a catch-up day during the week to reteach a lesson students had difficulty with the first time or to teach a lesson students missed during the week, due to absences or therapy. 

Warm-Up/Activities: This depends on the lesson. If I was doing a written curriculum, I might pick a warm-up from a lesson during the week that students need more practice doing. For the activity, I would choose the appropriate level of Saxon Math or The Autism Helper’s Math Leveled Daily Curriculum.  

Activities for for Emerging Students: Emerging students can do the same activity, just on their level. 

Progression/Sets: Students will just follow the progression of the written curriculum because I chose curriculum that incorporates the math concepts I am teaching in a natural progression of more simple questions at first to more difficult questions later.

5. Fluency Friday

Goal: Students will be able to complete one-digit math addition facts (0-9). 

Warm-Up/Activities:I have students go through math fact flashcards, as a group and then give them each a few to take turns answering individually. I use the time delay strategy because I want students to memorize their math facts. For their activity, I will have students students do timed math fact sheet, play a math fact game, or go over math facts with a classmate (I have previously taught students how to practice math facts with a classmate). What is nice bout doing a timed test is that students could be working on different math facts at the same time. Right now, most of my students are working on addition facts, but I have one student working on multiplication facts. This student can take his multiplication written test at the same time my other students are taking their addition written tests. Another strategy I use with some students is practicing the written fact assessment with a reference sheet, as a way to do zero second trials.  There are also some very catchy YouTube videos featuring math facts, including this little gem about doubles. 

Activities for for Emerging Students: Emerging students will warm-up with number flashcards. I have students identify numbers in math facts or read the numbers from left to right in a multi-digit number. I have also had students play number bingo games or I would do a Google search of some of their favorite places and have them identify the numbers in the address of that place. 


  1. Doubles
  2. +0 and +1
  3. +2
  4. +9
  5. Doubles +1
  6. Sums of 8 and 9
  7. Sums of 10
  8. Sums of 11
  9. Sums of 12
  10. Sums of 13-14
  11. Sums of 15-19

I use this progression because it is the same one utilized in the Saxon Math Grade 2 Workbooks and they have the fact written worksheets already created. They also mix the facts as it goes through the progression, which is why I didn’t note it.

I hope you got some ideas of using day of the week themes in your small group instruction. For more ideas for teaching math, check out My Favorite Resources to Teach Math. Share the ways you organize your teacher time throughout the week below!  


  1. Great idea for the week.

  2. Thanks for reading 🙂

  3. I like this idea, I am trying to do a “warm-up” with my students and was sort of lost where to start. This gave me a great way to change the warm-up on skills we are learning. I am trying to use the Autism Helper Curriculum this year with my groups for math but didn’t want to just jump into the work.


  4. So happy to hear! Thanks for reading 🙂

  5. I had seen something similar recently, but couldn’t remember where. In searching I found yours and of course it was so much more perfect for me! I will be changing Thursday to Think about 10’s since we are getting ready to start our base ten unit with my higher kiddos. THANK you so much for sharing so I don’t have to reinvent the wheel!

  6. So great to hear! Thanks for reading 🙂

  7. I just started doing this in my 3-5th grade Self-Contained classroom because of THIS post 🙂

    Where is the Word Problem Wednesday worksheets from?! It looks like one of your resources, but trying to figure out where I could find it! Thanks so much for all your INCREDIBLE and helpful ideas, materials, and blogs!

    • Hey! Thank you for the kind words- I’m so happy you found the post helpful! The worksheet that says “addition” at the top is not a TAH product. The other worksheets are from Math Leveled Daily Curriculum Level 1.


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