Math = Love: Order of Operations Poster Plans

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Order of Operations Poster Plans

I love the order of operations.  Is that weird?  If so, I hope we can still be friends.

The second most popular post on my blog is about the order of operations.  For the past two years, I've taught the order of operations using a hopscotch style diagram.  I love that this graphical display places multiplication and division on the same level and addition and subtraction on the same level.  I always have students draw an arrow across the two boxes and label it Left to Right to further emphasize that we do all multiplication and division from left to right in the order that it appears.  And, the same for addition and subtraction.  

Order of Operations INB Page

Though I make a huge deal out of it at the beginning of the year, I always have a few students who have learned the order of operations incorrectly in the past.  And, they love to insist that you always do all the multiplication before the division.  UGGGGGH!  This drives me insane.  They think they already know it, so they don't listen to me.  But, they don't really know it.  So, the entire situation perpetuates itself.  

This summer, I've been brainstorming various ways to bring more math into my classroom decorations.  Yes, I know.  I'm obsessed.  Last year, I added a number line to my decorations, and it was a big hit.  This year, I'm adding a giant order of operations display.

I teach in an old school building (1919), and I have multiple windows in my classroom that have been replaced with some sort of black plastic substance.  My first year, I used these windows for word walls.  This year, I'm thinking that it will be the perfect place to assemble my order of operations hop scotch diagram.

I started by making a file with the letters of the order of operations on each page.  I'm thinking that I will print these off on super colorful paper, laminate them, and then attach them to this weird window that's not a window with sticky tack.  Then, I'll take poster board and cut out giant left to right arrows for the multiplication/division and addition/subtraction rows.  I'll probably also add a sign to remind students that the P doesn't just mean parentheses.  It means any grouping symbols.  I should probably list all of the different grouping symbols that there are.

I won't start hanging decorations until August.  So, you'll have to wait until then for a picture of this in action in my classroom.  But, I thought I would go ahead and post the files in case anybody else wants to take this idea and run with it in their classrooms.  For those of you who prefer GEMDAS to PEMDAS, I added a G at the end of the file for you.  :)  

I've uploaded the files for these posters here.


  1. Sarah,

    First of all, I want to say thank you for all the great ideas, suggestions and books to read. I thought I was a pretty good teacher until I starting reading your blog this summer. I have taken your suggestions and have read Teach Like a Pirate, great read! While looking back through that book, I was thinking, you could always dress up like an "Aunt Sally" when teaching order of operations. That is if you still use Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally. A fellow teacher in my school use to do this and she even had students come up and try on wigs, old dresses, etc. They loved it. Thank you again for all your wonderful ideas and help.


    1. What a FABULOUS idea! Thanks for sharing! I'm always looking for new ideas to piratize my lessons. :)

  2. In my classroom, I have the letters PEMDAS on foam material, with magnets. I display them in a hopscotch style also. But sometimes the kids come in and find PEDMAS; other times, PEMDSA. It makes for good discussion!

  3. I was already planning on making PEMDAS the first foldable in our INB's this year, and was really having trouble with the multiplication-before-division/addition-before-subtraction misconception! Thanks for your ideas!