Math = Love: Dry Erase Work Mat for Simplifying Radicals

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Dry Erase Work Mat for Simplifying Radicals

Yesterday, I got a chance to try out the work mat I created for my students to use while simplifying radicals.  I printed the work mat on 11 x 17 card stock (affiliate link) that I use for practically everything in my classroom.  Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration.  But, I use it to make a lot of posters, and I used it to make giant Farkle score sheets a couple of weeks ago.  

Just before Christmas, I purchased a set of 11 x 17 dry erase pockets (affiliate link) that lets me take my 11 x 17 card stock (affiliate link) and turn it into a reusable activity.  

The work mat isn't anything fancy, but I created it in the hopes that it would help my students keep their work more organized and less scattered and sloppy.  

I gave my students a dedicated place to put their work for finding the prime factorization.  This year, I gave my students a choice between using factor trees and the birthday cake method for prime factorization.  I find that most of my students prefer the factor tree, but the students who make the least mistakes are the ones who use the birthday cake method.  

In the work box, students rewrite their radical using the prime factorization and look for numbers and variables they can take the appropriate square root, cube root, etc. of.  Then, students have a separate box to write their final solution.  

To help my students out, I gave them a section at the bottom of the page that includes all of the prime numbers below 100.  This year, I gave my students a page to glue in their notebooks with the primes under 100.  My students who have had me previously asked why I hadn't given them one of these last year.  I guess they found it useful. :) 

I also have a prime number poster hanging on the wall that students frequently reference. 

I found a Connect 4 activity on JustMaths.  Thanks to Jo at Resourceaholic for giving me some awesome links to look through!  

We had to have a discussion about what surds are since I took this activity off a UK website.  Then, we talked about the fact that my Australian husband also refers to them as surds.

One child was so bothered by the fact that it said "surds" instead of "radicals" that he took his dry erase marker and changed the title!

Here's a picture that shows the size difference between my 9" x 12" dry erase pockets (affiliate link) and my 11" x 17" dry erase pockets (affiliate link).

Here are some pictures of my students using the dry erase work mat to organize their work for the Connect 4 game.

When I told my students to start cleaning up, there were many protests because they wanted to just solve a few more problems.  I definitely call this a winning activity!  

File for the simplifying radicals dry erase work mat is uploaded here.  


  1. Isn't it amazing how much more willing to take risks students are with a dry erase marker in their hand? I love the work may. Our desks are dry-erase and my students like to make their factor trees there. The connect 4 looks like a fun way to practice.

    1. It really is amazing! I want to adapt the connect 4 game for other topics, too. My students really took to it!

  2. Thanks so much for sharing. Love the panic/ learning/ comfort zone poster!

    1. Thanks! I've uploaded the file for the poster here: