Math Projects for Fifth Grade Gifted & Talented Children

By Jessica Smith
Student holding chalk in front of board with math problems
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Fifth grade marks the final year of elementary school and the beginning of more independence for most children. Gifted and talented fifth grade students crave challenge, achievement and recognition. In the area of mathematics, students need to be pushed to explore concepts that help them develop their number sense while laying a foundation for higher level math concepts. These projects should explore a variety of math topics and pull content from respected resources, including the Math Olympiad, Mensa and the University of North Carolina.

Olympiad Competition

Many gifted students are also natural achievers and competition can get intense. Help fifth graders channel that competitive nature into a Math Olympiad team competition, where students compete in teams to solve math problems based on skill or logic. A Math Olympiad team is expected to meet at least weekly to practice. Five monthly contests from November to March allow students multiple opportunities to improve and compete. Working as a team with other fifth graders, gifted students often thrive in this type of competitive learning environment.

Probably Probability

For inspiration and ideas about teaching mathematics to gifted students, look no further than Mensa for Kids, the organization for gifted individuals. One suggested activity for gifted fifth graders is Probably Probability, a lesson with real-world applications. Students are first introduced to the concept of probability and then use dice and coins to practice creating their own probability tables. This activity has the potential to appeal to the kinesthetic gifted learners, a group that is often overlooked in traditional classroom teaching. Possible extensions include having students make predictions about future events, calculating the actual probability of something like a lottery ticket win, or using known data to find the probability of trends at school.

Fabulous Fibonacci

Another Mensa project for elementary students, Fabulous Fibonacci invites gifted students to develop their number sense by exploring the Fibonacci pattern and Golden Rectangle. After instruction in the concepts, gifted students can extend their understanding to create Mondrian paintings or analyze images from nature to find the same types of patterns. While the Fibonacci sequence is often a concept for older students, the idea of a sequence where each term is the result of the sum of the two previous terms is well within the skill set of a gifted fifth-grade student and can help lay a foundation for further study on sequences and functions down the road.

Economics Market Survey

With a combination of math and social studies concepts, Learn UNC's Economics Market Survey lets fifth-grade gifted students dig into the real world applications of business math. Through analysis of graphs and business reports, students discuss the practical applications of economic concepts. Advanced students can apply technology, such as Quicken or Microsoft Money, to further analyze business revenues. This type of project appeals to the student who continually asks why he needs to learn a topic or when it will be necessary in "real life."

About the Author

With hands-on experience in the traditional classroom, the online setting, and the world of curriculum development, Jessica Smith is a veteran educator who is passionate about learning. Smith earned a M.Ed. in curriculum and instruction from Concordia University and is certified in mathematics and exceptional student education.