Using Tickets in Math Class

Raffle tickets are a great way to practice math skills in the classroom, but did you know they can be a great management tool, too? Today I want to share with you how I have used math tickets in my 2nd and 3rd grade classroom.

Spring was always an interesting time of the school year for me. The students were growing by leaps and bounds, but they also became a little too comfortable in the classroom which meant stopping to review procedures and practice routines more often. This combination was one of the reasons I loved using tickets during my math block for both skill practice AND management.

Raffle tickets were a great choice because they could be found in many stores or even online. I always bought the double-roll tickets so that I had the matching ticket to every ticket I handed out. My raffle tickets always lasted a long time because they came in large quantities. This meant I didn't have to spend a ton of money on them. The tickets also came in a wide variety of numbers and colors so I could easily differentiate for my students.

In order to practice math skills, my students needed to have tickets. So on the day I introduced math tickets, I gave each student several so we could start using them right away. As students earned tickets, they would write their name on the back. One ticket went in their bag and the other went in my bucket. I did this for two reasons: It discouraged ticket thieves and when a ticket was found on the floor, students could return it to the rightful owner.


There are so many math skills you can practice with tickets. Tickets also make it easy to differentiate because you can teach your students to cross out part of the numbers to match their particular skill level. Here are just some of the skills we practiced with our math tickets:

Reading Numbers
I would randomly draw a ticket from my bucket and read the number aloud.
Who has 4,526?
Students had to read the numbers on their tickets to see if they had a match. When a student did have a match, he would read the number back to me out loud.

Place Value
I would randomly draw a ticket and read it like a place value riddle.
My ticket has a 6 in the tens place. It has a 3 in the hundreds place. I see a 4 in the ones place. What is my number?

Comparing Numbers Using >, <, or =
I would partner my students for this activity and set a timer for 3-5 minutes. Both students would draw one ticket out of their bag. They compared the numbers using >, <, or = and then placed the tickets back into their bag. They repeated this process until the time was up.

Ordering Numbers
I would ask my students to pull three tickets out of their bags and put their tickets in order from smallest to largest or largest to smallest on their desk. Then they would turn and read their numbers to a neighbor.

Adding and Subtracting
Second and third graders always needed practice adding and subtracting. I would ask my students to draw two tickets out of their bag and either add or subtract them using their whiteboards. Some students worked with 2-digit numbers, while others were ready for 3-digit numbers (or higher).

For older students, tickets could easily be used for fractions and probability. Students could also add decimal points to the numbers on their tickets.

Now that I've shared a little bit about how I used tickets to practice math skills, let me tell you how I used them as a classroom management tool.

At the end of math class each day I would plan to draw three tickets. The number of tickets drawn would increase or decrease based upon student behavior during class.

When a ticket was drawn, I would first check the name on the back. I did this for two reasons. First, if the student was absent, I would put the ticket back in the bucket and draw again.  Second, it told me who to keep my eye on as the students checked their tickets. After looking at the name, I would read the number out loud, repeating, as needed. This helped model the correct reading of the number before a student repeated the number back to me. Once a ticket was claimed, both copies of the ticket were ripped and recycled. The student then earned a new ticket and a reward. In my classroom this meant $1 of classroom money. If a ticket was not claimed, it went into the recycling bin.

Once I began using tickets, I found that students wanted to earn more tickets....A LOT of tickets! They realized that the more tickets they had, the better their chances were to have a ticket drawn. They also noticed that the numbers on the tickets were getting bigger and students LOVED having large numbers at their fingertips. I used this to my advantage.

I would walk around with a stack of tickets and pass them out when I saw students making good choices (staying on task, cleaning up math games carefully, using the right voice level when working with a partner, etc). This really motivated my students, but sometimes that wasn't enough. That's when I tried something a co-worker shared with me.

When my students were having a really hard time making good choices, I would make a really big deal of picking up the ticket bucket in front of the whole class. I would reach in and blindly grab a ticket (or two). Then I would rip it into tiny pieces. I never announced which ticket number it was, but the students realized it could have been theirs and it quickly turned things around.

So, if you have a stack or roll of tickets lying around, grab them and put them to use!

Happy Teaching!

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