Exponents Can Be Reinforced Through Art

Exponents are another math concept which can be reinforced through the use of art. Visual representations of them help place the learning in long term memory, especially for younger students who are still developing abstract reasoning skills.

With the adoption of the Common Core curriculum comes an algebra domain for sixth grade. Concepts which I once taught in eighth grade Algebra I have been moved to sixth grade which means that I am always looking for ways to help make the learning more concrete.

Art opportunities are ideal activities for math centers because they serve as a vehicle for memory. With so much new math vocabulary, younger students tend to confuse ideas so representing them visually seems to help.

Language First

The first order of business is to get kids comfortable with the language. You can’t beat word walls for learning math terminology,  but students also need to practice using the words themselves in conversation. That’s where cooperative learning groups come in.

Since the Common Core tests require that students write explanations of their work, it is essential that they be given regular opportunities to discuss concepts and talk with their peers. It really is the only way they can develop the language necessary to complete these constructed-response items.

Group work and centers allow students to develop the necessary language as long as they are closely supervised and monitored. Centers should be interesting and engaging and tasks should help students deepen their knowledge and understanding of the topic. Drill and practice worksheets would not be considered suitable for a center.

Visual Representations

An art center for visually representing powers is ideal for tapping into student creativity while at the same time reinforcing the concept of powers of numbers. Similar projects may be done to illustrate the properties of math.

I emphasized the need for variety and a fresh approach, and here are the amazing results!



Shark fin raised to the fifth power


Ice cream sundae raised to the third power


Go to Math Word Walls from Exponents

See also

Teaching Math With Art

Math Centers

Math Teaching Strategies

Math Terminology


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More Visual Representations of Exponents

Dragon to the second power


Ice cream cone to the fifth power


Flower raised to the 2nd power


Hippie chick squared