The Problem Solving and Communication Activity Series Make a Table

Make a Table

Organizing your thinking is something mathematicians are really good at. Students, often, are not. So we offer the question of, "what needs to be organized?" and then encourage students to try different ways to organize the quantities and relationships in a problem. Finally, a gallery of all the tables generated by the class presents even more ways to organize data to best see patterns.

One way to make making tables powerful and painless is to use spreadsheet software. Things like drawing straight lines, adding or rearranging rows and columns, and repeating calculations become easier, so students can focus on the math and problem solving.

Note: Make a Table can be an important first step to Make a Mathematical Model, and a good bridge from Guess and Check to Make a Mathematical Model.

Activities to Learn this Strategy

Facilitation Questions

  • What needs to be organized?
  • What patterns do you see looking across the table?
  • What patterns do you see looking up and down the table?

Recommended Library Problems

The Strategy Examples documents linked from these problems contain examples of what students could do with the activities. You need a Class Membership or higher to access Library problems.


Apple Celebration
How Far Will Taylor Run?
Reading Superstars

Math Fundamentals

Jason's Piggy Bank
Holiday Ornaments
Growing Worms
Rugby Rules


Birthday Line Up
Time is Power
Measuring Melons
Gas Guzzlers


Apple Orchard
Texting, 1, 2, 3
To B or Not To B
Two By Canoe


The Folding Ruler
Square Segments
The Shortest Possible Side
Circle Derby

Learn more about the different membership options.

© 2018 The Math Forum at NCTM. All Rights Reserved.