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5 Activities to Teach Prime & Composite Numbers

Prime and composite numbers are one of those skills that students tend to need a little extra practice with. But knowing and understanding prime and composite numbers will help them tackle fractions, factoring, and equations in the years to come. Here are 5 fun, engaging and effective activities to teach prime and composite numbers in your classroom.

These fun activities will get your class excited about learning prime and composite numbers.

Prime and Composite Numbers

As you probably already know, prime numbers are numbers that have only 2 factors-the number 1 and itself. 2, 3, 5, 7, and 11 are all examples of prime numbers. Composite numbers are numbers that have 2 or more factors. 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12 are examples of composite numbers. It is crucial to understand these terms early on.

Factors and multiples are a couple of other terms that must also be introduced and understood during this time. The two are often times confused and deserve review and practice in order to remember. Factors are numbers that can be divided evenly into the given number, and multiples are the results of multiplying that number by another.

How to Decide if a Number is Prime or Composite

There are several different ways to decide if a number is prime or composite.

There are two main ways elementary students are taught to determine if a number is a prime or composite number. First, factor the number. This method focuses on using students’ knowledge of multiplication to determine all the factors of a given number. Second, students can use their knowledge of division to see determine if a number can be divided by any other number besides 1.

Teaching both methods to your students is a great way to help each student find the method that words best for them.

These 5 activities to teach prime and composite numbers will provide students with lots of practice. There is one activity that encourages students to factor the number and another that uses divisibility rules. The remaining activities allow students to use the method that works best for them.

Cross it Out!

Cross it out is a great activity for teaching prime and composite numbers.

This is a simple, but effective activity that will have your students identifying all the prime and composite numbers between 1 and 100. Students will cross out all numbers that aren’t prime(composite). Then, they will color in all remaining numbers to show all the prime numbers.

This activity focuses on the divisibility of a number to determine if it is prime or composite. That is 100 opportunities to practice the divisibility test! Pose this activity as a challenge to see who can find the total number of prime numbers on the page.

Students can work on this independently or with a parter. When done, it makes a great addition to a math notebook. Having that chart of prime and composite numbers makes a great reference tool down the road.

Factor It, Label It

This is one of my favorite activities for teaching prime and composite numbers to my class.

In this activity, students will list all factors for the given numbers. Not only is this a great review of factoring, but it makes the direct connection between factoring and prime / composite numbers.

This no prep activity is perfect for morning work, independent practice or even as a partner or small group task. After students complete the activity turn the tables and let them become the teacher. Invite them to explain how they determined the number was prime or composite. There’s something about letting someone else besides you be the teacher that keeps students engaged.

If you’d like to add some movement to your day, grab some index cards and write each of the numbers from this worksheet on a card. Then tape them around the room or in the hallway to create a Prime and Composite Number Scavenger Hunt. Use this sheet as the response sheet for students to show their work on. Have your students move through the stations to determine if the numbers are prime or composite.

Prime puzzle is a fun activity to practice prime and composite numbers.

Prime Puzzle

This activity is part puzzle, part color by number – but with a twist. Instead of a key that provides a color for each number, students must determine if the number is prime or composite.

Students will use factoring or divisibility rules to determine if each number is a prime or composite number. Then they will color in the picture.

With 23 numbers to work through, your students will love this prime and composite activity more than just completing 23 practice problems.

What Number Am I?

Use the clues to solve the prime or composite riddles.

This riddle based math activity will have your students playing number detective. Using the riddles and provided numbers, students must find the correct answer to each riddle.

You can also use this as a daily math warm-up activity. Each day read or project one riddle for your students. You decide if they need possible answers to choose from or if you’d like them to make a guess as to the correct answer. This is a great way to get those higher level thinking skills into play!

Your students will love working through the clues and solving the riddles.

Prime Number Path

Help the bee find his way home wile practicing prime and composite numbers.

Part maze, part math this Prime Number Path activity puts your students on a mission of helping the bee find his path home to the beehive. As they determine if the number is prime or composite, a path will be revealed.

Students will color in each of the numbers after determining if the number is prime or composite. When they are done, the bee’s path is revealed. In the process of completing this activity students will work through 37 numbers, probably more than a typical math assignment. But there won’t be any groans with this engaging math maze.

Grab these 5 Activities to Teach Prime and Composite Numbers Now!

This No Prep Prime Numbers Activity Packet has everything you need to complete these 5 engaging math activities. Just print, copy, and go. Your students will love all of the variety included, and you’ll love how adaptable this packet is. It can be easily used in a variety of ways: math learning centers, independent classwork, homework, small groups, and intervention time. Grab this Prime Number Pack from the Appletastic Learning store and get your students engaged in prime and composite numbers today.

Grab this no prep practice for teaching prime numbers to your class. It's full of fun activities.

Save these Activities to Teach Prime and Composite Numbers

Be sure to pin this image to your favorite math Pinterest board so you can come back for more fun and engaging upper elementary teaching ideas.

Grab these 5 activities to teach prime and composite numbers in a fun and engaging way.
Shelly Rees

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I'm Shelly Rees of Appletastic Learning. First and foremost, I'm a mom of 4 boys, wife of 25 years to Aric, and Wyoming girl at heart. I love being creative, making resources for teachers, baking cookies, Diet Coke, teaching, public speaking, and spreading kindness wherever I can. After teaching in the upper elementary grades for over 23 years, I retired early and focused on creating and helping teachers around the world with my teaching ideas and resources. I also serve as a mentor to hundreds of teacherpreneurs and help them get focused on growing their own successful businesses. With 100% honesty, I LOVE my life! Thanks for visiting! I hope you'll stay awhile and come back often. Read More

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