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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

QR Code Scavenger Hunts: Using Technology to Practice Math

We all know how important it is for kids to have basic arithmetic skills.  Whether you teach all algorithms or help kids construct their own strategies their comes a time where they need a little more practice with a skill to work on accuracy or fluency.  You can go with a traditional worksheet or you can make it super engaging with a QR code scavenger hunt.  

You have probably seen QR codes around.  They are popping up on cereal boxes, business cards and subway stations.  Here is a look at one if you are not sure

You need a smartphone, tablet or other digital device with a camera and the ability to install apps.  You need to download a QR code reader app (there are many good free ones!) and then you are set to go.  Simply scan the QR code and it will take you to a website or display text or a phone number or even show you a coupon.  There are many options and more are being added each day.

So how do I use QR codes in the classroom?  My favorite way is with a QR code scavenger hunt!  

I use my laptop and a QR code generator to generate QR codes with math problems and then place the QR codes onto task cards, add some text and a border, design a record sheet and an answer key and then they are ready to use.  If I don't have time to commit to doing all that, I jut head over to Teacher's Pay Teachers and browse my options for QR code scavenger hunts that are already made.  For a few dollars, I can usually find what I want and be ready to go.

My favorite places to do QR code scavenger hunts are in the gym or outside on the track.  Although they work fine in the classroom or a hallway, kids get really excited to do math in the gym or on the track.  

My sixth graders doing a decimal QR code scavenger hunt in the gym
In my school, we have several iPads and older smartphones as well as a few iPods.  All of these devices work great for this activity.  I also let my older students (grades 4 and up) bring in their own devices when I know we are going to do a QR code scavenger hunt.  I usually have kids work in pairs and share one device. (Update: we went 1 to 1 with Chromebooks in my school and we love using this free app with our Chromebooks. Now that I curate online resources with a school wide math blog, I just leave the link to this free app at the top of each grade level's page. )

A student uses an iPod to do a fraction QR code scavenger hunt
The students start by scanning the start card.  The first problem will appear on their device.  They use their record sheet or a piece of scrap paper to figure out the answer.  Once they find the answer, they go out and find it on another card.  If they can't find the answer on any of the cards, they know it is wrong and try the problem again or get some help.
A student uses partial products and area models to solve a double digit multiplication QR code scavenger hunt
A student uses multiple strategies to solve a double digit addition qr code scavenger hunt

A student uses partial quotients to solve a division QR code scavenger hunt

They continue in this manner until they get to the card that tells them they are done.  Then they bring their record sheet to me so I can check for accuracy (this is usually not an issue) and types of strategies used.  

QR code scavenger hunts can be a fun way to practice routine skills during math.  I have used them with kids in grades 1-8 and they work great at all levels.

Here are a few free QR code scavenger hunts if you are looking to try them out!


  1. We use QR code scavenger hunts on an almost-daily basis and my kiddos never get sick of them! They're a great tool for keeping kids engaged. Thanks for linking up.
    iTeach 1:1

  2. Love QR Code Scavenger hunts! They are so engaging and the students hardly even realize that they are learning because they are so determined to find their next card! Thanks for linking us to some freebies and linking up!

    Learning to the Core

  3. Love, love, love QR Code Scavenger hunts too! The possibilities are endless with QR codes.
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

    1. They really are! I have a huge list of ideas for QR codes on my teaching to-do list!

  4. QR code scavenger hunts are great! I've never seen my kids get more excited about doing math problems:)

    Technology Timeout

    1. I love when kids are excited about math! It is also nice when they can get up and move around!

  5. QR codes are such a great way to get students engaged and moving. They are also great for differentiating for students!
    Fabulous Fifth Grade Fun 

  6. Great post, Tara! I’m sharing it on my #TrendingInMath feature tomorrow!