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Order of Operations Bingo

  • Lesson
Number and Operations
Zoe Silver
Location: unknown

Instead of calling numbers to play Bingo, you call (and write) expressions to be evaluated for the numbers on the Bingo cards. The operations in this lesson are addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. None of the expressions contain exponents.

Students can often rattle off the acronym PEMDAS or "Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally" as being associated with the order of operations. Putting this memory into practice can be more of a challenge. By practicing the correct order with a motivating game of Bingo, students will be more eager to be accurate in their calculations.

 2583 Order of Operations 

One misconception by students is that all multiplication should happen before all division because the multiplication comes before division in the acronym. In fact, multiplication and division have the same precedence and should be evaluated as they appear from left to right.


2583 mult then div incorrect 


2583 mult then div correct 

Similarly, addition comes before subtraction in the acronym, yet they have the same precedence.


2583 add then sub incorrect 


2583 add then sub correct 

Try giving students an additional example before starting the game.

2583 long example 

Playing Order of Operations Bingo

To prepare the materials for the game, you will need to print the Order of Ops Bingo Sheet. The first two pages contain 50 expression strips, which you will need to cut out and place in a bowl, jar, or hat. The third page contains two bingo cards; you will need to photocopy this sheet, cut the copies in half, and distribute a sheet to each student.

pdficon Order of Ops Bingo Sheet 

The object of the game is to get five numbers in a row, vertically, horizontally, or diagonally, just as in the regular game of bingo.

NOTE: The operations used for this lesson are addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. None of the expressions contain exponents or parentheses.

Distribute a Bingo card to each student before starting the game. Give students the following instructions:

  • Choose one space on the board as the "free" space and write the word FREE.
  • Choose numbers to write into the other 24 boxes on your Bingo card. Make sure you choose numbers in the ranges given at the top of each column. That is, numbers in the first column ("B") must be in the range 1‑10, numbers in the second column ("I") must be in the range 11‑20, and so on. [This ensures better distribution of the numbers.]
  • You are not allowed to repeat any numbers.

Place all of the expression strips in a bowl, jar, or hat, and choose them one at a time. After each selection, write the expression on the board or overhead so students can evaluate it. Students should copy down and evaluate the expression on their own paper. For the first few turns, you may want to model how the numerical value is determined for the expression by writing in any applicable parentheses and going through the steps of evaluation. Make sure you write out the steps, just as you'd like to see the students do themselves. Once the number is determined, students can look for the number on their Bingo card and mark it with a pencil or a chip.

The value (i.e., the "answer") for each expression follows the expression on each strip, so be sure to share only the expression, saving the answer to verify a winner.

2583 example strip

Keep picking expressions. Students should calculate the value for each expression, and then mark the square with that number on their card (if that number appears on their card, of course). When a student believes that she has correctly completed a column, row or diagonal on her card, she should yell, "Bingo!"

When the game has a potential winner, ask the student to call out the numbers that make the winning row, column, or diagonal. With the class, determine if the numbers that the winning student calls are indeed values from expressions that have been called out to check the math and verify the win.

To extend the game for another winner, change the rules to require 2 runs of 5 chips, or framing the exterior square of the board (16 pieces).

If students use chips instead of crossing off numbers with a pen or pencil, then they can exchange cards and play again. In order to start a second or subsequent game, all expressions used in the previous game are returned to the bowl, jar, or hat for a fresh start.


Assessment Options

  1. Have students evaluate several expressions that contain several operation symbols.
  2. Give students a list of numbers with no operation symbols, and ask them to place the symbols so that a specific result occurs.
    Example: Given the list of numbers 1 2 3 4 5, can you write in the symbols +, –, × and ÷ so that the value of the expression equals 8? Any of the symbols may be used more than once and all of the symbols don’t have to be used.

    Answer: 1 + 2 × 3 – 4 + 5

  3. Ask students to create some expressions of their own. In pairs or groups, students evaluate each other's expressions and see if there is agreement on the value of each expression. Note that students may agree on an incorrect value due to a misconception in the order of operations.


  1. Create and evaluate expressions that are more complex.
  2. Present expressions containing exponents or nested parentheses (if students have had exposure to these concepts and their notation)
  3. Ask the class to create expressions whose values are whole number from 0 through 75. This time, the columns on the Bingo cards have a range of 15: 1‑15, 16‑30, 31‑45, 46‑60, and 61‑75.

Questions for Students 

1. The order of operations says to multiply and divide first. What does this mean?

[It means that multiplication and division are performed before addition or subtraction. However, it does not mean that multiplication should be done before division. Multiplication and division have the same precedence, so if either multiplication or division occur with in an expression, perform these operations from left to right.]

2. What does it mean for addition and subtraction to have the same precedence?

[It means that addition should not be done before subtraction. If either addition or subtraction occur with in an expression, perform these operations from left to right.]

3. In the expression 3 + 4 × 5 – (3 + 2), explain the order in which the operations should be performed, and evaluate the expression.

[Operations within parentheses are done first, so add 3 + 2 = 5. This changes the expression to 3 + 4 × 5 – 5. Then, multiplication (and division, too, though there's none in this expression) are performed before addition and subtraction, so multiply 4 × 5 = 20. The expression is now reduced to 3 + 20 – 5. Finally, perform the addition and subtraction left to right to give 18.]

Teacher Reflection 

  • What are the most common misconceptions students have regarding the order of operations? What can be done to break those misconceptions?
  • What examples were most helpful in getting students to understand the order of operations? What other examples would help students to better understand the order of operations?

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Evaluate expressions using the order of operations on +, –, ×, and ÷.
  • Use mental arithmetic to evaluate expressions.

NCTM Standards and Expectations

  • Understand the meaning and effects of arithmetic operations with fractions, decimals, and integers.
  • Develop and use strategies to estimate the results of rational-number computations and judge the reasonableness of the results.