Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8, 9-12

In this lesson plan, adaptable for grades 5-12, students watch the BrainPOP movie Exponents and explore the other features in this topic to learn how exponents provide a simple way of expressing really big (or small) numbers. Students then apply their understanding by playing a game called “Exponent Battle.”

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Discuss what they know about exponents and how we use them.
  2. Watch a BrainPOP movie and explore resources about exponents.
  3. Apply understanding by playing an exponent game.


  • Internet access for BrainPOP
  • Interactive whiteboard
  • Decks of cards (one deck per pair of students)
  • Calculator


Preview the movie Exponents to plan for adaptations.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Project the BrainPOP topic Exponents on the whiteboard. Read aloud, or have a volunteer read the summary that appears below the movie player.   
  2. Have students discuss what they know about exponents or how they may have seen them used before. Make sure they understand that an exponent is the number of times a number is multiplied by itself. Write an example on the board, such as 2^3. Tell them that the 2 is the base and the three is the exponent that tells how many times to multiply the number 2. Write it out as 2 x 2 x 2 = 8 as you explain.
  3. Show the movie Exponents to the whole class on the whiteboard. Turn on the closed caption option to aid in comprehension. Pause for key concepts and discuss their meaning. You may also use the Exponents Pause Point Discussion Prompts while watching the movie.
  4. Next, pair up students and tell them they are going to play a game called “Exponent Battle.” Distribute a deck of cards to each pair, and have one student deal the cards one at time, face down, between them.
  5. Now have both students turn over their top two cards. Tell them that the goal is to produce the highest value. To do that they need to calculate which number to make the base and which to make the exponent. The student who created the greater value, wins the round and keeps all four cards. Use a calculator to confirm answers. If there is a tie, they choose the next two cards and continue as before. The game ends when all the cards are used. The player with the most cards at the end is the winner.
  6. Conclude the lesson by repeating the question from the beginning about what they know about exponents and how they may be used in real life.

Extension Activities:

Invite students to test their knowledge of exponents by taking the Exponents Quiz.