I’m super excited to have Bethany of Math Geek Mama sharing 3 Math Games Kids Love today on my blog. Often, readers ask me if there’s a math blog out there that’s similar to the hands-on literacy ideas you find here. And often, I refer them to her! Without further ado, here’s Bethany!
Do your kids whine, complain or cry when it’s time to practice their math facts? Then this post is for you! These games are super easy to set up and play, and kids love the fun, relaxed environment that makes practicing math skills less stressful.
Why Math Games?
There’s no denying that learning basic math facts is an important part of your child’s education. But to really learn, remember them and become fluent (computing with ease) requires time and practice.
While you could drill with flash cards, timed tests or worksheets, I recommend a more relaxed approach. Playing a game will calm students who are naturally math anxious and allow them to practice skills in a non-threatening environment.
In addition, math games are naturally more engaging and inviting for kids because it’s more fun and invites a little friendly competition to math time.
Finally, when kids are playing games, they’re engaging multiple senses, which means they’re forming connections in their brain, which in turn will aid in fluency and retention.
In short, they’re improving their knowledge and skills without even realizing it!
3 Math Games Your Kids Will Love to Play
Tic Tac Math:
The first game I want to share is super simple, and is available for your iPad or other Apple device. This means it requires zero prep or work on your part.
Tic Tac Math is a collection of tic tac toe games. When you’re ready to play, you simply select what skill you want to practice (addition, subtraction, multiplication or division) and what level (easy, advanced, expert).
Then you and your kids can play a fun game of Tic Tac Toe, with a math twist! Simply solve the math problem in the square you wish to play.
Kids can even write on the screen to help them if the math is too difficult to solve in their head.
There are many benefits to this game. For one, kids can play it against another player or against the computer. So you don’t necessarily need to have multiple players for your kids to enjoy this game.
Second, it’s easy. Every kid already knows how to play Tic Tac Toe, so it requires very little, if any, explanation. Just start playing!
Third, it’s portable. Play this while you’re waiting at the doctor, on a long car trip or in line at the grocery store.
I also use it often as a way to sneak in some math practice when my kids want the iPad for playtime. They are allowed 15-20 minutes of say, Angry Birds, only after 15-20 minutes of playing Tic Tac Math. Or only after winning 5 games of Tic Tac Math.
Learn more or grab it in iTunes here. (Fractions and Algebra versions are also available)
Spiral: A Math Card Game
The next game that kids love is called Spiral and it’s an easy to play card game. This requires a little extra prep, but is lots of fun.
To play, you’ll need a deck of cards, 1-2 dice and some game pieces. These can be anything at all (pieces from a board game, unifix cubes, beads, etc.), as long as you can differentiate between players.
To set up the game, shuffle your deck of cards. Then, starting from the inside, lay out the entire deck in a spiral shape, as seen above. This will serve as your game board. In this game, Ace= 1, Jack=11, Queen=12 and King=13.
Then each player places their game piece at start (the center of the spiral).
Player one rolls a die (1 or 2 depending on how large you want the numbers to be) and moves that number of spaces. They then multiply the number on their die with the value shown on the card they land on.
If they answer it correctly, they stay there. Otherwise, they return to the previous space.
Players take turns in this way until someone reaches the end of the spiral with an exact count (and correctly solves the math problem).
You can also use the spiral game board to practice other skills such as counting and number recognition (count the number of spaces they roll, and then state the value of the card they land on) or addition and subtraction (add or subtract the numbers on the die and card).
Or if you have older students, you can work on integer operations by making all the red cards negative values and the black cards positive values.
One quick tip (especially for younger kids): you may want to write the values of Jack, Queen, King and Ace on an index card so kids don’t have to remember what numbers they represent.
For more information and to get a printable version of the directions, see the complete Spiral Math Game post.
Finally, I want to share another fun and easy game that will not only provide practice with math facts, but will get your kids up and moving: Math Twister!
This game is perfect for cold or rainy days when everyone is restless but can’t get outside.
To set it up, you’ll need a Twister game mat and some sticky notes. You then write answers on each sticky note and stick them to the circles on your game mat. (You’ll want to keep the colors all one answer so when you spin you know what the solution needs to be. For example, all the yellow circles = 8, etc.)
To play, spin the spinner and call out a math problem (addition, subtraction, multiplication or division) for whatever color you land on.
For example, if you spin ‘left hand, red’ and all the red circles have the answer “10,” you could call out, “Left hand, 6+4.” or “Left hand, 2×5,” etc.
Or to practice place value, you could write 3-4 digit numbers on each sticky note, then call out problems such as, “Left hand, 3 in the hundreds place.”
You then play Twister as normal: the last kid standing (and solving the math problems correctly) wins!
Hopefully this has given you a few quick and super easy ways to make math practice fun for your kids! Helping your kids with math doesn’t have to be expensive, time consuming or boring.
It can be enjoyable and hopefully by playing games, math time will end in roars of laughter and not meltdowns and tears!
Want more fun ways to learn and teach math?
Check out MathGeekMama.com, a site dedicated to helping parents and teachers teach math in a way that makes sense, while keeping it fun for all.
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