Easy Math Games
by Kim Jaworski, Homeschool Resource Specialist
Games and activities to practice math skills make a huge difference in retention and skill development. Its critical that you get math off the paper and into the heads of children for mastery of the skills.
You don’t have to buy math games or learn complicated rules. Just add math activities to what you’re already doing. Here are some ideas we used:
COUNTING COINS- when my sons were learning to count coins, I gave them 3 random coins each morning and said “if you can tell me how much this is, and you’re right, you can keep it.” They had a little cheat sheet at first, but after day 3 they never even looked at it. Once they could easily count up 3 coins, I changed the question. Then I said “here are your 3 coins. How much more do you need to make $1?” If they were right, they kept the 3 coins.
ROUNDING- as we walked the dog, I would ask my kids to round the house numbers to the nearest 10 or nearest 100. We did the same with license plate numbers. You can round prices in the grocery store, too.
THE PRICE IS RIGHT- I put several food items on the table with price tags (an apple, a can of soup, a box of mac&cheese). Then I asked how many of each item (one item at a time) I could buy for $10.00 and not go over. Or if I bought the first 3 items and paid with $10.00 what would be my change?
MULTIPLICATION- instead of flash cards we rolled dice. The kids had to tell me what the 2 numbers would be when multiplied. If they were right, they got a poker chip (or a penny). We used regular dice until they knew their facts easily, then we used 12 sided dice (from a game we had) to practice up to 12x12.
FRACTIONS- we each rolled 2 dice and had to decide what fraction to make with the numbers we rolled (a roll of 2&3 could be 2/3 or 3/2). We chose the fraction that would be the biggest. After each person did their roll and decided on their fraction, then we had to decide who had the biggest fraction at the table. The person with the biggest one got the poker chip, and got to decide for the next round if it would be the biggest or smallest that won the round. Before they had learned common denominators we used a ruler as a number line to find each person’s fraction and see which was biggest or smallest.
PERCENTS- at a restaurant when the bill arrived, I told the kids to round up to the nearest dollar and then figure a 15% tip. And if they got it right I’d give them a dollar. They loved it!
CANDY MATH- We played math games for 20 min each day after lunch. On Fridays instead of using poker chips or pennies for right answers, the kids got M&Ms or skittles (any snack they like would be a fun change).
EXPONENTS- This is a variation on the fractions game. We rolled 2 dice and the kids had to decide (with a roll of 2 & 3) if they wanted 2 to the 3rd power or 3 to the 2nd power. Which was bigger. (see Fractions game).