Math should be an important part of your child's daily life. The problem we sometimes face is the kids don't want to do math drills every day. So, what do you do? You play some easy and effective math games. This turns math into fun instead of a chore. These games can be used in classrooms, homeschool, or just for regular home study. Parents and teachers alike will find them quite useful.
Mix it Up
Variety is important when it comes to teaching and interacting with children. Not only does it show them how to do things in different ways, but it also keeps them interested. Variety can be a leading motivator in getting your children to learn quickly and efficiently without the fuss. Be sure to rotate the games for each subject the children are learning. It's OK to play a favorite game more often than the others, but the others should still be thrown in as well to provide that variety you're looking for. Keep in mind that some of these games will require the Everything Math Deck, so you may want to make or purchase one ahead of time.
Fact Triangles are another form of flashcards. Make your own fact triangles by cutting out 3x3x3 triangle shapes out of poster board or card stock. You will need enough to cover facts for each number from 0 to 13. You can make these for addition & subtraction or for multiplication & division.
Fact Triangles consist of three numbers that work together to form a fact family. For example, if you are making Fact Triangles for addition & subtraction, one of your fact families could contain 3, 4, and 7. You will place the largest number on top of the triangle and the two smaller numbers on the side corners of the triangle. As you make the cards, you will need to keep track of which numbers you have already made so you don't make duplicate cards. The easiest way is to write down all the facts for the set you are making and cross them off as you go.
The basic way of using the fact triangles is to hold them up in front of the child with a finger over the factor or product you don't want showing. Then, you ask your child the appropriate question. This can get boring, so sometimes you'll need to mix it up a little and have fun. How about turning it into a game show and awarding the winner a small prize? You could also try making up a fun song that will help them remember how to find the answers.
Another fun game with the fact triangles is something I call "Triangle Collect". Every time someone gets a correct answer, they get to collect the triangle. When all the triangles are gone, the players can count their triangles and see who got the most. Don't give a reward every time, but sometimes you can give a small reward. It will be appreciated more if it's a surprise and they don't expect it.
You can make flashcards for any subject your child is studying. Making the flash cards is fairly simple. You can use index cards, card stock, or poster board paper. If you use index cards, you won't have to cut out anything, but I suggest using colored card stock or poster board so your child cannot see the answer through the paper. First, determine how many cards you will need. Facts can be written on both sides with the answer to the problem on the opposite side at the top or bottom in small print. This saves paper and makes it easy for the person giving the flash card quiz to know what the student is looking at.
Flash cards are used much in the same way as fact triangles. You hold them up for the child to see and wait to hear the correct answer. This regular method can be useful at times, but can also get too repetitive and dull for the child. While it's important to use this basic technique a couple times a week, you can also try playing different games with the flashcards.
Flashcards usually come with a parent card that has game suggestions. Use those as well as some of your own. Try playing "Around The World" using flashcards rather than questions. "Around the World" is a popular game played in schools all over the U.S. If you are not familiar with it, try doing an internet search for "Around The World Flash Card Game". It should be easy to find.
Bingo is a game most children enjoy. Now you can use it to teach your kids as well. There are many different versions of this game. You can make a Bingo Game for just about any math subject. All you need to do is make the calling problems, make boards with the answers to them, and make marking pieces or use pennies as markers. If you don't feel like designing these yourself, you can also do an internet search for "printable math bingo" or other such terms. I suggest laminating all the game pieces for prolonged use. That way you won't have to keep printing them up. My children will still play the versions for facts they already know, simply because they're fun, so try and keep them in good shape to make them last.
1. Skip Toss (instructions below)
2. Addition Top-It
3. Name That Number (can be used for all operations;+,-,x,/)
4. Penny Grab (Two-Fisted Pennies)
5. Math Rummy
6. Who Wants Pizza? (fun online method for learning fractions)
7. Bug Splat (online fraction addition game)
8. Equivalent Fractions Game (online)
9. Baseball Multiplication
10. Murb's Fun & Furry (can be used for all operations;+,-,x,/)
This is a multiplication game I invented for my kids.
Form a circle of players (if there are only 2, stand across from one another. if there are 3, form a triangle).
Player one has the ball.
The object is to skip count 14 times per number. Zero and One will not be used. Start with 2's.
If the number in play is 2, player one tosses the ball to the player on the right and says 2. As that player catches the ball, he/she says 4 and throws the ball to the next player. As that player catches the ball, he/she says 6 and so on. Continue until the number has been skip-counted 14 times. Then, move on to the next number. Play this for at least 20 minutes each day. This can replace the flash cards., but be sure to rotate with both.
(purchase these or download printable ones)
1. Base 10 Blocks
2. Graph Paper
3. Graph Paper w/multiplication
4. Coordinate Grids
6. Pattern Blocks
7. Fact Triangles(assorted and blanks)
8. Play Money
9. Fraction Manipulatives
10. Attribute Blocks
11. Charts (100 chart, multiplication chart, etc...)
12. Pattern Blocks/Tangrams
13. Base 5 Blocks
14. Rods(use w/color tiles for fraction practice)
15. Color Tiles
16. Pattern Block Grid Paper
17. Geoboard Paper
18. Beginner's Graph Paper
19. Polar Graph Paper
Manipulatives are an important part of various math lessons. They will help the children to visualize what the problems stand for and how the answers make sense. Many games and math lessons include the use of manipulatives, so you will find yourself using these often. I recommend using cardstock for your manipulatives and laminating them after you make them. Another way to make your manipulatives sturdy is by using thin cuttable plastic sheets (stencil blanks sold in craft stores work well) to make them. You may want to print and make several copies of all of these and store them in plastic tubs or containers. For the graph papers and charts, I still suggest laminating them and letting your students use write & wipe markers. That way the charts will last longer and the students can use them over and over for more practice.
Notes: Math games should be played for at least 20 minutes every day, in addition to your child's regular math homework or study. This makes the lessons stick in your child's mind and also makes the math more fun.
*A version of this article was previously posted on the Yahoo! Contributor Network