Friday, January 25, 2013

Fun with Math Facts – Really!

It is widely accepted that drilling with flashcards is an effective way to get children to memorize math facts. It is also widely accepted that flashcards are hardly a fun way to spend time. Try motivating kids to do math by making a few minor adjustments to games that are already family favorites, however, and kids won’t be able to get enough (and may even want to keep playing on their own)!

Math War

Works for: addition, multiplication

In this version of war, each player lays down two cards at once instead of one and, depending on the skill being targeted, has to either add or multiply the numbers on their cards together. The player with the higher total gets to keep all four cards. Face cards and aces can be removed from the deck, or you can add an extra twist by assigning them other values (they can be 1’s, higher numbers, wild cards, or negative signs for older students). Note: If there are more than two players, shuffling two decks together might be best to avoid running out of cards too quickly.

Math Checkers

Works for: addition, subtraction, multiplication

This game requires a bit more preparation. Cut post-it notes so that they are small enough to stick onto the black squares of a checkerboard, and write random numbers on each. Then use tape to affix more numbers on each of the checker pieces. If you are targeting multiplication or addition, the numbers can be random, but be sure that the numbers on the pieces are higher than the numbers on the board if you are targeting subtraction; the exception is if you want the student to practice negative numbers as well. Then play checkers as usual. Each time a player moves to a new square s/he must combine the number on the piece with the number on the board. This game takes jumping to a whole new level, as students will have to perform several operations for each square they hit!

More-Math Monopoly

Works for: addition, multiplication

Monopoly already provides lots of practice with addition and counting money. You can easily add another layer of math practice by requiring each player to add or multiply the numbers on the dice together each time s/he rolls. The whole family can play this game if younger players need only add while older players are required to multiply. Note: This concept can be adapted to any game that is played with two dice.


Works for: addition

It’s no secret that addition skills are needed for this game, but it’s not one parents typically think about playing with their children on a wholesome family game night. Blackjack is fantastic for improving math fact knowledge, however, and it teaches children about probability, too. Remove the gambling aspect by playing a best-of-ten series and keeping score, or else bet with pennies, M&M’s or poker chips that can be cashed in for additional minutes of video game time, choice of dessert at dinner, or some other treat.

1 comment:

  1. Finally someone who gets it. The key to success is making the lessons fun. Nothing impedes the learning process more than boredom.