Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Math Games

Here is a list of games to use to teach the Four Basic Operations: adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing. I'll be adding to it regularly, so please check back!
  • Paint or draw a line on the pavement showing various distances. This can help teach estimation of meters or yards.
  • Play 21 or 10 or 43....Pick a number as the goal. Deal everyone two cards face down. let them look at them to decide whether they need another card or cards to reach the goal number without going over. They can ask for another card, or more if they wish, until they are as close as they can get. Winner is the one who gets closest or hits it exactly without going over.

  • Play money, or even a box of real change. Nothing encourages kids to work with numbers more diligently than cash. They realize at an early age that it is important.

  • Play War. Deal cards out into two equal piles, and give each player one pile. At the same time, each player turns over two cards, then adds or multiplies the numbers on them (royalty counts as ten.) The person with the highest number wins all the cards that were turned over in that round. Keep playing until all the cards belong to one person, or until a set amount of time runs out. a variation is to turn over two, three or four cards each time and see who can make the highest or lowest number out of the digits on the cards.

  • Draw a very large number line outside on the pavement. Include negatives if you wish. Start the child on zero, then call out things like 'plus two' or 'minus four'. Go faster and faster as they get the hang of it.

  • Do kakuro or sudoku puzzles. Kakuros (cross sums) are especially good for teaching number patterns and addition. Children of about ten and up can begin trying them.

  • Connect the dots are good for teaching number order and patterns to younger kids.

  • Logic problems, as found in many puzzle books, are really good for teaching mathematical thinking.

  • Write the kind of problems you are studying on cutouts of fish. put a paper clip on the mouth of each fish, then 'fish' for them with a pole that has a magnet tied on to it. The child gets to keep the fish if he or she knows the answer to the problem.

  • Draw a number line on paper, then use Lego people or toy cars to act as markers.

  • Say the addition or times tables while doing calisthenics. Take turns choosing the exercise, and then say or yel the problems as you do them. Good for the kids...and the parents!!

  • Hang a times table or addition table chart in another room. make the child have to travel a bit to find out the answer to a problem they've forgotten. Saying it over and over again until they get back to the table will help fix the answer in their minds.

  • Recite problems while clapping a rhythm.

  • Send the young ones outside with plastic measuring cups and a few bowls of colored water. Let them experiment with fractional cup measures and color mixing.

  • Search the Internet for institutional recipes - ones set for 50 or 100 or 100 people. Reduce the amounts used down to feed 5 or 10, or raise you own recipes to feed 500.

  • Guess the amount before you check out at the store.

  • Highlights has an excellent series of Mathmania books. These have mathematically-related puzzles for six to twelve-year-olds which are very enjoyable.

  • When younger ones ask the time, use exact numbers, like 9:42 or 12:04. This introduces the idea of precision.

  • Skip count or recite tables while jumping rope.

  • Use graph paper to design rooms, houses, barns, dream hamster cages, etc.

  • Make maps of the children's bedrooms, including cutout furniture. These can be very useful when rearranging the rooms!

  • Make a timeline of the births of family members and friends.

  • Play guess the number...between 1 and ten, or one and one hundred, or between 63 and 123....Have one player pick a number silently, then have the others ask yes or no questions until they guess which it is. Questions may vary from 'Is it less than 50' to 'Is it more than Mom is old?'

  • Make 64 cardboard disks. On one side of each, draw a picture representing a fraction, like an appropriately sliced pizza or dots. Vary these for fun. On the other side of each, write the name of the fraction.(Making the pieces can be an educational experience, too!)To play, lay the pieces on a checkerboard, one in each space, picture up. First player removes one piece, then uses one of the others to jump into that spot. She then has to name the fraction in the picture and check the fraction on the back. If she got it right, she keeps the piece. The next player then picks up a piece and jumps over another, and guesses the fraction, keeping the piece if he gets it right. Play continues until no more jumps can be made.

  • Make cardboard dominoes, except put fraction pictures on one half of a domino, then put the fraction that corresponds to the picture on another domino half. Play as usual.

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