Let’s face it, it can be pretty difficult to try to spin math into something that doesn’t look like work to kids. Math requires lots of brain power and is often associated with school and boredom, so it can be hard to find fun ways to insert math use and practice into daily life. However, there are different ways to make math practice fun and seem less like “work.” Sometimes, you can even disguise it all together with games and apps! In this blog post, we have some suggestions you can use to get kids and students interested in learning math.
1. Playing Store with Real Coins
Learning how to use money is a real-world skill that everyone needs throughout his or her life. Money use also involves addition, subtraction, and counting by increments like 5’s, 10’s and 25’s. Little kids enjoy playing store, where they can gather up their things and pretend to sell them to you. Using real coins will also be a fun activity, and you can let them keep whatever coins they end up with at the end as an incentive to sell! Start out by going over the basics of coins and make prices simple at first. As they “sell” things to you, practice counting money and giving change. Kids can also participate in garage and yard sales once they have practiced counting money.
2. Math Bingo
When students get a little older (2nd grade and up) gather for a game of math bingo. Print out some easy 5×5 bingo boards and use numbers 1-50. Kids can write out any equation using addition, subtraction, or multiplication to get number from 1-50 as a solution on their board (make sure they have 25 different numbers though). For example, if they choose 25 they could write 30-5, 5×5 or 20+5 in one of the squares. Then, have papers with 1-50 written on them mixed up so you can reach into a container and call them out. Students will have to do their equations to find the answer that you call. Try using prizes or candy as incentive to win.
3. Play Board games that Involve Math
There are a lot of board games out there that subtly involve math in a fun way. For older kids, Monopoly is a great way to practice money usage, saving, and actual financial skills! For younger kids, Chutes and Ladders or Dominoes (connecting like numbers) is a great way to get started with number recognition and counting. Chutes and Ladders has been proven to help small children advance in their math skills, and it is a fun and easy game to all play together. Many stores have sections for learning and strategy board games for kids
4. Do Workbooks and Give Small Rewards
There are also a lot of workbooks and activity books available for kids to do that make learning math enjoyable. Workbooks for young kids involve colors, shapes, and activities that distract from the fact that they are doing math. Even doing easy counting and coloring activities will make it easier to do math once they start school. Give a small reward every time your child completes a certain number of pages. Workbooks are also a good activity for car rides to keep kids occupied.
5. Read Math-Themed Books with Counting
For students who enjoy reading, there are many books available to read that involve certain math skills. Go to the local library with your child and look for books that seem fun and interesting. Here are a few suggestions of books to look for.
Big Fat Hen by K. Baker involves a hen that lays eggs and counting by twos to a total of ten. This book also features number comparison, object grouping, addition, and subtraction. How Many Bugs in a Box by D.A. Carter uses measurements, and A. Capucilli’s Mrs. McTats and her Houseful of Cats involves adding numbers by more than one. One Hundered Hungry Ants by Elinor J Pinczes includes counting, grouping numbers, and simple division.
6. Play Math Apps and Computer games
This is probably the most modern and fun way for students to learn and play with math. There are countless apps for tablets and computer games out there for kids to practice all levels of math skills. Kids can earn digital rewards and have fun playing with characters while learning at the same time. Just make sure the apps and games your kids are playing with actually involve real math skills. Monitor their downloads and play with them at first to get a handle of what the games are all about. In this digital world, this will probably be the easiest and most fun way to get kids practicing math without knowing it. The library also offers computers with learning games for free to children if you don’t have a computer or tablet at home.
Here are some free online games for different grades:
- Free Online Math Games for Elementary
- Free Online Math Programs for Middle School
- Free Online Logic Puzzles
- Online Math Games for High School
There are plenty of other options that range from cheap to expensive, but these free ones are a good place to start!
7. Play Outdoor Math Games
There are many math games that you can take outdoors! They are fun, educational, and you can play them at recess or at home! Outdoor math games also offer a chance for kids to practice math skills in an engaging way by making the math a competition, a sport, or simply more physically interactive.
Most of these suggestions involve honing math skills for younger kids, but if your child finds math easy and fun at a young age, the transition into more difficult skills won’t be as hard. Math will be seen less as a struggle and more as something your child is used to doing already.
If you have any more ideas for how you practice math at home, let us know in the comments below!
Elisa Travalio, Teacher, Editor and Blog Writer at A Grade Ahead