Outdoor Math Games for Elementary Students

outdoor math games for elementary studentsOutdoor math games for elementary students can be played at recess or at home, and they offer a chance for the students to practice math skills in an engaging and fun way.  And although choosing an interactive game that a larger group of students will all like can be challenging, keeping them engaged in learning and having fun at the same time is what’s important!

Math Games for Recess or Class

There are many educational games that can promote learning math. You can create a new game, take an old game and revamp it, or pick tried-and-true classics.  Below are a few games that can be used.

Rock and Roll

This game uses a tic-tac-toe board filled with numbers.  Depending on the age of the student, fill the board with numbers like 0, 1, 2, and 3 or larger numbers with double digits or triple digits.  Armed with two stones, the student will toss them one at a time, and the numbers they land on will be calculated using addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division.

The beauty of this game is students with different level of abilities can play together.  This game could be modified to use a hopscotch grid or to include many levels of math.

Nine Numbers

Using a tic-tac-toe grid, choose numbers from a concept that the class is working on such as multiples of 6.  Write the numbers 6, 12, 18, 24, 30, 36, 42, 48, and 54 on the grid in sequence – or mix them up for more of a challenge!

Yell out a math problem, like “six times eight!” and have the students race to the correct answer. Last one there is out, continue until one player remains.

Math Fact Basketball

This game can be used with addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division as well as higher levels of math like negative numbers, too!

Have students choose a number between 2 and 20. If they score a 2 point basket have them add (pick the calculation by their level) the points from the basket to the number they chose and allow this to continue until they miss a basket and move on to the next student. You can set a score goal, and the first person to reach that goal wins. That way the game can change every time you play it!

Invisible Man

This game can be played with a small group or a large group.  Draw a stick figure in the dirt or with chalk on the asphalt and ask a math question.  If the student gets the question correct, he or she can erase a body part, a hat, a cane, etc., depending on what is drawn.  If the student misses the question, he or she must add something to the figure.  The level of the question can be modified for each student.

Four Square

Four square is a classic game that appeals to math play. The student in square four becomes the “Chief.” This math chief makes up the rules to add more counting to the game, like “toss the ball in the air four times before bouncing once and hitting it to another player.” If a person breaks the rule, misses the ball, or hits the ball out, that person shifts out, and everyone shifts to allow a new player in. If the chief misses, then the players shift, resulting in a new chief and new math rules!

Using math games for elementary students not only reinforces math skills but also encourages positive play.  The games can even let students practice while also refreshing their minds and getting a break from homework. There’s no reason to turn off a student’s brain at recess!

Do you have suggestions for math games that you have played with your child?  Tell us in the comments!

Author: Pam Crum, Lead Teacher at A Grade Ahead

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