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It’s no secret that math has gotten a bit of a bad rep over the years because many children simply see it as boring. And let’s be honest, not many of us remember those timed multiplication drills with a lot of fondness, right? But is there a way to change that?
Well, you can simply start by playing math games with your children at home! You can use games strategically to pique your children’s interest in math, sharpen their math skills, and have fun at the same time!
To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of 15 fun math games to play at home.
15 Math Games to Play at Home
1. Chalk Clock
Draw a big colorful clock in your driveway. If you happen to live in an apartment, an easy variation is to draw the clock on a large piece of cardboard. If you have two children, ask one of them to be the hour hand and the other one to be the minute hand. Both children stand inside the clock.
Once you’re all ready, you call out a time, and children should position themselves to represent this time.
For example, if you call out “2:15”, one child should stand on the 2 and the other one on the 15. If you are playing the game with only one child, you can simply place a rock on the hour hand and the child can be the minute hand. Alternatively, feel free to hop inside the clock and join the game!
This is a popular outdoor game that you can easily use to combine counting and movement.
The game is pretty simple and can be played with one or several players. Draw rectangles with numbers inside them. Now have each player toss an object (such as a small rock) in the numbered rectangles and hop through them in order to take the tossed object.
If your child is more advanced, you can make a simple twist and have the numbered rectangles start with higher numbers, such as 56, instead of 1.
3. Puddle Jump
Next on our math games to play at home list, we have puddle jump. To play the puddle jump game, you’ll need to create several ‘puddles’. You can use blue cardstock paper to create puddle shapes. Then, write numbers on the puddles and place them on the ground in your backyard.
This is a great outdoor activity, but you can easily play it inside if you have enough space. Just make sure to tape the puddles well so that your child doesn’t slip.
The numbers you choose are totally up to you and your child. For example, if you wish to practice skip-counting with a child that’s a beginner at it, you can use the following numbers: 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20.
This way you can practice counting by twos. Make sure the numbers are mixed up when you lay them on the ground so that the child can practice deciding on their own whether to step on 8 or 12 once they are on the puddle representing number 6, for instance.
As soon as the child is comfortable with counting by twos, you can move on to counting by threes, fives, etc. Jump from puddle to puddle and learn skip counting! The children will surely love it!
4. Number Line
Just like the previous activity, the number line adds movement to learning math.
Using chalk, draw a giant line with numbers on it on the driveway. Depending on the child’s math skills, the number line can start from 1 or bigger numbers.
Give the child an addition problem, like 7+6, and have them find the answer by jumping on the number line! Simply ask them to stand on the 7 and jump 6 more places to figure out the math problem.
You can use the same to practice subtracting. Ask the child how much 15-6 is, and have them stand on the 15 and hop 6 places backward. With all the hopping around, your child is guaranteed to love this game!
5. Twister Math
This one is a fun twist on the traditional Twister game and it’s a great way to keep your children active and busy during the rainy season as you can do it indoors.
Use post-it notes and write different numbers on them. Then, place these notes on the color circles on the twister mat. Each color circle could be assigned the same numerical value. For instance, all red circles can have a post-it note with the number 7.
Ask your children to stand at a corner of the mat. In the meantime, you are free to start spinning the spinner and shout out the positioning that it shows. However, instead of the traditional “left hand, red!”, you can replace the color with an addition problem, for instance, ”left hand, 3+4”.
Since you’ve established ahead of time that red circles represent the number 7, you’re basically allowing your child to practice addition.
6. Simon Says With a Twist!
Who doesn’t love the good old Simon Says game? We just had to include it on our math games to play at home list. Do a little twist and add geometry to the game. Agree on several physical gestures representing the geometric terms you’ve covered in class with your child. For example:
- Acute angle;
- Obtuse angle;
- Segment etc.
Your child stands up, you shout out a geometric term, and do one of the agreed physical gestures. However, you don’t always do the correct gestures that represent the geometric term. The child might be tempted to simply copy your gestures initially, which makes the game more fun.
By doing the wrong gestures yourself, you’ll be able to check which terms they know well and which ones you need to focus on a bit more.
7. Yes/No Game
The yes/no game is great for children that like playing guessing games. Take some cards with numbers or shapes on them, or simply use several sheets of paper. You need at least two players so you can easily play it yourself with your child if there’s no one else.
The child takes one card and puts it on their forehead without being able to see it and turns it face up toward the other player. Then they ask a series of questions trying to determine what is represented on the card.
For instance, let’s say you decided to practice geometric shapes with your child; make sure to inform them in advance so that you don’t make the game overly complicated. If they flip over a card with a trapezoid shape, they could start asking questions like: ‘Do I have three sides? No, ok, then do I have four sides? Yes? Okay, then, are all four sides parallel?”, etc.
Feel free to make simple variations to practice addition, subtraction, multiplication, etc.
8. Four to One
You’ll need at least two players to play this game, but if you can’t get your older one to join, you can play it yourself with the child. The game can be used for practicing a variety of math skills, such as shape recognition.
Place the two players in a pair, sitting across each other. The first player flips over a card with a certain shape and four statements on it that only they can see. They read the first statement to the other player, which should be very vague.
For instance, if the shape on the card is a rhomboid, the first statement could be something like: “I am non-right angled”. After the first statement, the clues should become easier and easier, with the fourth statement containing a very obvious clue.
Once the child hears the first statement, they can decide to either take a guess and win all four points if they guess the shape correctly, or get zero points for that round if they answer wrongly. They can also decide to hear all four statements, and if they guess correctly, they win only one point. Afterward, they switch and the other player is the one doing the guessing.
9. Bingo Math
Playing bingo can be a fun way to practice all the arithmetic operations. The game is ideally played with more than one child, so if you have an older child, they can join in as well. All you need to do to prepare for this game is print out some bingo cards containing different numbers and a few coins.
Hand out a bingo card to each player and have one person who’s not playing shout out a bingo question. This could be the parent or another child, as long as they’re not a player in the game. The bingo questions can be on any topic you wish to practice with your child. For instance, if you wish to practice division, prepare bingo questions beforehand, such as:
- What’s 56 ÷ 7?
- What’s 72 ÷ 9?
- What’s 50 ÷ 2 x 5?
If a player has the answer to the equation in one of the number squares on their bingo card, they put a coin on this number. If their card doesn’t have the answer, they don’t put anything on it. The game continues until a child has five coins across a row, in a column, or diagonally on their card. They then say “Bingo!”, and are declared a winner.
10. Measurement Scavenger Hunt
This game will help your child learn units of measurement and estimation. All you need is some yardstick, pencils, and sheets of paper. Give these to your children and explain that they’re going on a scavenger hunt in the house.
Now choose a length between 1 inch and 36 inches, and ask children to think of two objects in the house that match this length. Make sure to limit the guessing time so that you make it more competitive.
For instance, if the length you’ve chosen is 5 inches, children are given a guessing time of 1 minute to write down two objects that they think match 5 inches, such as a sheet of paper, a kitchen utensil, or a door handle.
After the guessing time is over, each child takes the list of the other and they go around the house to measure the lengths. The child that wrote down objects that match the real length or are close to it is declared a winner.
11. 24 Game
A simple but engaging game that will have your older ones practicing a mixture of arithmetic operations. You need at least two players, but the more, the merrier! Your child can invite many friends over to play the game!
Take a deck of cards and place a few sheets of paper and pencils in front of each player. Make sure to only keep the number cards and remove all other cards. Each player picks four cards from the deck and tries to create an equation out of them to reach the number 24, by using the following operations (+, -, x, ÷).
For example, if a player has picked 2, 8, 8, and 8, they can create the following equation to reach 24:
(2 + 8÷8) x 8 = 24
The first person to reach 24, says “24!”, and wins the game. However, if for some reason no player is able to reach 24, the player that comes the closest to the number 24 is the one that wins.
12. Bouncing Sums
Write down different numbers on a ball. Make sure to include both positive and negative numbers since the aim of the activity is to practice the addition and subtraction of integers.
Pass the ball to one child and have them say the number that their left finger touches or the number that’s the closest to their left index finger. They then pass the ball to the other child (or to you if you’re playing with only one child), while the other child also shouts out the number their left index finger touches and adds their number to the first number.
For example, if the first child’s finger touches the number -34, and the second child’s finger touches the number 23, the second child is supposed to calculate the answer to -34+23 as quickly as they can. After they shout out the answer, i.e. -11, they toss the ball back to the first child and the whole process is repeated.
Make sure to include two-digit or even three-digit numbers to make it more challenging. Since you’re not using paper and pencils, this game is a great way to get your children to start doing mental calculations, which are said to boost brainpower.
13. It’s in the Cards
This is a simple game that can be played indoors. You can use it to practice fractional values. If you have a bigger family, have them all join in!
All you need is a deck of cards. Remove the jokers and assign numbers to the remaining cards: 1 to the ace, 11 to the jack, 12 to the queen, and 13 to the king. The cards that are 2 through 10 keep their numerical values.
Put the players in pairs of two and put the deck of cards in the middle. Each player takes two cards and forms a fraction. They then compare the two fractions to see whose fraction is larger. The one that has a larger fraction wins that round and takes all four cards in their winning pile.
Keep playing until there are no cards left in the deck. Finally, the winner is the person that has gathered the most cards in their pile.
This is a two-player game that you can play with your child. As the name itself suggests, you’ll need a pair of dice. In addition to that, provide graph paper and some pencils. The aim of the game is to practice geometric shapes and calculate their area.
For example, let’s say you want to practice calculating a rectangle’s area. Have the first player roll both dice. The first number they roll will be the length of the rectangle and the second number will be the width. So if they rolled a 5 and a 3, the length of the rectangle will be five boxes on the graph paper whereas the width will be three boxes.
After having drawn the rectangle on their graph paper, they write the area in the middle of the rectangle. The other player then repeats this process and draws their rectangle based on the dice rolls.
This continues until a player has obtained dice rolls that can no longer be represented as a rectangle on their sheets, that is, until they’re out of space. Once they’ve reached that point, ask the children to add up the area of all the rectangles on their graph paper. The person with the biggest number wins the game.
15. Forehead Factors
And lastly, on our math games to play at home list, we have the forehead factors game. To play the forehead game, pair your younger one with the older one and place a deck of cards in front of them. You can be ‘the dealer’ and deal one card to each child. They then put the card face up on their forehead so that the player across them can see their number, but they can’t see their number.
The dealer, on the other hand, can see both cards and multiplies the two numbers they see and calls out the answer. By practicing division, each player will then try to guess the number of the card that’s on their forehead as quickly as possible.
For example, if one child is holding a card with the number 8 on their forehead and the other one with the number 9, the dealer multiplies 8 by 9 and shouts out the answer – 72. The child holding the 8 on their forehead only sees the number 9 and divides 72 by 9 to figure out the answer.
And there you have it – our 15 fun math games to play at home!
Of course, there are many, many more math games that you can play at home with your children. Use the above list of math games to get you started and use your imagination to create additional games or adjust these to your child’s math skills.
By adding fun to math, your children are guaranteed to develop a genuine love for numbers!
If you liked these games, check out our math resources at MathTeacherCoach.com, where you’ll find plenty of assignments, bell work, guided notes, interactive notebook, lesson plans, online activities, slideshow and exit quizzes that you can use with your children, or simply head over to our blog.
If you’d like to see a preview of the resources we offer, feel free to check out our freebie for 4th graders.