Turn Math into a Cool Math Game
Games are entertaining. That’s why children (and adults) love games! By turning math learning time into a cool math game, your child can have fun and build math skills at the same time.
Math games give students the opportunity to explore and practise their skills, deepen their understanding of math concepts, and build fluency in an enjoyable way.
Children generally try harder at games and will continue to play to find success (win), unlike when they’re practising math in a traditional way. No matter the child’s level, gamifying math allows them to participate and learn, and increases their ability to reason and make decisions.
It’s easy to create a game in almost any situation by encouraging competition or creating a system where points are earned. A part of the fun is in creating the rules and making decisions on how to win. You can incorporate math in games your children already love to play.
If your child enjoys physical activity, use games that require physical movements. This stimulates a mind-body connection and helps children retain information. If your child is studying shapes, for example, you can play a scavenger hunt game to see who can find the most objects containing certain shapes.
“Hit the target” math game
It’s helpful to practise naming or classifying things, or even to practise computation. Here’s a suggestion of a game that can be played to increase skills with numbers and operations.
- Outline different areas on a floor or wall and place a sheet of paper with a number in each area. These can be whole numbers, decimals, fractions, integers, or even algebraic expressions, depending on your child’s grade level.
2. Each player takes a turn throwing an object such as a sticky ball onto two numbers. Then the player performs operations to get the highest score possible for that turn.
For example, if you’re using integers and the player lands on −4 and 2, then 2 – (−4) = 6 gives the highest possible score for those two numbers. The player scores 6 on this turn.
3. Each player adds the scores for all their turns, and the player with the highest final score wins.
Here’s one example of how you can play. All you have to do is download it and print it so that you can have fun with your children or students while learning.
This version is a simple one that you can do with younger children. You can practise addition, subtraction, multiplication and division with it. Since you are the one who creates the rules, you could, for example, ask your child or student to perform operations to get the highest or lowest score possible for that turn.
Again, remember this is only one possible way to play the game. You can create your own game with your own rules. Since you and your child can make up the rules, you can have additional rules. For example, the player could score an extra point if they use their opponent’s numbers to make a higher score than their opponent did. Just have fun with this!
If you don’t want to make up your own games, you can use popular games to practise math skills. Some of these games even help to improve memory. Card games or dominoes that require students to match, for example, help to develop number sense and improve memory.
Here are some popular games and a few of the skills they help to develop.
Graphing points on a coordinate plane
Analytical thinking; Problem solving
Go Fish, Uno
Identifying numbers; Matching
Can you think of other games you can use to help your child develop math skills?
You may want to use a resource like Netmath, where your child can acquire stars and badges as they learn and practise math concepts! They will have lots of fun doing so! Whatever cool math games you decide to play with your child, watch them closely and pay attention to the decisions they make as they play. It may be helpful to sometimes verbalize your own strategies aloud to model the approach you are taking.
At the end of the game, have your child reflect on the game by asking them about the strategies they used and how they might change their strategy if they played the game again.
Enjoy your time playing math games with your child!