10 math games and hands on learning opportunities

My boys HATE anything that looks like a worksheet.  If I ask them to sit down and work in their math workbooks they whine, moan and complain through the whole thing.

 As we've gotten further and further into our unschooling journey I've started to rely on games and hands on learning a lot during our school day, especially for math.  Math games can be very simple or very complex.  Many of my boys favorite math games have been made up using things around the house (and taken from ideas I found on Pinterest using things I had in the house).

My kids range in age from 5- 9 so we mostly focus on addition, subtraction, multiplication and some simple division.   Here is a list of some of our favorite games for math (in no particular order!).  Many of these games can be used for a multitude of math facts as well as sight word practice too:

1.  Flip 10-- I splayed much like the traditional Memory game.  Using the numeral cards from an UNO deck place them all face down and take turns flipping two over.  If the two numbers add to 10 you keep the match and go again. 

2.  Math fact Bomb-- we wrote equations in sidewalk chalk on our driveway and threw water balloons at them while calling out the answer. 

3.  Math Fact Slam-- I wrote math facts on sticky notes and stuck them to the wall while the boys threw balls at them and shouted out the answer to those equations they hit.

4.  War-- We love the card game war and while we play traditional war with my youngest to learn greater than/ less than we have played war many other ways with the older boys.  They flipped over two card to make two digit numbers (with face cards removed) for a larger number war.  We've had them flip two cards over and add the sum for addition war, we've flipped two cars over to multiply and find the product for multiplication war, we've flipped two cards over and put one over the other for fraction war... the possibilities are endless! 

5.  Candy  math-- we have sorted, counted, graphed and learned many math concepts using candy.  We've read the skittles math book, the Hershey Bar math book, etc.  We used Kit Kat bars and Hershey bars to learn fractions.  Candy always keeps them interested! 

6.  Peggy Kaye's games-- She has written two wonderful books-- one called Games for Math and other called Games for Learning and we've pulled many ideas from these two book.  One of the best was called Target.  We drew up a large target, threw paper clips at the target and wrote a three digit number based on where the paper clips landed.  The one with the largest number after each round wins that round.  It was fun, quick and with multiple rounds they all had a chance to win. 

7.  Board games-- Yahtzee, Life, Monopoly, 9 Men's Morris, etc. all teach critical thinking, multiplication, money addition and subtraction, number recognition, counting, etc.  We have tons of Board games we play for math-- though they're often played "for fun" at night, long after school has ended. 

8.  Recipes-- Through baking and cooking we have learned a lot about math by reading recipes, writing recipes and in working in the kitchen.  I think the most memorable was when all the boys wrote their own recipe and we actually made them the following week.  It was a writing assignment, but we learned a lot about math when we attempted to follow each recipe and realized we couldn't use 4 cups of milk without drowning the entire thing. 

9.  "Old School" games-- we have used old school games like tic tac toe, hopscotch, memory, etc. to learn math too.  We have written up our own tic tac toe boards with equations in each box that we had to solve before putting our marker on them.  We have added equations into all the hopscotch squares before jumping through them.  We have made up memory cards using index cards to make multiplication memory (math the equation to the answer).  We even put little dot stickers on the back side of Hershey kisses to make a fun & edible memory game-- again matching the answer to the equation. 

10.  Playing with math manipulatives & toys-- Don't underestimate this one...   I often give the boys our bucket of pattern block to play with or our container of fraction tiles to "just play with" and they learn so much on their own.  They have discovered various ways to put the fraction tiles away and have them equal "one whole."  They have found ways to put shapes together to equal other shapes.  They build, construct and use all sorts of wonderful architectural skills when using our foam geometric blocks, Lego sets, K'nex, etc. 


  1. fun math ideas! def post this one to pinterest


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