July 1, 2014

It’s summertime! Time for the kids to read books, swim, play outside, and learn how to deal with boredom. I think a healthy dose of boredom is good for kids. It can be a stepping stone to creativity and imagination. Some of my best memories from childhood stemmed from boredom, and I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything!

Still, summer can get pretty… boring.

Math games to combat summer boredom(Sound familiar?)

I filled my elementary summer days with hundreds of books, lots of sunshine, and probably a little too much TV. One thing I wish I had were the math games I’m about to share with you! They are simple, fun, and great ways to practice math facts and concepts. In my classroom, my students would cheer every time I announced that we were learning a new math game. They loved these games so much that they even chose to play them during their free time!

As a teacher, it’s usually obvious to me when a student has practiced their math facts over the summer. They are like freshly sharpened pencils, ready to get to work! I can usually tell when the converse is true, too, so help your child out and give her the gift of learning AND summer fun!

I’m not lying. If you sit down and play these games with your kids, I really think they will want to play again and again, and it will be great family time and learning time! I will share enough games to last you the whole summer.

Tic Tac Toe Products Move 6

I learned many of these games (42, 99, Low Score, and Divide and Conquer) at a teaching training we had several years ago (with the folks over at www.joyinlearning.com) where we actually got to play some of these games. That was a great idea, because once I played them, I was sold. It was easy to see how effective they were to help kids practice math facts or apply math concepts in a situation that mattered. This motivates children to think mathematically in a totally different way! Completing 50 math facts for homework can be boring, but thinking through dozens of math facts to make strategic moves in a competitive round of Tic-Tac-Toe Products is way more fun!

As you can see, several of the games require just a deck of cards. At the end of the year, I would try to review all of these games during the last week of school so my students had them fresh in their minds as they headed into summer. Then I gave each student a deck of cards as an end-of-the-year gift along with a little cardstock sheet (sized to fit into the card box) with number values for the various games:

Card Values

This way, they can teach their parents or siblings the games and continue to play at home. The goal, of course, is to have them play these games over the summer not only to stave off boredom, but to keep their math facts fresh for the next school year.

(You’re welcome, teachers! :))

Here are some of my favorite games that you can now teach your kids, too! Over the next few weeks, I will update this post with links to more detailed posts for how to play. In the meantime, gather up a deck of cards and a few dice! Time to get ready to have fun with math!



42 – ADDED ON 7/20/2014
Math Skills Covered: Addition
Materials: Deck of Cards
# of Players:

99 – ADDED ON 7/28/2014
Math Concepts Covered: Addition and subtraction
Materials: A deck of cards
# of Players: 2+
Grades: 1-5

Closest to 100 – ADDED ON 7/5/2014
Math Skills Covered: Addition (2-digit numbers), place value, negative numbers
Materials: Deck of Cards
# of Players:

Divide and Conquer – ADDED ON 8/4/2014
Math Skills Covered: Division
Materials: Deck of cards
# of Players: 2+
Grades: 4-6

Low Score – ADDED ON 8/8/2014
Math Concepts Covered: Fractions, addition
Materials: Deck of cards
# of Players: 2+
Grades: 4-6

Target Number – ADDED ON 7/15/2014
Math Skills Covered: Addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, order of operations (“PEMDAS”)
Materials: 5 dice
# of Players: 1+
Grades: 4-6

Tic-Tac-Toe Products – ADDED ON 7/1/2014
Math Concepts Covered: Multiplication fact practice
Materials: Template, two sets of colored game pieces (bingo chips, colored paper squares, etc.), two paper clips
# of Players: 2
Grades: 3-6

6 responses to “Fun Math Games for Children”

  1. Barbara Blough says:

    I LOVE teachers! We are a truly SHARING bunch. Thank you for all your “shares” for the summer! I tutor and want my students to have fun – because they learn better that way, DUH! No tests, just FUN! Children (heck, even adults) need to PLAY! We all learn AND REMEMBER better when we’re having fun.

    • joellen says:

      Yes, I really enjoy playing these games whenever I get a chance to, too! I agree, fun can make learning more effective, too!

  2. Dakota says:

    I’m definitely looking forward to these, thank you! (And I pinned the tic tac toe game.) I’m seriously considering homeschooling my 4 year old when he gets to kindergarten age and I’ll need things like these. He’ll be in preschool this coming fall, but after that… it’s up in the air.

    Speaking of which… do you have any suggestions for fun (and easy for Mom to set up) word games involving phonics/word memorization? And what the next stage of math education is beyond the preschool workbooks? Maybe I haven’t researched it, but I feel like there’s a gap between preschool and kindergarden/first grade levels that I’m not sure how to span.

    Munchkin is sort of at this inbetween stage where the preschool workbooks are boring and all the preschool learning apps I have on my tablet are old hat, but first grade is still a little beyond him (there’s no kindergarten ones that I can find)… it also seems hard to find good preschool workbooks anymore. 😛 He knows his letters and a good number of sounds and I feel like he’s thisclose to figuring out reading, but I can’t quite figure out how to give him the right tools. Our approach is to wait until he’s interested in something before trying to “teach” anything, and he’s interested in reading, but clearly I’m doing something wrong, because he’ll be interested, but then will deliberately pronounce things wrong or say he doesn’t know, and then isn’t interested for a while.

    • joellen says:

      Aw sorry I’m not as much help for kids below 3rd grade, as I’ve mostly taught just 3rd and 4th grade. I’m really not familiar with pre-school or kinder age, especially! Sorry! Hopefully some teachers familiar with 4-year olds can weigh in, here (like my mom!).

  3. Daniel says:

    May I suggest some online math games ? http://www.mathgamesplay.com/ has a few fun math flash games that you can check