[Today’s post “The Most Awesome Math Games for Your Homeschool” was written by veteran homeschool mom and contributor to I Choose Joy! Michelle Habrych.]
Math can be extremely difficult for some children. Other students grasp it easily and never struggle. Then there are students who are somewhere in between. I have two teenagers. One has struggled since we started addition, the other has not had any trouble until this past year with his higher level math. I hope today’s post “The Most Awesome Math Games for Your Homeschool” helps you! See other math posts here: “How to Teach Math When It’s Challenging for the Homeschool Mom” and “The Valuable Reasons We Switched to Teaching Textbooks.”
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Something to keep in mind whether you are homeschooling or just looking for ideas to help your child with math is that all people, of all ages, can benefit from playing math games.
There are games in which you add scores or try to calculate the best point-earning option on your turn. Many of these include strategy games, such as The Voyages of Marco Polo or Settlers of Catan. You can see more of these recommendations at “Why Play Games in Your Homeschool” and “New Game Ideas for Your Homeschool.” Playing them will keep your skills sharp, even as an adult. The other day when my husband and I were playing Marco Polo, I commented on how much math just his one turn involved!
Add, Subtract, Multiply, and Divide
Of course, playing Yahtzee helps practice multiplication skills. Farkle is a good dice game for tallying score. Sequence Dice utilizes sequencing skills plus addition skills; this is one I’ve played with my kids since they were first counting, and it doesn’t get boring. A higher and more difficult version of this is Number Quest, which goes up to 100 instead of just 12. Players may choose to add, subtract, multiply, or divide to get the desired number they want to cover on the board. This game felt more like math than a game, so my math-hating kid did not enjoy it.
Deck of Cards
An ordinary deck of cards can be used to practice math skills. To practice addition, the game Make 10 has players trying to use up the cards they were dealt (excluding the face cards) to add up to 10. The one who runs out of cards first wins. You can use a deck of cards to have students practice multiplication, or you could even play Blackjack (get to 21 without going over!). This post by Denise Gaskins has more versions of War than I have ever seen—all to practice math skills. There are more math card games than I can mention here. Find a book at the library or look on Pinterest if you want more.
Dollar Store Math Games
Sometimes the Dollar Tree has math practice games, which may also “feel” like math to the students. Look for them in the teacher and office supply aisle. I’ve found Monster Math Munch, which offers practice with word problems, and Fraction Festival. The good news is that they are only a dollar and your kids might find this kind of reinforcement more enjoyable than worksheets.
Learning Resource Games
Speaking of fractions, Learning Resources put out Pizza Fractions, a very visual way to practice this often difficult skill.
Learning Resources offers games for all sorts of math areas. The games may be purchased at a teacher supply store, from a homeschool resale, or online. If there’s something your student is struggling with, this may be the way to go. They offer MathDiction, Race Around the Clock, and tri-FACT-a among others.
Another teacher company offering numerous math games is Lakeshore. I have Rolling to Learn Math Games: Operations. It comes with special dice and six different wipe-off game boards. Students roll the dice, with operation symbols, which requires them to practice their skills, and attempt to meet the different goals of each game, such as High or Low, What’s My Total?, and Race to 100. The site offers many other games, including a Jenga-type multiplication one that looks interesting.
Blasts from the Past
Some games from my childhood that are still around today include Pay Day, The Game of Life, and Monopoly. In these classics, players will add and subtract money, learn about interest, income, and expenses, and even learn a bit about insurance and the stock market.
Sequencing and Prediction
If you want to practice sequencing and prediction, The A-maze-ing Labyrinth, Qwirkle, dominoes, Othello, Mastermind, and Blokus are great options. Try Rummikub and Ginnykub as well. Games including Stratego and Battleship allow players to practice their critical thinking skills, including the art of deduction and logic.
Make Your Own
Many companies offer versions of Scrabble with math. The most well known is Smath, available from Lakeshore. I found a tutorial to make your own version of Smath here.
Speaking of making your own games, there are plenty of freebies to print off the internet. Design your own Bingo cards to practice whatever facts you’re working on. Here is a printable fractions Bingo game. I found a free download of the “squares” game using multiplication facts. I’m going to try it with my students this week! Another easy one I found searching the internet is the Area Dice Game. Grab some graphing paper, a pair of dice, and colored pencils. Students take turns rolling and color in the “area” they rolled, such as 5 x 6 = 30. What a great way to practice multiplication skills, as well as area and addition.
Sudoku games are good to practice logic and sequencing skills. I even found the Sudoku for Dummies game at a resale shop. It has a bunch of number tiles to place on Sudoku boards (instead of handwriting them and only using once).
Where to Buy
How do you get a lot of these games without spending a lot of money? Buy used! Shop garage sales and thrift shops. Go to homeschool resales. Use the freebies and make your own versions of the games. If you have a laminator, use that and a dry erase marker to reuse Bingo cards and other printables. You can even use plastic page protectors if you don’t have a laminator.
Stay tuned for part two of this post: The Most Awesome Math Computer Games & Apps for Your Homeschool.
Michelle Habrych is a homeschool mom to two teens and has been homeschooling for over a decade. She is always looking to add games to their learning.
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