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5 Ways to Make Math Practice Fun

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Written by Tara Mitchell of Embark on the Journey.

Do your kids dread practicing their math facts? Do they grumble when you break out the flash cards or the math workbooks?

Try putting the teaching materials aside every now and again. There are many non-traditional ways our kids can practice counting, adding, subtracting and such.

By incorporating movement, games, and even candy, we can keep the drudgery of learning math facts at bay. Who knows, your kids may even begin to look forward to math practice if you try these fun ideas.

1. Play games.

There are so many board games and card games that you can play to help your kids practice beginning math skills. Uno and Go Fish are great for number and/or color recognition. Candyland and Chutes & Ladders will have your children practicing their counting skills.

Older kids can enjoy a rousing game of War while practicing greater than and less than. Many games can be adapted to practice addition, subtraction, or multiplication, as well.

2. Teach with candy.

Whether you’ve got leftover candy from the holidays or you’re looking for a fun new way to teach a lesson, you can’t go wrong when you incorporate candy into your daily math lessons.

Use M&Ms or Skittles as counters while practicing addition and subtraction. They’re great for making groups to show multiplication and division, as well.

Hershey bars are great for showing fractions. Marshmallows and gumdrops, when paired with toothpicks, can be used to build shapes, both 2D and 3D.

3. Toss those facts around.

Blow up a beach ball and use a permanent marker to write numbers all over it. Now, you can play a game of catch with your child. For preschoolers and kindergarteners, play “What Comes Before/After.” Toss the ball to your child, and have them name the number that comes before and/or after the number their thumb is touching.

As your kids get older, you can continue playing the game while practicing basic math facts. Call out a number, 2 for example. Have your child add, subtract, or multiply that number with the number their thumb touches as they catch the ball.

There are so many ways to adapt this game as your child’s knowledge base grows. The possibilities are endless.

4. Take it outside.

Grab some sidewalk chalk and head outside for math. Draw a hopscotch board on the sidewalk, and fill it with math problems or numbers.

Use rocks or twigs for counters as you practice addition and subtraction facts or even just counting.

Draw numbers with chalk. Call out a math problem, and let your child squirt the correct answer with a water gun.

5. Have a scavenger hunt.

Scavenger hunts are great indoors or out. Call out instructions for your preschoolers to find three items. Or, have them find two round objects. Can they find a red object or something that is a square? This is a great way to reinforce colors, numbers, and shapes with your youngest learners.

Sometimes, just getting up and moving is enough to make working on math facts fun instead of a chore.

How do you break up the monotony and make math fun for your kids?


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Tara is wife to Matt and homeschool momma of three. Her children are 21, 16, and 11 – two boys and one girl. She is currently homeschooling her daughter – 6th grade. When she’s not blogging, Tara enjoys crocheting and snuggling up with a good book. She and her family recently moved from Texas to Ohio, and they’re having fun exploring their new surroundings. She blogs about homeschooling, motherhood, and family life on both of her blogs – Homeschool Preschool and Teaching with Children's Books.

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  1. My kids love Shut the Box. Which is really just adding over and over, but somehow, it’s way more fun when you get to roll dice and flip down the numbers and see who gets the lowest score. I’m not telling them that they’ve been practicing math for the last hour!

  2. For nearly every topic (we unit study and use workbooks to cover the basics), I will print out either a color by ‘something’ whether it be shape for a pre-schooler, sight word, number, or +-x/ problems for older kids that are on the theme. If I can’t find one of those, then I use a 100 grid. The kids fill those in while I read out loud to them. Lastly I might find a roll and cover instead. I print addition ones for the Kindergarten age and higher levels as they go up. They’re getting number sense while having fun. Plus they reinforce the topic at the same time. We also play make 10 and war, cook together and talk about fractions, and so on.

  3. Thanks for these great ideas! My son loves math but he gets bored doing problem after problem. These are fun ideas to change things up!

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