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3 Inexpensive Screen-Free Games That Make Math Fun

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If you’re looking for inexpensive, screen-free games that make math fun, check out the games from Absolute Zero. From practicing sums of ten to adding positive and negative integers, kids can practice vital math skills, all while having a blast!

I have a confession. When I’m playing games with friends and family, I make every effort not to be the scorekeeper. It stresses me to have people watching and waiting for me to tally their score.

What if I make an addition error? What if I draw a complete blank trying to add two numbers? Yes, I’m a grown adult, and I do possess basic math skills, but that math phobia from my school days is deeply embedded in my brain.

Absolute Zero Games Review

I know others share those math-phobic feelings. That’s why I love products like the games from Absolute Zero! They help kids overcome math anxiety by developing number sense in a fun, stress-free way.

Three Games that Make Math Fun from Absolute Zero

When I was actively homeschooling young learners, I relied heavily on games as a teaching tool. If we could make it a game, we did. And, I strongly preferred board and card games over online or computer-based games because once we turned that screen on, it was always hard to turn it off and get back on track.

That’s why I was so excited to discover the games from Absolute Zero. Created by a mom and math teacher, these games meet four of my main criteria:

  • They are educational card games that are fun to play
  • There are games for both older and younger students
  • There are tips for adapting each game for a broader range of skill level
  • Each game focuses on skills that kids need to improve number sense

I was impressed with the games right out of the shipping box because each set arrived in a hard plastic storage case, making it easy to keep them in excellent condition even when they get tossed in a packed schoolroom drawer or a backpack for on-the-go fun. And, making it less likely to misplace a card or two.

Absolute Zero

The flagship game, Absolute Zero, is perfect for improving skill and confidence in adding and subtracting positive and negative numbers. Each player gets three cards. (You can increase to four or five cards per player to increase the difficulty.)  The goal is to combine positive and negative numbered cards to create a value of zero in your hand.

Absolute Zero - An Inexpensive Screen-Free Game That Makes Math Fun

So, for example, a hand with a negative two, negative three, and positive five represents a value of zero. The player with zero goes out, and the remaining players have to add the absolute value (distance from zero) of the cards in their hand. After five rounds of play, the player with the lowest score wins.

Absolute Zero - An Inexpensive Screen-Free Game That Makes Math Fun

Absolute Zero is designed for kids ages 11 and up. We played with Megan (12th grade), my niece, and two of her friends (all 10th grade). They found the gameplay a little confusing at first, but I could totally chalk that up to them goofing off the whole time I was explaining it. {grin}

The play reminds me a little of Rummy. It’s fun and relatively fast-paced. Ensure stress-free play by keeping a number line on the table if needed. You can also play one of three adaptations for younger students or to add variety and practice other math skills.

Ten Fish

I took Ten Fish, for ages 5 and up, to my mom’s for Thanksgiving dinner because I knew my 5-year-old niece would love it. We played a couple of hands before my cousin’s 6th-grade son walked in. He watched us play and quickly picked up the premise, so I let him take my spot.

After a couple of hands, he said, “This is actually pretty fun.”

Ten Fish - One of 3 Inexpensive Screen-Free Games That Make Math Fun

I know that may not be a soundbite the game’s creator wants to include on the game box, but we parents know that’s a high compliment from a kid for a math-themed game.

You play the game much like Go Fish, but the object is to create a sum of ten with two or more cards. (Like Absolute Zero, you can increase to four or five cards per player to alter the difficulty level). So, a player with a four, a five, and a one could lay that set of cards on the table. The player with the most sets equalling ten wins.

I love that each card has a ten-square grid with a fish filling each square equal to the number on the card. That makes it much easier for young players to figure out what cards they need to complete their sets.

3 Inexpensive Screen-Free Games That Make Math Fun

I left Ten Fish at my mom’s since we have dinner there each week, and my niece loves to play games. It’s one of those games you can play with a kid that doesn’t make you want to bang your head against a wall after five minutes of play. Or maybe that’s just me when it comes to kids’ games.


The third game by Absolute Zero is called Hunch. Designed for ages 10 and older, this fun guessing game helps kids improve their understanding of positive and negative integers.

Hunch - One of 3 Inexpensive Screen-Free Games That Make Math Fun

Players guess the value of the next card facedown card that will be turned over. Then, record the difference between the actual card value and their hunch on their scorecard. After five rounds, the player closest to zero (determined by keeping a running total each round) wins.

The unique Hunch cards can be used to change your guess after the actual card value is revealed.

If you’re looking for some fun, easy, screen-free games that make math fun and improve your kids’ number sense, check out the games from Absolute Zero! They’re perfect for homeschool or after school play or for family game night.

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