10 Sample Math Games

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Games can be powerful tools that significantly boost personal development, learning achievement, and school success if:

1. The games are specially designed to develop important abilities or teach specific skills or concepts. When a collection of games is organized to cover a complete subject, then the games become a tremendous support system that practically assures success. This is particularly true when a quick test and recording system provides the tracking of each playerís progress and continually pinpoints his or her best current learning opportunities. It also makes sure no important math skills are missed. What advantage can this be for your child? Well, consider that even a 5% increase in learning rate during a childís school career can result in a three-year advantage by the end of high school due to the power of compounding! Truly, even small differences can result in greatly increased success opportunities!

2. The games are designed to put into instant action powerful teaching methods and particular learning principles, conditions, and strategies that would best teach or develop each specific skill or concept. This means parents do not have to be professional teachers or learning experts to provide the best learning conditions for their children. Even professional teachers at school can extend their impact to additional individuals and small groups within the classroom without one-to-one assistance and still be assured each learning activity is appropriate, effective, and targeted to specific learning objectives.  An added advantage is that players become increasingly aware of the power of learning strategies and start making it a habit to apply these same principles in other learning situations.

3. The games are fun! This means players will want to spend many extra hours developing the skills the games are targeted to achieve. Time spent playing the games will not be experienced as work or study!

4. The games are instantly available and require no hard-to-store pieces. The best games are game ideas that use items that are usually around anyway, like paper, pencils, dice, cards, etc. This means players have instant access to all of the games and do not need to learn complex instructions.

5. The games are economical and you do not need to continually buy new ones as your child progresses from grade to grade. For example, in the Learning Success Math Games for School Success book, there are over 350 games covering the most important math skills from pre-school through the eighth grade. It is a complete support system for each child through all of those years!



Number Magnitude


Lineup - Prepare number cards from 0 to 50. If more than two players are going to play, you might want to use two decks. Shuffle the cards, and deal eight to each player. Players place their cards face up in a horizontal line in front of them in the same order in which they are received. Players may not move their cards around. The object of the game is to be first to have your cards in correct sequential order from smallest to largest. A player does this by taking a card on each turn from the top of the undealt deck, and using it to replace any of the cards in his lineup. He discards the card that is replaced. Whenever a player's lineup of numbers is in correct sequence from the smallest to the largest, he calls out Lineup and wins the game.


Place Value


Can You Read Me? - In this game players read numbers of ever increasing size. Use regular playing cards, but remove the tens, aces count as ones, and face cards count as zeros. Leader shuffles cards. To start each round, leader puts down a card face up and asks first player to read the number. He then places another card to the left of the first one, and asks the second player to read the resulting two-place number. This continues with each player having to read a number one place higher than the preceding player until a player misreads the number given to him. When that happens, the last player to read his number correctly wins all the cards in play. A new round starts with the leader presenting the next player with a one-place number to read. Game continues until all cards are played. Player having the greatest number of cards wins the game. A variation would be to include decimal numbers by using the king cards as decimals. Only one decimal would be allowed during a round. Any other decimal coming up would be placed aside.


Addition Facts


Addition Card Capture - Use a set of addition fact flashcards. Two players. Divide the cards equally between the two players. One player attacks, while the other player defends. The defending player shows his cards (problem side up) one at a time to the attacking player. If the attacking player says the right answer, he captures the card and adds it to his own. He can continue capturing cards until he answers incorrectly. When this happens, the defending player becomes the attacker, and gets his chance to capture cards. This continues with cards being captured back and forth until one player winds up with all the cards, or has the most cards when time is called. If there is a wide difference in ability between players, you can even the game up by allowing the player with the higher ability to only capture a limited number of cards on a turn. For example, 7 cards.


Addition Operations


Five Out - Five dice are needed for each player. Each player on his turn rolls all five dice. Player then removes any fiveís and adds the rest and writes it down. Other players take their turns and do the same. On next round, each player throws any dice remaining, again removes any fiveís, and adds the rest to his previous total. This continues until no player has any dice left. Player with highest total wins.


Subtraction Facts


Addition and Subtraction Turnover - Each player is given 11 cards numbered from 0 thru 10. These are placed face up in a row. Regular playing cards could be used if you use Kings as zeros, Aces as ones, and take out all other face cards. Players roll two dice on a turn, and may choose to add or subtract the two numbers shown on the dice. If the resulting sum or difference equals one of the number cards still face up, the player may turn that card face down. Next player then takes his turn. This continues until one of the players wins by succeeding in turning all eleven of his cards face down.


Subtraction Operations


Subtraction Pig - Two or more players start out with 100 points each. Players in turn roll two dice and subtract that number from their points. A player on a turn continues rolling the dice and subtracting the resulting number from his remaining points until a one appears on any dice rolled.  That playerís turn ends and the next player takes a turn, rolls the dice, and subtracts the number from his remaining points. When a player has lost all of his points, he is out of the game. Last player in the game wins.


Multiplication Facts


Multiplication Monsters - This is a fun, change-of-pace activity to learn multiplication facts. It is particularly effective in helping players learn any multiplication facts they are finding especially difficult to learn because it uses the powerful memory strategy of using dramatization and visual imagery. Have players draw a multiplication monster for each fact they wish to memorize. For example, a monster with four feet, and three toes on each foot, could be the 4 x 3 = 12 monster.


Multiplication Operations


Whatís Your Favorite Number? - Ask someone what his or her favorite number is between 1 and 9. Then multiply the favorite number by 9. Multiply that by 12345679 and you know what? Your friend will be surprised when he sees you writing his favorite digit over and over again in the answer. That is, if you multiply correctly.

Slot Card Races - Cut an open slot in a card or blank piece of paper. The slot needs to be large enough to see only one math problem or fact at a time written in a column on another sheet of paper. The problems should be such that the player can work the answers out in his head. Math facts could also be used. Each player in turn tries to work the problems as fast as he can while being timed. The card is slid down from one problem to the next as he correctly answers each one. If a problem is answered incorrectly, the leader moves the card back one problem. Each player's time is written down. Players may re-challenge each other. A variation would be to move the card at a certain speed for all players to see how many problems they can do accurately at that speed before making a mistake.




Multiplying Two-Place Numbers By Eleven - Here is a quick way to multiply a two-place number by eleven. Write the number to be multiplied, but leave a space in between. Add the two digits, and write the sum in that space. You have your answer.

Example, if you wanted to multiply 11 x 36, write the 3 and 6 with a space in the middle. 3 + 6 equals 9, so write the 9 in that space. Your answer is 396.


An Added Suggestion


Make it a Family Tradition to Think About and Talk About Things Mathematically - Make it a habit in your family to share thoughts in mathematical terms.  Parents should share with their children things that involve mathematical thinking. This would include shopping, budgets, savings, investments, time lines, cooking, measuring, constructing, understanding the news, etc. The best way to do this is to think aloud as these activities are taking place.


For more than 340 more games and activities to develop math skills,

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You will then have the tools you need to significantly increase your childís math achievement.  You will have:

(1)     A clear explanation of the sequence of reading skills important for your child to learn from pre-school through junior high.

(2)     Simple tests to quickly evaluate what skills your child has learned and what he or she needs to learn next.

(3)     Fun games the whole family can enjoy to teach each reading skill and designed to put powerful learning principles and strategies to work for your child.

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