640px-Horseshoes_game

Horseshoes: A Place Value Game

[Feature photo above by Johnmack161 via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.5).]

I first saw place value games on the old PBS Square One TV show (video below). Many teachers have posted versions of the game online, but Snugglenumber by Anna Weltman is by far the cutest variation. Anna kindly gave me permission to use the game in my upcoming Math You Can Play book series, and I added the following variation:

Horseshoes

snugglenumber

Math Concepts: place value, strategic thinking.
Players: two or more.
Equipment: one deck of playing cards, or a double deck for more than three players.

Separate out the cards numbered ace (one) through nine, plus cards to represent the digit zero. We use the queens (Q is round enough for pretend), but you could also use the tens and just count them as zero.

Shuffle well and deal eleven cards to each player. Arrange your cards in the snugglenumber pattern shown here, so that the number on each line comes as close to the target number as you can get it.

Score according to horseshoes rules:

  • Three points for each ringer, or exact hit on the target.
  • One point for each number that is six or less away from the target.
  • If none of the players land in the scoring range for a target number, then score one point for the number closest to that target.

For a quick game, whoever scores the most points wins. Or follow tradition and play additional rounds until one player gets 21 points (40 for championship games) — and you have to win by at least two points over your closest opponent’s score.

But Who’s Counting?


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playing cards

Fraction Game: My Closest Neighbor

[Feature photo above by Jim Larrison, and antique playing cards below by Marcee Duggar, via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).]

I missed out on the adventures at Twitter Math Camp, but I’m having a great time working through the blog posts about it. I prefer it this way — slow reading is more my speed. Chris at A Sea of Math posted a wonderful game based on one of the TMC workshops. Here is my variation.

Math concepts: comparing fractions, equivalent fractions, benchmark numbers, strategic thinking.

Players: two to four.

Equipment: two players need one deck of math cards, three or four players need a double deck.

How to Play

three-eighths-of-clubs

Deal five cards to each player. Set the remainder of the deck face down in the middle of the table as a draw pile.

You will play six rounds:

  • Closest to zero
  • Closest to 1/4
  • Closest to 1/3
  • Closest to 1/2
  • Closest to one
  • Closest to two

In each round, players choose two cards from their hand to make a fraction that is as close as possible (but not equal) to the target number. Draw two cards to replenish your hand.

The player whose fraction is closest to the target collects all the cards played in that round. If there is a tie for closest fraction, the winners split the cards as evenly as they can, leaving any remaining cards on the table as a bonus for the winner of the next round.

After the last round, whoever has collected the most cards wins the game.


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Multiplication Matching Cards

Multiplication Models Card Game

[Poster by Maria Droujkova of NaturalMath.com. This game was originally published as part of the Homeschooling with a Profound Understanding of Fundamental Mathematics Series.]

Homeschooling parents know that one of the biggest challenges for any middle-elementary math student is to master the multiplication facts. It can seem like an unending task to memorize so many facts and be able to pull them out of mental storage in any order on demand.

Too often, we are tempted to stress the rote aspect of such memory work, which makes our children lose their focus on what multiplication really means. Before practicing the times table facts, make sure your student gets plenty of practice recognizing and using the common models for multiplication.

To help your children see what multiplication looks like in real life, explore the multitude of Multiplication Models collected at the Natural Math website. Or try some of the hands-on activities in the Family Multiplication Study.

You may want to pick up this poster and use it for ideas as you play the Tell Me a (Math) Story game. Word problems are important for children learning any new topic in math, because they give children a mental “hook” on which to hang the abstract number concepts.

And for extra practice, you can play my free card game…

Click here to continue reading.

Land or Water 2

Maze Game: Land or Water?

This was a fun activity from Moebius Noodles for our PK-1st grade Homeschool Math in the Park group. The children take turns making a maze and setting a dinosaur inside. Then the other dinosaurs (parents or siblings) try to guess whether their friend is on the land or in the water.

Draw the maze

Player #1

(1) First, draw a big circle on the white board. This is your lake.

(2) With a finger or a bit of cloth, erase a small section of the circle to create the opening for your maze.

(3) Starting at one edge of the opening, draw a random squiggle inside the circle. Make your squiggle end at the other edge of the opening.

Looks like Land

(4) Set your dinosaur anywhere inside the maze.

Player #2

(1) Now it’s your turn to guess. Is the dinosaur standing on the land? Is it swimming in the water?

(2) How will you figure out if you guessed right?

(3) Check by jumping across the lines of the maze. Each jump takes you across a boundary: Splash! (Into the water.) Thump! (Back on the land.) Splash! Thump! … Until you reach the dinosaur inside.

(4) Or go to the maze entrance and walk your dinosaur along the path. Can you find your way?

land or water


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Princess in the Dungeon Game

Yet more fun from Rosie at Education Unboxed. I found these while looking for videos to use in my PUFM Subtraction post. Rosie says:

This is seriously embarrassing and I debated whether to put this video online or not because this is NOT my normal personality, but my girls made up this game and will play it for over an hour and ask for it repeatedly… so I figured someone out there might be able to use it with their kids, too.

If you know me, please don’t ever ask me to do this in public. I will refuse.

Princess in the Dungeon, Part 1 – Fractions with Cuisenaire Rods

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Addition Games with Cuisenaire Rods

Education Unboxed has posted some playful addition games for young learners. If your browser has as much trouble displaying Vimeo content as mine does, I’ve included the direct links:

Six is Having a Party! – Math Facts with Cuisenaire Rods

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Build Problem-Solving Skills with Board Games

Board games are a celebration of problem solving, and problem solving is at the heart of a quality mathematics education… The mathematics might be hidden, but I guarantee you that it will be there.

— Gordon Hamilton, MathPickle.com
Commercial Games 8

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photo by jma.work via flickr

Game: Times Tac Toe

Photo by jma.work via flickr.

I’ve been working on a book of math games for homeschoolers and other teachers. I hope to get it published later this year, but the editing drags on. Would anybody like to draw the illustrations?

Meanwhile, here’s a 2-player game your students may enjoy…

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ace of spades card deck

Game: Target Number (or 24)

[Photo by stevendepolo.]

Math concepts: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, powers and roots, factorial, mental math, multi-step thinking
Number of players: any number
Equipment: deck of math cards, pencils and scratch paper, timer (optional)

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Factoring Puzzle3

Puzzle: Factoring Trinomials

Factoring Puzzle

My high school class ended the year with a review of multiplying and factoring simple polynomials. We played this matching game, and then I gave them a puzzle worksheet. I liked this idea, but I didn’t like the decoded answer. In my opinion, puzzles should give the student a “reward” for solving them — maybe a joke or riddle or something — but that answer seemed almost like nagging.

So I changed things around to make my own version:

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log-graph

Math Game: Logarithm War

[Graph created at Draw Function Graphs.]

Kate at f(t) took my popular Math War game to a new level by making a set of Logarithm War cards. Cool! Download a deck for yourself:

Homeschoolers

If your student has passed you up in math and has no classmates to play games with, he or she can still use these cards to practice logarithms. Just follow the instructions in this video.


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yahtzee-dice

Contig Game: Master Your Math Facts

[Photo by Photo Mojo.]

Yahtzee and other board games provide a modicum of math fact practice. But for intensive, thought-provoking math drill, I can’t think of any game that would beat Contig.

Math concepts: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, order of operations, mental math
Number of players: 2 – 4
Equipment: Contig game board, three 6-sided dice, pencil and scratch paper for keeping score, and bingo chips or wide-tip markers to mark game squares

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Online Game: Math Caching

In the treasure-hunting game of Geocaching (pronounced “geo-cashing”), players use GPS systems to locate boxes hidden at different geographical locations across the country.

Now, the creative people at Mathbits.com have come up with an online treasure-hunting activity for junior high and high school students, called MathCaching. Students solve mathematical problems to find hidden “boxes” on the Internet. Each box reveals clues to the location of the next one.

The MathCaching game covers pre-algebra through trigonometry topics, with calculus levels under development. For more information, visit the MathCaching site, or read the post on my Frugal Homeschooling blog.


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mingo-game

Free Multiplication Bingo Game

Math concepts: multiplication, mental calculation, times table
Number of players: one leader (teacher) and two or more players
Equipment: free MINGO number cards and boards; bingo chips, pennies, or other tokens to cover numbers

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jaycoxfilm-if-every-picture-tells-a-story

Math Game: What Number Am I?

Photo by jaycoxfilm.

Math concepts: mental calculations, math vocabulary, and anything else you want to include
Number of players: any number, but I think it works best with two players who alternate asking questions
Equipment: imagination and, if necessary, scratch paper

Many years ago, I read a magazine article by mathematical music critic Edward Rothstein, wherein he described a game he invented for his daughter:

  • “What number am I? If you add me to myself, you get four.”

Rather than explaining the rules of the game, let me tell you a story…

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cat-fight

Hit Me! (A Math Game)

Photo by paparutzi.

Math concepts: addition, subtraction, negative numbers, mental math, absolute value
Number of players: any number
Equipment: math cards (two decks may be needed for a large group)

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function-machine

The Function Machine Game

Math concepts: odd numbers, even numbers, greater-than/less-than, rounding off, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, negative numbers, prime numbers, square numbers, problem solving, mental math
Number of players: two or more
Equipment: pencil (or pen) and paper for every player

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avoid-three-game

Game: Avoid Three, or Tic-Tac-No!

Math concepts: slope, logical strategy
Number of players: 2 or more
Equipment: 4×4 or larger grid, pebbles or other tokens to mark squares

Set Up

Alexandria Jones and her brother Leon played Avoid Three with pebbles on a grid scratched in the sand, but you can also use pencils or markers on graph paper. You need a rectangular playing area at least 4×4 squares large. The bigger your grid, the longer your game.

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Nim game tokens (jellybeans)

Nim Revisited

Photo by Sister72.

Dave at MathNotations offers another version of Nim that will give your students something to think about:

[1,2]-3-[4,5]-6-[7,8]…21 Helping Children Devise and Understand Winning Strategies


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Euclid game

Euclid’s Game on a Hundred Chart

Math concepts: subtraction within 100, number patterns, mental math
Number of players: 2 or 3
Equipment: printed hundred chart (also called a hundred board), and highlighter or translucent disks to mark numbers — or use this online hundred chart

Set Up

Place the hundred chart and highlighter where all players can reach them.

How to Play

  • Allow the youngest player choice of moving first or second; in future games, allow the loser of the last game to choose.
  • The first player chooses a number from 1 to 100 and marks that square on the hundred chart.
  • The second player chooses and marks any other number.
  • On each succeeding turn, the player subtracts any two marked numbers to find and mark a difference that has not yet been taken.
  • Play alternates until no more numbers can be marked.

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Dirty numbers

Game: Hundred Chart Nim

Photo by Håkan Dahlström via flickr.

Math concepts: addition and subtraction within 100, logical strategy
Number of players: 2 or 3
Equipment: printed hundred chart (also called a hundred board) and beans, pennies, or other tokens with which to mark numbers — or use this online hundred chart

Set Up

Place the hundred chart and a small pile of tokens where both players can reach them.

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7 Things to Do with a Hundred Chart


This post has been revised to incorporate all the suggestions in the comments below, plus many more activities. Please update your bookmarks:

Or continue reading the original article…


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Math Club Nim

Photo by Windell Oskay via flickr.

Math concepts: logic, patterns, divisibility
Number of players: 2
Equipment: 10 tokens, any sort, mix or match

Set Up

Place the pile of tokens (pebbles, toothpicks, beans, pennies, dry cereal, etc.) on the table between the players.

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matching 10

Game: Tens Concentration

Math concepts: addition, number bonds to 10, visual memory
Number of players: any number, mixed ages
Equipment: math cards, one deck

Set Up

Each player draws a card, and whoever choses the highest number will go first. Then shuffle the cards and lay them all face down on the table, spread out so no card covers any other card. There are 40 cards in a deck, so you can make a neat array with five rows of eight cards each, or you may scatter them at random.

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How to Make Math Cards

Many of the games on this blog call for Math Cards. You do not need to look for these in stores or in your school supply catalog. Math cards are simply a modified deck of normal, poker-style playing cards. Remove all face cards and jokers from the deck, leaving the ace through ten of each suit. Or use a set of Rook cards, without the bird.

Using the ace as a one, this gives you four sets of numbers 1-10, and you will be ready to play your way to fluency in almost any arithmetical topic: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, greater-than/less-than, fractions, negative numbers, and more.

Card Holder for Young Hands

Math card holder

Little hands often have trouble holding more than a few cards at a time. Your child may enjoy making and using a card holder.

Save the plastic lids from two margarine tubs or similar containers. Place the lids together, top to top. Line up the edges, then staple them together, putting two or three staples near the center of the lids. Let your child decorate the card holder with stickers, if desired.

To use the card holder, slip playing cards between the two lids and fan them out. The lids will hold the cards upright, so the child can easily see them all.


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Hampton Roads Photographer

Elementary Problem Solving: The Early Years

[Rescued from my old blog. To read the entire series, click here: Elementary Problem Solving Series. Photo by Studio 757 via flickr.]

You can begin to teach your children algebraic thinking in preschool, if you treat algebra as a problem-solving game. Young children are masters at solving problems, at figuring things out. They constantly explore their world, piecing together the mystery of how things work. For preschool children, mathematical concepts are just part of life’s daily adventure. Their minds grapple with understanding the three-ness of three blocks or three fingers or one raisin plus two more raisins make three.

Wise homeschooling parents put those creative minds to work. They build a foundation for algebra with games that require the same problem-solving skills children need for abstract math: the ability to visualize a situation and to apply common sense.

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Number Bonds = Better Understanding

[Rescued from my old blog.]

number bondsA number bond is a mental picture of the relationship between a number and the parts that combine to make it. The concept of number bonds is very basic, an important foundation for understanding how numbers work. A whole thing is made up of parts. If you know the parts, you can put them together (add) to find the whole. If you know the whole and one of the parts, you take away the part you know (subtract) to find the other part.

Number bonds let children see the inverse relationship between addition and subtraction. Subtraction is not a totally different thing from addition; they are mirror images. To subtract means to figure out how much more you would have to add to get the whole thing.

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negative number tree

Negative Numbers for Young Students

[Rescued from my old blog.]

Would you like to introduce your students to negative numbers before they study them in pre-algebra? With a whimsical number line, negative numbers are easy for children to understand.

Get a sheet of poster board, and paint a tree with roots — or a boat on the ocean, with water and fish below and bright sky above. Use big brushes and thick poster paint, so you are not tempted to put in too much detail. A thick, permanent marker works well to draw in your number line, with zero at ground (or sea) level and the negative numbers down below.

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Set Daily Puzzle

The spring semester of homeschool co-op classes starts tomorrow, and I still have a couple of handouts to prepare and several pages of notes to go over in preparation. So naturally, I find myself flitting from here to there on my computer, browsing new links and cleaning out the old.

As the saying goes:

“I used to be an amateur crastinator, but now I’ve turned pro.”

In a dusty pile of long-neglected bookmarks, I rediscovered this treasure:

Set Daily Puzzle

I love this game!


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qiki

The Game That Is Worth 1,000 Worksheets

[Rescued from my old blog. Image via Wikipedia.]

Math concepts: greater-than/less-than, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, negative numbers, absolute value, and multi-step problem solving.

Have you and your children been struggling to learn the math facts? The game of Math Card War is worth more than a thousand math drill worksheets, letting you build your children’s calculating speed in a no-stress, no-test way.

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