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20 Exciting Math Games for Kids to Skyrocket New Math Skills On-The-Go

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  • Game-Based Learning
  • Teaching Strategies
Playing math games has emerged as a way to make class engaging, but you must ensure these activities build skills and reinforce lesson content. Just like there are many helpful math websites, there are online and offline games suited for this job. They can act as customizable entry and exit tickets, as well as mid-class activities. For 1st to 8th grade teachers, here are 20 math games for kids you can play with and without computers:

1. Prodigy

[caption id="attachment_501" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Female students play Prodigy -- an educational math video game -- on their tablet computers. Students playing Prodigy on their tablets[/caption] Sign up for Prodigy -- a free, curriculum-aligned math video game -- to engage your class as you reinforce lesson content and essential skills. It borrows elements from role-playing games (RPGs) such as Pokemon, as players compete in math duels against in-game characters. To win, they must answer sets of questions. As a teacher, you can customize these questions to supplement class material. The game also uses adaptive learning and differentiated instruction principles to adjust content, addressing each student’s trouble spots. Create or sign into your free teacher account here:

Age Range: 1st - 8th Grades

2. Around the Block

Play Around the Block as a minds-on activity, using only a ball to practice almost any math skill. First, put together a list of questions related to a skill. Second, have students stand in a circle. Finally, give one student the ball and read aloud a question from your list. Students must pass the ball clockwise around the circle, and the one who started with it must answer the question before receiving it again.  If the student incorrectly answers, you can pass the ball to a classmate for the next question. If the student correctly answers, he or she chooses the next contestant. Age Range: 3rd - 8th Grades

3. Math Baseball

A teacher points to a student who has his hand raised, ready to answer a question.

Divide your class into two teams to play math baseball -- another activity that gives you full control over the questions that students answer. One team will start at bat, scoring runs by choosing questions worth one, two or three bases. You’ll “pitch” the questions, which range in difficulty depending on how many bases they’re worth. If the at-bat team answers incorrectly, the defending team can respond correctly to earn an out. After three outs, switch sides. Play until one team hits 10 runs. Age Range: 3rd - 8th Grades

4. Bouncing Sums

Give students a chance to move around class by playing Bouncing Sums, building mental math muscles. To prepare, use labels and a marker to put integers, decimals or fractions on a beach ball. Hand the ball to one student, who will read aloud the label touching one of his or her thumbs. That student tosses the ball to a classmate, and so on. Each student must read the number on his or her label, adding it to -- or multiplying it with -- the sum or product which the previous student stated. The challenge? Reach the highest number possible within a time limit. Age Range: 3rd - 8th Grades

5. Math Facts Race

Keep combining math with physical activity in this fast-paced fact fluency drill. Divide students into teams at the back of the class, posting a grid sheet at the front for each group. One student from each team will run to the sheet, writing an answer in the appropriate grid. To practice multiplication, for example, a student would have to write 12 in the grid where the third row and fourth column meet. The student returns to his or her team after answering, allowing a group member to run to the sheet. The group member can fill another grid or, if needed, correct a previous answer. This process repeats itself until a team wins by correctly filling its sheet. Age Range: 2nd - 5th Grades

6. Math Facts Bingo

A hand rotates a basket filled with bingo balls. Make fact fluency drills engaging by playing this version of bingo. First, create bingo cards that contain answers to different multiplication tables. Second, hand them out to students and make sure they have a separate sheet for calculations. Finally, instead of calling numbers, state equations such as 8 × 7. After determining the product is 56, they can check off the number if it’s on their cards. Age Range: 3rd - 6th Grades

7. Math Is Fun

Engage elementary school students by pointing them towards games and puzzles on the Math Is Fun website. Ideal as a learning station or for classes with one-to-one device use, the games range from challenging math classics -- such as Sudoku -- to counting exercises for younger students. The latter category uses concise sentences and cartoon characters, making content easier for these students to process. Age Range: 1st - 5th Grades

8. 101 and Out

A set of dice rest on a table, so students can play math game called 101 and out

Play a few rounds of 101 and Out as a fun way to end math class. As the name implies, the goal is to score as close to 101 points as possible without going over. You need to divide your class in half, giving each group a die along with paper and a pencil. Groups take turns rolling the die, strategizing to count the number at face value or multiply it by 10. For example, students who roll a six can keep that number or turn it into 60. This game quickly grows competitive, boosting the excitement level in your math class. Age Range: 2nd - 6th Grades

9. One-Meter Dash

Run this quick game to improve perception and understanding of measurement. Grouping students in small teams, give them metre sticks. They then look around the room for two to four items they think add up to one metre long. In a few minutes, the groups measure the items and record how close their estimations were. Want more of a challenge? Give them a centimetre-mark instead of a metre, asking them to convert results to micrometres, millimetres and more. Age Range: 3rd - 5th Grades

10. Back-to-Back

A teacher and student stand at a chalkboard, completing elementary math equations.

Bring out your class’s competitive side. Just be sure to group students at a similar skill level. Back-to-Back involves a pair of classmates standing beside the blackboard with chalk in hand, facing away from one another. A third student says “numbers up,” requiring each competitor to write a number on the board within a specified range. The third student then says the sum or product of the two numbers. Using this information, a competitor wins by stating the other’s number first. Age Range: 2nd - 6th Grades

11. Math Tic-Tac-Toe

Pair students to compete against one another while practicing different math skills in this take on tic-tac-toe. Prepare by dividing a sheet into squares — three vertical by three horizontal. Don’t leave them blank. Instead, fill the boxes with questions that test different abilities. The first one to link three Xs or Os -- by correctly answering questions -- wins. You can use this game as a learning station, refreshing prerequisite skills in preparation for new content. Age Range: 1st - 8th Grades

12. Get the Math

Visit Get the Math with your students to solve engaging challenges, each related to using math in different careers and real-world situations. The website contains videos with young professionals who explain how they use math in their fields, such as fashion design and video game development. You can assign challenges to your class after watching, which involve playing games. For example, one is based on using materials with different price-points and measurements to design a shirt for less than $35. Age Range: 6th Grade and Up

13. Simon Says: Geometry

Appeal to kinesthetic learners by playing this version of Simon Says and, in the process, improve their understanding of basic geometry. As Simon, all your commands should require students to illustrate angles and shapes by moving their arms. For example, ask them to make angles of varying degrees as well as parallel and perpendicular lines. Continuously speed up your commands -- and change if they come from Simon or not -- until only one student remains and is the winner. Age Range: 2nd - 3rd Grades

14. Math Goodies

A teacher sits at a table. She is holding a tablet, and is surrounded by onlooking elementary school kids.

Try Math Goodies for engaging, interactive tasks and lessons online. The free website appeals to diverse learners by featuring puzzles, articles and word problems. Playing through the site’s content, students can -- for instance -- read an example-filled walkthrough about how to order decimals. They can then test their skills by completing exercises and challenges. You can use the website to create custom worksheets, too. Fun for the class, useful for the teacher. Age Range: 4th - 8th Grades

15. Initials

Add a game-like spin to content reviews by playing Initials. Hand out a unique sheet to each student with problems aligned to a common skill or topic. Instead of focusing on their own sheets, students walk around the room to solve questions on their classmates’. But there’s catch. A student can only complete one question per sheet, signing his or her initials beside the answer. Working together to reach an individual yet joint goal, students should build trust and teamwork. Age Range: 3rd - 8th Grades

16. Stand Up, Sit Down

Play Stand Up, Sit Down as a minds-on activity, adjusting the difficulty according to student age and skill level. The principle of the game is straightforward: You pick a number, and students must stand if the answer to an equation you read aloud matches that number. If it isn’t, they remain seated in a circle. You can modify requirements for standing as needed. For example, you can tell students to stand if the answer is:
  • Greater than 10
  • An even number
  • A multiple of three
You can also alternate from addition to subtraction, and from multiplication to division. Age Range: 1st - 5th Grades

17. 100s

Gather your class in a circle to play 100s as a quick warm up before your lesson. You’ll give students a set of numbers to choose from -- such as multiples of five to a maximum of 20 -- as they take turns adding out loud in a clockwise direction. The student who says or passes 100 is out. You’ll start again, until only one participant is left. Although the game is simple, you can change how it’s played to suit the skills of your students. For example, they may have to multiply by fours instead of adding by files. Age Range: 2nd - 8th Grades

18. War

A students holds a deck of red playing cards, face down.

Give students a mathematical twist on a traditional card game by playing this version of War. To start, pair students together and give them each a deck of cards. Then, assign the following values:
  • Ace -- 1
  • Two to 10 -- Face value
  • Jack -- 11
  • Queen -- 12
  • King -- 13
The rules of the game will depend on the grade you teach and the skills you’re building. For example, students in lower grades will play two cards, subtracting the lower number from the higher. Students in higher grades can multiply the numbers, designating a certain suit as having negative integers. Whoever has the highest hand wins all four cards. Age Range: 2nd - 8th Grades

19. National Library of Virtual Manipulatives

Students sit a table, each holding a tablet computer.

Have students visit the online National Library of Virtual Manipulatives to access activities that involve digital objects such as coins and blocks. Created by Utah State University, the online library’s goal is to engage students. It does so by giving teachers activities to provide, as there are manipulation tasks targeted to students at every grade level. For example, a 6th grade geometry activity involves using geoboards to illustrate area, perimeter and rational number concepts. Ideal for classes with one-to-one device use, you can also use the website as its own learning station. Age Range: 1st Grade and Up

20. Jeopardy

Transform this famous game show to focus on your latest skill or unit, preparing students for a quiz or test. Setup involves attaching pockets to a bristol board, dividing them into columns and rows. Each column should focus on a specific topic, whereas each row should have a point value -- 200, 400, 600, 800 and 1,000. A team can ask for a question from any pocket, but other teams can answer first by solving the problem and raising their hands. Once the class answers all questions, the team with highest point total claims the prize you provide. But each student wins in terms of engagement and practicing peer support. Age Range: 3rd to 8th Grades


Here's an infographic with 10 ideas from this article, provided by Educational Technology and Mobile Learning -- an online resource for teaching tools and ideas: [caption id="attachment_766" align="aligncenter" width="217"]An infographic displaying 10 classroom math games for kids in 1st o 8th grades. Click to expand.[/caption]

Final Thoughts About these 20 Classroom Math Games for Kids

These math games for kids will not only engage students, but help you develop their skills and fact fluency while supplementing lessons. Although the recommended age ranges fall between grades 1 and 8, you can certainly modify the content for different skill levels and use them for struggling students in higher grades. And, if you’re unsure about the benefits, try a few games to see the results yourself.
>>Create or log into your teacher account on Prodigy -- a free, adaptive math game that adjusts content to accommodate player trouble spots and learning speeds. Aligned to US and Canadian curricula, it’s loved by more than a million teachers and 50 million students.

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