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How to Make Math Fun

(Last Updated On: October 21, 2017)

Make math FUN – Doesn’t that sound hopeful? If your kid is anything like mine, math is usually closer to pulling teeth, certainly the hardest part of homeschool.

Math is problem solving and puzzles. It should be fun. Who doesn’t like puzzles?

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But somewhere in my life math stopped being fun. My teachers made me copy my addition, subtraction, and multiplication tables over and over. Not much fun, but I learned them really well.

Why? Repetition is part of what makes new ideas and concepts permanent. Sure – but does it have to be so terribly boring all the time? I think we can find ways to bring back the fun.

Somewhere in my life, math stopped being fun. I want to make math fun for my daughter. Click To Tweet

Especially for my kindergarten kiddo, I want learning to be exploring new ideas and understanding mysteries, not just copying and worksheets.

But I didn’t have a lot of money to spend on a math curriculum.

During Christmas shopping, I discovered a new family game that makes math fun!

The game is a version of Shut the Box. Each player rolls the dice and has to add or subtract to eliminate a number from your side of the board (older players may also multiply and divide).

Make math FUN! Doesn't that sound hopeful? You want to make math fun for your children. Math is problem solving and puzzles. It should be fun. Why isn't it?

Adding and subtracting fluidly within ten is one of the main kindergarten objectives for math. Each turn, I had her both add and subtract before deciding which number to use. We even discussed multiplication when she needed 3 and rolled 1 & 3.

She didn’t know it was school. We were just playing. The game made math fun!

Plus, playing as adults over Christmas, we had a great time. For under $15 on Amazon Prime, you just can’t beat a family game that doubles as homeschool curriculum.

Another way we make math fun is through using math in hands-on or real world examples, like baking together or cutting up her PB&J sandwich into quarters.

We often use M&Ms as manipulatives to demonstrate numbers equal amounts. Plus, she gets to eat them as a reward when we are finished.

One of my daughter’s favorite books is The Doorbell Rang about chocolate chip cookies, and nothing compares to Grandma’s. Her own grandmother makes chocolate chip cookies that are a favorite. In this story, the sister and brother get to divide a dozen cookies, until the doorbell rang.

And two more friends arrive. Using a dozen M&Ms, we divide them up by the two characters. Then we add the two new characters and figure out how many cookies each person will get. As more and more characters arrive, we have to divide more and more.

While division isn’t a kindergarten math objective, introducing the concept in this fun cross-curricular lesson that ties reading and math together was just right to show we had the same number of M&Ms just divided differently.

She practiced counting, adding and manipulating numbers. We both laughed, and I enjoyed watching her pretend dividing up the “cookies.” We will be repeating this lesson, and the story is one of her treasured favorites.

These are the ways we learned to make math fun, and she is truly learning the concepts despite all the fun we’re having.

Another concept that I’ve learned is crucial is subitizing. Subitizing is the ability to mentally group objects into chunks without counting. Most adults do this subconsciously. Using dice or dominoes can be a way to help children practice this mental skill that helps with early math mastery.

We played dominoes almost daily during her kindergarten year. I had her count the pips on each side of each domino. Then, as counting grew easier, we began adding the pips on each side to learn how many in total on one domino.

With just a little creativity, I was able to make math fun and help her build the skills she needed to grow in confidence and ability.

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18 thoughts on “How to Make Math Fun

  1. We love math in our family! We play games all the time. Our oldest has been playing store since he was 2 and loves using coins. He’s even learning addition and some subtraction now. If only he would catch on with his letters as easily.

    1. We have lots of math and reading games. Including alphabet and sight word 52 card pick up sometimes. We love to make a game of everything. Makes it more fun. Today we played a fishing game that teaches how to use a measuring tape.

  2. I was never good in math growing up I passed with just enough not to repeat the course in highschool. My oldest now has a hard time with it. I truly believe its genes

    1. I think it can be, but we can help them do better than we did. Khan academy has tutorial videos and free practice questions. An invaluable free resource for high school math for us non- math parents.

  3. What a fun idea! Sometimes games make it feel like you’re not learning at all… Until you realize you’ve got the concept down. 🙂

    1. That is the plan!

  4. My son is a huge math fan – we have tons of games that are all math, and so much fun! Dice games are great, we also make math scrolls with old paper towel rolls… hard to explain, but he loves it.

    1. That sounds like fun. Learning should be fun.

  5. I love that book!!! You just brought so many childhood memories flooding back, thank you so much. I am going to put “The Doorbell Rang” on my Amazon wish list right now.

  6. I hated math as a kid! THen I became an elementary teacher and HAD to learn to teach it with excitement and fun! Love your story here!

    1. Thank you. Watching her be thrilled as my dice don’t roll the number I need to win made me excited because I knew she was doing the math in her head! Moms can be sneaky too. I’ve wondered if a game like this would be useful in an elementary classroom for free time or game day. Would you have used it?

  7. I love the idea of making learning, especially math, fun. Thanks for sharing!

    1. It is the ONLY way to do it. God made us a home full of wonder in this earth. Exploring it has to be full of joy.

  8. Great ideas! I defenitly don’t like math so I’ll have to come back to these when we have kiddos.

    1. Thanks. The basic idea of making learning fun works for grown-ups too. 😉

  9. i was never good in math as a kid – maybe if they had games like this….. 🙂

  10. How perfect for today! Joe and I were using Legos as manipulatives to work on addition. He loved it! We also play a game I call “Dinner Dice”. He rolls the die and takes that number of bites. It’s a great way to practice counting AND cleaning his plate.

    Thanks for sharing the game! We got a game called Math Dice from the ThinkFun game company. I love all of their games because they are fun and educational.

    I’ll be getting that game!

    1. It actually practices up through 12! And we also use dominoes to reinforce counting, matching, and double digit addition for scoring.

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