Five Minute Math Games to do with Everyone

Looking for ideas for Math? Math is a subject that that should be done individually because it is a skill. Since each child will progress at their own level and ability, it is not a subject that is easily taught in a group. There are, however, some math games that I have practiced at the lunch table with all of my kids together from time to time to sharpen their skills. Our kids love this and often compete to get the most correct at their level. Especially as some days can become humdrum and more of the same, I will occasionally throw in games like these and the kids love it, each begging to be next.

Number Sense

Young Children-toddler, preschool, early elementary

  • Count as high as you can.
  • Count backwards from …10, then 20, then 30 and so on.
  • I will say a number and you say the number that comes after.
  • I say a number, you say the number that comes before.
  • I will say a number and you say the number that comes 2 after. (Me: 5, Child: 7)
  • I say a number, you say the number that comes two before.
  • As they progress, you can ask addition and subtraction facts, making it a game.

Elementary Children

  • Teach them to skip count. Starting with 0, what is two more? Then two more after that? Skip count 2’s to 20. They have learned even numbers and multiples of 2.
  • Starting with the youngest who is able to skip count, have them say multiples of a number (skip counting) by level, according to their ability, 2’s to 20, 3’s to 30, 4’s to 40 …up to 9’s to 90.
  • Extension: Say the multiples backwards, starting with the highest number. (ie. 90, 81, 72, 63, etc.)

They may not realize it, but these are all their multiplication and division facts.

Playing a form of Old Maid that helps him learn the combinations that make ten by finding those matches.. 1+9, 2+8,3+7, 4+6, 5+5
Playing that same matching game with a sibling.

Making Change for All Ages

For Young Children

  • Easy: I say a number, you say the missing number that makes 10. (Me: 3, Child: 7) Use all the number combinations that can make ten and see if they can guess them. This is preparing them to be able to make the matching number for 100.

Elementary and Middle Children

  • Progressing: I say a number, you say the other number that makes 100. (Me: 27, Child: 73) We do this one over and over until it becomes automatic. It’s actually a challenge for me as well to be able to think of it before they do!
  • Medium: I say an amount of change. You say the opposite amount that would make a dollar. ( Me: $0.43, Child: $0.57)
  • Hard: I say a dollar and change amount. You say the change if you give a $10 bill. $20?

Middle and High School

You may not know anything about Algebra or quadratic equations, but you can still prepare your child for the kinds of problem solving that they will have to do in Algebra I and II. In preparation for solving quadratic equations (example below), this is an excellent game to help sharpen their factoring skills! It is super easy! It involves basic addition and multiplication skills. Maybe you don’t know the least thing about solving quadratic equations yourself, BUT this simple game will sharpen your kids’ factoring skills -a very helpful skill in solving quadratic equations! It will prepare them for solving them in class.

Factoring quadratics: leading coefficient = 1 (article) | Khan Academy

I begin with a number with several factors, for example, 24. Look at the factors in the number 24 and ask these questions. (They will eventually see the pattern, but do not tell them beforehand that you have picked the number 24!)

Find the Factors of Any Number and Learn Prime Factorization - Maths for  Kids

-What two numbers multiplied together make 24, but added together make 25? (1×24)

-What two numbers multiplied together make 24, but added together make 14? (2×12)

-What two numbers multiplied together make 24, but added together make 11? (3×8)

-What two numbers multiplied together make 24, but added together make 10? (4×6)

Play this game over and over again with numbers that have a handful of factors like 20, 30, 36, 40, 42, 48, 60, 72. This game really sharpens their multiplication and factoring skills and after playing several times, solving quadratic equations will seem easy peasy!

At our house, I keep a handful of games like these in my back pocket and when we need something different in our routine, I will pull them out to mix things up. For example, at lunch, we might go around the table, starting with the youngest child, asking questions according to their level and going around up to the oldest. In our family, they all can’t wait until its their turn again to get a question! They like to be challenged and to show that they can answer in front of other siblings.

If you try any of these games with your kids, I’d love to hear your feedback!

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