Today is Day 4 in the How Do I Teach…Series and as you should know by now, math is not my favorite subject. Today I will discuss how I try to make math fun for my children Beck and Elizabeth.
Math does not need to be all cut and dry. Math is about numbers and maybe that is why it is not my favorite subject, but I still need to teach it and I want to teach it in a way that is fun, when possible. I like to think of it more like I have to learn to live with it as I teach it as well. To make math easier to live with I like to dress it up and make it fun. I find that the key is to find math in things that hides the math. Math worksheets are inevitable in schooling, but that does not mean that you have to always do the same thing over-and-over –again. Sometimes all that it can take to make your math learning fun is to theme the activity to something you or your students or children find fun and then it will be interesting too.
I would like to share some ways, resources, and suggestions that I currently use, have used, plan to use, or think would make teaching math fun. These activities come in all varieties, so hopefully at least one or two might spark your interest and help you make teaching math fun for you.
Do you have glow sticks? Elizabeth really likes glow sticks and glow sticks are fun, right? Plus I typically seem to be able to find them year round at our local Dollar Tree store. Seeing that one day she was playing with them and stacking them I had a great idea. I started to teach her about tally marks using glow sticks. Using glow sticks for tally marks was fun, and then Elizabeth got to play with all the math tools at bed time too. I have also used glow sticks to write the numbers with too by using connectors to make random numbers and having the kids tell me the next or previous number, all while playing in the dark too.
Is your 1st through 3rd grader learning about number comparisons and likes music? I created this Rock N Roll Number Comparisons Printable. The number comparisons cover single, double, and triple digit number comparisons using the greater than, less than, and equal to symbols. Since it is themed to Rock N Roll it is not just a bunch of numbers and symbols.
Do you watch TV and find yourself watching the House Hunters series on HGTV? I know that my husband and I do and one day Beck was absolutely transfixed by it, so I took the opportunity to create this House Hunting Around the World pack that teaches math skills based on the TV show.
If you have adventurous children that love to play with Nerf or foam dart guns I would recommend a great hidden math activity in my Foam Dart Physics Unit. The primary goal of this unit is to teach an introduction to physics, but this unit is also jam packed with games that use math skills. Besides, science, especially physics, is full of math equations, values, and theories. This unit also has options for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and subtraction problem games using targets that players shoot foam darts at, as well as a dart board style game where score needs to be kept. I have found that this is a lot of fun for Beck, Elizabeth, and my husband to play and the kids get to practice their math skills too. And here is my article on how we made our Foam Dart Physics Targets.
If you have an early learner in your house then I would suggest that you hop on over to my Early Learning Tab and you will see a lot of early learning packs that have fun games, worksheets, and activities that include math components. I think that there is a theme for almost any child there I am adding more from time to time as well.
Another way to hide math is in Do-It-Yourself projects. If your family is doing any DIY projects then take a quick step back and slow the process down and explain it to your little learners and then you have turned it into a learning experience. I talk about using DIY projects as a math learning tool in my Day 2 How Do I Teach post.
Here are a few great and fun ways I found to use math skills from Ashley from Life with Moore Babies and my quick thoughts on the them…
- Do you use those good job stars that are shiny and come in packs of the 1000’s? Ashley has a fun way to use them for a hands-on math activity that teaches counting to 100 in her Start Counting (to 100) post. I know Elizabeth had fun with this one.
- Another of Ashley’s fun math activities involves apples. We love apples in our house and even go fresh apple picking in the fall, sometimes multiple times. In her post Apple Math for How to Make Apple Pie and See the World she has lots of math skills taught through the use of apples and fun games.
- In Ashley’s Hungry Fish Addition she came up with a fun way to practice your math skills that utilizes a paper lantern that you make into a fish. Then, your student or child uses bubble cards to practice their addition.
- For beginning learners Ashley has a fun way to learn “Skip” Counting by literally skip counting. I know that Beck and Elizabeth really like using sidewalk chalk and they had a blast practicing their ‘skip’ counting.
- Not to leave Beck out, I also have used a variation on Ashley’s Giant Car Graphing with some of Beck’s toys. It was a fun way to actually use his toys in fun mathematical ways.
Here are a few great and fun ways I found to use math skills from Carla at Preschool Powol Packets and my quick thoughts on them…
- Beck is really interested in science. When I came across Carla’s Perfect Plant to Grow With Preschoolers I knew I just had to try it out. Watching the plants grow and measuring them each day was fun.
- Carla has a lot of great ideas on how to incorporate math skills by playing various games in her article on Teaching Math Skills to preschoolers through PLAY!! The key to success with her games is that you need to play them with your children so that you get some play time too.
- Carla also has a fun fall/farm/Halloween themed free printable called Fall Game: Superhero Scarecrow!! This game helps your student or child learn about adding two numbers by rolling a pair of six sided dice and coloring in the number.
- She also has a fun way to learn to group tens by making ladybugs out of halves so that you make a 10-spotted ladybug in her Ladybug Math Activity. Elizabeth loves the Ladybug Girl book series, so we like to use ladybug activities from time to time too.
- If your young learner is just starting on their math journey, then Carla’s Thanksgiving File Folder Games!! is definitely something you will want to look into. Her file folder game was fun for us, so maybe you could have some Thanksgiving themed math game fun this year too?
Here are a few great and fun ways to use math skills from Vicky from Mess for Less and my quick thoughts on them…
- Do you use Post-It Notes a lot around your house? I know I do. One way to use Post-It Notes as a math tool is to make a math game out of it. Vicky’s article about using Post-It Notes called Post It Math Games helps to start younger children down the path of mathematical skills through play.
- Another fun way to mask math skill practice that Vicky talks about is to play with toilet paper. Toilet paper you ask? Her article on Teaching Math with Toilet Paper explains it all. This article outlines a bunch of games that can be played with toilet paper rolls that emphasize beginning math skills.
- Another way that Carla has hidden math fun is in her 5 Little Pumpkins Felt Finger Puppets Tutorial. This article walks you through the steps to make pumpkin finger puppets to use with a counting poem. It is very cute too!
Karyn from Teach Beside Me always seems to have some fun ways to teach math. Here are some of the fun ways I found to use math skills on her site and my quick thoughts on them…
- Karyn’s Spill the Beans math game is very clever. It incorporates a few math boards where your student of child ‘spills’ two beans onto the board and then they have to do the desired math function to those two numbers and give you the answer. This is a fun way to reinforce math core basics.
- This dice game that Karyn created is fun way to learn place digits. I know that I have fun when all I have to do is roll a little die and a math skill is taught.
- This Multiplication Grid Game by Karyn is a unique way to teach about multiplication. Since my husband is an engineer we always seem to have graph paper lying around and when I tried this out Beck really took to it. I would recommend it if your student or child is starting to learn their multiplication tables, or as a quick refresher too.
Here are a few great and fun ways I found to use math skills from Janine at True Aim Parenting & Education and my quick thoughts on them…
- Does your preschooler like to dance or are they maybe a Wiggles fan like my children were? If so, then I would head over to Janine’s Preschool Math Activity: Math Dance! To see how to incorporate math into your preschooler’s dancing.
- Talk about thinking outside the box, in Janine’s Educational Carnival Games: Human Board Game you can play a board game where you are the playing piece. It sounds like fun to me and we will be trying this one later on in the school year so that Beck and Elizabeth can have some outdoor fun while learning their math skills too.
- Ok, who out there does not like to incorporate food or candy into their studies from time to time as an incentives to learn? If you like Skittles candy then I would recommend you take a look at Skittle Math by Kylie at Our Worldwide Classroom. This hands-on math fun is a game that teaches your student or child to group numbers using Skittles, then, they get to eat them!
Here are a few great and fun ways I found to use math skills from Tammy at Housing a Forest and my quick thoughts on them…
- Tammy has a fun arts and craft themed math activity called Stamping Dice. In this fun activity you use dice and make them into stampers using paint. When you load up the dice with paint you can then make your own math problems to solve in a fun way using paint.
- Katie from Gift of Curiosity did a guest post on Housing a Forest that involved counting fun with ice cream. How fun is that? This fun activity has children match up the same number of cream scoops to its matching cone.
Here are a few great and fun ways I found to use math skills from Megan at Coffee Cups and Crayons and my quick thoughts on them…
- If you are like me, your parents always told you not to play with your food, but Megan from Coffee Cups and Crayons insists on it in your Snack Time Math Activities. She has a lot of games to play with your snack foods and the reward is eating the snacks!
- She also has a great way to use rocks called Busy Bag Activity for Preschoolers: Ladybug Math Game where not only do you get to paint and make ladybugs, but you get to watch your student or child play and have fun matching the ladybugs and numbers to the proper cards.
- She has another great activity called Frog Jump: Measurement and Gross Motor Activity where your students and children get to jump around and use their math skills to measure how far they jumped.
- Another fun way that she uses hands-on activities is to write numbers in chalk on a fence and have your student answer a math questions by spraying water at and erasing the correct answer in her Fire Hose Fact Practice Game.
Hopefully at least one of the above mentioned techniques can help you find a tool that can mask that you are teaching math skills. Whether it is asking your students to fire foam darts at targets; to helping out with a DIY project; to using one of many printables provided above, I hope something will peak your interest. Also, how could I talk about all these great activities without creating something new, fun and theme related for you right now?
In this Wizard School Math Fun Pack I have taken a wide range of math skills used by 1st through 4th graders and themed the activities to wizards who are at school learning to be wizards. By adding a theme that my children like I am hoping that the math skills I am having them practice will be presented in a way that they do not realize they are practicing their math skills.
This printable, like most of my other printable creations, is available through my E.H.M. Member’s Only Website. What can I find at your members only website? You can expect printable curriculum, unit studies, activity packs, and more (there is a FREE catalog to flip through) for a $15.00 one-time lifetime fee! Perfect for teachers, homeschoolers, and parents looking for classroom and after school enrichment. Please click HERE to find out how you can join my Member’s Only Website!
Would you like to learn using My Wizard School Math Pack? Click the link below to download a free copy of My Wizard School Math Pack:
So, by using themes, games, and other alternative teaching techniques that are not necessarily seen as math I am able to teach math skills when they are not most favorite subject to be teaching because it does not feel like I am teaching math.
How Do I Teach … 5 Day Blog Series is brought to you by the following blogs:
Enchanted Homeschooling Mom ~ Homeschool Gameschool ~ Are We There Yet? ~ Life with Moore Babies ~ No Doubt Learning ~ Mrs. Redd’s Classroom Blog ~ Proverbial Homemaker ~ My Joy Filled Life ~ Preschool Powol Packets ~ Adventures in Mommydom ~ Vicki Arnold ~ Only Passionate Curiosity ~ Living Life and Learning ~ Farm Fresh Adventures ~ 3 Dinosaurs ~ Monsters Ed Homeschooling Academy ~ Life and Lessons from a country road ~ For This Season