Long before we became homeschoolers, I was busy teaching my children at home. I wanted my kids to love learning, so we spent lots of time together doing fun and educational activities from the time they were very small. Some of their favorite games were actually tools I used to help them learn early math skills. You can use a lot of these same tools at home, whether you are homeschooling or just working with your child to increase their love of math.
You might not have ever played bingo at home, but it can be a lot of fun, even with just three or four people. Really young kids will be challenged by the seeming randomness of the numbers on their card. It may take quite a while to find the numbers, but learning to match what they hear and see on the bingo ball to what they see on their card is a very important skill.
Older kids will learn the patterns of numbers under each letter on a bingo card, and will be able to find the numbers much more quickly as they are called. You can increase the number of cards per person to three or more, or play for different sorts of bingos rather than just the traditional five in a row. Try the “postage stamp” – four squares together in any corner of the card – or “X marks the spot” for a little variety.
Hi Ho! Cherry-O
This traditional children’s game is one of the more popular games you will find on the shelf. The object of Hi Ho! Cherry-O is to pick all the cherries from your tree before your opponents. This game is obviously a great tool for teaching preschool kids how to count, but it can be useful for older kids, too. Because the game uses 10 cherries per player, students can learn to add and subtract combinations of numbers to make 10 in a fun way.
There are many ways to play with dominoes, but almost all of them require math. From calculating the plays with the largest possible scores to learning how to effectively block your opponents from high scoring moves, dominoes allow players to really flex their math skills in some exciting ways.
One of my favorite games is Scrabble. It not only helps build a phenomenal vocabulary, it allows players to use a lot of math in the form of addition and multiplication. From double letters to triple word scores, your kids will be looking for the best way to get the most out of their high value tiles.
There may be no better game for helping kids learn the basics of graphing than Battleship. The entire game is played on a grid, with players taking turns calling out points with their coordinates on an X and a Y axis. When it’s time to learn how to plot coordinates, remember to play this exciting game. It’s a hit!
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