Math@Our House: Games, Games and More Games!

I *try* to incorporate active learning into every single day. Note the word *try.* It is hands-down (no pun intended) the best way for all of mine to learn. I never hear any complaining (not that any of my students would do that … ahem) when we are on our feet or seated at the table playing a game.

I am going to highlight some things we’ve done recently for school, and some of them had no idea it was even a lesson!

We have had this game since Curly was 5 years old. I distinctly remember him receiving it at his 5th birthday party from a friend. I know, I remember odd things. Anyway, it has been on our game cabinet untouched for more than a year I would say. On this day, I decided to try it while Mo and Larry were at their Junior Achievement class. Curly decided to play along for old time’s sake. This used to be his favorite game!

Well, it is going to be a favorite again I think! They are already asking to play it again. It took them a bit to get the hang of it, but I was so encouraged by the thinking going on with this game. After we finished, they like their older brother decided to extend the learning by trying to put together more of the sets using the instruction cards.


We will be pulling this one off the shelf again soon! (And upon seeing the selling price on Amazon, on second thought, this game may be leaving our cabinet. $274??? Really???)

Moving on to our next math lesson … I mean, game time! Curly and I played a competitive game of Equate. I mentioned finding this gem at the used curriculum sale I attended. This game does not disappoint. If you have a Scrabble lover in the family who happens to deplore math, you NEED this game.


I was very impressed with the equation-making going on. We were able to review and put to use exponents, negative numbers, fractions, mixed numbers and all 4 operations of arithmetic using those numbers as well as whole numbers. I was winning when we quit … just saying … though we declared it a draw because official Scrabble rules say all tiles must be used before a winner is declared … and dinner was ready. There WILL be a rematch! 🙂

Yesterday, Mo asked to play Grocery Store with me for part of his math lesson. It was easy to say yes. There is so much you can do with this concept. I decided to work on percents (and fractions and decimals) since he has shown a natural interest in figuring this all out. I sent him shopping for 5 items using our evolving list, and he came back and totaled the items.

Just as he was counting his money to pay the salesperson (ME!), I made an announcement, “SHOPPERS, today is your lucky day! Every purchase will be discounted 25% off today!” He giggled and said, “Mom, that is 1/4 off.” BINGO! But how to figure out the new total? He says, “A calculator.” Um … no. As we walked through the steps, he told me we needed to divide, but what how was he going to do that with dollar signs and decimals? I reminded him those things *could* be removed for the sake of calculation. He then made the $14.76 into 1,476 and divided by 4.


The only part he struggled with was going from the original total to the new total. After some hints, he said, “Oh, I just need to subtract the 1/4 off of the total.” EUREKA, I think he has it! I briefly explained to him that obviously in a store one would not do long division and that in our next lesson we would talk about how estimating and rounding could be very handy if one is in a store where a calculator is not handy and you are paying cash (and need to be sure you have enough $$).


I am certain Grocery Store math is one of the BEST ways to teach children. In this 15-minute lesson, we discussed and put into practice fractions, percents, decimals being removed and put back in proper placement, subtraction and addition of 4-digit plus 4-digit numbers with and without decimals and dollar signs, long division and counting money! Not bad!!!

Of course, the littles saw the Grocery gaming going on and wanted their time with Mom and the Grocery basket. I decided we’d play around and really try to learn about the 4 main coins and of course the dollar! I think they get the dollar as they received $1 for allowance on the weekend if they complete chores during the week. They are not solid in the 4 main coins though after our Grocery lesson, they understand them more.


I even threw in some things like “4 quarters equals 1 dollar because 25 is 1/4 of 100.” I figure hearing it now will only prime their brains for learning it later! They didn’t want to quit shopping! As they gathered 3 items at a time, I would have them count out the money they owed. I used only items for their evolving list that contained dollars and cents by tens.

I was pleased with how they counted by tens, contemplated which coins to use, and counted out dollars up to 5 dollars. Li’l Miss was even concerned when she quickly realized her total was $5 and she had only $3, so we talked about how important it is to be sure we don’t buy more than we can pay for in a trip!


We love to play this game I got for FREE from Confessions of a Homeschooler. It is called Add It and is the first game listed on her math printables page.


My Li’l Dude needed some extra encouragement, so he *drove* his beans to add them up. He LOVED it. We used the 1s and 2s cards and beans (Li’l Dude) and colored macaroni (Li’l Miss) for our counting.



I also found this wonderful little gem thanks to a link at love2learn2day’s math blog hop a few weeks ago. You can download it at the link above.


Li’l Dude helped me build the numbers with LEGO bricks. He liked that too as he is a building machine! I decided to write some two-digit numbers on the board because Li’l Miss is interested, and then they made the numbers using the LEGO numbers, which we are keeping in our math box for future learning.

We love to use our Education Cubes and this little game did not disappoint.


We are still working on the numbers 1–20, so I decided to use the Dot Counting Set from the Members Only Site at Education Cubes.



But I added a twist. I got out our Pattern Blocks and we counted out the same number of pattern blocks as the dots on each die. They loved this, and it got them counting!

After 5 rolls, I then told them to make something out the Pattern Blocks they had counted out. Li’l Miss made some beautiful flowers with some amazing patterns and symmetry. I didn’t get any great photos b/c she was creating them and starting over faster than I could snap. Li’l Dude made a “monster truck” that was quite creative as well. We will do this game again I think!



Finally, if anyone is still reading, I thought I would give a snapshot of our 3 big guys’ 5-A-Day pages from one day this week. I know it sounds crazy to give them only 5 problems a day but it really is great. I can often add in multiple skills to one problem, and can also add in a problem every now and then with a skill I’m fairly sure they don’t know. To my surprise, more than once, they either know it or have figured it out. These pages do challenge them, and I can virtually put any type of problem I want. Why test them with 20 of the same type of problem if they know the skill? I think this idea will also prepare them more for the type of test they will see such as the ACT and SAT where math problems will be random and not 20 of the same kind. It does TAKE TIME and I have to do them at night or quite frankly, they don’t get done. But once I get going, I can do all 3 in 15 minutes.


Well that is math that has been going on at our house in the last few weeks. Mind you, this does not take place every day but I do try to do something hands-on with the littles each day even if just giving them the pattern blocks and seeing what they build with no guidance. We will count them as we clean up or something like that! I’m linking up with the Math Blog Hop at love2learn2day and Education Cubes Show & Tell.

Education Cubes Show & Tell


3 thoughts on “Math@Our House: Games, Games and More Games!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s