15 Engaging Math Games And Puzzles For Kids

15 Engaging Math Games And Puzzles For Kids

Image: Shutterstock

Math can be either enjoyable or difficult for a child. It depends on how you orient them into the numbers right from their early childhood days.

Teaching math need not always be through writing down the formulas. You can make the learning fun by including it in their games and puzzles.

MomJunction tells you how you can do that as we bring you the most interesting math games and puzzles for kids to learn while they play.

1. Place value card game

Place value card game

Image: iStock

Your kid will learn math the best when they enjoy working on the exercises. How about learning math with a deck of cards?

You will need:

  • A deck of card
  • Papers and pencils

How to play:

  1. Give your child a paper and pencil. You be the second player and take a paper and pencil too.
  2. Ask them to draw 3 or 4 blanks lines on the paper.
  3. Assuming that you’d like to start with values up to the thousands place, here’s how it would look like:

Player 1 _ _ _ _
Player 2 _ _ _ _

  1. Sort the deck of cards. Remove the face and joker cards and keep only the number cards.
  2. Shuffle the deck and turn all the cards upside down in a pile.
  3. Take turns drawing cards from that pile.
  4. Each time your kid gets a new number, they have to write it in one of the digit positions on the blanks.
  5. You, too, should do the same.
  6. Draw the cards until all the four digits have been filled.
  7. Ask your kid to read the number aloud.
  8. If your child has a number greater than yours, they win.

What kids learn:

  • Number identification and their arrangement
  • Place values

2. A rapid rounding game

A rapid rounding game

Image: Instagram

Ask your child what comes after 79, 89, and then 99. When they are learning the numbers, they might falter at 99. So, try this game with them.

You will need:

  • Nine pieces of poster board in different colors
  • Masking tape
  • Index cards
  • Stopwatch
  • Black marker

How to play:

  1. Take the poster boards and label them by hundreds. For example, 100 to 900 (100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 600, 700, 800, 900).
  2. Mark one number in each of the poster boards. Tape all these in a row to the ground or in any open space in your house where your kid can stomp on them.
  3. On the index cards, write a variety of numbers between 100 and 900. For example, 121, 136, 800, 520. There should be about 40 cards.
  4. Tell your child that you will give them a card and they have to round the number to the nearest hundred and then jump on the right answer as quickly as they can.
  5. After three tries, switch places and now it’s your turn to claim the title of the fastest rounder.
  6. Whoever does it fast, wins. Remember your stopwatch is timing both of you.
  7. After a few rounds, shuffle the poster boards so that the order gets changed.

What kids learn:

  • Number sense
  • Three-digit numbers
  • The sequence of numbers
  • Rounding three-digit numbers

[ Read: Number Games For Kindergarten Kids ]

3. Fact families

Fact families

Fact families give a comprehensive understanding of division and multiplication. Here’s an activity for your child.

You will need:

  • A pen
  • 20 or 30 strips of paper
  • A timer

How to play:

  1. Begin the game by writing any four numbers in each paper strip.
  2. Explain the concept of the fact family to your child along with several examples. 2, 4 and 8 is an example as 2*4=8, 4*2=8, 8/4=2 and 8/2=4
  3. Some fact family examples are:
236
6848
4728
5840
3721
8972
  1. Tell your kid to take a strip of paper. Each strip will consist of four numbers. Three of those numbers will be fact family members, and one number will be unrelated.
  2. The child will guess which number is unrelated and then they will make multiplication or division equations using the three fact numbers.
  3. They will begin by identifying the unrelated number first.
  4. Once the first one is over, use a timer and set it for two minutes. Ask your child to continue doing as many as they can within this time span.
  5. When time is up, check how many strips they got right.
  6. Challenge them to beat their own milestone.

What kids learn:

  • One-digit multiplication
  • Division with one-digit divisors

4. A graph puzzle

A graph puzzle

As a toddler, your child must have loved to join the dots and create a cat or dog or something cute. They can do that now but on a graph paper.

You will need:

  • A graph paper
  • A pencil
  • A ruler

How to play:

  1. Using graph paper, help your child to draw a four-quadrant coordinate plane. Mark the horizontal line as the X-axis and the vertical line as Y-axis.
  2. Label the intersection points of the lines as O. Number each point on the Y-axis from 1 to 7.
  3. On the left, mark each point on the X-axis as -1 to -7.
  4. Give your child the number pairs to plot them on the graph. The pairs could be:
(0, -2)
(1, -3)
(2, -2)
(2, -4)
(1, -5)
(-2, -4)
(-2, -2)
  1. Remind your child to mark the first number of every pair on the X-axis and the second number on the Y-axis.
  2. Let them join the points using a ruler and guess the geometric structure they have made (Here, a pentagon).
  3. Graphing every pair correctly will make them create different diagrams while learning how to graph.

What kids learn:

  • Graphing points on a coordinate plane
  • Geometry

5. The equation race

The equation race

Strike an equation with your child by playing with them. Then it becomes easy to teach them simple equations.

You will need:

  • Scrap paper
  • Whitepaper
  • Pencil
  • Black marker
  • Blue and red markers (optional)

How to play:

  1. Cut three strips of paper into 12 strips. On each strip, write the following equations with a black marker:

n+2
n+3
n+4
n+5

  1. Cut four sheets of paper into 30 playing cards. On seven of the cards, write:

SUBTRACT 1
SUBTRACT 3
SUBTRACT 5
SUBTRACT 7
ADD 2
ADD 4
ADD 10

  1. On each of the remaining playing cards, write a value for n (the variable), up to 10:

n=1, n=2, n=5, n=4, n=7, n=6 etc.

  1. When the game begins, each player should have a scrap paper, pencil, and four equation strips.
  2. Shuffle the playing cards and put them face down.
  3. Player 1 begins by picking the top card in the deck. If it is a variable, player 1 fills in the value for n on their first equation strip.
  4. For example, if the player’s equation strip is n+2 and they pick n=5 then 5+2=7. The player now has 7 points. If a player pulls an addition or subtraction card, he has to add or subtract the amount from his points.
  5. The winner will be the first player to score 25 points.

What kids learn:

  • Number sense
  • Equations
  • Numerical expressions

[ Read: Kindergarten Educational Games ]

6. Multiplication war

Multiplication war

Image: Shutterstock

If your child finds it boring to read the multiplication table again and again, this activity card game will be of help.

You will need:

  • A deck of cards
  • A timer

How to play:

  1. Shuffle the deck of cards and keep them face down. Give each player an equal number of cards, until the deck runs out.
  2. Assign a value of 10 to picture cards like jacks, kings and queens.
  3. Assign a value of either 1 or 11 to the aces.
  4. Each player has to turn two cards face up and read the number and come up with the answer. For example, if your kid has 5 and 4, he says 5*4=20. If you have drawn 6 and 6, your number is 36.
  5. The player with the highest number wins the four cards – two of your kids’ cards and your own two cards.
  6. Set up the timer and play the game for about 10 minutes. When the time goes up, each player will count his cards.
  7. The player with the most cards wins the game. If one player runs out of cards before time is up, the other player wins.

What kids learn:

  • Multiplication tables
  • One-digit multiplication

7. Math puzzles

Math puzzles

Image: Shutterstock

Math puzzles are a good critical thinking challenge to children. Here are a few math riddle questions and answers for your little one.

1. More than two animals

I have more than two animals at home. Except for two, all are dogs. Except for two, all of them are cats. All of them are hamsters, except for two. What kinds of animals and how many each animal do I have?

Answer: I have 3 animals – 1 dog, 1 cat and 1 hamster

2. Brick’s weight

A brick weighs 1kg plus half of the brick. What is the weight of one brick?

Answer: It weighs 2kg.
If the weight of the brick is x, then
x = 1+0.5x
x-0.5x = 1
0.5x = 1
So, x = 2.

3. Average miles per hour

A car is going up on a hill. The hill is 1 mile long. The driver drives at an average speed of 30 miles per hour. When the driver reaches the top of the hill, he starts coming down from the other side. The downhill side is 1 mile long too. How fast must the driver go down the hill in order to average 60 miles per hour?

Answer: It is not possible to average 60 miles per hour. An average speed of 60 miles per hour requires 2 minutes to cover two miles. However, the first mile itself took 2 minutes at 30 miles per hour. Hence, there are no minutes left to cover the second mile.

8. Hunt the prime number

Hunt the prime number

Image: Instagram

This is a perfect hundreds chart activity to make your child understand the concept of prime and composite numbers.

You will need:

  • Color markers
  • Hundreds chart

How to play:

  1. Print a hundreds chart
  2. Fold the chart if you want to initially focus on the prime numbers up to 50.
  3. You and your child can compete with each other to cross out all the composite numbers (non-prime numbers) and circle the prime numbers.
  4. Designate one color marker for the prime numbers and another for crossing out the composite numbers.
  5. Each player will take turns to either cross out a composite number, gaining one point or circle a prime number, gaining three points.
  6. As more and more numbers are crossed or circled, the bigger numbers may be challenging for your kid.
  7. The player with the most points at the end wins the game.
  8. You may have to take your child through the definition of prime numbers a couple of times.

What kids learn:

  • Number sense
  • Multi-digit numbers
  • Prime and composite numbers

[ Read: Math Activities For Kindergarten ]

9. 17 – a math builder game

17 – a math builder game

Most kids know that one plus one is two. But how to get 17? With this activity, your child will find how fun a mundane addition and subtraction can become.

You will need:

  • A deck of cards
  • One sheet of paper to be used as a scorecard
  • Scrap paper and pencil for each player

How to play:

  1. This game can be played by up to four players, but you may want to start with two.
  2. Take a deck of cards and keep the aces (value 1) and all the numbered cards from 2 to 8.
  3.  Separate all the other cards.
  4. Shuffle the number cards and put them face down on a table.
  5. Each player has to pull out five cards.
  6. Take turns to put the cards down one at a time and count the total made together by all the players.
  7.  The objective is to get as close to 17 as possible.
    For example, Player 1 puts down a “7” card, and then Player 2 puts down a “5” card. If Player 1 can add another “5”, she wins the round and scores 17. That’s the clean way to win a round.
  8. If Player 1 goes slightly over, to 19, she can subtract the additional 2 from her score.
  9. The goal of the game is to have the largest number of points when the game is over.

What kids learn:

  • Subtraction and addition within 20

10. Wastepaper basketball math

Wastepaper basketball math

Image: iStock

This basketball game shows how sports statistics can be expressed using numbers, fractions and decimals.

You will need:

  • A wastebasket
  • Trash ball
  • Papers
  • Pencil

How to play:

  1. Place the wastebasket at a reasonable distance from the throwline.
  2. Attempt to throw the trash ball into the wastebasket 10 times each.
  3. After each throw, record the result. You may also make a chart for marking.
  4. With the collected data, you can now figure out the ratio, reflecting the results of both of you.
    For example, if you have been successful five times, then the ratio of your successful attempts is 5:10. The ratio of your failed attempts, too, stands at 5:10.
  5. Now, demonstrate to your child how to write the ratio in decimal form. Taking the above example, the decimal 0.5 shows your successful throws and 0.5 also shows your failures.
  6. If the figures confuse your child, take a fraction 5/10 and then convert it into decimal form by dividing the numerator by the denominator.

What kids learn:

  • Ratios
  • Decimal divisions
  • Fractions

11. Sugar cube volume

Sugar cube volume

Image: Shutterstock

In this game, your child learns to calculate volume while making rectangular prisms with sugar cubes.

You will need:

  • Papers
  • Pencils
  • Sugar cubes

How to play:

  1. Start by remembering the main formulas of calculating volume.
    For example, the volume of a cuboid (rectangular prism) can be calculated by multiplying the length, width, and height.
  2. Ask your child to pick up sugar cubes and build a prism. It can be of any size but in a rectangular shape.
  3. Let them count the prism dimensions, such as, how many sugar cubes long or wide is the prism?
  4. Have them record the answers and put it in the formula of volume. Check if the answer is correct.
  5. Help them build another structure.

What kids learn:

  • Measurement and the systems of measurement
  • Remember formulas

[ Read: Crossword Puzzles For Kids ]

12. Candy corn subtraction

Candy corn subtraction

Image: Instagram

The most popular fall confection can help hone your child’s math skills. Here’s how.

You will need:

  • Construction papers in the shades of yellow, orange and white
  • Candy corn template
  • Scissors
  • Pencils

How to play:

  1. Make a candy corn template by cutting out a triangle from a construction paper and divide the triangle into three sections based on the colors.
  2. After drawing, have your kid cut the shape out — orange, yellow and white pieces for each candy subtraction.
  3. In the yellow cut out, ask your child to write the minuend. The minuend is the number from which another number is subtracted.
  4. In the orange cut out, they will write the subtrahend. The subtrahend is the number that will be subtracted from the minuend or the larger number.
  5. Teach your child this math vocabulary while playing.
  6. In the white cut out, write the answer to the subtraction problem.
  7. Give three candy corn subtraction problems at a time.
  8. Mix up the pieces and set the white cut-outs on the bottom. ix. Tell your child to pick up two numbers – one each from yellow and orange — to get the answer given in the white cut-out.
  9. Notice if they can figure out the numbers in the top two pieces.
  10. Try three rounds each and record the progress. With practice, your kid will ace this game.
  11. You may try this for addition as well.

What kids learn:

  • Subtraction within 20
  • Mathematical vocabulary

13. Cards for play value

Cards for play value

Image: Instagram

Here’s one more fun math activity to help your kid with place values.

You will need:

  • Two sets of number cards (make them by writing 1 to 9 on the blank sides of the index cards)

How to play:

  1. Give all the number cards to your child.
  2. Announce a two-digit number and ask your child to form the number using the cards. For example, if you announce 56, they will take out the card with the number 5 on it, and another with the number 6.
  3. Now, ask your child what number is, and the place value of each number. For example, if the number is 56, there is a 5 in the tens place and 6 in the ones place.
  4. Each time you give a number, increase its digits.

You can also play this game in a slightly different way.

  1. Announce a number and let the child set up the cards to form it.
  2. Now, ask them to increase or decrease the number by a 100 or 1,000.
    If you have announced 2,410, you can ask them to increase it by 1,000. They have to replace the 2 with
  3. The new number will be 3,410.

What kids learn:

  • An understanding of numbers
  • Multi-digit numbers
  • Place value up to thousands.

14. Algebraic tic-tac-toe

Algebraic tic-tac-toe

Image: iStock

Love tic-tac-toe but not algebra? Let’s combine them and have a fun activity using equations and variables.

You will need:

  • Marker
  • Nine white paper sheets

How to play:

  1. Help your kid to draw a tic-tac-toe grid of nine squares on all the sheets.
  2. Ask them to arrange the sheets but make sure that the tic-tac-toe grids are facing up.
  3. Now, write any algebraic equation in each of the grids. For example, 2x+5 = ? where x = 8
  4. You and your kid should take turns to solve a problem. Every time they get one right, mark it with an X or O in the square.
  5. Either of you, who solves three problems consecutively, can turn the sheet over and mark it with an X or O.
  6. In order to win, your kid must successfully get three sheets in a row.

What kids learn:

From this game, kids learn about number sense and how to solve basic algebraic equations.

[ Read: Shape-Learning Activities For Kids ]

15. Minute maths

Minute maths

Image: Shutterstock

Let your child understand time, by feeling time: How different does a minute feel from an hour? Here’s a perfect game for that.

You will need:

  • A clock with a seconds hand

How to play:

  1. Explain your child about the number of seconds in a minute.
  2. Then tell them that you will see how many activities, such as jumping jacks, one foot hopping, or counting to ten, they can do in a minute.
  3. Take a watch and time your little one for one minute as they are on the job.
  4. The twist is, ask your kid when they thought that a minute has elapsed.

What kids learn:

  • Time sense
  • Counting seconds and minutes

Kids can improve their understanding of mathematics by relating them to events they do every day. It will be easy for them as they don’t see it as an extension of their study hour, and it works for you as you can play with the child while teaching them.

So, math activities are a win-win, aren’t they? What do you think about them? Let us know in the comment section below.

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MA English Pursuing Child Nutrition and Cooking from Stanford UniversitySudipta is an English Major from the University of Hyderabad. Has considerable medical research writing experience, but also enjoys creative writing and the arts. Her writings aim to make highly scientific/ health material easy to understand for a common reader.She is also a National Novel Writing Month awardee. Sudipta loves to hit the roads to find stories and motivation to fill up her canvases and the pages of her diary.
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