If you ask any school age child whether math is easy or difficult, most will tell you that that math is hard. For most kids who have either a difficulty with it or just plain don’t like math, there is often an underlying reason.
Parents and teachers can discover why a child doesn’t like the subject by simply asking them why they feel that way. It may be that math makes them feel confused or frustrated. This feeling is something that can be fixed. You can get a child motivated to learn about and even to like math if the subject is made more fun rather than something to feel apprehensive about.
How to Make Math More Fun
Researchers have found that in households where math and numbers are discussed, children from those homes will often have a little bit of a head start and do tend to do better at math at school. Discussions about math and numbers can be worked into daily life from an early age. These topics can range from tasks in the kitchen like how much of an ingredient is needed for a recipe, or the temperature and time needed for baking. Kids can learn about math through the weather such as checking what temperature is it outside in the morning and making note of the high and low for the day. Parents can also discuss how far it is to travel from home to any destination such as school or the store, how fast they are traveling and how long it took to get there.
1. Computer Games
In 2016, researchers from Johns Hopkins University found that when using a simple computer game, kids did become better at math. The children played the game for about five minutes and then were given progressively difficult math problems to solve. Researchers found that by using this method where children gained a sense of accomplishment and increased confidence, they were able to increase their math accuracy in solving the problems from 60% to 80%. There are lots of computer games that can help kids learn about math. Most are available for free for download.
2. Teach Math With Legos
Adults and kids alike love to play with Lego building blocks. Many adults who now are parents themselves have attributed their learning about math through playing with these popular building blocks. Legos are a perfect fit for learning about addition, subtraction, fractions and beginning geometry. Legos can also help kids conceptualize complex abstractions and spatial relationships in a tangible way that’s hands-on. Deidre who blogs at JDaniek4sMom offers teachers and parents a fun way to teach kids about fractions by using the lines on Lego blocks. The colors, shapes and numbers can also help kids understand the concepts surrounding fractions.
3. Math Card Games
You can teach kids about math with nothing more than a regular deck of playing cards. Almost every card game can be utilized to teach math to kids. Some good examples might be Old Maid, War, Go Fish, or even Solitaire. Cards can also be used to teach concepts such as place values for numbers such as ones, tens, hundreds and thousands.
4. Learning Asian Counting Methods
In China, Japan and other countries throughout Asia, children are taught counting and multiplication by using a number of simple techniques. Many children in the region learn by using an abacus. This tool was used throughout the ancient world in Egypt, Greece and China as a method of calculation. Each row and the beads on the abacus represent numeric values. In the 1940’s, Sung Jim Pai created the technique of using the fingers as a kind of abacus known as Chisanbop.
Each finger on the right hand has the numeric value of one while the thumb has the value of the number five. The fingers on the left hand represent tens with the left thumb representing fifty. Pai found that all numbers from 0 – 99 could be represented by using both hands.
5. Roll the Dice
Children can also learn about numbers and math by using dice. Counting and number association can be accomplished with dice. Later, dice can be used to teach addition, subtraction, multiplication.
Dominoes can be used in ways similar to dice. Each throw of the dice or domino that is drawn can represent numbers. The numbers can be added, subtracted or multiplied to give a number value. Teachers or parents can print out sheets in order to play dominoes and practice math problems by going to the website Kindergarten Connection.
6. Math Bingo
One of the most enduring ways that has been used to teach kids about math and to get them excited about it is by playing bingo. Bingo is the perfect vehicle to teach math concepts to students at any grade level. Learning about addition and subtraction, or multiplication and division can be taught with bingo. There are a number of websites online which offer several different styles of bingo cards that can be printed out and used for this purpose.
One set can be found at Learn with Math. Using the printed cards, teachers can make out a number of problems with the correct answers. Cards can then be handed out to students at the beginning of class, or be used at home to practice either individually or as a group. As with any bingo game, the first student or team of players that get five across, down or diagonally correct in the game wins.
7. Try Some Math Apps!
There is definitely no shortage of educational apps to teach any subject, including math. Below are some popular apps for mobile devices, apps or computers.
ABCya Math Bingo – ABCya offers math bingo at several grade levels and difficulties for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.
Mobile Kids’ Math – This Android app can be used to help kids learn about math and can be set in a number of languages including English, Spanish, French, and many others.
Quick Brain Mathematics – This app bills itself as exercises for the brain. Through a number of games involving different types of math, kids and adults can improve their math skills, cognitive ability, concentration and overall quick thinking.
8. Get an Adding Machine
Finding an old-fashioned adding machine in a thrift store can be an exciting find. Even though these machines have largely been replaced by digital calculators, kids will absolutely love the tactile experience of simply playing with these vintage devices by pressing buttons and using printouts to get totals to math problems.
9. Play Sudoku Puzzles
According to a study that was conducted by Cambridge University, 75% of teachers in the UK and the US use puzzles like Sudoku as part of their daily lesson plans. The study found that kids have fun with the puzzles and are apt to stay interested in the lesson. Sudoku helps keep them in increasing the level of concentration, memorization skills and conceptualization of numbers and can be adapted both by using printed out puzzles or through a number of Sudoku apps available for Android or Apple. Researchers also found that by using this simple puzzle game, students learn how to think about math problems from a number of angles and are more easily able to solve them more quickly and more often.
10. Get Some Math Games
Math can be taught through a number of board games. Here are some fun ones that are very popular.
- Check the Fridge – Kids age 8 and up can have a great time playing a game that uses cards illustrating different kinds of foods. This game can involve 3 -6 players to teach kids how to strategize about adding up their food points and avoiding the smelly cheese that will cost them points!
- Pop For Addition & Subtraction – This game has three levels of play so it can grow with a child and their math skills. Kids age 6 and up can practice basic math by addition and subtraction, right answers allow them to keep the gumballs.
- Money Bags Coin Value Game – Learning Resources has created a great game to teach kids age 7 and up concepts surrounding money. With this game, they can learn how to make a change. These skills can then be used in real life and kids can learn about how to add, subtract and how to save money.
11. Organize Team Math Games with You Child and Their Friends
Games can be fun on your own, true, but playing games with friends is even better! Nearly all of the above games can be played with several friends at the same time. Have friends over on a rainy afternoon, or throw a party where winners can earn prizes. Another fun outing may be to take your child and some friends to the local bowling alley where they can bowl and begin to learn math when adding up their scores.
The possibilities of getting kids to think of math as something fun are endless. Why not try a few of them today?