Make Math Practice Fun!

Math practice doesn’t have to be boring!

Games are more fun than drill!

You can help the kids have tons of fun while practicing their math by creating or using math games to liven up the lessons or review.  These are perfect for summer brush-ups, too, and parents will want to jump on this bandwagon to keep the kids from moving backwards over the long summer vacation.

Games are simply more motivating than traditional “let’s sit at the table and do worksheets or say flashcards” mode of practice.  Kids will be more cooperative if not downright eager to put in the necessary practice time to keep skills fresh over vacation or anytime at all.

It’s easy to get going with math games, even if you’re not a trained teacher or experienced homeschooler.  Just choose a skill that your child needs to practice.  In the area of math, this could be basic operations, working with fractions or decimals, problems with percents, time or money practice, or nearly any other concept taught in math (and yes, the middle schoolers and high schoolers can get in on the action with more complex concepts in their games).

Here’s a simple idea.  Make a plain trail game board in a file folder.  You know the kind: starting line, finish line, and a curvy path that goes between the two.  Add a few penalty and bonus spaces like “go back 1″ or “take an extra turn.”  Decorate the board with your child’s favorite theme and voila!  You’ve got yourself a handy generic learning tool.  Now, for each child who will be playing, create a deck of question cards.  These could be simply math problems to answer or trivia questions about math skills at their level.  They could have story problems or math related stunts or tasks (like ‘find the area of a paper towel’).  You’ll need about twice as many cards as you have spaces on your game board.  Borrow a die and a few pawns from another game, and you’re all set to play!

Players take turns tossing the die and then choosing a card from their stack.  If they can answer the question, they can move the number of spaces indicated on the die.  If not, they have to wait a turn and try again.  Of course, the first person to the finish line wins the game.  That’s all there is to it!

So have you caught the Math Games Bug?  There are tons more ideas in the Making Math More Fun series!  These books literally offer hundreds of game and activity ideas suitable for elementary students of all abilities and levels.  Author Teresa Evans is offering tons of bonuses right now, too, so you’ll get a lot of bang for your buck.  Pop on over to Making Math More and you’ll see what I mean.  That’s my affiliate link, so your purchase is a great way to support this site, and I thank you!

Don’t forget to leave me a comment if you’ve got an education or learning question!!  I’m ready and waiting to help you out….

Creating a Math Reference Notebook

Got a student who struggles in math?  Many have difficulty recalling the processes they learned last month or last year.  When the class or curriculum moves on to a new topic, it’s like they completely forget about what they’ve just studied.  For example, every year math programs cover fractions.  In the early grades, the ideas include identifying fractions, reading fraction names, and coloring fractional parts.  By the time kids hit the middle grades, they are studying simplifying fractions and completing operations.  Each year’s work builds on the previous term’s concepts.  If your student forgets these things from year to year, it’s like they have to start over each time, and they fall farther and farther behind.

One cure for this common issue is to create a math notebook.  Once you teach your student how to do this, it can turn into an independent self-help activity.  You’ll need a larger ring-binder type notebook and some paper to get going.  Dividers are nice, too.

Now, each time a new math concept or process is introduced, make a new page for the math notebook.  The page should be titled with the skill name.  Write step-by-step directions (in the child’s own words and preferably own handwriting!) for solving that type of problem.  Include a step-by-step solution to a sample problem, as well.

Keep the notebook handy!  Add to it each time a new idea is taught.  Then, when the subject comes up again, or when the student needs to use a previously-learned skill, you have a handy reference.  When your child can’t recall how to simplify fractions, for example, you can turn right to the page that was written last year when the idea was introduced.  Add to it as new refinements are taught, and you’ll have a reference resource that will last a lifetime and be a real boon to your struggling math student.

Remember, if you have questions about this or any other educational concern, please leave your thoughts in the comment box below!  I’m looking forward to hearing from you!