Monday, February 22, 2010

Cheap Homemade Learning Game Math Fun

Here are some ideas for early math learning:

1) The charting game- Draw 2 inch grid over an entire poster board. Cut in half the short way. Have the kids help stamp (get the cheap foamy ones from Hobby Lobby), one stamp per column on one half of the poster board. Cut in squares. On the other half, stamp one of each of the stamps on the bottom of each column.

To play, turn the squares upside down. Have each child hypothesize which stamp will get to the top first. Then, go around the circle and take turns drawing a square. Place the square in the column that matches the stamp on the square. Play until one stamp column is full.


  • Which column got to the top first? Was your hypothesis correct?

  • Which column had the least amount of squares? How many did it have?

  • Did any of the columns have the same amount of squares?

You can do a similar game with a smaller grid and a bag of skittles or M&M's. Put some in a small bowl, have the children sort the colors and fill in the grids accordingly, using skinny markers.

2) Chutes and Ladders. We made this game one time when I felt too poor to go buy it. Draw 100 squares, 10x10 on a poster board. Number 1 to 100 starting on the bottom from left to right and then the second row right to left, etc. Then discuss with the kids a few good choices and a few bad choices and what the consequences might be. Draw a picture of the scenario- it doesn't have to be great, stick figures work just fine- and then draw chutes for the bad choices and ladders for the good choices. You can use any household item for markers- coins, pop bottle caps, whatever. Use dice for rolling how many spaces to move. First one to the 100 square wins.

This teaches counting and numbers 1-100. Each time they land on a number, ask the child to tell you what that number is. Also, it is important that they follow the correct sequence when turning directions to a new row. It will teach greater and less than and number sequence.

3) The Guy Game. I got this idea from another homeschooling mom. I can't remember her name in order to give her credit, but it is such a good idea! Have a deck of flash cards numbered 1-100. It could be bought or made out of index cards. Every eighth card or so (doesn't really matter) put at stick figure of a "guy".

Mom or another designated person holds up the flash cards. Go around the circle and have each child say the number. If the card has a guy on it, they have a designated action. If you are outside, it could be run around the house, jump 5 times on the trampoline, go touch the fence and run back, or set up a field like in t-ball and have them run around the bases. Inside, a little more creativity is needed, maybe jumping jacks or running down the hall and back. You can use this also for learning ABC's, dolch words, numbers in Spanish.....endless possibilities.

This teaches number recognition and involves physical activity. (yay!) Brookie (turns 4 tomorrow) recognizes most numbers to 100.

4) Star numbers. Have the kids crouch down in a standing tuck position, spread out a bit. Pick a number to skip count- say 10. Count by one's but every time you come to a multiple of 10, jump up with hands out and feet apart like a star. Then crouch back down until the next multiple is counted.

This teaches skip counting and involves more activity.

5) Greater or less than dice. Have one or two die, depending on skill level. Go around the circle and each player takes a turn rolling. The greatest number of that round wins the round. Keep score by tallying. The winner of the game has the most tallies.

Teaches greater and less than and tallying.

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