We love playing games and sports in our family. One of the added bonuses to all of the game-playing is that our children get lots of math practice without even realizing it. I wanted to share some games and sports that are great opportunities for math learning and practice.
I enjoyed sharing the fun ways to practice math while shopping and in the kitchen, but really, this post is filled with the most fun ways to practice math, especially for my boys. What kids don’t want to play games or sports?
Practicing Math in Games: (We love to play games so much but I limited myself to a few examples.)
Learning Resources Sum Swamp Game is a simple addition and subtraction game. What I love is that it forces simple math practice without the kids particularly realizing it. My 4 and 6 year olds can play this together without others, but the bigger ones will join in as well. Last Christmas, we wanted to buy a lot of games for the kids. This one was strictly an impulse buy since it was an amazon “deal of the day”, but it’s definitely an impulse purchase I’m glad I made.
Rise of Augustus Board Game is great for practicing math, from making decisions about what points to score to adding up your score in the end. Seth wrote a lot more about why we love this game if you are interested.
The Settlers of Catan is, in my opinion, the best board game of all time, but it has been so wonderful to introduce our children to it. We love that the kids are getting an understanding of probability from the game mechanics, lots of addition practice with rolling 2 dice as well as adding up scores throughout the game. Throw in some strategy practice and using logic, and the kids are really learning a lot of math skills. I love how each number is actually marked with its probability – a “6” has five dots under it since it should happen approximately 5 out of 36 times, and a “12” has one dot under it since it should only happen 1 out of 36 times. I hope our children have a natural understanding of probability long before we actually go to teach it to them. (By the way, if you have never played Settlers, you probably want to find someone who has to teach it to you. We love games, and that’s why our young children can play this. I think it’s labeled as age 12 and up.)
Yahtzee is so full of math. I love seeing my children practicing their skip counting, adding up dice, adding their total scores, and then wanting to play all over again. I think we get through more math practice with this game than they do with a math worksheet.
Practicing Math during Sports:
Disc golf (as well as ball golf and miniature golf) gives kids a chance to really understand negative numbers. You score above or below par on each hole. Things like birdies or bogies impact your total score. Obviously, you have to total your score at the end too (or remember throughout a round), but this is a great place to introduce the concept of negative numbers by talking about their score in terms of par throughout a game.
Watching (or playing) football is great for quick real life math problems. For instance, if your team has 24 points, you can ask the kids what different ways that could be scored. Or, if your team is down by 12 points, you could ask what different ways of scoring could give them the win. It becomes second nature to problem solve like this when it’s something you are interested in. (Seth made a Super Bowl game including math for the kids this past Super Bowl. It may become a family tradition.)
Where do you practice math through games and sports?