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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Kindergarten Math: Playing to Learn

Adventure-man likes numbers - he likes to count them, add them, write them, looks out for them in books (we once read all the page numbers in a book rather than reading the book itself!). I was surprised by just how much he now understands without any formal teaching from me. He recognises numbers up to the hundreds, can skip count 2s, 5s, 10s, 20s, 50 and 100s, he can add and subtract numbers mentally.

I decided that I just had to encourage this love for numbers and math and I wanted to do it by playing lots of games. So here are a bunch of different math games and activities we've been doing

Number Bond games:

I downloaded these number bond flashcards from which I used in a variety of ways - we play memory and have to match up cards that  add up to 10. He loves the challenge of being timed for some reason (my girls hated it!) - so I time him to see how quickly he can match up the cards that add to 10.

We added this Rocket number bond game to our solar system studies and he really enjoyed it. I just printed out the game board and not the cards (to save ink) and we played using a die. We had counter pieces to move and whatever number we rolled - we had to work out what number we needed to add to it to make ten and then we would to move our piece to that number. A variation on the game was that we had to move to the nearest number which meant we sometimes moved back (it made the game last longer). Click on the picture to go to Mathsticks for more ways to play the game.

I printed out these triangles and we used the cards to make a great big triangle where the adjacent numbers had to equal 10.

 A ten frame is a useful visual tool for teaching math facts so I decided to introduce it into our play. I printed out a ten frame with dots representing numbers from 0-10 onto card stock and I made double copies. I showed him the cards and we'd count and say the numbers and then we'd work out how many more dots we need to make ten. We later moved onto played a matching game and snap with the cards and he had to shout out the number on the cards in hope of him becoming more familiar with the numbers each card represented.

You can print out a set from here. You can also find other ten frame activities here. In fact  has a bunch of really helpful looking activities for teaching different grades which I plan on exploring further.


I wanted to introduce him to the concepts of halves and quarters and basic fractions. I knew we had use pizza. I found this game from Learning Resources - Pizza Fraction Fun. It has many variations of games depending on what concepts you want to teach - so it has the advantage of growing with your child. Adventure-man enjoys it and we play games where we have to make pizzas out of halves, quarters, thirds etc. It is a simply fun way to introduce the concepts.

Addition games

We love Gamewright's Rat-a-tat Cat. The object of the game is to end up with the lowest value on your cards. There requires some strategy, basic addition at the end of the game, it is a lot of fun and it is a relatively short game to play so it doesn't drag on too long.
Adventure-man loves board games so I like to find printable board games where we can practice math skills. There are many printable board games which can be used for all sorts of math skill from More printables here at K-3teacherresources and at Dr Mike's Math Games.

He also loves Monopoly and Game of Life and his favourite part is counting the money out (and winning, of course!). He has got used to dealing with larger numbers - counting in 20s, 50s and 100s and can even get on with the thousand and ten,fifty and hundred thousand dollar notes in the Game of Life.


I love this magnetic money chart I bought that has English coins and notes. I purchased from Baker Ross. We use it in a variety of ways:

I started by introduced English coins and notes to him and then we'd take turns writing amounts on the board and making it with the money. I printed out little shopping cards with pictures of food or toys and they all had price on them. We would take turns drawing three cards and then we'd have to put together the right amount of money and add it all up. He loved it! You can download my cards here. (note: The cards look all messed up on google docs but if you download the orginal, they should come out fine.)

iPhone Apps and electronic games:

I must admit that he played a fair bit on the iPhone and iPad when we were moving countries and had  family health issues. I did try to find games that were educational. Here are some math games listed below (I don't tend to like to pay for my apps) so most of these are free or lite versions:

Motion Math (addition and subtraction) - we have only used the lite version so far.

Park Math - he played with this quite a lot when we first got it (actually I think I paid for this because it looked great) but he doesn't play with it anymore. Nice and attractive. Maybe it just got too simple for him.

Pearl Diver - a number line math game: it is suitable for grades 3-8 and I downloaded it for my older kids but Adventure-man seems to like it a lot. He probably gets the first two level and guesses the rest! 

More suitable for his age group is Motion Math Zoom. It covers place value and uses the number line.

PopMath - for practising basic math (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division)

An observation I've made when he has played on the Wii (but certainly not at all an endorsement for using the Wii as an educational tool!) - we allowed him to play an adventure board game on our Wii Party game and there were dice to roll and moves to make and scores to read.  I noticed that from the age of 3 - he was recognising big numbers (hundreds and over) and he was adding the numbers on the dice without any difficulty. Now, I wouldn't necessarily encourage everyone to let their little ones play on the Wii for educational reasons but it does go to show how much they will pick up when they are playing.

So my plan for now is to just keep playing with him and exposing him to all the math facts and skills that he is ready for. 


  1. Great math resources, thank-you. I am visiting from the preschool corner.

  2. Visiting from the Preschool Corner. I've recently been asking around for K math games, so your blog post couldn't be more timely. Thanks for the great suggestions!

  3. Oh, so much math fun!! I'm pinning this post so I can refer to it often. Thanks for sharing.

    Popping in from pre-k corner.

  4. Learning while having fun! I love these! Thanks for sharing it.