What About Math? Fun Games to Build Math Skills During Remote Learning

What better time to have some fun with math? We are all currently looking for engaging activities students can do at home and thinking about how to make the most out of distance learning. Playing engaging, cooperative math games will give kids time to build their math skills while having fun!

We at Collaborative Classroom would like to share some of our favorite math games from our AfterSchool KidzMath program that can be modified to play with at-home materials. The games build on all the essential math skills kids need to become strong math learners and, since the games can be played over and over again, they will provide valuable practice time. The fact that there isn’t a winner will allow kids to get collaborative practice while learning from the person they are playing with.

You can find a complete list of games on our Remote Learning resources for families (locate the Math Activities tab in the Additional Resources section of the page). We chose games that include household items such as playing cards, index cards, and dice. The materials needed for each game are listed on the first page of the game. You may need to support families in being creative finding materials that they have at home. We encourage you to review the cover letter provided, consider which games might best meet the needs of your students, and share those select games with parents/caregivers.

Here are some examples of the games and the math skills they cover:

Primary Grades (K–2)

Set 1: Counting

The Leader Says
This game is inspired by the ever-popular “Simon Says.” The leader names an action and flashes a card with dots on it for two seconds. The children look at the card, figure out the number of dots that are on the card, and do the action that many times—but only if the leader said, “the leader says” before naming the action. This game can be played with older children by asking them to do a math equation for the number instead of flashing the dot cards.

Set 2: Number

Stack Back
This game is based on a version of the card game solitaire and is played with three rows of three face-up cards each. The players take turns finding and stacking smaller numbers on larger ones, moving single cards or stacks of cards. The goal is to make four stacks of cards in order from ten on the bottom to ace (one) on the top.

Set 3: Addition and Subtraction

Guess My Number
As if they are on a game show, the players try to guess a secret number by asking yes/no questions such as, “Is the number even?”


Intermediate Grades (3–5)

Set 1: Number Sense

Match Pass
This game uses cards showing equivalent fractions and percents. Players take turns discarding and picking up cards until each player has four cards with the same value (for example, 1⁄2, one-half, 50%, and 0.5). Because the deck includes a wild card, one card will be left over. The value of the left-over card is the score for the game. The children play several rounds until the total score is at least two.

Set 2: Multiplication and Division

Forehead Factors
The dealer (called the “foreheader”) deals a playing card to each of the other two players and says, “Foreheads!” Each player puts the card face up on their forehead without looking at their number. The “foreheader” multiplies the numbers on the two cards and says only the answer. The players with the cards on their foreheads try to guess the number of the card they are holding.

Set 3: Fractions, Decimals, and Percents

Bounce Back
This is a subtraction game. Partners start with 1,000 points and try to reach zero points by taking turns throwing and catching a tennis ball. Points are subtracted from the total depending on the number of bounces the ball makes before it is caught. To play this game, you will need a large room or backyard.

Let’s take advantage of this time we have to get kids excited about learning math. Have fun!