In this post, I want to share some of the things I’ve learned over the years while homeschooling math with my three kids. Plus, I’m going to share more than 30 different math activity ideas that were big hits with my kids… everything from the types of math manipulatives we used to various math games and activities we incorporated into our math time.
Very quickly, what are some things I learned while homeschooling math?
- Use a wide variety of manipulatives
- You are not a slave to your math curriculum!
- Make it Fun!
- Make math time active!
- Change things up, don’t do the same thing day after day!
- Keep reviewing those math skills!
- Play online games
- Take math outside from time to time!
- Use fun worksheets
- Make your own worksheets if your child needs more practice (don’t press on just because the math book has run out of problems!)
1. Use a Wide Variety of Math Manipulatives
I found that we really got a lot of use out of math manipulatives when the kids were little.
One of the best investments was in a giant tub of mini erasers! We used those for everything from addition and multiplication (setting out skip counting rows) to tokens for our various games! The kids like choosing from the huge selection and we *still* use these for various bingo games and stuff!
Erasers for addition: (affiliate link)
Below I used stickers and had my daughter count out the right number of larger erasers.
Here, you can see we’re using those mini-erasers for addition practice!
Plastic Links for addition or subtraction practice (affiliate link)
You can get plastic links like these at Amazon for under $10. (affiliate link)
- Addition Facts Game – Get pairs that add up to a certain number (in this case we had 5 cards in our hand and would try to make 7. We’d lay down the number once we had a new pair.)
- What Comes Before and After Game
- Math Family Activities (Make 7… 6+1 2+5, etc.) — See our printable Addition Family Board Games here
- Math War (for addition or multiplication)
- Acing Math One Deck at a Time is free download from the Positive Engagement Project. It is 70 pages and has dozens of math games you can play with your child with a deck of cards.
Take it To the Dump: Have the kids make ten and find matching cards such as 5+5, 4+6. Or as they get older “make 12” or “make 15.”
We also got a lot of use out of our Montessori beads over the years. Here she is using the beads to build out the teen numbers.
We used dominoes for number recognition and for addition practice
You can get our free domino addition page at this post.
Die as a Math Manipulative
We used die for all kinds of games. One of our favorites was Bump. We first used this for doubles (1+1, 2+2, 3+3, etc.). Once the kids became pretty good at that, I made our own die with the numbers 4 through 9 so the kids could practice 4+4 through 9+9. Later we adapted the Bump Game to do squares, division practice and other things. I made you some Bump Board Games that you can download – for both Doubling and Squares! 🙂 Hope they are fun for your kids!
2. You are not a slave to your math curriculum!
- We tried a wide variety of math curriculums over time… Right Start Math, Saxon Math, Horizon’s Math, Singapore Math, Spectrum Math Workbooks, different PreAlgebra textbooks, Geometry textbooks, Thinkwell Geometry. Plus, we checked out friend’s Abeka Math.
- Some things worked for a short while… other things didn’t. I purchased a number of these programs used, so I didn’t feel bad when I ditched (donated) the ones that didn’t work for us!
3. Make Math Fun!!
Make math silly from time to time! Here, we made some Skip Counting Hats!
Make a Math Lapbook: PreK, K — Free Printable at this post. One year ED and I I made a lapbook with a variety of games and skills that she was working on at the time!
This silly project helped the kids learn about gallons, quarts pints and cups!
Measurement Man Learning about gallons, quarts, pints and cups
4. Make math time active!
You can have the kids shoot the basketball each time they get a math fact right (with any type of math fact problem!
Tape math problems on the floor! Making Math Fun and Active:
I learned pretty early on that we could get lots of math fact practice in if I made a game out of it!
This game was a HUGE pillar of our homeschool math program in the elementary years because you can use it to practice *any* math fact! You can print out a free version below and also you’ll find various themed versions of this game in our Addition Bundle and our Multiplication Bundles.
Below you can see my daughter using clocks (and moving 11 spaces around the board for 11 o’clock).
Math Ladder Game — My kids *loved* playing games to help them learn their math facts. I made a fancy version of amath fact game we used to play. It’s free to download!
This game takes less than 10 minutes to play (though perhaps more if your kids are like mine and beg to play again and again!!).
- Your child goes first. Roll the die. Then add (or multiply) the number on the first rung of the ladder. If she/he gets the answer correct, move to the next rung and so forth. If she/he makes it to the top she gets 10 points (or as many points as correct answers).
- Now it’s your (the parent’s) turn. Roll the die. You are also trying to make it to the top adding (or multiplying) each number by the number on the die, but you have to make one mistake as you go up the row. If your child catches the mistake, she/he steals all of your points (from this round).
5. Change things up, don’t do the same thing day after day!
For some variety, I purchased the comic-style math program called Beast Academy:
- Art of Problem Solving Beast Academy — These are really fun comic-style math books. We have 3A through 4A and the kids really enjoy reading through these. We have not used the practice books that accompany these.
Math Chains: Just a different way to practice skip counting or coins
6. Keep reviewing those math skills!
Speed! Multiplication Card Game A skip counting card game set made by a homeschooling Mom!
7. Have the kids play online math games to build their speed and math fact abilities!
Free Online Multiplication Games This post has a number of other online multiplication games that my kids loved!
8. It’s fun to take math outside!
Here are some of the math activities we’ve enjoyed in our homeschool:
Math Monster Tag: For practicing math facts
I made sets of cards for each of my three kids depending on what they were ready for… for everything from number recognition and easy addition… to fractions, pre-Algebra problems! You can make this work for ANY math practice!
Math Sponge Toss: If it’s getting warm where you live, the kids might enjoy this activity. We hung math problems up on the garage door with painters tape. The kids took turns trying to SPLAT their card. If they hit the card AND solved it correctly, they got to take it down from the wall. As you can see, the kids each had their own color and their problems were different since they’re covering different things. You could even include your little ones by including cards with just a number, letter or shape (square, triangle, etc.).
Math Fact Hopscotch: We drew a hopscotch game and then put two numbers in the double squares. The kids had to either add (for ED) or multiply (for DD and LD) the numbers before they jumped on the number. They raced through as fast as they could once while I kept time. To “win” they had to beat their own time the second time through.
Math Bulls-eye Game: We created a bulls-eye with chalk. The outer numbers were drawn in green, the inner numbers in pink. The kids had to try to get a pom-pom on each color. They added or multiplied those numbers together. If they landed on one of each color they got a point and if they got the answer correct they also got a point.
9. Use fun worksheets
Over the years, I made a lot of fun math worksheets that went along with the kids interest. Over the years, I made the kids a variety of different printables which are all free here on the blog!
10. Make your own worksheets if your child needs more practice (don’t press on just because the math book has run out of problems!)
If you’ve followed our blog for a while, you’ll see that my kids fell in love with having their own worksheet sets! I would have my kids do a colorful worksheet practicing a skill they were working on in addition to working on problems out of their math workbook/textbook.
I have two big bundles with all kinds of colorful, fun worksheets I put together for the kids along the way.
Addition Bundle — This set has lots of Addition and Subtraction worksheets, games and activities. Plus, it has a variety of other types of math activity sheets (such as place value) that are suitable for that age range (4-6 years old or so).
I have been adding new seasonal activities and packets to this bundle! 🙂
And of course there is also our popular Multiplication Bundle which now has 17 pdfs! There are multiplication packets for each of the individual multiplication tables, 2s, 3s, 4s, 5s… 9s. Plus there are packets with mixed practice. There various games, skip counting activities, and lots of fun colorful worksheets in this huge bundle. You can find this entire set (of 17 pdfs) for $7.00 in Our Store Or, visit this post Learning the Multiplication Tables to see even more pictures of the various pdfs and worksheets and games included.
See you again soon here or over at our Homeschool Den Facebook Page! Don’t forget to Subscribe to our Homeschool Den Newsletter. You might also want to check out some of our resources pages above (such as our Science, Language Arts, or History Units Resource Pages — Note, I just updated the Science Resource Page last week, so be sure to visit that page!!) which have links to dozens of posts. You might want to join our free Homeschool Den Chat Facebook group. Don’t forget to check out Our Store as well. ~Liesl
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase.