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Play Math with Your Kids for Free

One of the most common questions I get from parents who want to help their children enjoy math is, “Where do we start?”

My favorite answer: “Play games!”

And in this time of pandemic crisis, it’s even more important for families to play together. So my publisher agreed to make my ebook Let’s Play Math Sampler: 10 Family-Favorite Games for Learning Math Through Play free for the duration.

When you’re stuck at home and getting bored, it’s a great time to play math with your kids.

Math games meet children each at their own level. The child who sits at the head of the class can solidify skills. The child who lags behind grade level can build fluency and gain confidence.

And both will learn something even more important: that hard mental effort can be fun.

The Let’s Play Math Sampler contains short excerpts from my most popular books, including a preview of two games from my work-in-progress Prealgebra & Geometry Games.

Don’t miss it: Download your copy today.

Free Online Preview

Shop Now

Ebook available FREE at most bookstores:
Amazon-logo google-play-badge Barnes-Noble-logo kobo-logo apple-books-badge Scribd_logo and other online retailers.

Or you can order the paperback by special request at your favorite local bookshop.

Update 1: Has your favorite store refused to adjust its price? (I’m looking at you, Amazon!) Try this link, and the good folks at BookFunnel will help you load the ebook file to your reading device (phone, Kindle, etc.): https://bookhip.com/SAATAW.

Update 2: I’ve added a downloadable PDF file to the BookFunnel link, for those who prefer a printable format.

Reader Reviews

“Denise Gaskins is that sound voice of reason that comes into my head when I get agitated teaching. This isn’t performance — this is play. My kids aren’t on trial, they are learning to learn.”

—Sonya Post

“By exploring math in a playful way, your kids will be happy to learn and will discover an enjoyment of math in the process. You might even have fun, too! ”

—Olisia Yeend

NOTE: In many locations, you can get the rest of my playful math books free if you request them on your library app or through your local librarian.

8 Weeks of Playful Math for Families

Yes, your kids CAN learn to love math. Keep your children’s math skills fresh with my 8-week email series of math games and activities.

No purchase necessary! Just sign up for my email newsletter, and every week for the next two months you’ll automatically receive one of my favorite math club activities or an excerpt from my series of math game books.

Plus you’ll get a free download of my 24-page booklet How To Solve Math Problems: A Common-Sense Approach. And I’ll send you occasional news updates with playful math tips, resource links, and book sales or other promotions.

Click Here To Sign Up

Don’t like email? Then check out my new Let’s Play Math Sampler: 10 Family-Favorite Games for Learning Math Through Play. For the price of a cup of coffee Now FREE for the duration of the pandemic crisis, it’s a great way to get started with playful math.

Or grab them both: There’s very little overlap between the free email series and the Sampler book. So try them both and discover more than a dozen ways to play math with your kids!

PHOTO CREDITS: “The smiling sisters” photo by Caroline Hernandez and “Puddle Jumping” by Rupert Britton via Unsplash.com.

Playful Math 138 @ Math Hombre Blog

Wow, the pandemic and the lockdowns really threw me off-kilter. Or maybe it’s just that I’ve been mono-focused on finishing my new book. This poor blog has sure suffered lately.

Unfortunately, I let last month’s carnival pass me by. I only noticed it, because Sue put out a call-for-entries to her own carnival, which is coming soon.

But the last one was great, and you really don’t want to miss it!

Check out spring Playful Math Blog Carnival at Math Hombre blog:

John put together a great collection of number puzzles, games, and math art. Plus special memories of John Conway and Don Steward.

It’s like a free online monthly magazine of mathematical adventures. Enjoy!

Click here to go read the carnival blog

Do You Want More Ways to Play with Math?

Past carnivals are still full of mathy treasure. See them all on Pinterest:

And if you’re a blogger, be sure to submit your blog post for next month’s carnival!

Math Game: War with Special Decks

The all-time most-visited page on this site is my post about Math War: The Game That Is Worth 1,000 Worksheets. It’s easy to adapt to almost any math topic, simple to learn, and quick to play. My homeschool co-op students love it.

But Math War isn’t just for elementary kids. Several teachers have shared special card decks to help middle and high school students practice math by playing games.

Take a look at the links below for algebra, geometry, and trig games. And try the Math War Trumps variation at the end of the post to boost your children’s strategic-thinking potential.

Have fun playing math with your kids!

War Decks for Algebra & Geometry

War Decks for Algebra 2 & Trigonometry

Math War Trumps

The biggest problem with Math War is that it’s really just a worksheet in disguise. Children enjoy it more than a worksheet because of the social interaction, but there’s no choice or strategy to the game.

But you can bring strategic thinking into your number practice by playing Math War Trumps:

  • Players draw three cards from their deck and look at them.
  • The player whose turn it is calls the trump: High or Low, for which answer takes the trick. Or “closest to zero,” or any other winning value that makes sense with your card deck.
  • Then all players choose a card to reveal, and the winner collects the other cards as prisoners.
  • In case of a tie, the winners choose one of their remaining cards for a head-to-head competition (with the same trump).

Then all players draw enough cards to replenish their hand for the next turn.

Your Turn

Do you have a favorite way to play math with your kids? Please share in the comments below!

CREDITS: “Man shuffling cards” by ammiel jr and “Red playing cards” photo by José Pablo Iglesias via Unsplash.com.

Math for Star Wars Day

May the Fourth be with you!

Here is a math problem in honor of one of our family’s favorite movies…

Han Solo was doing much-needed maintenance on the Millennium Falcon. He spent 3/5 of his money upgrading the hyperspace motivator. He spent 3/4 of the remainder to install a new blaster cannon. If he spent 450 credits altogether, how much money did he have left?

Stop and think about how you would solve it before reading further.

Continue reading Math for Star Wars Day

A New Take on Multiplication Flash Cards

Dan Finkel, creator of the Tiny Polka Dot and Prime Climb games, is running a new Kickstarter campaign.

If your children struggle with multiplication math facts, or if you’re planning to teach the times tables next year, you may want to check it out.

And do it today — Kickstarter campaigns are limited-time deals!

Finkel writes:

“For many kids, rote memorization of multiplication facts is disconnected, boring, and hard.

“We’ve got a new take on multiplication flash cards. It’s a deeper, more connected, more visual way to learn, so you understand what the equations mean, as well as how to get the right answer. We take advantage of the science of memory to make sure you’re actually getting the facts down, accurately and quickly. And we have games, puzzles, and explorations to take the learning further.

“We call it Multiplication by Heart.”

—Dan Finkel

The flashcards give children two visual models for multiplication (groups and arrays), plus an image of prime factoring borrowed from the award-winning Prime Climb game.

The cards come with games to play, puzzle ideas, and tips for spaced repetition to support your child’s memory of the math facts.

Sounds like fun to me. 😀

If you want a deck to play with your children (or a set of them for your classroom), go back the Kickstarter today.

Dan adds, “We’ll get you one (or more!) copy as fast as we can. We’re shooting for December, 2020, as long as coronavirus doesn’t slow things up too much!”

Order your copy of Multiplication by Heart

Playful Math Carnival 137 @ Life Through A Mathematician’s Eyes

Check out the latest carnival of playful math:

Ioana put together this April collection of mathematical activities. She writes:

“When I first agreed to do this Carnival, I could not imagine that I will be writing and preparing for it in lockdown. But here we are, a strange situation with a stressful environment. With this in mind, we have to hope for the better. With this in mind, the Carnival is split into Learning Resources & Activities and Relaxation Time. With all that is happening around us, we need to look for activities that relax us.”

Each monthly Playful Math Education Blog Carnival brings you a great new collection of puzzles, math conversations, teaching tips, and all sorts of mathy fun.

It’s like a free online magazine of mathematical adventures, helpful and inspiring no matter when you read them. Enjoy!

Click Here to Read the Carnival Blog

Help Us Keep the Carnival Going

The Playful Math Blog Carnival wants you!

The carnival is a joint effort. We depend on our volunteer hosts to collect blog posts and write the carnival each month.

Putting together a blog carnival can be a lot of work, but it’s a great opportunity to share the work of bloggers you admire and to discover new math-friends online. I love that part of being a host!

Classroom teachers, homeschoolers, college professors, unschoolers, or anyone who likes to play around with math — if you would like to take a turn hosting the carnival, please speak up.

Homeschooling Tip #1: Start with Play

For children, learning always begins with play. This is how they wrap their minds around new ideas and make them their own.

“There should be no element of slavery in learning. Enforced exercise does no harm to the body, but enforced learning will not stay in the mind. So avoid compulsion, and let your children’s lessons take the form of play.”

—Plato, The Republic

If we want our children to learn math, our first job is to establish an attitude of playfulness.

This is especially important for anyone working with a discouraged child or a child who is afraid of math. The best way to help a discouraged child is to put away the workbook. Try something different, fun, and challenging.

Play Math Games

Free ebook of math games
Download my free ebook of math games at your favorite online store.
Games meet children each at their own level, helping them understand that hard mental effort can be fun.

  • My Favorite Math Games: All the free games here on my Let’s Play Math blog, sorted by age/grade levels.
  • Math for Love Games: Collected by the creator of Tiny Polka Dot and Prime Climb.
  • Games for Young Minds: Kent Haines’s posts teach not only how to play the games, but also how to help your children think about the math.
  • Acing Math: A huge collection of topical worksheet-replacement games to play with a deck of cards.
  • Math Hombre Games: The motherlode of math games for all ages. It’s easy to get lost on this page, so bookmark it and explore a bit at a time.
  • For older students: Games and Math at Math Munch blog.

Play Math Art

Download my free 42-page printable coloring book, with links to additional activities.
Math art lets children experiment with geometric shapes and symmetries. Through art, students can explore a wide range of mathematical structures and relationships.

Join the Conversation

The next post in this How to Homeschool Math series will be all about the joy of reading math.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you!

  • What are your most pressing questions about helping your children with math?
  • Or what tips would you share with other parents?

Please add your ideas in the Comments section below.

CREDITS: Photo (top) generously supplied via Unsplash.com by National Cancer Institute.