Michael and Nash have been creating and posting new math games with astonishing regularity throughout the pandemic. Their YouTube channel is a great resource for parents who want to play math with elementary-age children.

Today’s entry: Closest to Ten, a quick game for addition and subtraction fluency with a tiny bit of multiplication potential.

And here’s one of my favorites for older players: Factor Triangles, a card game for 2-digit multiplication.

Check out their channel, and have fun playing math with your kids!

The best way to practice math is to play with it — to use the patterns and connections between math concepts in your pursuit of something fun or beautiful.

So this art project is a great way to practice multiplication. Use the prime factors of numbers from one to one hundred to create a colorful design.

Start with a Hundred Chart

First, download this printable file of hundred charts in non-photo blue (or light gray, if you’re printing in grayscale). The file includes:

Line-by-line traditional chart, counting from top to bottom.

Line-by-line bottom’s-up chart, counting from bottom to top.

Ulam’s Spiral chart, spiraling out from the center.

The Kickstarter is done, and today I’m kicking back and resting a bit. (And running into town for some errands, because life never stops.)

But even as I’m taking it easy around here, I know many of you are looking for ways to help your children learn to play with math.

So click the button below to go see all the games I’ve posted on my blog over the years. All free for your family’s use, and most of them don’t require anything more than a deck of cards or some paper and pencil.

The Substitution Game features low-floor, high-ceiling cooperative play that works with any age (or with a mixed-age group) — and you can use it while distance learning, too. It’s great for building algebraic thinking.

Excerpted from my upcoming book, Prealgebra & Geometry: Math Games for Middle School, scheduled for publication in early 2021. Sign up for my newsletter to get updates.

The Substitution Game

Math Concepts: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, order of operations, integers, fractions, equivalence and substitution.

Players: any number (a cooperative game).

Equipment: whiteboard and markers (preferred) or pencil and paper to share. Calculator optional.

Running out of time on my Math You Can Play Kickstarter, so I better get to work on that Kickstarter Special Edition math-art book I promised to all the backers as a bonus reward.

Today I’m working on the Isometric Drawing and Impossible Figures section, because my co-op math classes had so much fun learning how to draw those.

Here’s a starter image on how to draw Minecraft blocks. At first I called them “isometric blocks” — but changing the name to “Minecraft” made the students really excited to learn. I’m not sure whether I like the pencil sketch, or if I should remake the illustrations on the computer…

Key steps:

Make a Y.

Turn it into an M.

Slant down for the bottom.

Slant up for the top.

The most common problem for beginners is that they try to make the base straight. They know a block can sit on a table, so the bottom has to be flat, right? But once students get a feel for how it goes, they can really take off and have fun.

UPDATE: The Kickstarter deals have ended, but my playful math books are still available through your favorite online store or by special order at your local bookshop. (Except for the Prealgebra & Geometry Games book, scheduled for publication in early 2021. Sign up for my email list to get the latest news.)

I believe this was the first math game I ever invented. Of course, ideas are common currency, so I’m sure other math teachers thought of it before I did. But to me, it was original.

I’ve blogged about the game before, but here’s the updated version as it appears in my new book Prealgebra & Geometry: Math Games for Middle School — scheduled for publication in early 2021. Sign up for my newsletter to get updates.

Hit Me

Math Concepts: integer addition, absolute value.

Players: two or more.

Equipment: playing cards (two decks may be needed for a large group).

We all know kids like to move. But did you know you can harness all of that innate energy into developing a conceptual understanding of mathematics?

“The Moving Patterns Game is an active, self-directed game featuring patterns, footwork, friends, and math. Dancing makes life fun, and math makes the dancing more interesting!”

Here’s a simple, conversational game you can play anywhere — no equipment necessary. It’s great for helping your children develop number fluency and algebraic thinking.

Excerpted from my upcoming book, Prealgebra & Geometry: Math Games for Middle School, scheduled for publication in early 2021. Sign up for my newsletter to get updates.

What Two Numbers?

Math Concepts: addition, multiplication, inverse operations, positive and negative numbers.