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

How to Homeschool Math

Far too many people find themselves suddenly, unexpectedly homeschooling their children. This prompts me to consider what advice I might offer after more than a quarter-century of teaching kids at home.

Through my decades of homeschooling five kids, we lived by two rules:

Do math. Do reading.

As long as we hit those two topics each day, I knew the kids would be fine. Do some sort of mathematical game or activity. Read something from that big stack of books we collected at the library.

Conquer the basics of math and reading, then everything else will fall into place.

Learning math is an adventure into the unknown. The ideas we adults take for granted are a wild, unexplored country to our children. Like any traveler in a strange land, they will stumble over rocky places and meet with unexpected detours.

Many parents long to find a perfect math curriculum that will smooth over those rocky places. There is no such thing. Stumbles and detours are a necessary part of learning.

But you can help your children along the journey. Here are my top five tips for navigating the mathematical wilderness:

  1. Start with Play.
  2. Read Books Together.
  3. Consider Your Own Perspective.
  4. Listen to Your Children.
  5. Focus on Making Sense.

Click those links for a variety of ideas and resource links to help you with each of these areas.

Do you want to get started right away? Download a free copy of my Sampler ebook featuring ten family-favorite math games you can enjoy with your children today.

Join the Conversation

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.

Photo by Simon Rae on Unsplash

CREDITS: Photos generously supplied via Unsplash.com by Sandy Millar (top) and Simon Rae.

Math with Young Children

The question came up again:

“What is the best curriculum for my children? They are four and six years old, and I’m afraid of letting them fall behind.”

I remember being a young parent, eager to start homeschooling. I used to get mad (without letting it show, like a true introvert) when people told me, “They are young. Just let them play.”

Now I see the wisdom in it.

The most important thing for your children right now, by far, is for them to enjoy learning. The joy of learning is a child’s natural state. As a parent, your primary job is to keep yourself from stomping it out.

But our parental fears can push us into joy-trampling before we realize it.

And our own experience of school makes it hard for us to see how much of our children’s play really is learning. We expect education to look like schoolwork, but natural learning looks nothing like that.

Natural Learning Looks like Conversation

“The lesson here is that children are brilliant. They build math out of their everyday experiences, and when you offer them opportunities they apply the math they know to make further sense of their worlds.”

—Christopher Danielson
Counting in downtown Saint Paul

Natural Learning Looks Listening to Your Children

It Looks Like Free Play

“The children who receive the least instruction from parents, volunteers, or me are the most likely to persist. These are the children who will spend 20 minutes or more exploring the possibilities. But when we tell kids to ‘make a pattern’, we are asking the children to fill that carton with our ideas, rather than allowing them to explore their own.”

—Christopher Danielson
Let the children play

Let children play with blocks or other math toys, or with anything they find around the house or outdoors.

Free play, without any direction or instruction from you.

And Playing Games Together

“If you play these games and your child learns only that hard mental effort can be fun, you will have taught something invaluable.”

Peggy Kaye
Games for Math

CREDITS: “Two children” photo (top) by Kevin Gent on Unsplash.

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.