Math Game: Place Value Fish

Math Concepts: addition, subtraction, place value to six or seven digits.
Players: two or more.
Equipment: pencil and paper.


Each player needs a sheet of blank or lined paper, and a pencil.

At the top of your page, write a 6-digit number. All the digits must be different, and none of them can be zero.

How to Play

On your turn, you go fishing for points. Ask one other player, “Give me your _____’s.” The blank is for the single-digit number of your choice.

The other player answers, “You get _____.” This blank is for the value of that digit in the other player’s number.

For example, suppose you asked for 5’s. If the other player has a 5 in the tens place of his number, you get 50 points. But if 5 was in the ten-thousands place, you would get 50,000. And if there is no 5 at all, you get zero.

You add those points to your number. The other player subtracts the points from his number.

Then it’s the next player’s turn to go fishing.

Notice These Rules

Your number may change with each turn (except when you get zero). Always use your most recent number to add or subtract the fishing points.

If you have more than one of the digit asked for (like the player on the left above, who has two 7’s), you may choose which one to give away. That is, you can give the other player 70 points and not even mention the 7,000.


Keep taking turns until every player gets five chances to fish for points. After five rounds, whoever has the highest score wins the game.

UNLESS the winner made an arithmetic error.

Be sure to check each other’s math, because any player who makes a mistake automatically loses the game.

Share the Fun

If you try this math game with your kids, I’d love to hear how it goes. Please drop a comment below.

And tell us about your favorite math game, so we can all play that, too. 😀

CREDITS: This game comes from Michael Schiro’s book Mega-Fun Math Games: 70 Quick-and-Easy Games to Build Math Skills. Feature photo (top) by Ruben Ortega via Unsplash.

Mathematics: An Acrostic

What Is Your Child’s Experience of Math?

If your children made an acrostic for the word “Mathematics,” what would they include?

Would they think of adjectives like artistic, mysterious, or sublime?

Or would they focus on words like answers, maddening, and stress?

I love taking a playful approach to mathematics. Puzzles, games and art projects lay down a foundation of wonder and enjoyment. This creates a strong, positive base to support our kids through the inevitable difficulties of learning an abstract subject like math.

There are many rich math resources these days! So different from back when I started homeschooling. If you need ideas to help you transform your child’s experience of math, check out my Free Math on the Internet pages.

Internet Math Resources

In fact, I have a huge folder of even more bookmarks and links that I hope to add to my resource pages, whenever I find the time…

Does your family have a favorite way to play with math?

CREDITS: Water background photo by Ishan via Unsplash.

A Puzzle for Palindromes

If you haven’t seen the meme going around, this is a palindrome week because the dates (written American style and with the year shortened to ’19) are the same when reversed.

Here’s a math puzzle for palindrome week — or any time you want to play with math:

  • Print a 100 chart.
  • Choose a color code.
  • Play!

What do you think: Will all numbers eventually turn into palindromes?


You can find all sorts of hundred charts on my Free Math Printable Files page.

Read about the history of palindromes on Nrich Math’s Palindromes page.

Find out more about the Palindromic Number Conjecture in Mark Chubb’s article An Unsolved Problem your Students Should Attempt.

Or play with Manan Shah’s advanced palindromic number questions.

Math That Is Beautiful

One of the sections in my book Let’s Play Math: How Families Can Learn Math Together — and Enjoy It encourages parents to make beautiful math with their children.

Do you have trouble believing that math can be beautiful?

In “Inspirations,” artist Cristóbal Vila creates a wonderful, imaginary work studio for the amazing M.C. Escher. You’ll want to view it in full-screen mode.

How many mathematical objects could you identify?

Vila offers a brief explanation of the history and significance of each item on his page Inspirations: A short movie inspired on Escher’s works.

Read about the inspirations, and then try making some math of your own.

“I looked into that enormous and inexhaustible source of inspiration that is Escher and tried to imagine how it could be his workplace, what things would surround an artist like him, so deeply interested in science in general and mathematics in particular. I imagined that these things could be his travel souvenirs, gifts from friends, sources of inspiration…”

—Cristóbal Vila
Inspirations: A short movie inspired on Escher’s works

10 Family-Favorite Games for Learning Math Through Play

Oops! I can’t believe I forgot to post these links when my latest book came out way back in March. Indie author fail…

Do you want your children to enjoy learning math?

Teach them how to play!

In excerpts from five of my most popular books, the Let’s Play Math Sampler features ten kid-tested games covering math concepts from counting to prealgebra.

Free Online Preview

Pick up a copy of the Let’s Play Math Sampler today, and make math a playful family adventure.

Buy now:
Amazon-logo the_book_depository_logo Barnes-Noble-logo kobo-logo ibookstore-badg Scribd_logo google-play-badge and other online retailers, or order the paperback by special request at your favorite local bookshop.

…And now I just need to go back and update my original pre-order post, so everyone can find the book no matter which blog they happen to read…

“Laughing Girl” photo (top) by ND Strupler via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

Getting Started with Playful Family Math

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!”

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 (as Peggy Kaye pointed out in her book Games for Math) both will learn something even more important — that hard mental effort can be fun.

Now I’ve put together a short, inexpensive book to help families begin playing with math.

Let’s Play Math Sampler: 10 Family-Favorite Games for Learning Math Through Play 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: Order your copy today.

Free Online Preview

Buy now:
Amazon-logo the_book_depository_logo Barnes-Noble-logo kobo-logo ibookstore-badg Scribd_logo google-play-badge and other online retailers, or order the paperback by special request at your favorite local bookshop.

“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