Is your little one in the midst of learning their times tables? Or perhaps they can’t get their head around two stage Maths problems. This blog post has lots of ideas for games and activities to support this learning and general Maths practice at home.
If you’ve not got time for a little chat its just a quick scroll to the activities. Some are adapted from activities I collected as a teacher – lots of which will be used in schools up and down the country. Others – traffic light envelopes – I developed more recently while tutoring.
As I said hope to grow it and link to it, so please chip in with any links that you think would be helpful – I always credit ideas and information when I can.
The focus is Maths but a lot of the activities could be adapted for other subjects).
Love it or hate it, I think we are all agreed Maths is here to stay. And – good news! – there are bags of advantages to being in either camp. Kids benefit a lot from taking the lead and space to think, and they love it when a grown up makes a mistake. They learn a lot from how we fight back and persevere.
So you definitely don’t need to love Maths, to love helping your child with their Maths. You don’t need to be super confident with it either. Appearing too confident can be a disadvantage sometimes.
After all they don’t need to see your Maths repertoire. Although some children may love to, for others just knowing that its there could be off putting. We know our kids. Until they surprise us of course ❤️
Anyway, working on something together is no bad thing. It’s fantastic! Looking back I can see that the Maths modules I found the hardest, I taught the best. Determination with hard stuff breaks the processes down in a way that is so wonderfully shareable.
So whichever camp you’re in, feel free to step back and take it slow. I need to remind myself of this tbh. Away from the pressures of the classroom you might keep surprising yourselves with how utterly mathematically fabulous you both are 🦹🏼♀️🦸♀️🦸🏽♂️🦸♀️🦹🏽♂️
And if it doesn’t work out as fun, park it for a bit and try a different game in a week or so. You’ll get there in the end. I’m always happy to talk Maths in the comments or over Instagram or email.
Anyway over to the activities…
You can’t beat a bit of a loop game. If I can’t sell it to you what about the word’s of my biggest – “I thought it was going to be REALLY boring but it was actually quite fun.” Thanks kid. No really.
To set it up you just need blank paper or card. Six questions are probably enough for a first go. Pick questions that you think will be accessible for them if this is your first game.
If you’re not sure what’s accessible for them I recommend playing “Show me, show me” which is up next. Or clicking this link to see what Maths they get up to in each year.
When setting up a loop game I make myself sit down and write the questions in order (so that I don’t mix the loop up 🙈).
Play starts with a starter question to answer, the answer to this leads them to the next question…and so on. Its probably easier to visualise with this picture…..
You could do this activity with short snappy questions but I generally use it for the longer problem solving type questions, as there are lots of ways to make quick maths and times tables etc fun (see below!)
Show me, show me
Kids loves teaching.
Getting them to explain to you could make their day.
Especially if you make yourself a worksheet for them to mark – perhaps with the odd error in your answers for them to correct.
Asda currently sell fab whiteboards with a marker for £4.
Traffic Light Envelopes
Another information gathering activity and also a great way of organising and recording what you need / want to do with your child.
It also provides an opportunity to pile on the praise with any maths that they are able to show off to you.
Your child writes down (with as much help as they need / want) what they’re happy with in Mayhs and feel “good to go” with (Green). Secondly they can write down anything that feel a bit unsure about (Amber). It might be amber simply because it’s new and they haven’t done much of it yet.
Finally they can write down their “Red” questions and topics (if they have any). These are topics that they feel they need to stop and think about for a bit.
This might be enough for one day. To complete the task they can pop the things in the envelopes to help you plan games for another day.
If you do have time you could play a game on an amber or red topic / question.
Ultimately the idea is that they can move topics from envelope to envelope as they identify their own progress. Progress made via the “work”, game and practice that they do at home and/or school.
Hopefully they’ll also get that calm that we get when you write a list – your head stops spinning, you realise it’s not insurmountable. You feel on it 😀👌
Bingo; this is a brilliant one for learning your times tables.
Get your dabbers out! Don’t be afraid to shout. I’ve stolen those lyrics from somewhere….. will try and find the song for Instagram stories and update here!
I am sure you can buy lots of number bingo sets and Father Christmas may well bring us one, but making a game is SO easy – they could even make their own.
Sometimes all you need to do is stick some work up on the walls to get their interest. Like the Loop Game (above) it is a good one for the longer problem solving questions.
Big paper and nice pens are always a winner in our house. Just stick it up and pick your moment. And don’t worry if it’s up for a few days before they bite! School is tiring after all.
So easy to make and perfect for learning your times tables. Choose whether to play with them arranged face up as a simple match up (or speed challenge – CARE if your child doesn’t cope well feeling rushed with their maths) or, face down so that they can work on memory skills too.
This used to be my favourite lesson starter as its so quick to set up!
Basically you write lots of potential answers on the whiteboard and then call out some sums – they have to race to wipe them off. Brilliant for learning your times tables.
As a teacher I would use it as a way of working off some extra energy with a class – a boys v girls game of wipe out (with a representative from each at the front) could work wonders for the rest of the lesson.
As a mum of two boys 18 months apart I don’t need any extra competition in my life. So we will be playing this just for fun one to one, with me losing 🤫 Or possibly as a team game (to beat mum!).
Letting them record personal bests is an option – as they are studying different bits of Maths at the moment, I can emphasise that measuring a winner is not possible!
As I’ve alluded to above, competition happens in our house but not if I can I avoid it! This was brilliant for a bit of learning times tables fun! We will be playing this one again and again!
I have currently got a surviving an 18 month age gap sitting in my drafts and avoiding competition as much as humanly possible will definitely feature! Don’t worry, with two boys 18 months apart they get exposed to competition. They find it in all sorts of places!
Anyway, I opted to do this relay as a team game. The boys taking it in turns to run and get a Post it question. While one is running the other was answering and putting the post it that they had just collected in the right place (I put all of the answers on the floor in what was their “Answer Base”.
Memory Poster – perfect for a sneaky bit of times tables practice.
A colleague of mine got me onto this. Like a lot of the activities in this blog it could work for other subjects too. It’s a great way of helping children commit stuff to memory.
A turn consists of 10 seconds to look at a Mathematically relevant poster before running back to “base” to recreate it. I’ll try and make one soon and link to it!
You can give them as many turns as you like. Again I would opt to do this as a team game and am planning on using it to sharpen up on and learn times tables.
If your child just loves to move then this could be a perfect way of making Maths more physical! There are a few games to go with the number line (which I masking taped to the lounge floor) so I have decided to leave it as a separate blog – click here to read it! Jumping along number lines is a great way of learning your times tables!
I plan to come back to this activity after half term when confidence is a bit higher as I want to work on ways to make adding subtracting easier (ie not adding one number at a time).
Following on from the success of letter gym (just on my Instagram atm – but a blog post is coming soon!) I decided to see if the boys fancied planking their two times table.
It’s silly. It’s a bit strange. They were in! Basically get them doing some gym moves – flexing abs, planking, yoga or squatting while writing some timetables down or answering some arithmetic questions.
I LOVE this one, so easy and so quick but the intrigue hooks them right in. It is mentioned in the number line post but deserves a spot here as it is FAB! Perfect for extra practice when theyre learning times tables or just for extra arithmetic fun.
This one is most definitely not my idea and your child will probably do at least once in their school mathematical career (which is all the more reason to play around with it a bit).
This one has two versions….
Its perfect way to get them practicing column method addition (aka hundreds, tens and units!).
Perhaps avoid subtraction as you may get negative number answers – which could be a step too far with little people.
Having said that if you get numbers that would work (the number below being smaller than the number above) you could slip in a bit of subtraction practice.
Draw you and your child a calculation out with boxes and roll the dice to fill in the numbers. Biggest number wins. Unless you win obviously.
The learning times tables version! Write out boxes for a times table that you want to practise.
Use two dice. The numbers on the dice can be used individually or as a calculation to make numbers for the gaps.
First one to complete the times table wins! Unless it’s you in which case there has been a dreadful mistake.*
More Questions than Answers
Another Post It one! #sorrynotsorry
Stick post it’s up around the house / room with questions and answers on – I will be writing out the 2 and 5 times tables as that is what Biggest has been reviewing this week (he is in year 3) and I want to boost his confidence.
The aim will be that the correct pairs are displayed in a place of your liking.
Maximum exertion if they are only allowed to take one post it question / answer at once!
You can cut these out super fast, they don’t need to look pretty. As with the loop game, I recommend writing them while they are in a loop to make sure that you have a possible solution (and no duplication of questions or answers).
Again they could make up their own. And again they will do similar activities at school.
As I said this is a bit of a working document so pop back or follow me on Instagram @particleparenting @littleactivitybox @littlemathsclub if you might be interested in resources and helpful links for questions etc.
*Joking apart mine can probably cope with a win:lose ratio of about 3:1 (at best!) when playing me or each other.