Yes math really can be fun! This is part 3 in our Making Math Fun series. Today we’ll solve some cases with Mathological Liar, beat mom in Math War, diagram some real world projects using math skills, learn mental math, and take out opponents using our “math wizard” skills!
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Making Math Fun list #3: Best card games, dice games, videos, and online fun!
Mathological Liar is a set of cards with brief cases that need to be solved. There are decks for each grade 2 through 6. The cases are situations that a kid might run into in real life – so for instance, in one the pickles have disappeared from a shop. There are 4 cards for each case, and each one has a statement from a different suspect on the back. The statements that do not make mathematical sense are the guilty parties. My son and I would take turns reading the statements, and then he’d determine the guilty party (or parties) after each card. An answer sheet is included if you need to check your answers. Note: these are available at Rainbow Resource if the Amazon price is silly.
An eternal favorite – my kids love nothing more than beating me in card games! You sort the deck into equal piles for each participant, and then all turn over a single card at once. The cards show a math problem (like 3 x 5 in the multiplication deck). Each person gives the answer to their problem, and then the person with the highest number takes all of the cards (assuming they answered their problem correctly!).
Super Genius Math
This math games deck has 2 types of cards – problem cards, which have multiple math equations on them, and solution cards, which have single numbers. You flip over one of each, and the player needs to locate an equation on the problem card that matches a sum or product on the solution card. It’s a good way of practicing those math facts without writing them repeatedly.
The game bag contains 2 10-sided dice and 3 standard 6-sided dice. You first roll the 2 10-sided dice, and multiply the digits on the top together to calculate the target number. So if 7 and 4 were showing on top, your target is 7 x 4 = 28. Then, you roll the 3 standard dice and come up with an equation using each of them (but only once) that equals or comes as close as possible to the target. You can use addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, powers and roots. If the roll was 3,2 and 5, some possible equations would be (2 + 3) * 5 = 25, or 2 x 3 x 5 = 30. In this case 30 is closer, so that player would win. This is a simple game in a small bag – excellent to take along if you have to wait someplace. There is also a “Jr.” version that uses fewer operations.
Mega-fun Card Game Math
This book has 25 card games that use a standard deck of playing cards to practice calculation skills. It’s targeted at grades 3 – 5, and covers addition, multiplication, division, factors, fractions and probability. Many of the games have a sheet to record numbers or scores, so it’s helpful to have a copier or a dry erase sheet handy.
For the kids who don’t like doing something “pointless” – these are real-world situations that are solved with math. They require both thinking and calculation. For example, one project involves building a yard for your dog. You need to determine the shape that will be least expensive, and then price out the necessary materials such as fencing, posts, and concrete. Each project is on a single page and there are a lot of them in this book. Target grade level is 5th through 8th. It includes many projects using Geometry and Probability, along with the traditional math operations.
How To Count Like A Martian
This is more of an enrichment book – it covers many different number systems, including binary (computers), Mayan, Chinese, Egyptian, Greek, and using an abacus. There are other good books out there on number systems (I especially wanted to explain different bases to my kids, so they understood how to convert to say a base 8) – but I like this one due to the story that comes with it, about a message from Mars that must be converted to be understood.
Nova: The Great Math Mystery
The Secrets of Mental Math
Arthur Benjamin can do huge calculations quickly in his head. This DVD is him explaining how you can do them as well. He also has a book on the topic, but the video is much easier to work with, it’s like having a conversation or class with him. This is also available on Amazon video; the DVD can be challenging to find.
Math Missions software
This is an older program, but still ran on our Windows computer. In it, you are a super hero who is saving a city from an evil villain. You have to do math problems at various places in town to stop the bad guys in their tracks. You also earn points that can be used to play arcade-style games. There are 2 levels – K-1, and 3-5.
This site has a game based on video game principles, where students “battle” and must answer math questions to attack. It is free to use, though a paid membership will provide some additional items in the game. I especially like this site because it has a teacher portal that can be used to track what your kids have worked on and to set appropriate grade based levels for the questions they are asked.
Absurd Math is an interactive mathematical problem solving game series. The player proceeds on missions in a strange world where the ultimate power consists of mathematical skill and knowledge.
We used to use Timez Attack to practice math facts (especially multiplication tables), but sadly they are only selling to the school market now. We’ve tried some others, but none of them have had the “fun” factor at a high enough level to encourage practice. If you have any resources for this – please share them!
OK that’s my list of math fun with card games, videos, and online resources!
Have you tried any of these? Any comments, or any great resources to add?