Tag Archives: primary math games

Find It! A Subitizing Game

Good morning!

In Kindergarten and Grade 1, students need practice subitizing.  That is, being able to recognize at a glance and name familiar arrangements of objects without counting.  It’s an important precursor to estimation, skip counting and multiplication, and depends on students’ understandings of conservation — that 5 is 5, no matter how it is arranged.

find it game partners exampleIn this simple partner game, students roll a standard die and then find a cell with the same number of dots. They cover the dots with a counter in their colour and then give their partner a turn. Three in a row in a single colour wins the game.

Small groups or even the whole class can play the Bingo version of this game. Each student needs a bingo card and a small handful of counters in a single colour. Have the “caller” roll a die and call out the number to be covered.  As in traditional Bingo, three in a line (across, down or diagonal) wins the round.

Click on the links below to download the partner game and/or the Bingo version of this game.



Find it – Add and Count for K&1

Find It Bingo forms 3by3

Falling Leaves… Matching numerals to sets for kindergarten

Hello all…

I thought I’d post an autumn-themed game on the blog this week for my colleagues in kindergarten.  The game is called Falling Leaves, and it’s based on a game from the BEAM website.  In my version of the game, students start with 15 unifix or stacking cubes in their own colour.  To begin, Player 1 rolls a regular 6-sided die and puts a cube on the leaf with that numeral. Then Player 2 has a turn. If there is already a cube in that leaf, students stack their cube on top of the one that’s there, to make a tower.

At the end of the game (when all of the cubes are used up), players scan to see which of the towers has their colour on the top.  Those towers are collected and snapped together.  The player with the tallest tower wins!

In this game, pink is playing green. Green collects all the towers with green on top.  Pink collects all of the towers with pink on top.


Stacked together, it’s clear to see that pink wins!

Enjoy… And happy fall!


Falling leaves


Magic Squares – Online

Here’s a fun little game for primary classrooms… The Magic Squares game provides students with a total for each row and column, as well as a few key starting numbers.  Use the magic wand to place the correct digits from the set of numbers at the bottom of the screen.  Double click to grab and then place the correct numerals in the grid.

Each game sets a different total for the rows and columns, so students can choose a number that makes sense for them before beginning.

The challenge of finding a sum for 3 addends is a good one for late grade 1 (when the digits without images to accompany them make sense) through grades 3.

Have fun!


Challenging Math game for the iPad for grades 2-9

Hello all…

The iPad sensation is truly wild. I have one (of course) and use it often to present mathematical ideas and problems, stories with a mathy context and visual manipulatives to my students while I teach in classrooms around the province and territory. What I struggle with is the never-ending search for quality math games for the iPad that amount to more than digital drill…  :oP  Surely the technology can offer up something more thought-full??

I found an app this week that is worth sharing, called Pick-A-Path.  It was released by the NCTM (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics) and features a number-puzzle for students to solve. The goal of the game is to navigate a maze, moving an octopus (Okta) through a series of numbers and operations, trying to create a maximum or exact amount.  In the different levels, students use whole numbers, powers of ten, integers, fractions, exponents and decimals to solve the puzzles, gaining “starfish” as prizes.  It had me hooked! Because for the different levels, I can see it being used from grades 2/3 through grade 9 — if you want to stick to the curriculum precisely — and beyond that, if you’re looking for a challenging game.  Oh – and it’s free!



Lucky Ducky – A Subtraction Game

I just had to share!  Here’s a game drawn from my new Mastering the Facts: Subtraction resource, called Lucky Ducky!

Students play the game “Lucky Ducky” in partners.  They’ll need 15 counters (or cubes) each as well as a 10-sided die.

Before they start playing, children decide who will be the odd numbers and who will be the evens…

Each player subtracts from 18 on their turn.

Player A rolls the die and reads the number.  She subtracts this number from 18 and puts a counter on the difference.

Player B has their turn, and play continues until all the counters are used up.

The player who is “Odds” collects all the counters that have been placed on odd differences on the board (9, 11, 13, 15, etc). The player who is “Evens” collects all the counters placed on the even differences (10, 12, 14, 16, etc).

The player with the most counters at the end of the game is the winner!

Have fun….


PS – This game was drawn from my Mastering the Facts – Subtraction resource.  To order online, click here.

Lily Pads – A Skip-Counting Game

Hello and happy September!

Hard to believe the summer has flown by so fast.  In the spirit of the season (new classes and freshly sharpened pencils and all that) I wanted to share a game that I put together last spring. It’s appropriate for students in late grade 1 (skip counting from zero) through grade 5-6 (using multiples).

To play, students pair up and each one chooses a colour of counter to play with. Player A spins the spinner (use a paperclip and a downward pointed pencil as a spinner) to find out what number she must count by. Player A puts a counter in her colour on any number in the lily pad grid that is a multiple of that number.  So if Player A spins a 2, she can cover a 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, etc – but NOT  a 5 or a 15…  Then Player B has a turn.

Three in a row in one colour wins the game.

Oh – and if you spin a lily pad, you can put your counter anywhere at all!

Consider using this game as a beginning of the year start up task.  Observe your students as they play and listen to their strategies.  Chances are you’ll learn something new about your kids….

Have fun!


Lily Pad – Skip Counting Game

I have, Who Has… The Place Value Game

Hello all!

I almost forgot to post this super fun game called “I have, Who Has…” This particular version allows students to think about place value in tens and ones using money and ten frames. To play the game, hand one (or more) cards to your students for them to read over and practice.  It’s important that all the cards be distributed or the game won’t work!!  :o)

Then, choose one student to begin by reading aloud both the “I have” side of their card, (“I have 3 tens and 5 ones.” or “I have 35.“) and then have them ask their “Who has…?” question:  (“Who has one ten and six ones?”).  The person with 16 on the left hand side of their card responds: “I have 16” and asks their question in turn.


If students are careful, the entire class will have a chance to read from their card and ask a question – and the game ends with the person who first read from their card.  This is a great game since it links language, pictures, money and place value to make sense of tens and ones.  I hope you enjoy it!


I have, who has place value grade 1&2

Great games for developing fluency

Hello all!  I wanted to upload a couple of my new favourite games for developing fluency with the facts.

Once a strategy for recalling the facts has been learned, these games will help students to apply those strategies more fluently.  It takes time and practice to master the facts – practice with the strategies and then practice using the strategies to recall the facts themselves…  We all know the facts are critical to success with math.  How we master them matters too.

So, first is the game from BEAM called Add Nines.  It depends on knowing the strategy of “compensation”.  Compensation is an algebraic idea, in which we “take from one number and give to the other”.  This strategy works because in every case we make a ten (or another round number).

Think of it like this:

If we add 9 and 7, then we can take 1 from the 7 and give it to the nine, to make 10 and 6.  And ten and 6 is easy… 16!

This game invites students to practice “taking one from one addend and giving it to the 9 to make ten and some more…”  While this SOUNDS tricky, if you imagine the following images of 9 and 7, it’s pretty evident:

The next game is for mastering the 2 x facts and the 4 x facts.  It’s my own (adapted from another BEAM game) but with numbers accessible to students learning these facts in 4th and 5th grade.  It’s called Double or Double-Double.  The goal of the game is to practice the strategy of doubling (multiplying by 2) or “double-doubling” (multiplying by four).

Think of it this way.  Double 6 is 12.  Double 12 is 24.  So that means that double-double 6 is 24… Mathematically speaking, it’s the same as 2 x (2 x6) or 4 x 6.  The idea of “double-doubling” works for all numbers, too.  I like to call it the Tim Horton’s strategy.  :o)

I hope these games prove fun for you and your children…  More than that, I hope they will help your kids to truly master these important facts!