5th Grade Homeschool Year
When my youngest daughter was in 5th grade, I had the opportunity to take a general leave and homeschool her for half the year (not enough time, but I'll always be grateful for it!) As I was at that time, I'm always on the lookout for math games that can be used for homeschoolers or for parents who don't homeschool but want to help enrich their students' learning!
Playing games is a fun, educational way to help students grasp a wide variety of math concepts. The great part is they can play with each other or you. With so many games to choose from, it can be hard to choose the right ones. Here are a few suggestions:
Sumoku is a crosswords style game, but with numbers. It features five different play modes. It’s designed to grow with your child and is made for ages 8 to adult.
Equate: The Equation Thinking Game
Think of Equate: The Equation Thinking Game as Scrabble for math. I love Scrabble, but I enjoy the challenging math version too. It’s designed to help students better understand equations by creating their own on the board and building upon others.
A great math game for teaching prime numbers and critical thinking is Prime Club. Players must work their way to 101 by using division, multiplication, addition and subtraction. It’s made for ages 10 and up, though it can be played with younger homeschoolers.
Kitki Three Sticks
Kitki Three Sticks makes geometry about far more than just memorizing shapes. I’ve found kids remember more when they’re able to engage with the subject matter in a fun way. This game challenges them to interact with geometrical shapes in new ways, helping them experience shapes in a memorable way. The game is actually listed as a STEM toy.
Math Card War
Math Card War is one of the cheapest games on this list, but I think it’s still highly effective for homeschoolers. All you need is a standard deck of playing cards. It plays like the classic War card game, but with math concepts. All the rules and variations for everything from addition to logarithms are listed on the Math Card War site.
Playing With Dice
While that isn’t the name of a game, The Teacher Next Door provides several different math games using nothing but a set of dice. They’re ideal for learning basic math all the way through area and perimeter.
I like a good brain teaser and the MindTrap series of geometrical brain teaser games is perfect for helping your homeschooler master geometry.
Of course, games like Life, Monopoly, UNO and Yahtzee are all ideal for teaching math skills.
And you can always create your own unique games - as long as students are having fun and learning, it’s a great game.
To Read Next
When teaching math, I’ve always found that making it fun helps students better remember various concepts.
This idea led me to start using brain teasers to combine mathematical concepts with the challenge to think outside the box. It’s an exciting way to put the skills they’re learning to use without them even realizing it.
Students enjoy it, and I love seeing them master concepts without just doing endless math problems and drills. It’s a win-win for everybody.
What Makes Brain Teasers So Effective
I’m sure I’m not the only one who loves that sense of accomplishment that comes with figuring out a brain teaser. Students love that too. I’d love to say doing a dozen math problems gives that same feeling, but that isn't true for many students. Brain teasers are just more fun...besides, “teaser” sounds less intimidating than “problem.”
Brain teasers are ideal for boosting brain activity, which is why they’re used to help prevent brain decline. They’re also more fun, which reduces boredom, and we know that when students aren’t bored, they pay more attention and have better focus. Another reason they’re so effective is students are able to apply concepts they’re learning in a more real-world style way. This leads to improved memory:-)
How To Make It Content Specific
The great thing about brain teasers is they’re not set in stone. I see new brain teasers all the time, so that means someone, somewhere has to be creating them. This means if they can do it, so can I (and you). To make them more effective for students, create your own or modify an existing brain teaser to make it more content specific. For instance, a single brain teaser could involve both Geometry and Algebra.
Adding a brain teaser to the end of a lesson that reinforces concepts helps students remember more about the lesson. It’s also helpful to combine concepts over time to build on what students are learning over the course of several weeks or months. ProProfs has a simple tool for creating brain teasers. I recommend just checking out various brain teasers to get an idea of how to write your own or alter one for your needs.
How To Incorporate Brain Teasers
Honestly, I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way to do this. As long as students are having fun and learning, you’ve incorporated brain teasers correctly. Professional Learning Board offers some great tips about incorporating brain teasers, such as:
How To Find Great Brain Teasers
This is probably what you’re most interested in! I could list hundreds of resources here, but I’m just going to list some of the most useful ones related to math brain teasers.
Free Number Puzzle!
Working with Decimal Operations
How much do your students love working with decimals??
Sometimes remembering decimal operations 'rules' can be difficult, but practicing with math puzzles can help!
Turning decimal operations practice into a fun, Sudoku-like puzzle is a great way to help upper elementary and middle school math students work their way through the different decimal operations.
Many of my students love solving Sudoku puzzles using whole numbers. When we replace the whole numbers with decimal problems, we're able to use a logic puzzle that gives students a new way to practice!
Solving Number Puzzles
Sudoku puzzles are fun and interesting. In case you've never used them - they require students to problem solve, to make sure that every row, column and group of squares only has one of each number. Some students develop strategies when approaching a puzzle; some learn to use guess and check quite often:-)
When working with decimals in a Sudoku puzzle, students need to consider their target numbers, as well as how to complete the necessary operation. This makes decimal practice a bit more interesting and engaging than working on one problem after another on a worksheet.
As with whole number Sudoku, I start decimal Sudoku with a few squares filled in, so students have a starting point. (If students have never tried Sudoku puzzles before, I recommend starting with a regular Sudoku puzzle, to teach students how they work.)
So far, I’ve only used a 4 X 4 grid, which makes figuring out the target numbers fairly easy. All of the squares have a decimal problem with a missing addend in them (in this example). Within each 2 x 2 section, there is one completed problem, with the target number of 1, 2, 3, or 4 already filled in. The object is for students to figure out the target number for each square and then find the missing decimal number in each individual square. Every row and column must each contain 1, 2, 3 and 4 as the answers to the decimal problems (these are the target numbers). Every 2 x 2 section must also contain 1, 2, 3 and 4.
For example, on the answer key shown here, you can see the target numbers of 1-4 in each row, column and section, and you can see the completed decimal problems. Everything in black (target numbers and decimal numbers) is provided for students. Everything in green is what the students must find (target numbers and missing decimal addends):
I've only used the addition problems (which actually requires them to subtract:-), but I plan to try the other operations as well and create larger puzzles (6 x 6 and maybe 9 x 9).
To make students really think things through, I may mix up the operations! For instance, in a 4 X 4 puzzle, the first column could be two multiplication problems and two addition problems. This should keep students paying close attention.
These could be great to complete on mini dry erase boards - easy to erase any guesses that don't work out!
To Read Next:
Hey there! I'm Ellie - here to share math fun, best practices, and engaging, challenging, easy-prep activities ideas!