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Teaching Tips & Tricks   |   Oct 29, 2012

Math Games and Math Center Ideas

By Angela Watson

Founder and Writer

Math Games and Math Center Ideas

By Angela Watson

Learn how to create and implement math games quickly and inexpensively!  On this page, you’ll find photos of math games and free printable directions for several of them.  You can see how to store and organize these math partner games and introduce them to your class on the Starting Math Game Routines page.

Teacher-made math games for grades 2-4

Remember, even if you don’t use math partner games, you can still use the activities below as centers, in small groups, or as whole class games! Click on any picture to enlarge it and read the directions.

Division Memory

Facto: Basic Math Fact Practice

Pass Out (Multiplication Practice)

Speed (basic fact practice, any operations students know)

Three In A Row (A game of logic and strategy)

Battle (basic fact practice, any operations)

Add ‘Em Up (multiplication/division facts)

Dice 1000 (3 digit addition and 3 digit multiplication)

mathtubdivisiongofishdirections

Division Go Fish (division fact practice)

Timed 5 Card Operations (all math operations students know/ fact families)
There is also an untimed version.

Printable math partner games for Common Core

I am in the process of creating printable directions for the games above and many, many more! If you don’t have the time and energy to make your own centers, just purchase and print these out–they’re ready to use!

So far, I’ve made math games for every Common Core domain for grades 1-5 (Operations and Algebraic Thinking, Number and Operations in Base Ten, Fractions, and Geometry) with the exception of Measurement and Data. Info on each is below.

After numerous requests, I have finally made a printable set of multiplication KITs and addition KITs!  Each download is 171 total pages and is available for $4.50. They include the recording sheets with directions for each KIT, instructions for making the KITs, game boards and game cards, and more. You can download a free preview to see everything that’s included before you buy. I really appreciate your support!

Commercially-bought games

Below are commercially-bought games that took a very short time to turn into math tub activities/partner games.

Clever Catch Ball: Students toss this beach ball gently back and forth; whatever math problem their left thumb lands on, they have to solve. I have one for each of the four math operations. You can also buy plain beach balls at the dollar store and write on them yourself with permanent marker. You can program the balls with parts of speech, countries/capitals, vocabulary words, spelling words (read the word aloud to the partner and they must spell it correctly)… the possibilities are endless! Be sure to have students model how to toss and how not to toss the ball, and don’t be afraid to put away this activity if students get too wild with it.

Many teachers have math bingo games, either store bought or handmade. Pull a few bingo cards from your supply, along with extra chips/ place holders and photocopies of the fact problem cards and you’re ready to go! Students put the fact problem cards in a face-down stack and flip them over one at a time, covering the numbers on their boards as corresponding math problems are shown. The first one with a completely full board wins.

Turn a worksheet into a hands-on game!

Even worksheets can make great centers and math tubs! The only problem is you must keep a supply of photocopies. About once a month, put a center helper in charge of checking worksheet centers and math tubs to be sure they have enough copies. The student can pull one copy of the sheets that are running low and place it in your file or basket of papers to take to the photocopier. Also, some worksheets are simple enough that older students can copy the graphic organizer or framework onto their own paper. This worksheet is an example of one simple enough that some students could make themselves, especially if you did not require that they copy the pictures of the die.

Angela Watson

Founder and Writer

Angela created the first version of this site in 2003, when she was a classroom teacher herself. With 11 years of teaching experience and more than a decade of experience as an instructional coach, Angela oversees and contributes regularly to...
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Discussion


  1. Dear Angela,
    I just came across your site on a post and have been spending the last “short” hour reading it! Wow, this is fabulous and I’m very grateful for your contributions. I’ve been teaching for many years and have many supplies and love to make resources and games for my students. My problem has always been organization of the materials and locating some of the supplies quickly. Also finding the time to have the kids work on them and then keeping them engaged with the game and not each other as well as the noise level. I know I will love copying the resources that you have provided and will look into purchasing your book. My sister has just entered the teaching field and will be getting this link tonight.
    Sincere thanks again,
    Leanne

    1. You’re very welcome, Leanne! The book goes into a LOT more detail about how to organize materials for games, centers, etc. as well as how to keep kids on task during manipulative use and games. It’s pretty step-by-step and I think it will be very helpful. 🙂

  2. Dear Angela,

    i love ur website. I am currently working in a Biligual School in Mexico and this is the sort of stuff we want to accomplish. We are teaching teachers to create learning centers and ur resource is very helpful. If you r ever in the country come email me so u can visit and give a workshop!!!
    Thanks

  3. Thanks for sharing your ideas! Another free resource that I find useful for math centers is:
    http://www.k-5mathteachingresources.com
    It provides a range of math teaching resources, math games, and hands-on math activities for K – 5th grade and all activities are correlated with the Common Core State Standards.

  4. This is very very helpful not to only kids but parents as well. As you can see that your child is learning with math stuff while having fun. Very brilliant! I love it! Your a super guru!

  5. GREAT ideas !! Thanks for sharing. I love how you create a baggie for each game with everything ! the kids need for that game. How do you store the baggies full of games? Thanks for your insight.
    …..R

  6. Hi Angela, these are great resources for the kids to practice their math facts. A quick query though … in the game facto how many dice do you give them to roll?

    1. Hi, Claire! It depends on your students and their ability levels. Usually with third grade, I’d teach them the game with two standard die. Later, I’d give them the choice to use three standard die and/or die that go up to higher numbers (12, etc.) 🙂

  7. Thank you so much for all the ideas. There are so many reading center ideas but it is hard to find math center ideas.

    1. I couldn’t help but notice your comments about having a lot of Reading Centers and not enough Math Centers. I actually have the opposite challenge. I have access to too many Math Centers and not enough Reading Centers. If you or anyone else has any resources would you please be so kind to share them. I am a 3rd grade teacher who has been teaching 12 years and for some reason or another I don’t feel as strong in Reading than I do in any of the other subjects. By the way this website is awesome. Even though it is Friday and I have made it through another long week, I will have trouble sleeping tonight because of all of the wonderful resources that I have reviewed so far on this website. Once again you for all of your wonderful ideas.

  8. Your site is absolutely fantastic! I’m an education major and these games are exactly what I’ve been needing for my math unit! I’ve also enjoyed reading your other posts on behavior managemnt.

  9. Angela,
    Happy thanksgiving! I have all three books and read them as often as I can. I hope to use this holiday to catch up on the devotions. Question? Where can I find the lesson plan template that is mentioned on pg 251 in the teacher book? I feel like I am drowning teaching state standards and not going into depth as I should. Two weeks on counting money and the kids seemed clueless on the assessment. So next week starting again before I move on. We are expected to teach the district curriculum but each lesson is 5-25 pages long for each content area on a website and they don’t really want us to use the school copier and ink to print it. Spending all my money on ink at home. Do you have any organizations that can help “fray’ that cost or other ideas? Thanks, have a blessed weekend.

  10. What a great post! For the hopscotch: My kids are 2 & 3 y/o. Number-recognition and counting would be a great way to use hopscotch. Thank you for inspiring the idea.

  11. Hi Angela, the picture links didn’t work for me on this page. When I click, instead of the picture enlarging, nothing happens. Is there somewhere else I can access it?

  12. Hi! I was just wondering where I can find printable of the awesome game directions listed here in this post? I love all of the ideas, but clicking on the picture and zooming in is not working because it makes the directions blurry. I would love to use these next year!

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