Want to know how to help your child practice their math facts without hours of flashcards? Here are 5 easy addition and subtraction games (that are actually fun)!
Thank you to Osmo for partnering with us on this post.
Ok, let’s talk math. Specifically developing math concepts and addition and subtraction. Chances are, if you’re reading this….you have an early elementary school aged child (kindergarten or first grade probably). And chances are, you just can’t stand flashcards (or your child can’t stand them for math or practicing sight words or anything else). Well guess what? As a teacher? I couldn’t either. When it comes to math? Let me tell you WHY.
Yes, math looks…..different than it did when we were kids. I know, I know. And THAT is a whole other discussion for a whole other day (believe it or not, I’m not that concerned about common core standards). What AM I concerned about? Basic math concepts. Look guys, those haven’t changed. Addition, subtraction and number sense (understanding quantities and the idea of things like more or less) have been around forever. They’re the foundation of math and they won’t change. To learn multiplication, fractions, CODING…..children need a strong number sense. Plus, let’s be honest….the world is changing and so is technology. We just don’t KNOW what our children will need to have mastered by adulthood. We’re preparing them for jobs and technologies that don’t exist yet. Strong foundations are important and are the BEST tools we can give our kids.
So what does that mean? What should you do as a parent? WE WANT MATH TO BE FUN (I could get on my soapbox all day about how this is double important for girls and how statistically girls are underrepresented in math, science and technology fields….so girl moms? This is especially loud for YOU). We don’t want to FORCE our children to memorize math facts without understanding the CONCEPT behind them….because it’s BORING and it also doesn’t help as they move on to more advanced concepts. So? Number play. Hands on activities. They need to truly play addition and subtraction games that help them understand the idea of putting numbers together to make larger quantities and breaking things apart to make smaller ones.
Today I’m sharing 5 ways to practice addition and subtraction (and measurement) that don’t involve boring drill and kill flashcards.
5 Addition and Subtraction Games That Don’t Involve Flashcards
Blocks Math: Got a blocks lover on your hands? You can easily use colored blocks to practice addition and subtraction. Sort your blocks by color. Have your child practice “adding and subtracting” the blocks (for example, they’ll add 3 blue blocks to 2 yellow blocks to make 5 total bricks). Want to get really fancy? Build towns and have them add bricks together to find the total needed for each building.
Baking with Treats: How many chocolate chips go into your cookies? Or how many sprinkles on each cake? Count and add ingredients together. Want to start small? Baking with kids is a great way to practice math skills. Try cupcake or cookie decorating. Have your children add total buttons on a gingerbread man or pumpkins on a Halloween cupcake.
Picture Garden Math: I know, I know. I’m Garden obsessed. A picture garden is a perfect way to combine art and math. The idea? Your child will plan their plot. They’ll add units (types of veggies or flowers) and label how many total plants are in each section. Want to really take this one home? ACTUALLY plant the items.
Add the Dice: This was my favorite neverending activity in the classroom (teachers call these sponge activities….they’re perfect for filling time as some students finish an assignment and they don’t have a specific end….so children can do them for 5 minutes or 50 minutes as needed). Give your child a pair of dice (or two kids each get one). The goal? Roll and add. OVER AND OVER. They love it. And it’s easy as pie. Dorky teacher recommendation: this is perfect for waiting for food when dining out or traveling. Keep a couple die in your purse.
Osmo: Ok…..the big news? Now you guys know my love for Osmo is DEEP. This amazing learning system attaches to an iPad or Amazon Fire and turns it into an interactive game experience using the devices camera. Each Play Osmo Starter Kit (the Genius Kit for kids ages 5 and up or the Little Genius Kit for younger kids) comes with the reflector, pieces for a number of Osmo games and a stand (aka Osmo base) for the tablet/device. You can buy additional games to do even more with your game system or stick with the original ones. They have drawing games, STEAM, Coding, Math, Words games and more! We used Play Osmo devices at my school, and Lydia has one at home (along with almost every game Osmo has released). But now? OSMO IS RELEASING A NEW MATH SERIES FOR AGES 6-8, GRADES 1 & 2) AND WE GOT TO BETA TEST THEM! As a teacher, it’s almost embarassing how excited I was to try these games. As a mom? I’m telling you….if you’re looking for kid friend addition and subtraction games (along with a pretty awesome measurement game)…..these are must own products. I’m so impressed with the foundational skills these build upon, and how tailorable they are for age and skill.
Want the details? The first 2 releases in the series are Magical Workshop (focuses on addition & subtraction) and Secrets of the Dragons (focuses on measurement) – and sneak peek, more releases in the series are coming soon in 2021 that will complete the Osmo Math Wizard series for the ultimate learning quest!
My take? I’d look at these for kindergarten to second grade (older if your child is still working on these foundational math skills). Both games that just released are housed in a cool new interface called Math Wizard. They’re magic themed and TRUST ME, your kid will love them. Lydia is OBSESSED (one of the games even has rainbow unicorn poop and we haven’t heard the end of it). Both of these games? Help to practice math skills through hands on play (like all Osmo games).
The Magical Workshop is the best of all addition and subtraction games I’ve tried and is absolutely adorable. In this set of games, your mini wizard will brew potions by adding and subtracting ingredients (they even keep track in their own spell book). What I loved about this? You can start your child at the skill level they are currently at (adding one digit numbers for example) and it slowly lets them hone their skills then challenges them with more advanced addition and subtraction concepts. It’s also VERY hands on. Lydia was manipulating her tools (counters) the entire time and then checking the screen for reactions. It was active play versus inactive screentime. Addition and Subtraction are foundational math skills, and very important ones at that. I love that this new game makes them fun. And I almost hesitate to say this but…..this is my favorite Play Osmo game yet (I know, I know…..teachers shouldn’t play favorites).
Shop the Game:
Secrets of the Dragons is the second game in this Math Series being released by Osmo, and it’s a really fun hands on way to practice measurement skills. This game? Helps you navigate a land filled with Dragons as you learn to care for them. Lydia loved feeding her dragon and using the different units of measurement to compare each animals’ size! I love that this helps students use both standard and nonstandard units of measurement (measuring dragons by centimeters versus magic wands for example).
Shop the Game:
Reminder both of these games are add ons, so they do NOT come with a Play Osmo BASE. You’ll need it to make the game work…..you can buy that HERE.