Search This Blog

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

5 DIY Math Games for Under $5

I was lucky enough to "preview" my next years' class by teaching summer school. At our little charter school summer school is HIGHLY encouraged and about 90% of my new students attended. They are seriously the sweetest bunch of kids! I can't wait to have them in my class for real.

Over the course of our month long summer school session, I was able to get a pretty good idea of my new students' skills. They are smart little boogers and their 4th grade teacher is amazing so they are pretty well prepared for 5th grade but some students are still struggling with mastering their multiplication and division facts.

As far as I am concerned multiplication and division fluency are nonnegotiable for 5th grade. Without fluency in these facts fractions, long division and all things fifth grade are way harder than they need to be.

During summer school I also noticed that they were highly motivated by games and any hands on activity. (No big surprise there!) So a I set forth on a mission yesterday to create a few new  games and activities that I can use in small groups, during centers or during after school tutoring to help build fact fluency with my students.

I'm on a budget (aren't we all!) so I used a lot of what I had on hand and got the rest at the Dollar Tree and the Dollar Spot @ Target.

1: Multiplication Beach Ball 

An oldie but a goodie! I have used a variation of this game for many different subjects and skills

Variation 1: Silent Ball 
Perfect for rainy day recess!
Students have to be silent (duh! Silent Ball!) and toss the ball to classmates. When a classmate catches the ball they find the equation closest to each thumb. That way the students will have two multiplication sentences to read and solve. For example, a student may catch the beach ball and find 12x2 closest to his right thumb and 7x9 closest to his left thumb. He reads each number sentence and tells the answer
If the student  is  incorrect or if he speaks, laughs, make any noise while he does not have the ball he must sit down. The last man standing wins.

Variation 2: Rolling Beach Ball
Same scenario as silent ball but students sit on the floor in a circle and take turns rolling the ball  across the circle to one another.

Variation 3: Hot Potato 
Play like a regular Hot Potato Game but  the student holding the ball when the music stops, must read two of the multiplication problems and tell the answers.

Bonus: I also sometimes use this as a different way to excuse my students for lunch. I toss that ball to students who are ready for lunch and sitting quietly. They catch the ball, read and answer their two problems and go to lunch. It's amazing how quickly this quiets the rest of the kids down and encourages them to be ready to be excused too! :)

Total cost: 0.99 

2. Multiplication Memory 
Such an easy DIY and a familiar game to all.

I found these memory cards in Targets dollar spot a couple of weeks ago. In order to make them 5th grade friendly I just used a sharpie to add a math fact to half of the deck and the product to the other half. So simple!
This activity is a little easier because the pictures give a big hint but it will be the perfect game for a couple of my struggling kiddos who are really lacking confidence in their ability to be successful in math. These self -correcting matching cards will be great for these students and provide the challenge of memorizing the location of the cards on the board.
Total cost: $1.00

3. Multiplication War 
I have the store bought version of Math War and my students were slightly obsessed with it over the summer. At under $3.00, it's definitely worth the money to pick up a couple of sets for your classroom. My own sets have lasted for at least 2 years.

If you are looking for an even more economical way to play Math War make your own cards! At the end of summer school my students were still crazy about Math War so we set out to create our own war cards. Each student made their own set to take home for the summer. ---------->

Each set required 50-75 index cards depending on the number of facts that needed practice. There favorite part was creating the Wild Cards. Not sure what is so exciting about that, but if it gets them excited for practicing multiplication facts I am all for it!  Hopefully they are practicing as we speak!

I made my own back up set with these fun neon cards I found at the Dollar Tree.

                                                                                                                                       Total cost: $1.00

4. Zap It!  
I found this fun game via pintrest. Here is the original pin.

 It's so simple and I know my kids are going to love it! You only need popsicle sticks  and a jar to make this one. You can find the adorable label at Mrs. Young's Explorers. So cute!

She also has a great explanation of the game on her blog as well. Basically students take turns pulling sticks and reading and answering each multiplication fact. If they get the answer wrong the stick goes back in the jar. If they are correct they keep the stick. But watch out! If a "Zap It!" stick is pulled, all of the sticks must be returned to the jar. 
                                                                                                                                      Total Cost: Free 
(I had all of the supplies!)

5. Multiplication Checkers 
Another pin-inspired game...Here is the original pin. Obviously I modified it to use multiplication facts.

Same rules as regular checkers for this one, except that each time a player makes a move they must read and answer a multiplication problem.

I used a dollar store checkers board. Not gonna lie, it's not that sturdy but I think if I cover it with contact paper it will last through the year. 
Total Cost: $1.00

So there you have it! Five multiplication games/centers for under 5 bucks ($3.99 to be exact!). Now that I have my activities set up, I am planning on making variations of each game. I'll be making division games and maybe finding ways to adapt these games for other math concepts too. Oh the possibilities.....
Now that was a long blog post!  I hope that you found something useful here. What do you do to improve math fact fluency in your own classroom???? Please share in a comment below. I am always looking for new ideas! 


  1. Wow! You've got some really great ideas - makes me wish I taught math again! I am your newest follower via Google. Are you on Bloglovin'?

    Come stop by if you get a chance :)

    The Sweetest Thing
    Follow me on Bloglovin'!

  2. Those are fabulous ideas! I am so inspired to go and create my own Zap It game with sight words or something for reading! I need a beach ball!

    Everyone deServes to Learn

  3. the games....especially the checkers board. I am thinking I can do something similar to that for reading.....

    Mind Sparks

  4. Love love love these ideas! Thank you for sharing! I plan to adapt some (or all!) of these for addition and subtraction for my 2nd graders!

    Teach On.

  5. I love all of these ideas! I can't wait to start making them. Thank you so much for sharing!!! btw I'm your newest follower.

    :) Nicole
    Tadpole Tidbits

  6. Nice post! A good Brain Development program for kids helps to their overall development effect on their human development later. So it is parents responsibility to give best brain training to your child.

    Brain Development Exercise

  7. Math games are friendly games for arithmetic teaching and learning. The necessary factor is that we have a tendency to encourage youngsters to interact with them in an exceedingly important approach and supply opportunities for this amazing cool math games run

  8. I would very much like to agree with the previous commenter! I find this blog really useful for my uni project. Longboat Key Tutoring I hope to add more useful posts later.

  9. This is really informative blog for students, pinecrest tutoring keep up the good work.

  10. I really enjoyed reading this post, I always appreciate topics like this being discussed to us. Private tutor Highland Beach Thanks for sharing.

  11. This is really informative blog for students, SAT Tutor Gulf Stream keep up the good work.

  12. It seems like an educational blog which always some new information to visitors Private tutor Lighthouse and Enjoying every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you blog post.

  13. This is a very useful post, I was looking for this info.Jupiter Island Tutoring thanks for sharing the great ideas...

  14. What a great web blog . I like this blog because of its design and interface. Sunny Isles Tutoring It is user friendly and it is nice to visit the blog.

  15. Thank you for posting this.Wellington Tutoring You most absolutely have built this blog website into something special.

  16. I am not going to say that great work done but this is an awesome blog. I enjoyed reading your articles.Palm Beach Tutoring This is truly a great read for me. I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles on the same matter.

  17. I really enjoyed reading this post, I always appreciate topics like this being discussed to us. Boynton Beach Tutoring Thanks for sharing.

  18. It is a very profitable post for me. Boca Raton Tutoring I've enjoyed reading the post. It is very informative and useful post. I would like to visit the post once more its valuable content.

  19. Thanks for give me information on this topic. Parkland Tutoring you have sharing very nice post.


Thank you for stopping by my little corner of blogland! I am so happy that you are here! :)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...