How to Make Math Fun for Kids: 5 Creative Ways

When I tell people I am a data scientist, the next thing they say to me usually is, “So you must like math…” or, “Oh, I hated math in high school.”

I believe math has gotten a bad reputation over the last few decades. Numbers do not have to be scary or boring. In fact, they are incredibly vital! We use math every day.

The best way to change our society’s beliefs about math
is to start teaching math differently from the beginning.

The most effective way I have found to combat my students’ stereotypes about math or their math abilities is to build their confidence. I tell my college students to leave all of their past experiences at the door when they come to my class.

The best way to change our society’s beliefs about math is to teach math differently from the beginning.

When I tutor young children in math, I always try to incorporate some form of game or puzzle. We use dice, cards, shapes, markers, anything to get away from paper and pencil. Kids love anything interactive. I have found quite a few ways to get them to practice math without them even noticing!

Here, I have compiled a list of helpful resources you can use with your own children or in your classrooms. These resources will show kids that math can be fun!

1. Math Games

There are actually many games out there made specifically to practice math. These games come in a variety of formats and difficulty levels.

Online Games

Some websites are dedicated to online math games. One that has been around since I was a kid is Coolmath Games. I remember playing their Lemonade Stand simulator and learning the basic concepts of costs and profit. They have branched out since then and now have a list of games that includes numbers, logic, and puzzle games. In addition, they have word games and traditional games that aren’t learning-focused.

There are many many more out there, but here are a few more websites that focus on math games:

Video Games

If your kiddos are glued to their game controllers, try math video games.

The PC gaming platform Steam has an entire page of its store dedicated to educational games.

Several gaming consoles also have educational games. For example, Nintendo has adventure games called MathLand and Calculation Castle for the Nintendo Switch. Microsoft has an entire bundle of educational games for kids to play on the Xbox One or Xbox Series X|S.

Board/Table Games

When it comes to physical games and activities designed to teach math, Learning Resources has an excellent selection! Their games have won awards. I have also used their play money and cube sets when teaching place values or counting money.

2. Family Game Night

If you would rather play a game where your kids can practice their math skills without realizing it’s really math, there are plenty of games you have probably played at Family Game Night that have math elements to them.

My mom taught my sister and me to count money by having us be the “banker” when we played games like Monopoly. The board game Pay Day is also a great way to teach kids about money.

There are plenty of game you have probably played
at Family Game Night that have math elements to them.

Dice games are great for teaching addition and subtraction. Qwixx and Farkle are two fun family games where kids can practice math skills. Just make sure you give your kids the time to think through their addition or multiplication and they will quickly build confidence

Card games where kids have to add up points or add and subtract card values can also be enjoyable ways to practice math. Some games like this include Sushi Go, Zeus on the Loose, Skip-Bo, or even a classic like War or Liverpool.

3. Science and Children’s Museums

Maybe a family outing is more your style? Museums can be a fun way of learning. Though we may traditionally think of museums as quiet or stuffy, there are museums dedicated to hands-on science learning and also museums that are specifically for kids.

As a St. Louis girl born and raised, the first two examples that come to mind are the St. Louis Science Center and the Magic House both of which are great places to take kids in the summer!

Now that I live in Chicago, there are great equivalents in the Museum of Science and Industry and the Chicago Children’s Museum (both have free days throughout the year!). Most major cities have museums like these. Search for your local spots!

4. Puzzle Magazines

Math isn’t just about learning to add and subtract.

Does anyone remember Highlights Magazines? Well, they are still around and have great content for kids!

Math isn’t just about learning to add and subtract. Kids with solid problem-solving skills have a much easier time answering word problems later!

Magazines like Highlights or National Geographic are written specifically for kids and have options for different ages or grade levels. These magazines can teach kids more than just math and are another great way to entertain kids during the summer months!

5. Subscription Boxes

Another way to get math content delivered to your door is through a subscription box. Highlights actually has one of these as well.

MEL Science created one of the first math subscription boxes that will ship monthly hands-on math or science kits made for kids.

Cratejoy has a curated list of educational subscription boxes for kids. There are plenty of STEM-related kits and even some coding kits!

Try for Yourself!

I hope this brief list has sparked some ideas for creative learning with your kids. There are so many ways to make math, STEM, or learning in general fun! Please let me know other things you’ve tried in the comments!

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