29 Ways To Make Math More Fun For Kids

fun math activities I hated math for so long that I had to hold back tears on my first day of math class at Teacher’s College. I was so nervous to be back in a math class after years of avoiding it. That feeling was so terrifying that I’ve made it part of my mission as a mom and teacher to make fun math activities so that my children and students won’t find themselves so terrified by a subject that they are holding back tears just thinking about it. Math is fun. Last year I spent one day a week as a math docent for 2nd grade and created hands on ways for those kids to practice math and this year I am back to the little tiny guys with my 2 and 3 year old class. This list of fun math has toddler math activities through to elementary ideas I brought home from being a docent. If your child already has some anxiety about math like I did don’t tell them you have a fun new math activity to do, omit the math from the title and just say game or activity or craft project. Don’t put up the wall before you get them interested.

Remember that like reading math is one of those subjects that really does benefit from a lot of practice. Using fun math activities like these you don’t have to resort to drill and kill activities although I admit as kids get older math is one of the places where I might make a little room for some flash cards but not in the preschool years!

 Fun Math Activities For Preschool

math game for valentine's day gross motor

I have all of preschool together because some 3 year olds latch on to math early and some 5 year olds don’t show real interest until later on. Find games and activities that look like they would interest your kids don’t worry about how old my kids look in the photos. There is no checklist that every little developing human hits in order. Fun means not too challenging to be frustrating and not too easy to be boring. It might require some trial and error – but if you read through the posts you can probably figure out which will work for your kids.

fun math activities

Lego Math Game

math game count and pound
Count & Pound Math Game

preschool activity
Counting Around The House

candy corn counting math activity for halloween
Candy Corn Counting

button mural finishing the whole things
Button Numbers Mural

easter egg game for kids
Color By Number Easter Eggs

mail sorting numbr recognition
Sort The Mail Math Activity

fun math activities for kids
Monster Math Game * Great for all ages!

math games for kids shell memory game
Shell Memory Game with Numbers fun math activities for kids
Monster Math Tray

valentine's day math activity
Count & Match Math Game

dirty socks number match and fine motor activity
Laundry Line Math Match Game

shape house shape hunt for kids
Shape Hunt Find & Color

hot chocolate math for kids
Hot Chocolate Math * easy to adapt to any level.

 

 

Fun Math Activities for School Age Kids

number line math for kindergarten and first grade

These games and activities were all created with kids in the Kindergarten through 2nd grade age range. Does that mean your preschooler can’t do them? No. Check them out and see if you can find something rad for your little math whiz or adapt something to fit her interests.

valentine's day math for kids

Valentine’s Day Math – Jar Of Hearts

gross motor number line
Outdoor Number Line

rp_math-valentines-day-activity-455x672.jpg
Make A Valentine Math Game & Craft

fun math activities
Secret Code Math

fun math activities
Shoot & Add Nerf Gun Math

fun math activities for kids
Tally Mark Dominoes & Speed Racer Game

kindergarten math
Make Math Drills Fun- 2 Activities For Kindergarten

math learning center idea
Lock & Key Math fun math activities
Candy Apple Tree Math

fun math activities
Connect The Dots With Math fun math activities
Water Balloon Math

color by nymber working together
7 Ways To Use This Simple Color By Numbers

fun math
Place Value Robot

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Pokemon Math Activity

fun math activities for kids
Outdoor Math Ideas for Kids

Shoot & Add { Nerf Gun Math For Kids }

nerf gun learning activityThis outdoor math for kids can be done with beanbags, baseballs, water balloons… or Nerf guns like we used. My mantra is to use what they love to make them love learning and that is what we did. Nerf guns are big news at our house right now because I just relented and let my kids have them. Using the darts are an outside only activity although they are loved less for their shooting ability and more for a pretend play prop. Either way they are the bright shiny new and novel item at our house so I used them to make learning fun after school. My goal with all the activities in the Learning After School series is to make the activities for school age kids that are educational without making them feel like homework. Here is what we did with this math for kids activity and yes they LOVED it!

Gather your materials. You will need some plastic cups, a permanent marker, something to use to write down the tally, a nerf blaster , and eye protection. If you don’t want to use a Nerf gun you could use a bean bag or ball.  math activity for kids

Start by writing out numbers on the cups. We did 1-6 but you could number them anything you like. Set them up in a pyramid. nerf gun counting and adding

Get your glasses on and get ready! nerf gun backyard math for kids

Knock those numbers down!!nerf gun math gross motor activity

Add all the numbers on the cups together and record on the chalkboard. nerf gun math tally up

This activity was made for my 6 year old not my 3 year old but so when she shot them down I had her simply identify the numbers on the cups. I am planning on doing this again with her using a bean bag instead of a Nerf gun and the goal of hitting specific cups down. I will post it when I do. nerf gun math number recognition

Set the cups back up and go again. nerf collage 1Add the tally up. I did the addition for my daughter but got her to write some. My son did his own writing. It’s not a ton of practice but it’s a little something in the midst of a fun activity so I will take it! nerf gun addition

Like I said this was designed for my almost 7 year old not my 3 year old. She did well with it and had fun but I would never use this activity with a group of 3 year olds – nerf guns while safe to play with still hurt if you get one in the eye or at close range which is why they had safety glasses on. You know best what your kids are ready for but I just wanted to be clear that this is meant for our big kids !

 

Jar Of Hearts – Valentine’s Day Math Printable

valentine's day math for kidsThis is another part of our learning after school series. I try to engage my son in fun things after school and when I asked him what he wanted to work on he said math. He loves math and comes by it very very naturally. His dad has a bachelors degree in engineering with a minor in math and a MBA in finance. Yeah numbers are well loved in our house . Even I love math although I didn’t always. It wasn’t until I was teaching it to students that I found the fun in numbers.

      1. Gather your materials. You will need a jar , some hearts ( any hearts will do – we used foam ones but paper, heart erasers, heart candies will all work), The printable found here and again below and a pencil with an eraser.valentine's day math activity for kids
      2. Start by printing out the printable – click here or on the image for download. It looks grainy in the pdf but it’s clear when downloaded.

        jar of hearts printable

      3. Lay out the sheet, pencil and hearts and let your little math whiz at it. Of course this is more than just a math lesson. My son is working on writing numbers in kindergarten right now and this is my tricky way of practicing without making him write them over and over again. If the 8 questions are too much do 2 or 3 and put it away for a day or two and complete the rest after. Learning isn’t a sprint it’s a marathon so go slow if needed! He estimatedvalentine's day math for kids 1, countedvalentine's day math lesson, sortedvalentine's day math sorting hearts and counted valentine's day math lesson for kidsand wrote some more. valentine's day math writing

Shape Princess Craft

shape princess craft for kidsAfter the holidays we packed up the kids and went to Disneyland. We had a ball and my already into princesses daughter is now officially obsessed. When I asked her what sort of craft she wanted to make she said “Princess!” so I grabbed a few simple materials and decided to focus the craft on shapes since we’ve been talking a lot about them lately.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need 2 sheets of construction paper , scissors, glue , sequins, googly eyes and a marker or two. shape princess craft for toddlers
  2. Start by cutting out the shapes. I kept this so simple for my 2 year old because she likes to do it all herself and I want to encourage that. I cut out a circle for a head,2 rectangles for her arms,  3 small triangles for a crown, a large triangle for her gown and a square for her torso. Encourage older children to draw and cut out their own shapes. shape princess 2
  3. Time to call your little princess, prince or court jester to explore.  My daughter sorted through the shapes labeling each one and counting them then I grabbed the glue.shape princess craft for kids
  4. Glue! To give her a guide I drew the shape in glue on the paper. Older children could skip this. shape princess kids craftAs you can see it’s still a big challenge . She was so excited when she found the correct shape each time.
  5. We turned the princess upside down to glue on her crown. shape princess craft for kids and toddlers
  6. Next up the sequins. I included these for a few reasons beyond their sparkle. shape princess craft for childrenThey are small and challenging to pick up which makes them a really good fine motor skills building exercise. Also when I do something as structured as this activity is I try to make sure there is a completely free creative element to it.  So I gave her the glue and let her at it. shape princess for toddlers
  7. She needed a little help with the crown jewels. shape princess craft for kids 1
  8. Add eyes.
  9. Add hair and a smile if you want. shape craft princess
  10. Let dry. She was very excited to show her Belle doll the princess she made. shape princess craft 3

Books About Strong Princesses

the princess knight

The Princess Knight by Cornelia Funke is a tale about a princess named Violet who was raised with her 3 older brothers  by her father after her mother dies in childbirth. Her brothers are trained to be knights and she to learns to joust , ride horses and sword fighting.  Her brothers ( like most) tease her and tell her that she’ll never be as strong and it’s a maid who tells her that she won’t be as strong but she can be smarter. That message stood way out for me and is why I think this is such a great book. When her father sets up a tournament for Violet’s hand in marriage she takes things into her own hands. She shows everyone how she is smarter than all the other knights and with hard work trains to  win her own hand in marriage . I love this book not only as a great empowering one for girls but also to show boys that girls don’t have to fit a specific mold either.

TheStorytellingPrincess

The Storytelling Princess (Picture Puffin Books) by Rafe Martin is a cute story about an independent princess who saves herself after a shipwreck and even though she ends up with the prince her parents had arranged for her to marry she does it on her own terms. Her bibliophile  prince isn’t interested in an arranged marriage either and ends up agreeing to marry if his father can find someone to tell him a story  that he doesn’t know the ending to. The princess saves herself from the sea and dressed as a sailor she ends up vying for the King’s prize by telling the prince her own story. After she reveals herself and in the end the betrothed fall in love . I love that we don’t loose the happily ever after but that the prince and princess are unique and strong .

Paper_Bag_Princess

The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch has enchanted me for years. I bought it while volunteering as a leader in training at a day camp when I was a teen. It’s followed me to many schools, children I babysat and finally my own son. I can’t remember one child ever not liking it. It’s a story of Elizabeth a princess who outwits a dragon to rescue her prince. I love that the author has switched the typical damsel in distress and has the princess as the heroine. Some parents have expressed concern about Elizabeth calling the prince a “Bum” in the end of the book, personally I love it. I have always used it to explain why she was so angry, and as a reminder why calling names hurt. That said I think she is totally justified !

NotAllPrincessDressInPink

Not All Princesses Dress in Pink by Jane Yolen .This book is not so much about being different and facing adversity but about being yourself even if the world has decided you should fit perfectly into the mold it’s given you.  When we think of Princesses we think pink, sparkly and dry clean only! These princesses can’t be pigeonholed, they do what’s in their heart not what’s expected of them just because they are princesses. The princesses have all different interests, all different looks and I love that there are some with glasses too. Strong girls being themselves isn’t too different but for a book about princesses it is and it’s refreshing to read.

Even more princess books here.

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Hot Chocolate Math

My son loves math and adding marshmallows into the mix pretty much made this activity one of the highlights of our snow storm fun last week. You don’t have to add the contact paper but by adding it becomes reusable and I was able to quickly make the activity more challenging when my original problems were too simple. If marshmallows are not something you want to use as a manipulative try buttons, packing peanuts or cotton balls.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need 3 full sheets of construction paper ( backing, cups and strips of hot chocolate), a washable marker, double stick tape, a bunch of mini marshmallows, a white crayon for the steam, scissors, a tray or cookie sheet to keep it all together and a barely damp baby wipe for erasing the marker. I like dollar store cookie sheets because they keep the manipulatives in one place and I can attach the contact paper on top .
  2. Start by drawing a mug and cutting it out. I then used it as a template for 4 more. 
  3. Tape the mugs down , add a strip of brown to suggest hot chocolate and add some stem with a white crayon.
  4. Cover with contact paper. Don’t you hate it when you make a ridge in the contact paper , the stuff is too costly to just redo it too. I dream of one day having a laminator….
  5. Using a washable marker write numbers or basic equations. I started with the ones above but as you will see had to change it to offer more of a challenge. That’s the beauty of the write and wipe surface.
  6. Add some marshmallows in a bowl and your little learner.
  7. I quickly changed 3+1 into 3-1 and the 5 into a 5+3 to test the waters.
  8. Magic of manipulatives- not a problem. Finding just the right level of challenge is a bit of trail and error. My son didn’t think he could do 9-1 but he did. That is the perfect zone when they feel unsure of success but are willing to take a chance and take on the challenge. That is when new connections are being made. This stuff excited me beyond words. 
  9. This is such a great activity because you can wipe it clean and customize it to your needs 2 months from now or right away for another learner.