In elementary school, children will work with the four basic operations everyday. Addition, subtraction, multiplication and division are important for understanding complex math, especially algebra. While our children will need to memorize "facts" in order to progress in math, it is essential that children develop a more concrete understanding of the concepts underlying the basic operations. These games are meant to build your child's concept of operations while having fun!


Let's Share!

Materials: 5-10 objects (toys, goldfish, books, etc.)

  1. Ask, "What are some things that we share?"
  2. Gather shareable objects together with child.  Count objects together.
  3. Say, "Now we are going to share them!"
  4. Explore different ways to share.  Evenly or unevenly. Count out objects that each person has, then put them back together and count the entire amount again.
  5. Move on to a different set of objects or continue exploring and discussing deeper with your child.  Let child have some time to process before jumping right in with your own thoughts.  Sometimes children need a longer wait time than we as adults give naturally.

Make it more challenging:

  • Introduce the idea of sharing something that needs to be cut into pieces (sandwich, melon, pizza, play dough, etc.) or sharing a piece of paper (cut it or draw lines to divide). 
  • Discuss what happens if we can not share evenly or if there are some left over.

Make Ten

Materials: deck of cards

  1. Take out the face cards so you are only using the number cards 1-10 (Ace = 1).
  2. Flip over 12 cards and lay them out so everyone can see the cards.
  3. Player 1 may pick a set of cards that add up exactly to 10. (Ex. three cards 2, 3, and 5) Players keep the cards that they pick. 
  4. Refill the cards that are face up on the table with new cards from the deck.
  5. Player 2 may now pick a set of cards that add up exactly to 10. 
  6. Continue playing until there are no more sets of 10 to make. If you get stuck and are not able to make 10 with the cards laid out on the table, lay out more cards face up.
  7. The winner is the player with the most cards in his stack at the end of the game.

Make it more challenging:

  • Let each player make multiple sets of 10 on each turn until there are no more ways to make 10. You will still refill the cards between turns.
  • Try playing with a different number such as 15 or 20. 

Party Time!

Materials: various party supplies (plates, napkins, cups, snacks, etc.)

  1. Talk to your child about planning for a celebration and make a plan together.
  2. Make a guest list together (family, friends, neighbors) and talk about what materials you will need.
  3. Emphasize figuring out how many of each object you will need. For example, if everyone is going to have a sandwich with 2 pieces of bread, how many pieces of bread will you need altogether? 
  4. Be flexible and listen to your child. Even if they don't seem interested in doing the math themselves at first, it is a great exposure for them to watch your mathematical thinking.
  5. Enjoy the moment with your child! You want to have math conversations, but it's also important for everyone to associate math and problem-solving with having a good time!

Make it more challenging:

  • Ask your child to reflect on the party afterwards to see what they enjoyed or what they would do differently next time. Look at the leftovers to see what people ate or didn't eat.
  • Make a boxed cake or cupcakes for your party, let your child measure different ingredients.