5 Math Games Every Classroom Needs to Play
Guest post by Leigh Langton
Hey guys! It’s Leigh from The Applicious Teacher! I am super excited to be blogging at Corkboard Connections today. I’m sharing a practice that I use to help increase my students’ engagement and number sense during my math block.
Do you play games in your classroom? Wait… what?! No time? Well… you should make time! Especially during your math time. To me, math and games go together like Nutella and pretzels. Delicious separate, but amazing together.
As a third grade teacher, I know how limited our time can be, so I am here to share with you 5 math games you should take the time to play this year! All of these games are fun, easy, and require little to no prep. They are math games that I’ve played for years with my second graders. When I moved up to third, I was able to easily modify these games for my new “big kids”.
First up… 100’s Game
This game can be played in a k-5 classroom. It is perfect for building number sense and it’s only prerequisite is that students can count. There’s no supplies needed to play and my kids loved playing this as a “brain-break” before math.
Here’s how to play…
Have your class stand in a circle. Moving in a clockwise direction, have the students count out loud until they get to a hundred. The person who says, “100” sits down. The last person standing, WINS!
The idea is simple, but can be modified for your students. In second grade we’d count by 5’s,10’s, and 25’s (to help with money later on in the year). For third, we count the multiples of numbers. For numbers that don’t have a multiple of 100, I choose the last number in the sequence of 12 as the “end number.”
Students sit down on a certain multiples (like the multiples of 7) Students don’t say the multiple. Students can count by ones to a hundred, but all the multiples of say, 4, are “off limits.” If a student says them, they sit down. You could also change it to student don’t say the divisors (perfect for those 4th/5th graders who need more practice with their facts!)
101 and Out…
This paper and pencil game works well in second to fifth grade classrooms and can be played by teams of students (like boys against girls) or in pairs. To play you will need a sheet of paper, a pencil, and one dice. The object of the game is to score as close to 101 without going over or “out.”
To play, students take turns rolling the dice. As they roll, they can either take the number as a one or a ten. For example, if a student rolls a 5, they could take it as a 5 or a 50. Students keep a running record of their total as they play.
I love how the kids start to form a strategy for what numbers they want to roll next. It’s a great way to build mental math strategies. To introduce this game, I usually play it as, “The Teacher vs. The Class”. This allows time for modeling while keeping the kids in on the action. What class doesn’t love beating the teacher? They always want to play again if I win the round.
This game works best in longer stretches, so multiple rounds can be played. I usually like to use it at the beginning of the year as a class game before math centers. It then becomes an easy and fun game for the kiddos to play during math centers.
Back 2 Back
Seriously, hands down, my class’ favorite game to play! This game is perfect for inside recess as the whole class can play at once and everyone is excited for the game.
This game requires some “brain sweat”, so it works well for grades 2-5. There are two different versions of this game. Supplies needed are minimal: a writing surface, writing utensils, and someone who is quick with their math facts for a “caller.”
The object of the game is to guess the other player’s number before they guess yours. To play, two students come up to the board and stand back to back (hence the name). This allows for the students to write on the board, but blocks their view of the other person’s number.
The “Caller” states, “Numbers Up”. This signals the two students write a number of their choice on the board. I usually play with numbers 2-9 to keep kiddos from dwelling in the 0’s and 1’s easy train, but you can play with numbers as high or as low as needed for your group of kids.
The caller then states the sum (for younger students) or product (3rd-5th) of the two numbers. The students use their understanding of math facts to figure out what they other person’s number is when added or multiplied by their number. The first player to say the other person’s number wins the round. The “loser” gets to choose the next person to come to the board.
Please be warned… this game can get a little rowdy as students win and lose rounds and somehow the teacher always gets pulled up to “clear out” a player who’s been up a little too long… But it’s a lot of fun and well worth the 10-20 minutes! Beats the repetitious practice drills of flashcards!
Guess My Number
This next game is very versatile and can be modified in so many ways! It can be played in kindergarten all the way through 5th grade classrooms. To play, you need a number chart and a dry erase marker. This game can be played whole group, in pairs or in small groups of 3-4.
To begin, one student chooses a number. The other players try to guess the number by asking a series of questions. The student crosses off numbers it can’t be and circles numbers it could. The person who guesses the right number, wins and gets to choose the next number.
The best part of this game is that it can be played with laminated personal hundreds charts in small groups.
For third grade, I encourage the use of question clues like “Is it a multiple of 5? Or greater than 70?” To introduce the game, I usually model crossing out numbers as students ask questions about the numbers and help link the clues to finding the right number.
For a kindergarten or first grade classroom, you may want to play with a number line with numbers 1-20. Then, students could ask if the number is bigger or smaller than numbers within that range. A 4th or 5th grade classroom can beef up the game with question clues like, “Is it divisible by 3?” or “Is it a multiple of 5?” The possibilities are endless! Time range to play can be from 5 minutes to 20 minutes and can be used as an inside recess game or a quick brain break before or after a lesson.
Math Fact Top It!
This last game works well in 1st through 5th grade classrooms and is best played in groups of 2-4 students. All that is needed to play are math fact flash cards. You can use addition, subtraction, multiplication or division cards. It just depends on where your students are in their math skills. I like to think of this game as “War for the classroom,” as the rules for the traditional card game apply to this math fact version.
To play, students divide the flash cards evenly among all players. Then, on the count of three, all students throw down a card. The card with the highest sum or product wins all the cards in play. This can be modified to lowest difference or quotient. If students have the same answer, then they play each other again, with the winner capturing all the cards in play. Students play until all the cards are won. The student depending on the flashcards you are using. with the most cards at the end wins. I find this game works best in math centers and is an easy way for students to practice their math facts in a new and unique way!
Download Freebie with Game Directions
So go forth and play! Get your students engaged and learning in the new year! If you’re not sure you’ll remember all these games I shared today, I’ve compiled all the directions in one file for you. It’s available here at my TpT store !
Leigh is a wife, mother, and a second-grade- turned-third-grade teacher. She currently resides in Central Florida where she has been teaching for 7 years. When Leigh isn’t teaching or writing for her teacher blog, The Applicious Teacher , she enjoys snuggling up with a good book, running a few miles, or spending time with her family.
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Playing math games has emerged as a way to make class engaging, but you must ensure these activities build skills and reinforce lesson content.
Just like there are many helpful math websites , there are online and offline games suited for this job. They can act as customizable entry and exit tickets, as well as mid-class activities.
For 1st to 8th grade teachers, here are 20 math games for kids you can play with and without computers:
Sign up for Prodigy — a free, curriculum-aligned math video game — to engage your class as you reinforce lesson content and essential skills.
It borrows elements from role-playing games (RPGs) such as Pokemon, as players compete in math duels against in-game characters. To win, they must answer sets of questions. As a teacher, you can customize these questions to supplement class material. The game also uses adaptive learning and differentiated instruction principles to adjust content, addressing each student’s trouble spots.
Create or sign into your free teacher account here :
Age Range: 1st – 8th Grades
2. Around the Block
Play Around the Block as a minds-on activity, using only a ball to practice almost any math skill.
First, put together a list of questions related to a skill. Second, have students stand in a circle. Finally, give one student the ball and read aloud a question from your list. Students must pass the ball clockwise around the circle, and the one who started with it must answer the question before receiving it again.
If the student incorrectly answers, you can pass the ball to a classmate for the next question. If the student correctly answers, he or she chooses the next contestant.
Age Range: 3rd – 8th Grades
3. Math Baseball
Divide your class into two teams to play math baseball — another activity that gives you full control over the questions that students answer.
One team will start at bat, scoring runs by choosing questions worth one, two or three bases. You’ll “pitch” the questions, which range in difficulty depending on how many bases they’re worth. If the at-bat team answers incorrectly, the defending team can respond correctly to earn an out. After three outs, switch sides. Play until one team hits 10 runs.
Age Range: 3rd – 8th Grades
4. Bouncing Sums
Give students a chance to move around class by playing Bouncing Sums, building mental math muscles.
To prepare, use labels and a marker to put integers, decimals or fractions on a beach ball. Hand the ball to one student, who will read aloud the label touching one of his or her thumbs. That student tosses the ball to a classmate, and so on. Each student must read the number on his or her label, adding it to — or multiplying it with — the sum or product which the previous student stated.
The challenge? Reach the highest number possible within a time limit.
Age Range: 3rd – 8th Grades
5. Math Facts Race
Keep combining math with physical activity in this fast-paced fact fluency drill.
Divide students into teams at the back of the class, posting a grid sheet at the front for each group. One student from each team will run to the sheet, writing an answer in the appropriate grid. To practice multiplication, for example, a student would have to write 12 in the grid where the third row and fourth column meet.
The student returns to his or her team after answering, allowing a group member to run to the sheet. The group member can fill another grid or, if needed, correct a previous answer. This process repeats itself until a team wins by correctly filling its sheet.
Age Range: 2nd – 5th Grades
6. Math Facts Bingo
Make fact fluency drills engaging by playing this version of bingo.
First, create bingo cards that contain answers to different multiplication tables. Second, hand them out to students and make sure they have a separate sheet for calculations. Finally, instead of calling numbers, state equations such as 8 × 7. After determining the product is 56, they can check off the number if it’s on their cards.
Age Range: 3rd – 6th Grades
7. Math Is Fun
Engage elementary school students by pointing them towards games and puzzles on the Math Is Fun website.
Ideal as a learning station or for classes with one-to-one device use, the games range from challenging math classics — such as Sudoku — to counting exercises for younger students. The latter category uses concise sentences and cartoon characters, making content easier for these students to process.
Age Range: 1st – 5th Grades
8. 101 and Out
Play a few rounds of 101 and Out as a fun way to end math class.
As the name implies, the goal is to score as close to 101 points as possible without going over. You need to divide your class in half, giving each group a die along with paper and a pencil. Groups take turns rolling the die, strategizing to count the number at face value or multiply it by 10. For example, students who roll a six can keep that number or turn it into 60. This game quickly grows competitive, boosting the excitement level in your math class.
Age Range: 2nd – 6th Grades
9. One-Meter Dash
Run this quick game to improve perception and understanding of measurement.
Grouping students in small teams, give them metre sticks. They then look around the room for two to four items they think add up to one metre long. In a few minutes, the groups measure the items and record how close their estimations were. Want more of a challenge? Give them a centimetre-mark instead of a metre, asking them to convert results to micrometres, millimetres and more.
Age Range: 3rd – 5th Grades
Bring out your class’s competitive side. Just be sure to group students at a similar skill level.
Back-to-Back involves a pair of classmates standing beside the blackboard with chalk in hand, facing away from one another. A third student says “numbers up,” requiring each competitor to write a number on the board within a specified range. The third student then says the sum or product of the two numbers. Using this information, a competitor wins by stating the other’s number first.
Age Range: 2nd – 6th Grades
11. Math Tic-Tac-Toe
Pair students to compete against one another while practicing different math skills in this take on tic-tac-toe.
Prepare by dividing a sheet into squares — three vertical by three horizontal. Don’t leave them blank. Instead, fill the boxes with questions that test different abilities. The first one to link three Xs or Os — by correctly answering questions — wins. You can use this game as a learning station , refreshing prerequisite skills in preparation for new content.
Age Range: 1st – 8th Grades
12. Get the Math
Visit Get the Math with your students to solve engaging challenges, each related to using math in different careers and real-world situations.
The website contains videos with young professionals who explain how they use math in their fields, such as fashion design and video game development. You can assign challenges to your class after watching, which involve playing games. For example, one is based on using materials with different price-points and measurements to design a shirt for less than $35.
Age Range: 6th Grade and Up
13. Simon Says: Geometry
Appeal to kinesthetic learners by playing this version of Simon Says and, in the process, improve their understanding of basic geometry.
As Simon, all your commands should require students to illustrate angles and shapes by moving their arms. For example, ask them to make angles of varying degrees as well as parallel and perpendicular lines. Continuously speed up your commands — and change if they come from Simon or not — until only one student remains and is the winner.
Age Range: 2nd – 3rd Grades
14. Math Goodies
Try Math Goodies for engaging, interactive tasks and lessons online.
The free website appeals to diverse learners by featuring puzzles, articles and word problems. Playing through the site’s content, students can — for instance — read an example-filled walkthrough about how to order decimals. They can then test their skills by completing exercises and challenges.
You can use the website to create custom worksheets, too. Fun for the class, useful for the teacher.
Age Range: 4th – 8th Grades
Add a game-like spin to content reviews by playing Initials.
Hand out a unique sheet to each student with problems aligned to a common skill or topic. Instead of focusing on their own sheets, students walk around the room to solve questions on their classmates’. But there’s catch. A student can only complete one question per sheet, signing his or her initials beside the answer.
Working together to reach an individual yet joint goal, students should build trust and teamwork .
Age Range: 3rd – 8th Grades
16. Stand Up, Sit Down
Play Stand Up, Sit Down as a minds-on activity, adjusting the difficulty according to student age and skill level.
The principle of the game is straightforward: You pick a number, and students must stand if the answer to an equation you read aloud matches that number. If it isn’t, they remain seated in a circle. You can modify requirements for standing as needed. For example, you can tell students to stand if the answer is:
- Greater than 10
- An even number
- A multiple of three
You can also alternate from addition to subtraction, and from multiplication to division.
Age Range: 1st – 5th Grades
Gather your class in a circle to play 100s as a quick warm up before your lesson.
You’ll give students a set of numbers to choose from — such as multiples of five to a maximum of 20 — as they take turns adding out loud in a clockwise direction. The student who says or passes 100 is out. You’ll start again, until only one participant is left.
Although the game is simple, you can change how it’s played to suit the skills of your students. For example, they may have to multiply by fours instead of adding by fives.
Age Range: 2nd – 8th Grades
Give students a mathematical twist on a traditional card game by playing this version of War .
To start, pair students together and give them each a deck of cards. Then, assign the following values:
- Ace — 1
- Two to 10 — Face value
- Jack — 11
- Queen — 12
- King — 13
The rules of the game will depend on the grade you teach and the skills you’re building. For example, students in lower grades will play two cards, subtracting the lower number from the higher. Students in higher grades can multiply the numbers, designating a certain suit as having negative integers. Whoever has the highest hand wins all four cards.
Age Range: 2nd – 8th Grades
19. National Library of Virtual Manipulatives
Have students visit the online National Library of Virtual Manipulatives to access activities that involve digital objects such as coins and blocks.
Created by Utah State University, the online library’s goal is to engage students. It does so by giving teachers activities to provide, as there are manipulation tasks targeted to students at every grade level. For example, a 6th grade geometry activity involves using geoboards to illustrate area, perimeter and rational number concepts. Ideal for classes with one-to-one device use, you can also use the website as its own learning station.
Age Range: 1st Grade and Up
Transform this famous game show to focus on your latest skill or unit, preparing students for a quiz or test.
Setup involves attaching pockets to a bristol board, dividing them into columns and rows. Each column should focus on a specific topic, whereas each row should have a point value — 200, 400, 600, 800 and 1,000. A team can ask for a question from any pocket, but other teams can answer first by solving the problem and raising their hands. Once the class answers all questions, the team with highest point total claims the prize you provide.
But each student wins in terms of engagement and practicing peer support .
Age Range: 3rd to 8th Grades
Here’s an infographic with 10 ideas from this article, provided by Educational Technology and Mobile Learning — an online resource for teaching tools and ideas:
Final Thoughts About these 20 Classroom Math Games for Kids
These math games for kids will not only engage students, but help you develop their skills and fact fluency while supplementing lessons.
Although the recommended age ranges fall between grades 1 and 8, you can certainly modify the content for different skill levels and use them for struggling students in higher grades.
And, if you’re unsure about the benefits, try a few games to see the results yourself.
>> Create or log into your teacher account on Prodigy — a free, adaptive math game that adjusts content to accommodate player trouble spots and learning speeds. Aligned to US and Canadian curricula, it’s loved by more than 500,000 teachers and 16 million students.
Marcus is Prodigy’s product marketer.
One thought on “20 Engaging, Skill-Building Math Games for Kids [1st to 8th Grade]”
Thanks for sharing these games. I can see myself using several with my class. I have played the Baseball Math game, but it was years ago. Thanks for the reminder.Reply
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