From baking tasty treats to becoming a shopkeeper, there are lots of fun maths activities you can do at home to liven up your learning! Read on to discover our top ideas for entertaining mathematical games you can play at home.
Gather together lots of items from around your home and lay them out on a table. Price each item with a sticky note, using whole numbers (such as £5) for young children and varied prices (such as £2.25, £2.45 and £2.99) for older learners.
Next, it’s time to open up shop! Take turns at being shopkeeper and customer with your child, using fake notes and coins (or real ones if you like to live dangerously) to purchase various items.
Encourage your child to play around with their purchases and ask them questions about what they’re buying or selling as they go. These could be along the lines of:
- How much will it cost to buy two apples and an oven mitt?
- Can you afford to buy three pens with your remaining change?
- How much change will you need to give me if I hand over a £5 note?
Once your child has had time to purchase and sell a number of goods, why not continue the game by holding a sale? Mark the products as ‘50% off’, ‘25% off’ and ‘buy one get one free’, and encourage your child to work out the new prices as they shop.
Sweets are probably the tastiest way to learn about fractions!
Pour out some Smarties, Skittles or equally colourful treats onto a plate (feel free to ‘taste-test’ a few before you begin!). You can also do this with a family-size bar of chocolate broken into squares.
Ask your child questions about fractions, encouraging them to move the sweets as they answer to help them visualise proportions in action. You could ask questions along the lines of:
- Can you divide the sweets into thirds?
- What proportion of the sweets are blue?
- If I eat 3 sweets, what fraction of the sweets do I now have?
When you’re nearing the end of your questions, ask your child to divide the remaining sweets equally among the family. The final stage is the most important – eating them!
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Baking is another great way to learn about fractions and proportions.
Take a look at the recipe together with your child. Look at how many servings the recipe will make and discuss how you could increase or decrease the quantity, with questions like, “We need 350g of flour for this recipe; how much would we need if we were going to make ⅓ of the cookies?”.
Gather together all of the ingredients you’ll need. If you’re feeling brave, encourage your budding bakers to do the weighing for you! As you work, ask your child fraction-related questions. These could be along the lines of:
- Can you divide the dough into quarters?
- If we are making 12 cakes, how many would we each get if we shared them equally?
- Using this ready-roll icing/dough, can you cut out shapes and then show me half/quarter/a third of that shape?
For more foodie-related learning, BBC Food have some wonderful ideas for teaching English, Science and even French through cooking!
If you have the space, you could do this with ping pong bats and balls, tennis racquets and a ball, or any other bat and ball type games you have.
Alternatively, serve an imaginary ball to your child by asking a times table question (e.g. ‘4 x 5’). Your child returns it by answering as fast as they can!
If they’re correct, ask them another question. Keep the rally going until they get one wrong or until they get to a target you’ve set in advance. You can also adjust the difficulty of the questions you ask to build their confidence as you go.
For even more multiplication games, check out our blog on fun ways to learn your times tables.
The possibilities for this game are truly endless! Make up a magical story for your child and incorporate mathematical questions into it as you go. For example, if the main character is going to cross a bridge, you could say, ‘Rob is stopped at the bridge by a guard. Before he can cross, the guard asks, “What’s three times six?”'.
If your child answers correctly, the character can progress. If not, create an alternative route and ask them a different question.
There are lots of ways you can creatively use dice to practise addition, subtraction, rounding and more.
Starting off by throwing 3 dice, then ask your child to:
- Mentally calculate the sum of the 3 numbers
- Jot down the numbers each shows and round this number up to the nearest ten
- Add the first 2 numbers together and multiply this by the final number
As you go, try adding in more dice to increase the difficulty.
Article by Lucy Hart