By Michael Hartley
If you are a parent or teacher of pre-school children, and if you are looking for games to build up their math, you've come to the right place. At the bottom of this page are links to several games designed to help a pre-school child grasp basic math concepts. Read on!
Kindergarten kids learn by experience
Not by rote learning! Think about your own understanding of real basic math. One favorite question I hear is this : Why does two and two make four? Of course, there's a technical high-falutin' answer that only math professors could be bothered with. But for everyone else? It just does! There's no why about it!
I asked my little tyke a similar question one day. He had been going to kindergarten for almost a year. His kindergarten aimed not just to teach kids to recite numbers, but to give the little angels a true sense of what numbers mean. Wanting to see how well Melvin's teachers had done, I tested him.
"Daddy, what's a pair?"
That was the question that gave the opportunity. I told him a pair was two of something. Then I asked him :
"So, if you had two pairs, how many would you have?"
After thinking for a moment, he gave the answer : "Four!"
Multiplication! And from a kid who was barely four years old! So I asked him another question.
"If you had three pairs of train tickets, how many train tickets would you have?"
"That's right! But why is it six?"
I was hoping for some deep insight into his mental genius, some gem of inspiration I could share with the world. Unfortunately, he replied...
"Because you have six trains, and six buses, and six trains!"
Well, so much for gems of inspiration!
Later it occurred to me - my little Melvin probably found the question as strange as adults do. Why does two times three equal six? I imagine him thinking, why six?? It just is, daddy! Like Melvin, none of us learned numbers by rote or logic. Instead, we learned them by repeated exposure. We see six things. We are told it is six. This happens again and again, and over time, we somehow unconsciously come to "know" what six means. All at kindergarten age.
Of course, pre-primary children can be taught math. However, it's best to cooperate with nature's way, and find ways to expose them to number through daily life, or through fun and games.
I've provided, on this site, a bunch of free printable kindergarten math games. Whether you are a teacher or a parent, they will help give the children you love this repetitive exposure to number, arithmetic, size, and other math concepts. All are free, and some need little more preparation than clicking "print". If this is what you have been looking for, well, the pleasure is mine...
Another worksheet for practicing counting and reading numbers. This time, the child must match the printed number against the box with the correct number of circles. Try it
! Good for grades kindy
The Tangram Puzzle
is a simple jigsaw puzzle that originated in China over 1000 years ago. Despite its apparent simplicity, there are a huge number of patterns the pieces can be arranged into. This site has a Printable Tangram Puzzle
for you to download and cut out. Good for grades kindy to 4
Dice of Destiny
is two games in one! There's a simple game (Dice War) for kindy or pre-K kids to learn counting, and the much more complicated battle game that it morphed into when I was play-testing Dice War with my (pre-teen, not pre-K) son. All you need is some dice and (for the complex game for older kids) a pack of ordinary playing cards. Read the rules of Dice of Destiny
here, and have a quick game now! Good for grades kindy to 7
The Daily Hex Flood Puzzle
gives you a new strategy puzzle every day for you to warm up those brain cells. Transform the grid of hexagons so that the whole grid is a single color. Challenge yourself to beat your best score (he game keeps track of all your stats), and challenge your friends to see how well they do! You can read more here
, or here's a direct link to the game! Good for grades kindy to 12
has some printable 3x3 bingo cards, suitable for kids who know the numbers 1 through 10. Each set of three numbers appears at most once in the set of cards. If you don't want to have a winner after only three numbers are called out, the web page explains which three numbers can be your first three. Good for grades kindy and 1
Do you have a group of kindy kids struggling to remember addition sums up to 10? Try this math board game
on them. You'll need to do some printing and cutting first, and find a die (dice) and some playing pieces. Good for grades kindy to 2
has a link to a file you can print onto cardboard and cut out, to make a great toy for learning number and arithmetic. It's a set of blocks - or at least, the closest I could get to a set of blocks printed on cardboard. The page also suggests a number of games you can teach a child to help them get the most out of the game. You'll need a color printer. Good for grades kindy
This is the Online Traffic Jam Game
. Traffic Jam Game is the famous game where you have to move the red car out of the traffic jammed parking lot. This free online version has hundreds of puzzles, as well as links to PC, Mac and Android versions you can buy. Good for grades kindy to 12
Math is not just about number. On this page I've provided a printable version of a toy my mom gave me as a child. It's a collection of tiles of different shapes, sizes and colors. The page also gives suggestions
for how you might use them to benefit your kid or kids. You'll need a color printer. Good for grades kindy
Not exactly a game, but certainly a useful tool for teaching kids addition and subtraction facts - either actively through memory exercises, or passively through osmosis! These addition and subtraction tables and charts
are free, and ready for you to print and use. Good for grades kindy and 1
An Advent Calendar
, besides being a great Christmas tradition, helps teach younger kids counting and calendars in a fun, exciting way. Download and print this free advent calendar, make up up with a trimmer and glue, and enjoy the Christmas countdown with your child. Good for grades kindy to 3
Sometimes a bit of practice helps. The worksheets on this page
give a child practice both counting and recognizing printed numbers. The kid is supposed to read a printed number, then draw the correct number of objects in the space provided. Good for grades kindy
One of these addition and subtraction worksheets
is especially designed as a learning tool, not just a revision exercise. The sums are ordered so that the child working through them will discover for themselves the relationship between addition and subtraction, and other important points. There are some plain vanilla revision worksheets too! Good for grades kindy and 1
Get into Groups Of... five minus two!
This game is a great game for younger children - because it involves lots of running around! Good for kindy kids, also for 1st and 2nd graders. The page shows how to vary the rules to make it interesting for older children too. Good for grades kindy to 2
Try Fish Plus One
for kids who need to practice their basic addition skills. This game can be played with a normal pack of cards, once the picture cards have been removed. Once your kids get good at Fish Plus One, move them on to Fish Plus Two, Fish Plus Three, and finally Fish Plus Plus! Good for grades kindy and 1
Here's a fun game that is almost guaranteed to make your kids love math, particularly addition. They'll love it for one simple reason - food! To play the game, you only need a printout of the colorful picture provided (there's also a black-and-white version), and a supply of small yummy snacks. Sultanas worked best for my son. Full instructions, and tips on how to avoid behavior pitfalls, are provided
. Good for grades kindy
Well, that's all for now. But bookmark this page, and check back once in a while! I hope to add more and more free kindergarten math games to this page as time goes by!
Yours, Dr Mike.