Playing cards takes the angst out of math

Short stuff: Education

Multiplication drills, flash cards, worksheets. No wonder kids learn to hate math. And while these methods are a necessary evil, many math teachers have turned to throwing in fun alternatives to mix it up a bit and help kids get those math facts straight. We asked area teachers to submit their favorite math games for parents to use at home. Here are our top three choices:

Card Head Multiplication. All you need for this one is a deck of cards and at least three people. Cards are used at face value. The Ace equals one and the Jack, Queen and King represent numbers of your choosing (perhaps 0, 11 and 12 to cover all of the multiplication tables). Cards are dealt out in two piles until all cards are gone. Two players get stacks of cards, the third is deemed"caller.” On the caller’s count, the players raise the top card from their stack to their forehead so the other player can see the card but they can not. The caller calls out the product of the two cards. For example, if one player has a 5 and the other a 7 the caller says 35. The first player to correctly identify the value of his own card gets both. This game can also be done with addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

Adriane MusselmanKennedy Junior HighLisle 

Five Point Star. This game works a variety of skills. You will need a deck of cards (discard the Ace, Jack, Queen and King), two dice, paper and pens. Each player draws a five point star to be used in scoring and then creates a 4 by 6 grid of cards—all facing up. One player rolls the dice and multiplies the numbers together. Both players use the bottom cards on their grid to find combinations that equal that answer. For instance, if a 5 and a 4 were rolled, the answer would be 20. If the player’s bottom row held cards 4, 5, 6 and 10, he could either use 4 times 5 equals 20 and remove those cards or he could use 10 minus 6 (equaling 4) multiplied by 5 equals 20. The latter combination allows the player to remove three cards instead of two. If a player can not come up with a combination, one of the points on his star is crossed off. A player loses automatically if all points are crossed out. Otherwise, the winner is the player with no cards left.

Conna RechFourth grade teacherButterfield SchoolLibertyville

Math War. This game can be used to work on multiplication, addition or subtraction. Divide a deck of cards between two players. Picture cards are worth 10. Simultaneously, each player lays down a card. Whoever calls out the correct answer takes both cards. If there is a tie, lay down another pair and winner takes it all. Winner is the player with the most cards at the end.

Anita KoszykSpecial Education Resource TeacherGlen Grove Elementary SchoolGlenview

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