The only way for children to polish their arithmetic skills is to practice their math facts. However, doing simple addition, subtraction, multiplication and division drills can bore even the most motivated child! Here comes the Math Monster to save the day; he will spark your child's interest by challenging him to guess mystery math facts!
What You Do:
- Explain to your child that a friendly Math Monster has been living in the house, and that he has come up with a fun game to play!
- Draw a circle with a large X inside of it to divide it into four sections. This shape represents the Math Monster's head, with three blank spaces for eyes and one for a mouth. These spaces will be filled in if your child does not guess the equation correctly, and the Math Monster will win.
- Write the digits 0 through 9 on the side, to help your child keep track of which numbers he has already guessed. In the top corner, keep a tally of the two teams. For example, Monster versus John.
- Think of an equation, but do not reveal it. Write the equation, hangman style, on the paper or board. For example, 4 plus 5 equals 9 would look like: _ + _ = _. If you have a double digit number in the equation, such as 14 minus 6 equals 8, draw a line for each digit: _ _ - _ = _.
- Ask your child to guess a single digit to fill in one of the blanks. Cross off the digit from the list and fill it in on the equation. If the digit is not in the equation, draw an evil eye on the Math Monster.
- Encourage him to guess another number. Fill in the equation or another evil eye on the Math Monster.
- Invite your child to continue guessing numbers until the entire equation is filled, hopefully before all four sections of the Math Monster have been drawn.
- Draw a tally mark by the winning team! If your child lost this round, remind him that he has many more chances to beat the Math Monster! He will be improving his math skills along the way.
This simple game keeps children focused on math facts. You can adapt the Math Monster to more advanced levels of math, working toward double digit addition and subtraction, or multiplication and division. The game can also be used to reinforce mathematical rules, such as the relationship between addition and subtraction, or the effects of using "0" in an equation.
Serena Makofsky has a multiple subjects teaching credential with an emphasis in cross-cultural instruction. She taught in inner city classrooms for many years. She also writes curriculum for English language learners.