The ability to easily recall basic addition and subtraction facts is an important skill for a young student. One of the best ways to facilitate this is playing a simple game to reinforce addition and subtraction skills. Here is an easy and fun math game that young students love to play.
Add or Subtract the Pennies (two or more players) Items needed:
A large pile of pennies
A pair of dice
A pencil and paper for each player
First player rolls one die and collects that many pennies from the pile.
Second player rolls a die and takes that number from the pile.
The players then become partners and write how many pennies they collected in a number sentence. For example, Player One rolled and collected 4 pennies; Player Two rolled and collected 6. Their number sentence would be 4+6=10.
Play until the pile of pennies is gone.
When players can easily add the single die totals, increase the difficulty. To do this each player rolls the pair of two dice and adds the total number of dots before collecting the pennies. An example could be Player One rolled 5+5 and collects 10 pennies. Player Two rolls 6+6 and collects 12 pennies. Added together their number sentence would be 10+12 = 22
For subtraction, have each player roll one die and subtract from the larger number. For example, if Player One rolls a 4 he can collect 4 pennies. Player Two rolls a 6, she collects 6 pennies. The partnership determines that 6 is more than 4, so from the 6 pennies that partner takes away 4 and determines the answer is 2. They then write a subtraction sentence 6–4 = 2.
Again, when the players can easily do the subtraction with one die rolls, increase the difficulty. Players can roll two dice adding the dots together, and collect that many pennies. Partners determine the higher combined roll, then subtract the smaller number rolled from the higher. A number sentence might look like 12-6=6.
Using the combination of dice, pennies, and writing number sentences is great because it combines a visual with a hands-on component. Games such as this help young children become secure and fluent in addition and subtraction. “Fact Power” fluency builds math confidence for young students as they learn more advanced math!
Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.