As a veteran 1st grade teacher, I know firsthand the fun parents can have with their kids—and the learning young students can achieve—when they play math games outside of school. In fact, it’s one of the things I like writing about best on my blog on Here I’ve gathered my top nine favorite math games for students. I’ve included basic descriptions; just click on each link for the full description and list of supplies (if needed).

“Counting On” Game

The "Counting On" game is a great activity that uses visual, auditory, and hands-on techniques to help your child instantly solve addition within the numbers 1-10. Often, when young students are asked to solve a problem, they go back and start at “one. “ For example, if asked “What is 5 + 3?” a child will put up five fingers on one hand, three on the other, and count from one to five then six, seven, and eight, and say “eight” to answer the question. The “Counting On” game teaches a child to start from the highest number, and “count on” for a solution.

An Easy Sums Game

An important math skill for kindergarten and 1st grade students to know is different ways to get sums of numbers from 3 to 10. Here is a simple, hands-on sums game to help your young student practice and remember different addition combinations up to 10. Play this game often to help your child develop strategies to automatically recall and understand different ways of making sums to 10.

A Simple Deck of Cards

Cards games are a simple and fun way to instill math concepts. One of my favorites is this game that helps kids, in particular those from kindergarten to grade 2, learn the important concept of “one more, one less.”

Counting Backward for Fluency

Early math fluency—meaning fast and automatic retrieval of math facts from memory—is important for a student’s success. For young students it should be as simple as knowing the number that comes “right after” a given number, or the one that comes “right before.” For example, if a child sees a card with the number 22, he should immediately be able to say 23 comes right after, and 21 comes right before. Counting backward with your child is an easy way to help increase her fluency.

A Bit of Mystery

Understanding basic addition and subtraction facts greatly improves math fluency for kindergarten and 1st grade students. This fun mystery math game involves gathering some small objects (pennies, Lego pieces, etc.), covering some of them, and having your child identify how many you are showing him (or not showing him).


“Penny Hide and Seek” is another game that uses visual and hands-on practice to help young children quickly and easily remember simple subtraction facts. All you need is some pennies, a paper plate, and some time to spend with your child.

An Ancient Tool

Using an abacus for calculating numbers predates our modern system of writing numbers on paper or other materials. Today, An abacus helps young children understand “10” by using rows of 10 beads that children can move to count, add, and subtract. By understanding multiples of 10, a child can better mentally organize addition and subtraction. Try this simple and fun way to put a modern twist on an ancient counting tool.

Roll the Dice, Deal the Cards

"Instant math recall" is the ability to do basic math functions quickly, without resorting to finger counting or paper and pencil. Try these simple activities to boost instant math recall training at home using dice and playing cards.

Some Cents-ible Fun

Empty those piggy banks and help your child make some "cents" of coins and counting with a game I call "Stop, Drop, and Roll." You can play this game on a table, on the floor, or even on a beach blanket!