Math education has almost ruined math for more kids than we can count. Kids today are pushed to do math skills that their brains aren’t ready to do. So they think that they are bad at math when, in fact, they need to learn the way kids are supposed to learn. Through play!

Here are some good ways for elementary age kids to play with math.

girl playing with inchimals

Inchimals!

These cute toys are a part of a measurement game. But they can also be used to measure all kinds of things around the house! They reinforce concepts about comparison and estimation. Being able to discuss which object is bigger or estimating how many rabbits it will take to be as tall as an elephant are important non-arithmetic math skills that can be developed prior to your child having an understanding of actual numbers.

Scales and Balances

Comparing weight and measurement is an essential part of early math concepts. Playing with a balance or scale is the best way for young kids to explore these ideas.

The great part about these toys is that they can be part of other lessons. You can use them to compare the weight of not only toys but acorns, pine cones, rocks and other parts of your child’s world exploration. Using a balance gives you another great opportunity to make math concepts about weight and measurement about something other than numbers. Comparing objects to other objects instead of the number on the scale helps build an intuitive sense of the concept of density.

child playing with puzzle

Patterns and Puzzles

Exploring shapes, patterns, and puzzles enhances a child’s ability to reason. Pattern recognition is an essential part of math learning.

Playing with these kinds of games also helps to build spatial awareness. Exploring patterns with these colored blocks helps children to see patterns in natural objects in the world around them.

Pretend Play

children playing store

And of course, playing store has loads of potential for exploring money, addition, and subtraction.

Our children would learn to enjoy math much more if we just set aside the workbooks in the early years, and instead found more ways to play with math.

P.S. Here are the links to the fun math toys I’ve recommended today.

Inchimals

by Fat Brain Toys

red balance scale

Precision School Balance

by Learning Resources

Platform Scale

by Learning Resources

Pattern Blocks and Boards

by Melissa & Doug

Play Calculator Cash Register

by Learning Resources

Want to know more about how Laura incoroporates games into her homeschool?

Check out Laura’s Instagram for a peek at what homeschooling at Laura’s house is like and what she’s working on.

Laura Sowdon, OTR #5SLL #5sensesLL #normalisoverrated

About the Author

Laura Sowdon, OTR/L is an occupational therapist, writer, speaker, educator and creator of the Five Senses Literature Lessons homeschool curriculum. She has worked as an occupational therapist with children in public and private schools, as well as private practice. Laura has taught and managed homeschool co-ops as well as homeschooling her own three children. Laura is dedicated to the idea of educating children at a pace that aligns with brain and physical development milestones and respects neurodiversity in all its forms.

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