4 Ideas to Make Learning Math Fun
Mention the words "math" and "fun" in one breath and you might prompt a few raised eyebrows from a few of your students.
But learning math can actually be fun!
Many individuals hold a negative view of learning math, even with the latest focus on STEAM-based learning initiatives.
Parents who may not have had positive experiences learning math bring their past experiences and attitudes into discussions with students, while teachers may feel anxious about motivating youngsters in their classrooms if they aren't already huge math fans themselves.
So what is there to do?
Here are a few ways you can help children--and yourself--see math as a fun experience, right from the start.
Engaging Math Students with Digital Games
Current research suggests that students are more engaged and motivated when learning using game-based techniques and tools. And students who are engaged in their learning tend to experience academic success in school.
For example, in a math-focused, game-based program, students can have repeated experiences associating fun--from beating levels to overcoming challenges in the game--with learning math.
What may look like a simple "fun factor" can actually help students enjoy learning, changing attitudes about the topic at hand.
Specialists, from curriculum designers to brain scientists, see game-based learning as a big piece of the educational pie when it comes to math and other subjects.
In an increasingly technological era, future innovations will depend on students learning and loving math.
There are a plethora of engaging digital math games that get students excited about learning math.
Imagine Math PreK–2 introduces young learners to engaging characters, memorable songs, and real-world math problems that students love to help solve. When students learn at an early age that learning math is fun, they carry that perspective with them into future educational opportunities.
And students love working to master their math facts, such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, in the game-based program Imagine Math Facts --a great example of a fun and challenging math game that kids love.
Students are engaged with the 3D graphics, ongoing challenges, and immersive gamelike experience.
Educators love that their students master Math fact automaticity in less time than traditional methods.
Class Board Games Make Learning Math Fun
Many non-digital games can also promote math skills.
For example, researchers from the University of Maryland and Carnegie Mellon give Chutes and Ladders, the classic board game, a big stamp of approval for helping Pre-K students improve math skills.
Pinterest and other similar sites offer free math-based activities.
Don't forget to try some of these fun math games at home! They might just become new favorites.
Show Students the 'Why' of Math
Think students should wait until they're older for lessons on basic finance?
Even young children can learn to sort a few coins and contribute to the budget. Older children can help locate prices for grocery items and be involved in tallying simple sums.
Go ahead--let them run that lemonade stand and learn a little math at the same time.
Encourage even little ones to help plan the amount of food they'll need at an upcoming birthday party.
When students understand that math isn't just theoretical, they automatically feel more interested in math as a learning activity.
Read Fun Stories About Math
Think that reading and math are separate skills?
Why not naturally combine the subjects by reading stories involving math?
The following list is only a starting point:
- 7 x 9 = Trouble!
- The Math Wiz
- 20 Big Trucks in the Middle of the Street
- Let's Count Goats!
- Inch by Inch
Young children learning to distinguish visual patterns are learning math. The same goes for activities on sequence--think building a tower of blocks--or sorting.
No matter the activity, you can reward even small accomplishments and help children know that they just completed a fun math-related task with something as simple as a sticker or a small treat.
Math is a skill that takes some time and patience to master.
But when children associate learning foundational math skills with play, they'll carry those pleasurable feelings forward--enjoying future mathematical challenges instead of fearing them.