20 Math Gifts for under $20 fun way to reinforce math

20 Math Gifts for under $20 fun way to reinforce math

December 5, 2018

Gift of math is a gift that just keeps giving

Math games are a great gift for the holidays and best of all, kids don’t even have to know it is math!  Math involve things like spatial reasoning, problem solving, critical thinking, financial understanding, not just the fab 4; addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.  And there are so many fabulous, cheap games out there that allow children to work on all those precious math skills.   We have listed 20 that are less than twenty dollars.

A tip:  When you are considering donating to a child in need,  consider donating a game.  Children in under-served schools and neighborhoods don’t have the opportunity to have games at home, it really is a privilege to have board games.

  • Researchers have found that students who played games with family growing up, did better in both math and reading.
  • They learn to ask questions, follow directions, take turns, strategize, think critically, and spatially.  All these great skills are learned in a fun and non-threatening environment through game play.
  • The Common Core State Standards Initiative sets Standards for Mathematical Practice, or the  traits that educators want to develop in students. Students should be able to make sense of problems and persevere in solving them, reason abstractly, construct viable arguments, and critique the reasoning of others.  These skills are all enhanced through game play.
  • Board games increase brain function as strategy and other complex thoughts become part of the play.  Games create fun and laughter which releases endorphins that enhance memory.   They also enhance creativity and self-confidence.  Sometimes the best answer is one that requires thinking, “outside,” the box.    Board games also teach how to set goals and work towards them.

Here is a list of 20 math games and activities that are less than $20.  

(Read to the end and you can win a game!)

I am providing links to sites where the games can be purchased, but I recommend buying locally at independent stores, where $0.48 of every dollar stays in your community (An in-town chain store keeps $0.14 in your community and an online store keeps $0.01 in town).

1 Blink

One of my very favorite games is BLINK.  Very fast paced and fun for all ages.  Object of the game is to quickly identify matching attributes.  This game also gets kids' minds thinking quickly, using fast recall of what they see.  The game is easily found in any local store that carries games.

2. Set

Another all-time favorite that is a bit more challenging than Blink but has the same concept of identifying attributes is SET.  This game is more challenging than Blink as there are more cards to compare attributes and players can identify attributes that are all the same or that are all different.

3. Uno

UNO for younger kids is a great number sequencing game.  Change the rules and have students place a card that is one larger or one smaller than the card showing. This is also a great game for students who haven’t played many games as there are twists and turns on who will lay the next card down.  Observation is important.

MANGO Math Playing Cards

4. MANGO Math Playing Cards

MANGO Math playing Cards are a great gift to give to a teacher or stocking stuffers.  These cards can be used to create every digit as face cards are removed and replaced with 0, 11 and 12.  This allows for a number of simple games that reinforce math facts in a fun and nonthreatening way.  Check out the MANGO Math Channel for games that use cards.

5. 7 ate 9

7 ate 9 is a step up from UNO. You race to get rid of your cards, like in UNO, but with the challenge of adding or subtracting 1, 2, or 3 from the number on the card pile.  That still might sound easy, but the numbers keep changing as everyone plays simultaneously and target number keeps changing rapidly.  This game is best played with people of similar abilities.  Fluency of adding and subtracting is a variable that needs to stay consistent.

6. Sumuko

Sumuko –  uses numbers in a crossword type fashion.  This game is fun and great for students who love math but if you have a reluctant math student this might cause them math anxiety.  It requires the making of a number sentence.  Seeing numbers in a game can quickly intimate a reluctant math learner, but the game is fun one to try.

7. Sum Swamp

Sum Swamp Is a fun game for your primary students just learning to add and subtract. The idea of a swamp with creatures in it makes this game enjoyable for the little ones.

8. Math Dash

Math Dash this is a game to reinforce multiplication and division.   An exciting game of skill and strategy!  The race is on to see who can correctly solve math problems. Players block opponents' moves as they strategically place their playing pieces. Aligned with common core and state standards.

9. Over Under

Over Under    If your child likes trivia, this is the game for them!  You learn a lot of facts about so many different things like: What is the average distance from the earth to the moon in miles?  In what year did Hank Aaron break Babe Ruth’s run record.  Students make their best guess estimates and then decide if their guess is over or under the correct answer.

10. Rat-a-Tat Cat

Rat-a-tat Cat  This game is based on memorization and strategy.  Players are trying to create the lowest hand, but the trick is they can’t look at all their cards.  They must rely on remembering the cards they take and place in their hand. They also must strategize to figure out what is in the players hand.  Players can start to develop an intuitive sense of probability.

11. Mancala

Mancala  is the oldest continually played game in history, which means it must be good!  I loved playing this game with my children and they were often far better at it.  This game follows a pattern and it takes time and observation to figure out the pattern.  (I’m not sure if I ever did.) Student must be able to recognize the amount of stones they have in each cup and distribute them in a fashion that benefits them and allows them to continue to play.

Spatial learning is a great skill to enhance through games.  Spatial reasoning is a category of reasoning skills; that refers to the capacity to think about objects in three dimensions and to draw conclusions about those objects from limited information. Someone with good spatial abilities might also be good at thinking about how an object will look when rotated. Here are a few recommendations that help to develop this skill.

12. Blokus

Blokus an all-time favorite of my kids and myself.  It starts off slow but quickly gets difficult.  Don’t let them team up on you.

13. Rush Hour

Rush Hour – gets you out of a jam.  Fun single player game.  Players use spatial reasoning to try and get the red car out of the jam.

Here are a few more that are similar, single player games that reinforce spatial development.

14. Block by Block

Block by Block  Children trying to build shapes provided on cards with blocks attached in different designs.

15. River Crossing

River Crossing A player trying to create log bridges to get from one stump to another.

16. Chocolate Fix

Chocolate Fix  Player tries to get the candies to go in the right order in the box.

Here are some tried and true board games that use money.  A skill in which many students need practice, not just counting money, but understanding things like cash management, taxes, wages, investment and financial decision making as cash flow dwindles and earnings becomes scarce. These are skills that aren’t necessarily taught to students until it's too late.

17. Monopoly

Monopoly, This tried and true game should be a fixture in every home.  Teaches students about finances, investments and risk.

18. Payday

Payday,   Student learn about income and expense.  Great way to teach savings vs spending.

19. Game of Life

Game of Life. players go through life experiences and see how much they get in the end.

20.  MANGO Math Social Media

Follow along with MANGO Math on our social media sites, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube to find free games and math problems to share with children around you.  Here is an example of a problem that is based off the song 12 Days of Christmas.  Can you determine how many total gifts were received during Winter Break?Share your answer with us to be include in a drawing for a free math game.  Have your students solve the question as well to increase your chances of getting games for your classroom.  Drawing will take place on Monday, Dec 17th.  Check our social media page to see if you are a winner.