21 Cool Math Games and Activities from Natural and Recycled Materials

21 Cool Math Games and Activities

You want your kid to love math.

You want your kid to be good at math.

The junk that you could buy to make this happen is unbelievable. Computer games, plastic counters, fake money–FAKE MONEY, people! Seriously, you want to buy plastic pennies? Here’s a buck; let me show you how easy it is to come up with 100 real pennies.

If you want your kid to love and be good at math, but you’re not interested in unleashing more plastic pennies onto the world–or you just don’t want to spend your hard-earned money on junk like plastic pennies–then you’ll love these great ideas for math games, projects, and activities, all made from natural and recycled materials.

Because you want some counters? Go count acorns. Or pennies.

1-2) Clock. Make an edible one. Or a found one.

3-6) Counters. You don’t need plastic doo-dads to practice patterning; natural and found items work just as well. And everybody loves to do math with their food; dyed corn kernels make especially lovely counters. But you don’t really have to go to any trouble to find counters–rocks will do just fine.

7-9) Dice and Dominoes. Use up as many building blocks as you want to make wooden cube dice; they’ll still be fun to build with! For re-writable dice, make chalkboard blocks instead. Dominoes can be made from a variety of recycled and natural materials, including rocks.

10) Drill and review. Does anyone actually use file folders anymore? Clear out your stash and make these math review tri-folds.

11-13) Games. Turn an old Connect Four game into a brand-new addition game. But if it’s multiplication that you need, check out my super-fun Multiplication Touch game–it’s made from upcycled cardboard. But of course, a fun math game doesn’t have to involve math calculation of any sort–Hex is a logic game that you can make with paper, a marker, and clay.

14) Grids and charts. Make a roll-up, easy to store hundred grid or multiplication chart from any large piece of stash fabric.

15) Money. The toy catalogue that you did NOT want to get in the mail is an excellent math tool.

16-19) Moveable numbers. Kids love to play with and rearrange numbers, and it’s great practice. Make as many number tiles as you need from cardboard from the recycling bin. You can also make moveable numbers from natural materials, such as rocks or slices of a tree branch. For bonus points, make your own paint! And finally, we use our stenciled bean bags with numbers on them every day.

20) Number line. Draw it out with chalk, and you’ll have nothing to store. Make your own chalk for even more bonus points!

21) Tools. Got some old cardboard and stash beads? Make your kid an abacus.

[Image Credit: abacus image via Shutterstock]

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