There are so many fun games that teach math. Most of the math activities we do involve a game of some sort. Lately the most popular math game in our house has been math war. The kids choose to play it during our special family time together, with each other during quiet time, and even during their other independent play times.
Depending on your child’s current math focus, there are a few fun variations you can play to target specific skills and learning goals.
Ways to Play War Math Game
We use the Numbers Go Fish cards (affiliate link) for this card game, but most decks of cards will work fine. I like these cards because they include numbers zero to ten and have large clear graphics that my younger preschooler can easily count.
The overall goal for these games is to focus on number sense skills. When starting I like to limit the deck to numbers zero to five. Later, once the kids are comfortable with the games at that level and can play independently, we add in the additional cards for six to ten.
Comparing Numbers: Which Number is More?
The first way we play follows the traditional game rules. Each child flips over one card. The child who flipped the card with the greater number gets to keep both cards. Then they continue playing until one play has no cards or both kids decide it’s time to quit (most often when the game goes on very long).
We do modify the rules a bit. When the kids flip over the same card, we flip one additional card over (instead of the traditional three) and then compare those two cards. Whoever’s second card has more gets to keep the whole stack of cards.
In this version the winner is the person with the most cards at the end.
Comparing Numbers: Which Number is Less?
Once kids are very comfortable finding which number is more, you can modify the rules to focus on identifying the number that is least.
In this variation the person who flips the card that is less gets to keep both cards, and the winner is the person with the least cards at the end. This little twist provides a lot of fun. The kids actually look forward to losing their cards.
A third variation can be played to help kids practice adding numbers. For younger players, I would definitely start with only the zero to five cards when first introducing this variation.
Here each child lays down two cards, being careful to keep their cards separate from the other players. Then they find the sum of their two cards. The child with the greater sum gets to keep the four cards.
In this variation the winner is the child with the most cards.
What else are they learning?
In addition to some great math practice kids get the chance to practice many social skills while playing games together. Just a few of them are:
- taking turns
- patiently waiting for your turn
- quickly taking your turn without making others wait too long
- how to be a gracious winner and loser
What kinds of math games do you play with your kids? Are there any other variations that you play of this game?
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