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35 Games and Puzzles for the Four Operations

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Photo of Alison Smith
Updated | 4 min read

Whether your students are reading a calendar to calculate the number of weeks left until the school holidays, buying snacks at the tuck shop or sharing cupcakes, they will be solving problems involving one or more of the four operations.

Roll It Operations Game

Our new maths game Roll It Operations Game will give your students the practice they need to apply each of the four operations in order to solve problems involving whole numbers.

  • Students roll two dice. They add, subtract, multiply and divide the two numbers shown on the dice (if they can).
  • If any of the answers appear in the grid, they cover them with a counter. The first person to get to four answers in a row (horizontally, vertically or diagonally) wins!
  • A version of this teaching resource document can be opened and edited in Microsoft Word, allowing you to add your own custom content.

Unpacking the Four Operations

As the saying goes…you can’t run before you can walk. If your students need to consolidate their understanding of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division we’ve got maths games, polygon puzzles and teaching presentations to make your life easier and to make your classrooms buzz.

Addition Games and Puzzles

Addition is usually the first of the four operations that students become comfortable with. I’m a huge advocate of using concrete materials and manipulatives to give students to opportunity to experience addition in a hands-on way. Unifix Cubes are a great learning tool for addition.

If students put 5 Unifix Cubes together with 6 Unifix Cubes, they can make the number sentence 5 + 6 = 11.

We love maths games! If there’s a way to create one, we will. From learning how to use and apply Rainbow Number Facts to solving 3 digit addition puzzles, we’ve got it covered.

Here are some fun games and puzzles to try next time you are teaching addition:

Subtraction Games and Puzzles

Perhaps the next logical teaching and learning step to teaching the four operations is to introduce subtraction. Counters, buttons, paddle pop sticks and the good old-fashioned number line is a great place to start. For a bright and cheery number line choose from our number line collection.

It is critical that students identify that subtraction is the inverse operation of addition.

Why not try out our Moving Mathematics Activity – Fact Family Triangles active game?

Here are some more games and puzzles to help students to consolidate their knowledge, understanding and application of subtraction:


The key to grasping the concept of multiplication is for students to make the link between multiplication and repeated addition. I love to get creative with arrays to represent repeated addition and multiplication. Check out our new Hooray Arrays worksheets for multiplication facts of 2, 3, 4 and 5.

For more multiplication activity ideas read my blog 8 Magical Multiplication Activities for the Classroom.

Go puzzle and game crazy and try some of these brain-teasing teaching resources:


If your students are struggling to grasp the concept of division, then it’s time to pull out every concrete item you have in the classroom cupboards and to explore sharing whole numbers in a physical way. When your students are ready, make the transition to using visuals and drawing pictures to represent equal groups. When students have secure knowledge and understanding of division, it’s time to explore the inverse relationship between multiplication and division.

Using the Four Operations in a Real-World Context

Students need to be able to easily transfer formal mathematical skills and apply them to tasks that are embedded in, or resemble, real-world contexts. Our ultimate aim is for our students to be able to use the four operations, subconsciously, in their everyday lives.

A common way we attempt to bring the real world into the maths classroom is using the word problem. However, I think it’s important to stop and ask ourselves whether these are realistic questions that someone would ever ask or do as part of life?

I would recommend using realistic situations to use as the basis for mathematical questions and to practise using the four operations.

We have created a collection of word problem worksheets and teaching presentations that will make teaching and learning how to use and apply the four operations in a real-world context a breeze.

Each teaching presentation has been designed to support you when teaching students about problem-solving in mathematics. They provide students with the opportunity to select and use the four operations to work through 20 word problems. What’s more, there’s an answer slide after each question, to encourage your students to discuss how they calculated their solution.

I wish you well on this mighty mission of teaching the four operations. Try out some of these games and puzzles to help you and your students along the way!

Tag @teachstarter on Instagram with your wonderful photos.


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