22 Mental Math Classroom Games and Teaching Resources

0
1

Written by Holly (Teach Starter)

Mental math is a students ability to make calculations in their mind without the guidance of pencil and paper, calculators, or other aids. It is often used as a way to calculate and estimate quickly, using math facts that students have committed to memory, such as multiplication, division, doubles facts, etc.

Therefore, to develop as a mental math whiz, students must have a strong number sense.


Subitizing

In the early years, subitizing activities are extremely useful to lay the foundations of students developing a strong number sense. This early maths skill encourages children to rapidly recognize quantities. These subitizing flash cards, used daily, are a great way to improve your students skills.

This first set of flash cards is simply black dots – ask your students to quickly tell you how many dots they see on each flashcard.

Subitising Flash Cards

This second set of flash cards has some black dots and some white.

Ask your students to tell you how many black dots, how many white dots and then how many dots altogether?

Subitising Flash Cards

Finally, some of these colored subitizing flash cards have three different colors, this is a good extension for those students who have well developed subitizing skills.

Subitising Flash Cards


Teaching Number Facts & Mental Math Strategies

As children learn to add numbers, they become very reliant on counting. This is OK with small numbers, however, it can cause difficulties down the road when students begin to add larger numbers mentally. For example, if a student used counting strategies, such as counting on by ones or using tally marks, to add 35 + 45, they would most likely loose count. It is also not an efficient way to work out this sum. Therefore, embedding basic number fact and place value knowledge in students is another important step in the process of being able to solve math problems mentally.

A knowledge of number facts then transforms into the different mental strategies that can be used. We have a variety of posters and resources that can help in this part of the teaching process:


Number Talk

Encourage ‘number talks‘ daily! Students discussing their strategies is imperative in teaching mental math.

Every morning in my classroom, we had ‘number talks’. I would put a couple of math problems on the board and students would work out each problem in their head. Once they had an answer they would place their hands on their head.

They discussed their answer and selected a strategy with a partner and then with the class. The discussions that took place were some of the best teaching moments I had that year! Seeing the ‘lightbulb’ light up in students heads as they heard their friends explain to them how they had worked it out!


Practice, Practice, Practice

Along with the explicit teaching and discussing of different strategies, it is also important to provide a number of other hands-on opportunities for students to cement different strategies. Here are some of my favorite:


101 and out!

Kids love playing this! Especially if they play it against their teacher!

Explain to the class that initially they will be playing against you, then against each other. The aim of the game is to get to 100 without going over!

Each team rolls a dice (or two). They then decide if they are going to use the total as a place value of tens or ones/units. For example, if they roll a 6 they can choose to add 6 to their total or 60. Each team needs to then record their running total on a sheet of paper and color in the different sub totals on their hundreds board.

maths-mentals-game


Play BINGO!

Bingo is always a very popular game to play in the classroom. We have a variety of multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction bingo games available. These can assist in cementing certain math facts in your students.


Operation Domination

A game using addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

The aim of the game is to cover each of the numbered boxes on the game card by correctly answering the calculation that has been drawn out.

Use whichever combination of operation cards to adjust the difficulty of the game.

operation-domination


Move Up the Ladder

Race against the clock!

Kids always love a bit of a challenge. Using our Number Ladder template, students must roll two dice and then add the numbers together as they ‘climb’ the ladder.

Who can climb their ladder the quickest?

Laminate the ladder and use a white board marker so that it can be played again and again!

maths-mentals-ladder


Create Mental Math Flip Books

Using our addition flashcards, create an addition flip book. A quick and easy resource that can be used all year round. I used to set the timer for 5 minutes and get the students to write the answer (the answer only) of as many sums as they can. Who got the most correct?

We also have subtraction flashcards, division flashcards, and multiplication flashcards available to download.

Addition Flip Book


Weekly Mental Math Quiz

Have you seen our Maths Mentals widget?

This is such an amazing, time-saving teaching tool that all teachers will love. Create your own mental math worksheets. Simply pick your year level, how many weeks you want (right up to 40 weeks!). Then, click the green ‘Download’ button! It is that easy…try it out now!

maths-mentals


Comments & feedback

You must be logged in to post a comment.


Our Vision

We believe in a world where every child is inspired to build a purposeful and happy life through learning.

Jill Snape & Scott Tonges (founders)
Jill Scott

About Teach Starter

Start saving hours each week...

Free 200+ page pack Easy to use Save hours

Already a member? Log in...