Math Games that Promote Creative Thinking

Creative math games allow children to think outside the box and hone their problem-solving skills. Consider playing a few of these creative math games with your child to show him or her that math can be fun!

Why Use Creative Math Games?

While we typically think of creativity as something that occurs in art or music class, it's necessary whenever your child needs to look at things from a different perspective or to think about a topic more critically. For example, it takes creativity to solve word problems in geometry and isolate variables in algebra.

It's likely that your child will complete lots of math drills in school, such as memorizing the multiplication tables and practicing the steps for long division. While this is a crucial part of your child's math success, it is also important for him or her to practice using math skills creatively. Games and activities that encourage students to solve problems using math can fulfill this need.

Math Scavenger Hunt

Ask your child to go on a scavenger hunt around your home to locate specific mathematical items. If your child is in lower elementary school, you may want him or her to locate items that have certain shapes or are a certain length. You could also ask your child to assemble a collection of items that have the same shape but are different sizes. He or she could then arrange them from smallest to largest.

At the upper elementary level, you could have your student look for items that are a specific 3-dimensional shape (such as a cube) or for items that have a specific surface area. You could also ask your child to calculate and compare the surface areas for several different objects.

Missing Numbers

On index cards, write a variety of number sentences with one missing number. For instance, you could write problems like 6 + ? = 13 or ? - 4 = 8. Place the index cards in a bowl and have your child pull out one card at a time and identify the missing number. Depending on your child's grade level, you can write problems using any of the four basic math operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication or division) and include larger or smaller numbers as appropriate.

This activity will allow your child to think creatively and utilize higher order thinking skills. Of course, if your child has difficulty, feel free to allow him or her to use manipulatives to model the number sentences.

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