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Mental Math Strategies
In Grade 3 we do a lot of practice using our mental math skills. These include –
Making 10 (eg. 1+9 = 10, 4+6=10)
Doubles (eg. 7+7=14, 9+9=18)
• Near Doubles (eg. 6+7 = 13 using the fact 6+6 or 7+7 to figure out the answer)
• Adding 10 to a number (6+10 = 16)
• Magic 9 ( 4+9=13, because the “9” steals one from the “4” so the question
becomes 3+10 to find the answer)
• • Here are some game suggestions to continue strengthening your child’s mental math
abilities at home –
BOOM –
Write a mental math question on an end of a popsicle stick. Make
approximately 20 popsicle sticks with math problems. On one popsicle stick
write Boom at one end. Place all popsicle sticks with the number side down
in a cup.
o Take turns pulling out a stick and answering the math problem. If you get
the answer correct, you keep the stick in your pile. If you get it wrong, the
popsicle stick goes back in the cup.
o If you get the Boom stick, you must put all your popsicle sticks back in the
cup.
o Numskills
Focus – Making 10 Facts (i.e. 7+3=10)
Number of Players – 2
Directions –
• Remove face cards from a deck of cards.
• Place nine cards on the table face up
• Students try to create sums to 10 by collecting two or more cards.
• When the see a sum to 10 the say the word “Numskill’.
• Students must prove to the other players that their addition is correct.
• When the deck is gone (or no more play can be made), students add up their
cards to determine the winner`.
Make 10 Go Fish
Focus – Making 10 Facts (i.e. 7+3=10)
Number of Players – 2
Directions –
• Remove face cards from a deck of cards
• Shuffle the deck and deal out five cards per player
• Randomly choose a player to go first
• The first player asks another player for a specific card. This card should match one
in their hand to create a sum of 10. Ie: I have a 6 in my hand and I say “Joe, do
you have a 4?”
• If the player you ask has the card you have requested they must give it to you. If
the person you ask does not have that card, they say, "Go fish." You then draw the
top card from the draw pile.
• You may put down pairs that ‘Make 10’ at any time.
• The next player is the other partner OR the person to the left of the last person to
go.
• ‘Go Fish’ continues until either someone has no cards left in their hand or the draw
pile runs out. The winner is the player who then has the most pairs that make 10.
Doubles Face Off
Focus – Doubles Facts (i.e. 6+6=12)
Number of Players – 2
Directions –
• Shuffle the deck (omit face cards from the deck) and split the deck into two equal
piles
• At the same time both players lay down one card. Each player states the double
of their card (ie. “ the sum of 8 and 8 is 16”)
• • The player with the highest sum wins the cards
• The game can either be played until all the cards are out or players can continue
to re-shuffle their cards and keep playing with their winning cards.
If both players have the same sum, then it goes to a faceoff. Each player must lay
down 3 more cards face down. Then they lay one more card face-up. Players
state the double and the highest sum wins all the cards.
Face Off
Focus – Addition, Subtraction and Multiplication Facts
Number of Players – 2
Directions –
• Shuffle the deck (omit face cards from the deck) and split the deck into two equal
piles
• At the same time both players lay down two cards.
• Each player states the sum (or difference if subtraction) of their card (ie. “ the sum
of 5 and 8 is 13”)
• • The player with the highest sum (or difference) wins the cards
• The game can either be played until all the cards are out or players can continue
to re-shuffle their cards and keep playing with their winning cards.
• If both players have the same sum (difference), then it goes to a faceoff. Each
player must lay down 3 more cards face down. Then they lay two more card faceup. Players state the sum(difference) of their cards and the highest
sum(difference) wins all the cards.
Multiplication Version - for beginning multiplication, use only cards A-5. Same
rules above except the player must state the product of the two cards. (ie. if a
player has a 5 and 2, they would say “the product of 5 times 2 is 10”)
HeadBands
Focus – Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication and Division Facts
Number of Players – 3
Directions –
• Have a deck of cards with face cards removed.
• One person is chosen as the judge. The other 2 people are the players.
• Each player choses a card from the deck without looking at the number and
places it on their forehead with the number side showing.
• The judge looks at both player’s cards and states the sum of the two cards.
• The players must determine what number is on their head based on the sum and
the other players card
• The first player to say the number on their head wins both cards. Each player only
gets one guess.
• The player with the most cards at the end of the deck wins the game.
• Multiplication/Division Version - For beginning multiplication, use only cards A-5.
Same rules above except the judge states the product of the two cards. (ie. if
player one has a 2 and player two has a 4, the judge would state “the product is
8” and the players would have to use division to determine the number on their
own card)
Place Value Pyramid
Focus – Understanding of Place Value
Number of Players – 2
Directions –
• Have a deck of cards with face cards and 10’s removed.
• Lay out six cards for each player, face down, in the shape of a
triangle. Make sure there are three rows (see picture).
• If you want, you can set a time limit on the game.
• Players begin by turning over the top card. The player with the highest card gets
point. If there is a tie, each player should receive a point.
• Then, have players turn over the second row, which should consist of two cards.
These cards represent two-digit numbers. Now have the players switch the cards
so that the card that was previously in the ones column is now in the tens column
and vice versa. One point should be awarded to the player with the highest twodigit number before the switch, and one point should be awarded to the player
with the highest score after the switch.
• Turn over the third row of cards. The player with the highest three-digit number
wins a point. Allow the players two rounds of switches for this row and award one
point per highest number as the result of a switch.
• Shuffle the cards and play another round. When time is up, whoever has the most
points wins. If you prefer to go by points, the first player to reach 50 points wins the
game.
100’s Game
Focus – Skip Counting
Number of Players – Large Group Game
Directions –
• Level 1 - Have everyone stand in a circle. Moving in a clockwise direction, one at
a time, count out loud until you reach a hundred. The person who says, "100" sits
down. The last person standing, WINS!
• Level 2 - Counting by 5's,10's, and 25's.
• Level 3 – Counting other multiples of numbers. For numbers that don't have a
multiple of 100, the person that goes over 100 first sits down.
• Level 4 - Students don't say the multiple. Students can count by ones to a
hundred, but all the multiples of say, 4, are "off limits." If a student says them, they
sit down.
101 and Out!
Focus – Place Value and Mental Math
Number of Players – 2 Player or 2 Teams
Directions –
• To play you will need a sheet of paper, a pencil, and one dice.
The object of the game is to score as close to 101 without going
over or "out."
• To play, each player take turns rolling the dice. As they roll, they
can either take the number as a one or a ten. For example, if a
student rolls a 5, they could take it as a 5 or a 50. Students keep
a running record of their total as they play.
• If a player goes over 101, they are out, and lose that round. A player can choose
to stop at any time when they are happy with their total. The highest number 101
or lower wins the round.
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