3 Math Games to Engage Early Elementary Students


Math games are a fun and easy way to engage students in your curriculum. Before I share some of my all-time favorite games, I want to share the best math game tip I can give you… make laminated number cards!! Print out large number cards (numbers 0-9) onto card stock and then laminate them. I would suggest doing two or three copies of each number. I use these number cards countless times throughout the year. In fact, I just used them today to pick numbers to practice adding on an open number line. The cards are an easy way to engage students that might need refocusing and they take practically no prep work to make.

1) Place Value War

One of my favorite math games uses the number cards I mentioned above. My students love playing place value war with these cards. I divide my class into two teams. The first three students in line have to blindly pick a number card. Then the students need to arrange themselves into an order to make the greatest number possible. After both teams do this, we compare the numbers and the team with the greatest number receives a point. This game is great for a few different reasons. One reason is that it gets students out of their seats and moving (i.e. sometimes it can be hard to include movement into math lessons but this game makes it easy)! Another reason this game is great is that it involves teamwork and collaboration as students need to work together and help each other in order to make the greatest number. A third reason is that it relates to the curriculum as students need to understand the concept of place value in order to successfully play the game. You can play multiple rounds of the game until everyone gets a chance, or play for a fast five minutes before lunch. Either way, if you are teaching place value, this game is a must!

Try a FREE enVision Mathematics K-8 Pick a Project Activity in Your Classroom Today

2) Hi-Low

Another math game I really enjoy is called hi-low. Again this game involves place-value however it also includes addition. Students play in pairs. Each student rolls a dice six times to create two, three-digit numbers. Then each student needs to add their numbers to get a final sum. Students compare the sums and the student with the greatest or lowest (you can change the rules every time you play) number wins. If you simply want to work on three-digit addition, you make the rules so that students can’t choose where to place each number they roll. If you want to also work on place-value, ask students to strategically create their numbers. One of the great things about this game is that you can easily modify it to meet your needs.


A third math game I enjoy playing in my classroom is SCOOT. I particularly like playing this game when we are learning about money but you can use it for any topic! If you aren’t familiar with SCOOT here is how you play: The teacher posts task cards around the room. In groups, students travel to each task card and answer the problem (note: you might want to make a recording page for students to fill out as they travel). After every student has traveled to each task card, you go over all the answers. I like using this for learning about money because you can make task cards with different pictures of coins or you can write out how many of each coin someone has. It’s an engaging way to practice counting money.

I hope you find these 3 math games ideas helpful when you are looking for new ways to engage your students.

Try a FREE enVision Mathematics K-8 Pick a Project Activity in Your Classroom Today >

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About the Author

Chrissy Talbot

Elementary School Teacher