100 Ways to Make Math Hands On

Math.   I can hear the groaning already.  So many people dislike math with a passion.  Math is abstract and difficult and they keep changing how we teach math!  But it doesn’t have to be that way.  Math can be hands on and concrete and fun.  Hands on math is the way to make math relevant to your children (and maybe you as well?).

So I’ve prepared a list of 100 ways to make math hands on.  And it’s separated into 10 handy categories: printables, manipulatives, toys, nature, money, your body, technology, board games, food, and books.


Hands On Math Using Printables

  1. Graphing Printables
  2. Patterning Printables
  3. Comparing fractions
  4. Clip Cards
  5. Printable Games
  6. Counting Mats
  7. Puzzles (9 piece puzzles, SuDoKu, etc)
  8. Booklets (addition, Place Value)
  9. Place Value Slider
  10. Fractions with Music Notes

Hands On Math Using Manipulatives

  1. LEGO
  2. Gems
  3. Linking Cubes
  4. Fraction Cubes
  5. Base 10 Blocks
  6. Bear Counters
  7. Counting Chips
  8. Learning Clocks
  9. Stacking Pegs
  10. Math Beads


Hands On Math Using Fun Toys

  1. Abacus
  2. Wooden 100s Chart
  3. Dice
  4. Math Slam
  5. Math Wrap Ups
  6. Math Links
  7. LEGO Duplo Number Set
  8. Math Magic Puzzles and Games
  9. Counting Cookies
  10. Stack and Counting Parking Garage

Hands On Math Using Nature

  1. Count with rocks
  2. Skip count or multiply with trees (if all of these trees have 7 branches, how many branches are there total?)
  3. Estimate how many leaves are on a branch, a whole tree, a bush, etc
  4. Make an array with rocks, leaves, or whatever else you can find!
  5. Make a rock clock
  6. Make a pattern using nature (rocks, leaves, pinecones, acorns, grass)
  7. Compare size (width/height), color, etc.  If there are three bushes on the right and four on the left, which side has more?  Etc
  8. Stack rocks or sticks by size
  9. Measure items outside
  10. Find shapes in nature

Hands On Math Using Money

  1. Buy something!  (Using real money or pretend play).
  2. Count money – make stacks of 4 for quarters, 10 for dimes, 20 for nickels, or 100 for pennies.  Compare stacks.  Count by 4s, 10s, 20s, 100s.
  3. How many ways can you make…?  Choose a dollar amount and figure out multiple ways to make that amount using coins!
  4. Play with a Cash Register
  5. Take a jar of coins to CoinStar (get a gift card so there are no fees).  Estimate how much you have before counting!
  6. Figuring out exact tax on items
  7. Calculate sale prices
  8. Compare buying in bulk versus buying in singles (multiplication and averaging skills)
  9. Calculate interest on savings
  10. Who has more money?  Everyone takes a handful of coins, counts them, and determine who has more.

Hands On Math Using Your Body

  1. Skip Count your body parts – 5 fingers on each hand and foot means 5, 10, 15, 20!
  2. How Many Jumping Jacks?  Do as many jumping jacks as you can and count them!  Ask family, friends, neighbors to do jumping jacks.  Who did more?  How many more?  What is the average number of jumping jacks?
  3. Measure body parts – what is longer, an arm or a leg?  Measure in inches and centimeters – are there more centimeters or inches?
  4. Make shapes with your hands or your entire body.  Can you make a circle?  How about a triangle?  Get real tricky and try to make a Rhombus!
  5. Find the average height of everyone in your family
  6. Trace your shadow in the morning, afternoon, and evening.  Which is longest?  By how much?
  7. Calculate how gloves you need for 5 people.  10 people?  How many gloves do you need for 5 people and 1 dog?
  8. If you have recorded your height over time, how much did you grow in one month, one year?  If you average it by day, how much do you grow every day?
  9. How far can you throw a rock (or paper airplane).
  10. How many months have you been alive?  How many days?

Hands On Math Using Technology (Games and Apps)

  1. OSMO Genius Kit
  2. Prodigy Game
  3. Timez Attack (does addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division)
  4. Multiplication.com (also addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division)
  5. FunBrain.com
  6. Marble Math Junior (on Google Play here)
  7. Crazy Times Tables (on Google Play here)
  8. Mathmateer (on Google Play here)
  9. Hundreds Chart App (on Google Play here)
  10. Base 10 App (on Google Play here)

Hands On Math Using Board Games

  1. Holimaths Multiplication Game
  2. Sum Swamp
  3. Equate: The Equation Thinking Game
  4. Sequence: Numbers
  5. Head Full of Numbers (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division)
  6. Say Cheese Multiplication Game
  7. Sums in Space
  8. Clumsy Thief Money Game
  9. Prime Club Mathematical Game
  10. Three Sticks Math Puzzles

Hands On Math Using Food

  1. Cook!  I know that seems obvious, but a lot of math happens while cooking!
  2. Double a Recipe
  3. Half a Recipe
  4. Bake cookies and divide them equally among your family or friends
  5. Compare volume of different materials using measuring cups
  6. Poll your friends on their favorite ice cream flavor and create a graph.
  7. How many cheerios can you fit in one hand? Compare that to a sibling or parent.  Who can hold more?
  8. Add, subtract, multiply, and divide with small snack items like Cheerios, Goldfish, Gummy Bears
  9. Estimate how many pieces of rice are in a jar (or cheerios/any small food item)
  10. Use pretzel sticks to make tally marks.

Hands On Math Using Books

  1. Sir Cumference Series
  2. Spaghetti and Meatballs for All
  3. Fractions in Disguise
  4. The Grapes of Math
  5. Bedtime Math
  6. Pythagoros and the Ratios
  7. Multiplying Menace
  8. Adventures of Primrose the Mathematical Cat
  9. Mystery Math: First Book of Algebra
  10. How Much is a Million?


Check out more 100 Things posts by the bloggers at iHomeschool Network


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