The coronavirus lockdown has us all feeling a little restless, especially children. Children are used to PE lessons, playing in school fields, and burning energy in play parks. But now that families need to stay home to stay safe, children are likely to have a lot of cooped up energy.
And what better way to burn energy than with an active maths game? Interactive maths activities can help children get excited about learning while unleashing some of their energy — with many games you can play at home or in the garden. We’ve created this list of eight active maths activities to help you get children up and moving.
1. Go on a Shape Hunt around the House
This shape treasure hunt will get children thinking about shapes and identify them in your home surroundings. And as they run around trying to find shapes, they’ll inevitably burn some energy.
Print or draw a variety of shapes on a piece of paper and get your children to find items around the house that match these shapes. You could set a time limit for five or ten minutes, then see how many shapes they can find.
For each shape children find, you can award a single point, or award more points for irregular shapes like parallelograms and hexagons.
This is a fun game for the individual child, or for siblings to play together. Siblings can compete against each other to find the most shapes to score the most points.
2. Paint and Hide Numbered Rocks
This activity gives children the chance to be both creative and active. Write out a series of equations suitable for your children’s ages — these could be addition, subtraction, division or multiplication calculations. Then get your children to decorate rocks, painting one number or symbol on each rock.
So for example, for the following calculation, you use five rocks:
13 + 27 = 40
One rock for the number 13, one for the plus symbol, one for the number 27 and so on.
Once rocks have been painted and numbered, hide them around your home or garden. Then children can have fun finding the rocks to complete the calculations.
If you don’t have any rocks to use, you could always use pieces of paper or card instead.
3. Mathematical Bowling
Everyone loves ten pin bowling, and you can create your very own bowling alley at home. Save ten plastic bottles and write a number between one and ten on each. If you want your homemade skittles to look extra glitzy, you can get your children to decorate them.
Once you have the skittles, find a ball that you can use as a bowling ball. The whole family can take turns bowling, and when you knock skittles down, add up the numbers on each of the bowling pins to work out your score.
For older children, you could number the skittles with larger, more random numbers rather than with single-digit numbers.
4. Flashcard Race
This activity is perfect for children who love to get competitive. Create flashcards with mathematical calculations written on them, or use ready-made ones and place them in a line along the floor.
Children can step up to the first flashcard, and once they’ve shouted out the right answer to the calculation, they can jump forwards to the next flashcard. Then they answer the calculation on this flashcard and jump forward to the next.
You can make the line of flashcards as long or short as you like, but to introduce a competitive element, time how long it takes for your child to reach the end. They can then keep practising calculations and trying to beat their own time. Siblings can also race against each other.
5. Mathematical Twister
If you have the game Twister, it’s super easy to put a mathematical spin on it. On top of the coloured spaces, stick post-it notes with numbers written on them. You can then instruct children where to place their hands or feet using calculations. For example, “left foot to 12 x 2!” The children will then have to answer this calculation. You could also call out the answer to a calculation to make the gam a little more interesting!
6. Turn UNO into an Active Maths Game
You’re probably used to playing UNO while sat calmly around a table, but you can turn this classic card game into an energetic (and quite tiring) active maths game.
Before you start playing, assign a movement for every colour. For example:
- Blue — touch your toes
- Yellow — star jump
- Red — hop on one leg
- Green — high knees
- Wild card — turn around and touch the ground
Whenever anyone lays a card, all players need to carry out the action assigned to that colour the correct number of times. So if someone lays a blue nine, you all have to touch your toes nine times.
7. Simon Says Shapes and Angles
Simon Says is a classic game to get children up and moving, but this version of the game also helps children learn geometry.
Whoever is chosen to be “Simon” can tell the other players to move their arms and legs so that they look like a shape. For example, if Simon says “Show me a square!”, children need to move their bodies to illustrate the shape of a square.
For older youth, you can play Simon Says with angles. If Simon says “Show me 45 degrees” or “Be a right angle” children need to use their arms or legs to show what that angle looks like. This game can help children master Year 5 geometry.
8. Bouncing Sums
Children can spend hours playing catch, so why not make it a bit more challenging with this maths activity? Bouncing sums is a game that you can play with your children, or your children can play together without an adult.
Use a permanent marker to write random numbers all over a ball. Then when children throw the ball to each other, get them to call out the number closest to their right thumb. The next person who catches the ball does the same but also adds their number to the previous number. So the longer children spend playing the game, the higher the number they’ll finish on. The game ends when someone drops the ball.
Each time children play this game, they should record the highest number that they reach in a game. Then they can try and beat this number when they play again.
If you’re trying to keep your children engaged in education during the coronavirus lockdown, Master the Curriculum can help. We have a range of primary maths resources to help children learn at home, including maths worksheets, interactive videos, teaching slides, and vocabulary cards. Sign up for a free account to unlock some of our best maths resources.