ListenMath is one of the best areas to use board games as practice and review for learning skills. Math just lends itself so nicely to gameplay. We’ve searched for some of our favorite board, dice, and card games that can be used for building math skills and placed them here below in an effort to inspire more mathematicians to use play as a main strategy for learning.
Third through Fifth graders have the best choices in the board, card, and dice game world, in our opinion, so we hope you and your students enjoy these suggestions.
We’ve tried to be respectful of teacher-budgets. Many of these games can be bought for less than $15, and we tried to stay under a $30 budget. If there are games that have increased in price after this blog was initially posted, or we’ve let a more expensive game slip through unintentionally, several of our writers said that they were able to find ways to use school funds for their gaming library they knew the game would be able to help students to learn.
With the description of each game, we’ve tried to be sure to include precisely what skills the game helps to build so that if you need to use that information to attach your standards to a request, it will be easier to do so.
Grades 3 - 5
This game comes in grade-level sets, and actually starts in second grade and extends through sixth. This is really helpful if students are either below grade level or above.
Students play this game in groups of 2 to 4, and they work together as detectives to solve a mystery by working out the mathematical problems presented in a situational story. Each situation (or “case” for your detectives) has four suspects. Students work through the problems provided to decide which suspects are lying, making them the guilty party.
This is a great game for centers or even a daily practice projected for the class and completed by table groups in a “sponge” or a brain break.
This game is fine for students who are younger than 3rd grade, but we’re including it here because it’s a fun way to review all basic operations. For some reason, dumping the dice out of an older gentleman’s head is the funniest thing ever, so that’s also a plus.
This game is great for building mental math fluency in addition and subtraction of simple numbers. Although in third grade, we’re asking for more advanced skills, many students are still building their basic addition and subtraction fact memory and recall. This is a fun (and funny) way to accomplish all that while keeping your students entertained!
Many of the Games we’ve found deal with numeracy and building skills that have to do with addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. This game is refreshingly different. It requires patterning and mathematical reasoning skills.
It is a longer game, and if it’s bumped, the whole game has to start over, which can be so frustrating for those without advanced executive functioning skills, but this would be a good one for kids who are a little older and possibly more mature. GT students might be especially interested in this one.
These games are similar to the traditional game of dominoes, but the tiles are pictures of parts of the King or Queens kingdom rather than dots. The players strategically build their kingdoms with the understanding that at the end of the game, the person with the highest score will win.
In order to tally up the score, players have to be able to use multiplication.
Kingdomino is the simpler version. Queendomino requires a more advanced level of strategic thinking. Reviewers say to use YouTube to access playing instructions because the written ones that come with the game are not very good.
It’s hard to find people who don’t like this one. It’s got both dice and cards. The gameplay is based on a magical, mythical journey, so it’s fun for the imagination. It builds strategy and probability skills.
Farkle or 10,000
Farkle is an old game that requires no purchase (although it can be bought in sets with the appropriate number of dice and scorecards that might make scoring easier - here’s a link to a free scoresheet and directions on how to play, though: https://www.dicegamedepot.com/farkle-rules/). You’ll need 6 six-sided dice for each group that plays.
This game is perfect for working on addition and multiplication with numbers in the hundreds and thousands. The goal of the game is to be the first one to reach 10,000.
All the rules and variations of the game are very easy to find online. The link above is a good resource, but nowhere near the only one.
Yahtzee is another classic dice game that involves addition and multiplication. It also involves a fair amount of strategy. It’s an “oldie”, but one we always insist on having in our classrooms for game days!
This is similar to the game Sleeping Queens (which we recommended in another post). Students can play this to build fluency skills in addition, subtraction, rounding, and recognizing multiples of 10. As a bonus, it’s also a fun Greek Mythology game.
Payday is a classic board game that’s great to pull out when doing financial literacy units. Students have bills to pay, work for a payday, and have the opportunity to purchase items throughout the “months” of play (the board contains one month, but at the end of the month you move back to the beginning and continue play - playing through three months is the usual base, but you can alter it to play as many as you want).
Another thing we like about this game is the real-life simulation of using savings accounts and loans. It can open up some excellent discussions about percentages, rates of payment, and penalties.
It can be played in 15 to 20 minutes but may last as long as 45 minutes.
No upper elementary math classroom is complete without Fraction Dominoes! Fractions can be such a difficult concept to wrap a brain around. This game provides practice to increase fluency and further understanding of fraction concepts.
What makes this game stand out is that it can be played with the entire class at once(kind of like BINGO), or in a small group, and it works on understanding sequences, logic, and number order. Some kids struggle with having a strong understanding of numbers through fourth and fifth grade, so games like this really help drive the concept home.
You may already know and use this one, but it’s one of our favorites so we have to mention it. It was created by one of our own - a math teacher. It helps kids work on their addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division skills. They’ll be building fluency, practicing mental math, and beefing up their problem-solving skills.
This is a fun multiplication card game. Students match facts to products, trying to “splat” by turning over fact cards that match a particular product. Each person tries to be the first to go full splat, turning all their cards over and winning the game. It’s a really fun way to practice multiplication fluency!
This game is very similar to its companion game, Dragonwood. It’s a little more advanced and focused on play that’s a slightly different format for kids who are a bit older.
This game uses addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, prime factorization, and skills with prime numbers. There are many options for students to use so they can play the game on their level, and there are variations they can use to make the game even more fun and switch things up after they get used to the general rules.
We hope a few of these games are perfect for your next game day! We love to keep games on hand for those days when only half the class shows up, the time between coming home from a field trip and dismissal, and parent nights (math night, in particular, is our favorite, of course).
In addition to these great games, we love having students create their own games. It’s a great project in which they can use every mathematical skill they own - from numeracy and operations to measurement and probability - to create something fun to play with their classmates. We do this in small groups so kids of 2 to 6 can work together and collaborate.
What games do you use in your classroom? We’d love to hear! Just tell us the name of your favorite game, the age you’ve used it with, and the basic skills students work on using the game.