Whether you homeschool full-time or need some after-school practice, elementary school math often presents a challenge when helping your child with math at home. These are the years when your kids learn concepts such as number sense and operations, geometry and spatial sense, measurement and more.

What Do Elementary Math Students Need to Practice?

Mastering math facts in early elementary years is crucial as these are the building blocks for advanced math concepts in the future. Math fact fluency is defined as the ability to remember the answers to basic math facts automatically and without delay. This takes considerable practice, so employing engaging and entertaining activities is essential, especially when your little ones become fidgety.

Luckily, math is everywhere, so adding fluency practice into simple, fun activities is actually so easy! Here are some ideas to help your student with their practice.

Using the Kitchen for Building Math Skills

1st through 5th grade activities

Cooking with a recipe is full of practice opportunities for all ages. Younger elementary students can help by counting and adding each ingredient. Older elementary students can practice conversions by computing how many ounces are in a ½ cup or how many tablespoons equal one ounce. They can also work on fraction arithmetic– how much of each ingredient is needed to double or triple the recipe? Following strict directions and sequencing are also a part of baking when helping your child with math by incorporating problem solving, logic, and order of operations. It’s fun and the best part is, you can enjoy the finished product!

Use Money to Reinforce Math Skills

1st through 3rd grade activities

Practice sorting, counting and arithmetic using real, physical money or simply homemade bills and coins. Have your children sort the coins into separate piles, quiz them on how much each coin is worth and count out spare change. You can use change and bills to create addition, subtraction and multiplication problems. For instance, if it takes four quarters to equal one dollar, how many quarters will equal six dollars? 4 quarters x 6 = 24.

4th through 5th grade activities

This is the perfect time to start building financial literacy skills while using math and money. Teach your children how to budget, have them pay for products at the store and count out the change. Make a grocery list and budget a certain amount for groceries. You could bring a calculator to the store and have your children add up the prices as you shop. Teach them about comparison shopping. For example, if one product costs $3.99 and a similar product is on sale for $2.49 how much money will you be saving?

Use Stories to Teach Math

1st through 5th grade activities

This unlikely method is amazing at helping your child with math at home. The books weave number problems throughout the story. For example, a review for the book The Adventures of Penrose the Mathematical Cat, states: “Penrose, a cat with a knack for math, takes children on an adventurous tour of mathematical concepts from fractals to infinity.” Other fun and effective books include:

  • Sir Cumference
  • The Number Devil
  • Murderous Maths
  • Life of Fred
  • Night Noises
  • The Phantom Tollbooth

All of these math tips for elementary students will boost your child’s math fact fluency as they progress through school. They should also make your job less stressful as you teach math concepts using activities and resources that are not only engaging for you and your children, but also easily accessible. And let’s not forget about the entertainment value — it’s a win/win when your kids are learning math and having fun!

Hands-on Math Lessons

1st through 3rd grade activities

Encourage your child’s engagement with simple, hands-on activities. For example, use bingo chips, Legos or other objects as “counters” to help your children visualize abstract concepts. Instead of writing 3 – 2 =1 on a white board, use the counters to explain the same concept. Play math bingo. Choose whatever skill you want to practice such as addition, subtraction, etc. A quick Google search will give you the directions. Create paper plate clocks to help your children tell time and become more familiar with the numbers on the clock.

4th and 5th grade activities 

There are many math games available such as Fraction Puzzles, Divide and Conquer and more. You can also have your children convert fractions into decimals by playing bingo. Board games are also a fantastic hands-on resource for helping your child with math at home. For example, Yahtzee teaches addition and subtractions skills and Rummikub reinforces skills such as addition, sequencing and patterns. Use your imagination and your kids will respond in a positive manner, especially when they’re solving math problems in a fun environment.

Online Math Resources

1st through 5th grade activities

While there are many online games available, many of them are full of potentially dangerous ads and not age-appropriate for elementary school students. But Time4MathFacts educational games are ad-free and age-appropriate! These math games are entertaining and excellent at keeping kids engaged. And the longer your kids are engaged and practicing their math, the better chance they have at mastering math fact fluency.

For a more structured program, try a skill-building tool like Time4Learning’s elementary math curriculum. Students can review difficult concepts to help them practice and understand. These lessons not only teach your kids how to “do” math, but also include deeper conceptual elements to help them understand the “why.” This method builds a stronger math foundation and prepares your students for later complex concepts and problem solving.

Learn more tricks and strategies to support students struggling in math!