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Math Games for First Graders Reinforce Learning and Build Fluency

Teachers use math games for first graders to reinforce concepts that have been taught, build fluency with math facts, and facilitate creative problem solving. When learning to compare and combine sets of numbers, children need a lot of practice with one step before proceeding to the next step. This is the foundation for mathematical operations such as addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Games help to keep interest keen and to keep students practicing the necessary skills until they are mastered.

When children are learning a new skill, the process needs to be presented several times to ensure mastery. The challenge faced by teachers is to keep interest high so that students will stay engaged and continue practicing even after they understand the concepts. A variety of tasks should be presented, including games call for quick recall of facts, those that help students remember concepts, and those that require some divergent thinking.

Online math games are a wonderful tool to ensure that students get the practice they need. They enjoy the challenge, the friendly characters and the humor that nudges them along. Research shows that children learn best when working just above the level where they require intervention. Games that automatically adjust to the student’s level and provide real-time feedback to the teacher help to keep children at their best learning level. With the feedback, the teacher is able to quickly see which children need more help and provide immediate assistance. A system that also allows children to continue play at home supports learning and ensures they do not forget what was taught before returning to the class.

Games that Build Fluency

Basic addition facts should be practiced until the student no longer has to think about them to come up with the right answer. The sum should just pop out, so to speak. Building this fluency is much easier with math games for first graders that require a quick response. Two children could play “war” with facts through five by using cards numbered 1 – 5 and drawing 2 cards each play. Cards can be easily made from plain index cards for this game. The first child to answer correctly keeps the cards that were drawn. Once proficiency is reached with 1 – 5, add cards 6 – 12. Make the game more complex by having each child draw two cards. The child with the higher sum then gets to keep the cards.

Another addition card game that could be used is ‘Snap.’ Cut out construction paper shapes and write sums on them. Laminate the shapes. Let children roll dice and add the numbers without writing them down. The first child to tap the correct sum wins a point. Many computer games are also available that will help children build their fluency with addition facts.

Let the students use online math games for first graders to further enhance their fluency with addition facts and learn about number combinations. Online math games also help to stamp in the new concepts being taught so that children are able to progress from one level to the next without getting confused. The teacher feedback provided by the system helps to ensure that the concept is fully mastered before new material is presented.

Games that Reinforce Concepts

Some math games for first graders help to reinforce addition concepts that have just been taught. One such game reinforces the skill of “counting on,” or moving up the number line from a starting point. Divide the class into two teams. Appoint a captain for each team. For each team, have a circle or square on the floor. Ask the captains to choose two players to go to their circle. On the board, write 2 + 3 + ___. Say, “Choose three more to go to the circle, and then finish the equation.” The first captain to complete the task wins. The winning captain writes the next equation: 5 + ___ = ___ under the first equation and fills in the number to be added. Each captain chooses the correct number of students to enter the circle. The first captain to complete the equation writes the next one. Continue until all students have been added to the circles.

Adapt a board game for counting on by writing numerals in sequence on the spaces. Have the child throw dice to determine how many spaces to move. What space will he get to with that many steps?
Have the child play a solitary game that helps with number combinations and facts. Use a regular card deck. Remove jokers, jacks, kings and queens. Deal out cards into four piles, face up. Child finds combinations of cards that equal 10. Change to a different sum and play again.

Games that Encourage Creative Thinking

Games of strategy help children develop thinking skills. ‘Chutes and Ladders’ is one game that helps to stamp in addition facts at the same time kids develop their skills in planning moves. Research indicates that even very young children employ strategy when playing this game. As they get older, the strategies become increasingly complex.

Dominoes can be played in several ways. Use the game to have children practice addition by adding up the dots on their pieces. Allow players to add the dots on the piece they add to the pattern on the board and the pieces they connect to. Have students write down the equations that the dominoes represent. In order to win a game of dominoes, players must find ways to use all of their own dominoes while keeping other players from going out.

Online math games really shine when it comes to providing a challenge to creative thinking. The challenges are instantly adjusted to the student’s optimal learning level to give a good balance of support and challenge.

Teachers use math games for first graders because they keep young learners engaged and excited about doing well. Games can be used to increase the student’s fluency with addition facts to achieve instant recall. Other games can help children understand math concepts and extend their learning. Games of strategy can be used to develop critical thinking skills while practicing addition facts.

The games chosen for math reinforcement need to be on the correct level for the student. If practicing addition facts up to 20 is too challenging, limit the game to fewer facts. It is important that the child experience both a challenge and success. Online math games can automatically adjust to the student’s level. Integrating math games for first graders into the curriculum is good strategy for helping students develop math competencies.


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