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Simple Math games without screens, pencils or paper

Kids love playing games - and they love to win. This natural competitive drive can make simple Math games a fun way to revisit basic counting, addition and multiplication. There are so many variations to try, but this step-by-step approach to a homemade, indoor version of basketball is one way to get started.


  • You need a ball of some kind. I like to have the kids make their own out of tin foil or crumpled paper just to get them moving and feeling a sense of control and ownership over the game.

  • Something to throw the ball into. Any container, basket or small pot will work well. Again, having your child choose this themselves will help build excitement about the game.


  1. Decide what aspect of Math you would like your child to work on.

  2. The object of the game is simply to throw the ball into the hole and to gather points each time until someone gets to the final target number first (your choice).

  3. If you are practicing multiplication, then pick a number to work on (maybe the 6 times table) and make every successful "basket" worth 6 points.

  4. Each time someone gets the ball into the hole they win 6 points (decide how many tries for the "basket" each player gets at each turn).

  5. Your child will continue to recite their score with each basket, and as they advance will have to remember that if they have 4 balls in, and each is worth 6 points, they now have 24 points.

  6. You can practice all of the multiplication tables this way, and it works well with basic addition as well. Younger children who are simply learning to count will benefit from counting the number of "tries" to get the ball in the hole as well as the points each player accumulates. Making each "basket" worth two points will teach them to count by twos with ease.


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