Math gifts for kids

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Playing math games can help your child love numbers and learning
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Board games that reinforce math skills make great gifts.

Each year at Christmas, parents spend hundreds of dollars on gifts for their kids. Sadly, many of those gifts get pushed into a corner within a few days or weeks of the holidays, only to be tossed away in next year's toy purge. I've found one type of gifts that my kids actually keep playing with, though: board games. Since I'm a homeschooling mom, I'm always looking for ways to sneak some learning into their playtime, and learning games and math gifts are perfect.

Board games

There are many board games that can improve your kids' math skills. Monopoly and Life both teach basic addition and money skills. For even younger kids, the game Snakes and Ladders helps reinforce counting skills. If your kids need to work on basic mathematic functions like addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, try a game like 24 or Flip 4.

Card games

As a child, I played cribbage often with my grandmother, and it reinforced my skip counting skills: counting by 2s, 5s, and 10s. If you have a preschooler who is still learning his numbers, Uno can be a great game to help with number recognition. Rack-o is a good game to help learn number order.

Logic is a skill that goes hand in hand with math, and there are many games that help reinforce logic and thinking skills. SET is a game that forces you to think logically. Even strategy games like checkers and chess reinforce thinking skills that help boost math scores.


Puzzle books can also make great math gifts. One of my sons has discovered that he loves doing Sudoku puzzles. All of those numbers make my head spin, but he loves them, and his logic skills are getting a workout. There are many other number puzzles, even number crossword puzzles, number "word-finds," and number fill-in puzzles.

Tangram puzzles are another great gift for kids. These puzzles are made up of colorful geometric shapes. Children can either make their own picture using the shapes, or match them to preprinted cards with simple pictures of things like houses, rocket ships, and animals. Playing with tangrams will help your child learn basic geometric concepts like line, angle, and vertex, as well as the names of the various shapes.

Math gifts may not be the first thing on your child's Christmas list, but they can be perfect stocking stuffers, and will last longer than that action figure your child will leave behind the couch cushion before the New Year.

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