Monthly Archives: October 2016

Fishing for Tens: A Math Game for Elementary Students

I’ve been really into math games lately, they’re a great way to allow kids to practice skills and facts without whipping out a worksheet. A quick search for “math games” will produce a lot of results…but with mixed levels of quality. A good game should incorporate math skills as a fundamental part of the game and should allow for reasoning.  So a game where they have to rapidly answer a math fact in order to shoot down an alien doesn’t cut it for me.

Here’s one I have been having a lot of fun with. The rules are very simple, it is based on Go Fish! However, instead of making pairs you have to make tens. Making tens is the back bone of so much mental math in elementary school.

  1. Start with a deck of Uno cards (I like these because the numbers are nice and big).
  2. Take out all the non-numerical cards and the zeros too (because you can’t make tens with a zero since there is no 10 card).img_19143. Everyone gets 7 cards to start with. The first player starts by putting down any pairs of cards in their hand that make ten. Then they ask another player for a card that they need in order to make ten. So if I have a 7 I’ll ask for a 3, etc. Pairs are laid down as they are created. If you ask someone for a card they do not have they tell you to “go fish” and you draw from the pile of remaining cards. If you draw the card you were looking for you get to go again.img_1915

4. After the first player has gone the second player lays down any pairs of ten they were dealt. They then begin asking other players for the cards they need.

5. If a player runs out of cards they may draw 7 more.

6. The game is over when everyone is out of cards and there are no more cards in the pile.


A great feature of this game is it can be played by children of two different levels. I recently played it with a 3rd grader and a kindergartner. The kindergarten student made matching pairs to practice her number recognition.


And it worked out just fine having the third grader making tens at the same time. After a few rounds students memorize the pairs that make tens without having to think about it!

Hip Homeschool Moms

Horse Math Problem: Solved!

This problem recently went viral.


My first reaction was “Hooray! Another math problem went viral.” But beyond that I found it really interesting to troll through the thousands of comments. And this problem illustrates an important issue. People were all able to correctly figure out what a horse, pair of boots, and horseshoe had to equal. Their mistake came when they substituted in the last step.


Pair of Horseshoes=4

One Horseshoe=2

Pair of boots=2

One boot=1

So what does 1 + 10 x  2 equal?


Why? Because you multiply first and then add. PEMDAS, or the order of operations guides us hear. So it is not a matter of opinion or debate. In math we have a prescribed way of doing things just so we can avoid massive internet confusion like what we have witnessed with this problem.