Getting active with maths

  • Published on June 2, 2017

Many games involve children in practising maths skills, and playing games is a great way of incorporating fun into the maths program. With the additional benefit of supporting the development of social skills and, oftentimes, literacy skills, there is no reason to not include games. A daily dose of fun with maths contributes much to an enjoyable classroom experience, developing positive attitudes to maths, in addition to providing opportunities for consolidation and practice of maths learning.

Adding a little physical activity to the game increases the benefits, and there are many simple games that can be played with the whole class, indoors or out; some that require equipment and some that don’t; some that take just a few minutes, and some that take several. Many games can be invented on the spot to suit current learning.

In my most recent teaching position, I was fortunate to have a large grassy area right outside my door. It took no time at all for the class to move outside, engage in an activity, and then return to the classroom. We could play a game as part of the regular maths lesson, as a transition activity, if I felt the children had been sitting for too long, or if it just seemed time to get the fidgets out. The activity provided a welcome break and the children were ready to settle back in to work afterwards.

In addition to these daily activities, I usually tried to incorporate some type of active maths into our weekly maths groups where children participated in small groups rather than with the whole class.

Some of the games we played as a whole class were:


Silly numbers involved children in counting around the circle. We’d nominate a secret number; for example, 5, and give it a silly name; for example, banana. The child who would normally say a number that is counted in 5s; for example, 5, 10, 15, 20 … says the silly name and sits down. Continue counting until all are sitting.

Funny bunny ears was fun for the last few moments before lunch. Children could go to lunch when they got the right answer. I’d say a number; for example, eight. Children would have to hold up a combination of that many fingers, like bunny ears, above their heads.

Living graphs required children to stand in lines (like a bar graph) to show the number; for example, children could line up to show:

  • Number born in each month.
  • Number in family
  • Favourite colours
  • Favourite sport


Making groups has children quickly forming groups of a particular number. As soon as they have formed the group, they sit. As well as showing how many ways the children can be organised, it helps develop an understanding of remainder. For example; in a class of 24, there can be eight groups of three, four groups of six, twelve groups of two, etc. But when groups of five are made, there are four left over.

Odd and even has children working up a sweat. Like ship to shore. Nominate one end of the space for odd and the other for even. Call a number. If odd, children run to the odd end. If even, children run to the even end. Call numbers randomly and in quick succession to keep children alert and moving.

Instructions for playing these games and others are available in in the new free readilearn resource

Maths games and activities for the whole class #1

maths games and activities cover

There is also another new free resource with ideas for fun maths games for groups.

Games for maths groups #1

Suitable for the whole class

#2 Groups

Suitable for groups

Register now to begin using these free early childhood teaching resources, or Subscribe for access to all resources.

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    Thanks Bec. I’m pleased you like the games. I’m sure we have played many together!

    Oh, Norah. ???? I can just imagine your classroom and the giggles. You always seem to be able to incorporate learning into fun activities. Wonderful.

    Thank you, Sarah. I always think there should be as much fun, and learning, as possible in the school day! I guess a little bit of fun adds to the school day in the same way a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine. 🙂

    Thanks so much, Michelle. I’m pleased you enjoyed the post.

Please share your thoughts. I love it when you do.

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