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Family Math Night!

Ever heard a child say, "I can't do math," and wished you could change that mentality? Zeno, a Seattle nonprofit, brings unique math experiences to elementary school students with the goal of all kids loving math.

With fun group games and activities, through Family Math Nights and Math Clubs held in local schools, as well as Zeno Math Camps held at school breaks and in the summer, they aim to build problem-solving skills and math self-confidence for everybody in the family.

One idea they encourage is starting your own Family Math Night playing math games together. Below are two games to try. Go to www.zenomath.org for more games and contact Caitlin Nunberg at caitlinnu@zenomath.org about bringing Zeno to your school or signing up for camps.

Family Math Games Fingers

Skill: Computational fluency and mental math

Grade range: Kthrough five

Supplies needed: hands

Object of the game: Be the first to call out the sum or product of all fingers displayed.

To play: K through fifth grade students can begin with addition. Students hold one or two hands behind their backs, and at the count of "three," students extend hands showing anything from 0 to 10 fingers. Whoever correctly states the sum of all the fingers first wins the round. Parents of third through fifth grade students can increase the challenge by encouraging them to use multiplication to find the product of all the fingers showing.

Get to 100

Skills: Place value and addition

Grade range: two through five

Supplies needed: Card deck with ace through nines and jacks; jack = 0, ace = 1

Set up: Deal five cards to each player.

Object of the game: Be the player with a total score closest to 0.

To play: Use all five cards to make a set of one- and two-digit numbers, with a sum as close as possible to 100. A player's score for the round is the difference between their sum and 100. After five rounds, a player tries to have his or her total score equal 0.


First hand: 7, 5, 2, 5, 3

75 + 25 + 3 = 103

Round one score = +3 (3 more than 100)

Second hand: 9, ace (1), 6, 2, jack (0)

91 + 6 + 2 + 0 = 99

Round two score = -1 (1 less than 100)

This player would start the third round with +2 points!

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