How can I make my 3rd grade math fun? From Bored to Board Games!

Learning to calculate, high five success

You remember being a kid, right? We’re all familiar with the fact that math is a subject that many students find challenging. I was one of those students. The numbers, the formulas, the abstract concepts – it can all seem a bit daunting. However, it doesn’t have to be this way.

By incorporating fun and engaging activities into your lessons, you can help your students develop a love for this subject.  Today we’ll talk about a variety of strategies and activities that you can use to make your lessons more enjoyable.

From interactive games to real-world applications, we’ll explore how to make math not just a subject to be learned, but an adventure to be experienced. This can be a fun experience for both students and teachers. Be creative, feel free to bring something new to the whole process of learning!

The Role of Interactive Activities

problem-solving tasks kids

Interactive activities play a crucial role in making this subject fun. They allow students to learn by doing, which not only enhances their understanding of the subject but also makes the learning process more enjoyable. Instead of passively listening to a lecture, students get to actively participate in the learning process.

Interactive activities can range from simple games to complex problem-solving tasks. Regardless of their complexity, these activities can make your lessons more engaging and help your students develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills. They’ll learn to see math as a tool they can use, not just a subject they have to study.

Incorporating Games

One of the most effective ways to make these lessons fun is by incorporating games into them. Games are not only enjoyable but also provide a practical context for learning mathematical concepts. They transform abstract concepts into tangible challenges that students can tackle.

Examples of Math Games

There are numerous games that you can incorporate into your lessons.

Math Bingo

This is a game that can be used to practice addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division. Students get to compete against each other to complete their bingo cards, all while practicing their math skills.

Materials Needed

Bingo cards: You can create your own or find printable ones online. Each card should have a grid of numbers. The size of the grid can vary, but 5×5 is common.

Bingo chips or markers: These can be anything small that fits on the squares of the Bingo cards, such as counters, coins, or small pieces of paper.

Math problems: Create a list of problems that correspond to the answers on the Bingo cards.

Step Description
1 Distribute the Bingo Cards: Give each player a Bingo card and markers. Each card should be different to ensure that not everyone gets Bingo at the same time.
2 Explain the Rules: Explain to the players that you will be calling out math problems and they need to solve them. If the answer is on their card, they can cover it with a marker.
3 Call Out Math Problems: Start the game by calling out a math problem from your list. Allow the players some time to solve the problem.
4 Mark the Answer: If a player has the answer to the problem on their card, they should cover it with a marker.
5 Check for Bingo: Continue calling out problems and marking off answers until a player gets Bingo. This can be five in a row horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. Some variations of the game may require players to fill their entire card.
6 Declare a Winner: The first player to get Bingo should call out “Bingo!” You should check their card to make sure their answers are correct. If they are, they are declared the winner. If not, the game continues until someone else gets Bingo.

Fraction War

Another game that can help students understand and compare fractions. In this game, students compete to see who has the larger fraction. It’s a fun and engaging way for students to practice comparing fractions.

Materials Needed:

A deck of fraction cards (You can create your own or purchase a deck online. Each card should have a fraction on it.)

Step Description
1 Shuffle the deck of fraction cards and distribute them evenly among the players. Each player should keep their stack of cards face down without looking at them.
2 Each player turns over the top card from their stack at the same time.
3 The players compare the fractions on their cards. The player with the larger fraction wins the round and collects all the cards played. If the fractions are equal, it’s a war!
4 In the event of a war, each player places three cards face down and then turns over a fourth card. The player with the larger fraction on the fourth card wins all the cards in the middle. If the fourth cards also match, the process is repeated until someone wins.
5 The game continues in this manner until one player has all the cards, or for a set amount of time. The player with the most cards at the end of the game wins!

Math Jeopardy

It is a game that can be used to review various math topics. You can customize the categories and questions to fit your current unit of study. You can also use online games and apps, which can provide an interactive and engaging learning experience for your students.

Materials needed:

Game Board: This can be created on a whiteboard, a poster board, or digitally using a tool like PowerPoint or Google Slides.

Questions and Answers: You’ll need to prepare a set of math questions and their corresponding answers. The questions should be categorized based on different math topics (e.g., addition, subtraction, multiplication, etc.) and should vary in difficulty.

Markers or Digital Tools: If you’re using a physical board, you’ll need markers to write the questions, answers, and keep score. If you’re using a digital board, you’ll need the necessary software or online platform.

Timer: A timer can be useful to limit the time teams have to answer a question. This can be a physical timer or a timer on a smartphone or computer.

Score Sheet: A score sheet to keep track of each team’s points. This can be a piece of paper, a section of your whiteboard, or a digital document.

Step Description
1 Create Your Game Board: Make a game board with several categories (e.g., “Addition,” “Subtraction,” “Multiplication,” “Division,” “Fractions”) and under each category, create five questions of increasing difficulty. Each question should be assigned a point value, typically in increments of 100 (100, 200, 300, 400, 500).
2 Split the Class into Teams: Divide your students into teams. These could be pairs, small groups, or even individuals.
3 Choose a Question: A team chooses a category and a point value (e.g., “Addition for 300”). You then present the question to that team.
4 Answer the Question: The team has a certain amount of time to discuss and answer the question. If they answer correctly, they earn the point value for that question. If they answer incorrectly, the other teams have a chance to answer.
5 Continue the Game: The game continues with teams taking turns choosing questions. Keep track of each team’s points on the board.
6 Final Jeopardy: For the final round, present a challenging question that any team can answer. Before revealing the question, each team decides how many of their points they want to “wager.” If they answer the Final Jeopardy question correctly, they add their wager to their score. If they answer incorrectly, they subtract it.
7 Determine the Winner: The team with the most points at the end of the game wins!

Benefits of Games

Math games offer several benefits. They provide a fun and engaging way for students to practice and reinforce math skills. They also promote strategic thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration among students.

Instead of working through a worksheet of problems, students get to solve puzzles, compete in challenges, and work together to achieve a common goal. Moreover, these games can be easily differentiated to meet the needs of all students, making them an excellent tool for personalized learning.

They can also be used as a formative assessment tool to gauge students’ understanding of the concepts being taught. You can quickly identify areas where students may be struggling and adjust your instruction accordingly.

Using Real-World Connections

math Real-World Connections

Making real-world connections in your lessons can make the subject more relevant and interesting for your students. It can help them understand the practical applications of the math concepts they are learning.

Ways to Make Real-World Connections

There are numerous ways to make real-world connections in your lessons. For instance, you can use shopping scenarios to teach addition and subtraction. Have your students “buy” items with a certain budget and calculate their change. Or use recipes to teach fractions.

Have your students “double” or “halve” a recipe and calculate the new measurements. You can also incorporate real-world problems into your lessons. For example, you can ask your students to calculate the distance between two places on a map or determine the total cost of a meal at a restaurant.

These activities can make your lessons more engaging and relevant to your students.

Importance of Real-World Connections

Real-world connections can make math more meaningful for students. They can help students understand why they are learning certain concepts and how they can apply them in their daily lives.

For instance, understanding fractions can help them divide a pizza evenly, and knowing how to calculate area can help them figure out how much paint they need to paint a room.

Moreover, real-world connections can enhance students’ problem-solving skills. By presenting them with real-world problems, you can encourage them to think critically and apply their math skills to find solutions. They’ll see that this isn’t just a subject they learn in school, but a valuable tool they can use in their everyday lives.

Incorporating Technology

math learning platform

Technology can be a powerful tool in the learning process. There are numerous educational apps and websites that offer interactive games and activities.

Educational Apps and Websites

There are numerous educational apps and websites that you can use in your lessons.

Prodigy” is a game-based learning platform that offers math games aligned with the common core standards. “Khan Academy” is another resource that offers interactive lessons and practice exercises. “Zearn” is a website that offers comprehensive lessons that include interactive activities, games, and digital manipulatives.

Benefits of Using Technology

Using technology in your lessons can provide a more engaging and interactive learning experience for your students. It can also provide instant feedback, allowing students to learn from their mistakes and improve their skills.

Technology can provide personalized learning experiences. Many educational apps and websites offer adaptive learning paths, which adjust based on the student’s performance. This allows students to learn at their own pace, focusing on areas where they need more practice.

Using Hands-On Activities

math Hands-On Activities

Hands-on activities allow students to explore mathematical concepts in a tangible and meaningful way. These can enhance students’ understanding of math concepts by allowing them to explore and manipulate physical objects. They can also promote active learning, critical thinking, and problem-solving.

Moreover, hands-on activities can cater to different learning styles, making them an excellent tool for differentiated instruction. They can also provide a context for learning, making this subject more relevant and meaningful for students.

For instance, you can use manipulatives such as counters, base ten blocks, or fraction bars to teach various math concepts.

You can also use activities such as “Math Stations” or “Math Centers,” where students rotate through different stations and engage in various hands-on activities. These activities can provide a fun and engaging way for students to practice and reinforce their skills.

Why is all of this Important?

Making math fun is crucial for young learners. It helps them develop a positive attitude towards the subject, which can significantly impact their academic performance. When students enjoy what they are learning, they are more likely to be engaged and retain the information.

They look forward to these lessons, eager to discover what new challenges await them. Moreover, this can help students overcome math anxiety, a common issue that can hinder their ability to learn and understand mathematical concepts.

By creating a positive and enjoyable learning environment, you can help your students build confidence in their skills. They’ll see math not as a subject to be feared, but as a puzzle to be solved, a game to be won.


math learning

How can I make the subject fun for a child who is advanced in it?

Challenge them with more complex problems and puzzles. Consider using online resources that offer advanced activities and games.

Is it possible to make homework more interesting?

Try turning homework tasks into games, or use rewards as motivation. Also, consider using online resources that make learning interactive.

What to do with auditory learners to achieve better results?

Try using songs or rhymes to teach math concepts. There are many online resources with songs that can help make learning math fun.

How can I make math fun for a child with a short attention span?

Break lessons into short, manageable chunks. Use a variety of activities to keep them engaged, and incorporate movement and games.

How to incorporate sports in the learning process?

Sports offer many opportunities to apply math concepts. For example, you can use statistics from a favorite sport to teach data analysis.


Making 3rd grade math more interesting may require some creativity and planning, but the benefits are well worth the effort. If you incorporate games, real-world connections, technology, and hands-on activities into your lessons, you can create a positive and engaging learning environment for your students.

Basically, you can help your students so much just by reminding yourself of how to use your imagination and have fun.

When students enjoy what they are learning, they are more likely to be engaged and retain the information. So, let’s have a good time! Let’s turn those abstract numbers and formulas into exciting challenges to be solved, games to be won, and adventures to be experienced.