Learning addition and subtraction is a key skill in kindergarten, so let’s make it fun and hands-on. Keep students engaged so they love learning about math! We have compiled a list of fun addition/subtraction games for kindergarten that you can play in centers or with small groups! Students will love playing the games and you will love that they’re practicing important skills at the same time! Keep reading and grab a free printable below!
Looking for a way to keep students engaged while having fun during math centers? We have you covered with a list of the best addition/subtraction games for them to play. And grab a free printable at the bottom to help with a “Roll & Cover” dice game perfect for practicing addition!
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Dominoes: This isn’t necessarily a game, but students LOVE playing with dominoes so it’s easy to create a game using them. Students will work in pairs for this one. Mix up the dominoes and have two students grab one domino each. They can put them end to end, count the dots, and create their own addition or subtraction problem, depending on the skill you are working on. Have the students write the problem on a paper, I.e. 3+2=, and then have them work out the answer. Using manipulatives takes the monotony out of just writing math problems on a worksheet.
Pop-Its: Another fun manipulative for students to use is a pop-it! Have addition or subtraction problems written on note cards/index cards and students can use the bubbles to work out the answer. For example, if it says “5+6=”, have one student push down 5 bubbles, the other student push down 6, and then they discover the answer. To practice subtraction, have one student press down all the bubbles, and the other “un-pop” the amount to be subtracted and see what is left. For even more activities to do with pop-its, check out our bundle here!
Addition/Subtraction War: This is a fun twist to the card game “war”. A pair of students will flip two cards over and add them together. The student with the highest card keeps both. For subtraction, flip two cards and subtract. The student with the lowest number keeps the cards. Whoever collects the most cards by the end of the center time wins!
Subtraction Bowling: This is a fun game that uses a bowling word problem. You can choose to use either plastic cups or actual bowling pins! On a card will be a word problem that says, “I had 10 pins. I knocked down ___. Now I have ___.” The student will roll the ball to knock the pins over and then answer the question. To add another element, the paper can have pictures of 10 pins at the top that students can cross out as they knock the, down. Put this inside a plastic sheet protector to use whiteboard markers and tissues to erase. Here is a plastic bowling game on Amazon if you want to use real pins instead of cups!
More Fun Math Games
Subtraction Smash: This is a class favorite! Students will read a subtraction card and then use playdough to make balls. If the problem is “5-2=” they will form 5 balls out of the dough, and then smash 2 balls with their fists to represent the subtraction! Count how many balls are left to find the answer.
Ducks in a Pond: Place some small rubber ducks in a container of water. You can start with 10, then have students hide their eyes while you remove a number of ducks. When they open their eyes, they need to count how many are left to figure out how many were subtracted. Have them write it down on a worksheet, or do it on a whiteboard with markers! Here is a set of 12 small ducks from Amazon:
Dice Roll: Play this game in multiple ways to meet the needs of your students! Individual: each student has two dice, rolls them, and adds them up. Pairs: Each student rolls one dice and finds the sum. They write their answers on dry erase boards or a worksheet. Group: You can also group your students in 3s or 4s and give each student one dice to roll and pick out greater/ less than or the same number. Lots of differentiation here! (Check out our freebie to use as a game with this below!)
Something simple you can do to practice subtraction with engagement is to have students sing along and draw pictures of different songs. Some examples are “Five Little Speckled Frogs”, “No More Monkeys Jumping on the Bed!”, and “Five Little Ducks.” Pause the song throughout and ask, “There were 4 speckled frogs, and one jumped into the pool. How many will be left?” Here is a cute Youtube video of the song:
Roll and Cover Freebie
Roll and Cover Game: This can be played independently or in a pair! Students will roll the dice and add up the dots. On their recording sheet (get the freebie below!) they cover up the correct number when they get that sum. Use manipulatives such as mini erasers, colored counting chips, cubes, or any small item to cover each one up. You can use the colored copy to laminate and use it for many years to come. Or use the black and white version to have students color in each number when they get it. There are also pages with dotted lines for students to practice writing the numbers as well! Once all the numbers are “covered up”, the student wins the game! Another differentiated idea: use dice with dots, or numbered dice, depending on the skill level of the students. This is such a fun game to get students excited about learning addition!
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This post was written by Johanna, an experienced early elementary teacher who loves learning about new teaching ideas for preschool, kindergarten, and first grade!