Help Your Child With Math: Improve Math Skills Using Dominos, Checkers, and Dice

There is a strong link between visual input and math comprehension. Elementary school students who somehow miss out on the “eye-brain-number” connection may have trouble in math class. Failure to perceive patterns in everyday situations can contribute to difficulties in higher grade levels. If patterns in floor tiles, sidewalks, brick walls, fabric designs, etc. are never noticed, a child may have problems with basic math concepts like multiplication. If a child can’t estimate numbers of things fairly closely, math class may bring on unpleasant feelings or fear. A difficulty estimating is an indication that math help may be needed.

As a special education teacher of middle-school aged students, I saw that these types of deficits were responsible for many children being several grade-levels behind in math. I devised some techniques that helped them greatly. First I had to identify any lapses in basic computation skills. Then I designed lessons that focused on fixing them. Here are a few of the game-type activities that parents, siblings or tutors can use at home to produce real progress in math. Choose those which will address the specific needs of your child.

The first involves using dice. If you have a Yahtzee game, you already have the five dice that come with the game. Other games like Parcheesi or Monopoly also have dice. Dice are excellent for improving addition speed through recognition of patterns.

Here are a few ways to help your child improve basic math skills:


  1. Throw three dice and quickly add them. Focus on recognizing like numbers (4+4, 6+6) as they occur and add them first.
  2. Throw four dice and find combinations that add up to ten (4+6, 5+5) and then look for like numbers. Adding anything to ten is very easy.
  3. Throw all five dice and use both like numbers and ten combinations. Have someone time you over several throws to get an average time to get the totals. Keep this number to compare with future efforts and measure improvement.


A couple sets of dominoqq pkv can be used to improve multiplication ability. Make three or four stacks of dominos of equal heights. Quickly have your child say the total number of dominos by multiplying the number in each stack by the number of stacks. Adding the individual dominos is not allowed except to check for accuracy. Ask your child to demonstrate that three stacks of two is the same as two stacks of three. This is an important principle in multiplication (2 x 3 = 3 x 2).

Using a checkerboard and two large sheets of paper or cardboard, cover various rows to reveal a rectangle or square pattern. Ask you child to quickly say the total number of squares exposed. Begin with two rows and increase the number gradually (2 x 2, 2 x 3, 3 x 4, etc.) depending on your child’s ability.

Vary the games occasionally to keep the process fresh and to focus on specific needs. Compare the new timing averages for dice addition and for domino multiplication so you will be able to measure progress. Over a few weeks you should see an improvement in speed as the visual-brain-connection develops.

After you try these techniques, you will have a pretty good idea of whether some remedial work on basic math facts would be a good idea. The MATH CATCH-UP GUIDE covers these areas plus other 5th and 6th grade math concepts in an enjoyable 38 lesson format.


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