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mental arithmetic games

Mental Arithmetic. I can still remember the way I felt when I was at school and Friday rolled around, just so I could see how I’d score that week. I haven’t always been brilliant at it, but I guess I’ve always loved maths. When Gav and I met, we spent hours watching Numbers on TV [Charlie and Don Epps], and after that I spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to get the phrase “we use maths everyday” into as many of my children’s vocabularies as possible. So in case we’ve never met, these weren’t my actual children, they were my classes of children; I was a teacher. Before Hero came along, I was years into my career as a primary school teacher, educating little ones from 4-11 and I loved it. The teaching that is, not the politics or the paperwork. During my time in schools, I tried my best to make lessons as exciting and engaging as possible – and I did a pretty good job if I do say so myself. Haha.

Anyhow, We’ve been at home for a few weeks now and we’re finally starting our first official home learning project together! When I’ve talked to friends about what we’re doing, they’ve been interested to join in and so we’re going to do it on here, publish what we’re doing with plans – so if you want to join in, you can – it will give you a little bit of learning task each day to do, whether maths or literacy or whatever. Anyhow, that’s a blog post for tomorrow, because today is all about the mental maths.


Today I wanted to give a little bit of help to anyone who has maths avoiders at home like me. I have one. How, I don’t know, given I LOVE maths and his dad is a maths geek [IBMer] too. It’s like a special kind of mom-torture for me. Despite me rattling out all of the reasons he needs maths on a daily basis [and I’ll find more every time I start recanting them], our dear son rolls his eyes and tunes out – he’d rather run towards zombies during an apocalypse instead of towards numbers.

So, we have to make maths into a game every day, do a little bit every day. It’s the only way to break down the barrier he has against maths. The reason he doesn’t like maths is because he thinks he’s not a “good” mathematician. You see, luckily for him, he’s a natural speller. NEVER has to learn his spellings after looking at them and his reading age is through the roof. He then doesn’t see why maths is something he actually has to learn, and apply himself to. And he drifts. So games it is.


We’ve been playing bingo and all kinds of games I’ve made up on the spot, but today I’ve made a sheet for addition and multiplication that you can use every day. A SHEET! Some people love worksheets. So here you are.

Honestly, usually I just scribble down circles, which probably accounts for the boys being disgusted and disinterested when I greet them with a big smile and a scrunched up scrap of circle filled paper for them to use, but since we have our new printer [don’t get me STARTED on that printer, it’s been a complete nightmare since the get go a couple of days ago] I decided to make a pretty sheet with some graphics from the lovely Inkley Studio on, and treat the boys. Haha. I’m sharing it with you so you can get five minutes of maths into your lives too, pain free.


Simple and fun mental arithmetic template for addition and multiplication games.
Our simple mental arithmetic template



Numbers of Dice Used

Using two dice, you’ll be adding up to 12, three dice up to 18; four dice to 24 and so on.


Take your pen before giving the sheet to your little one and add numbers to 12, 18 or whatever amount of dice you’ve decided on randomly in the circles on the sheet. If you’re only using two dice, you’ll have to repeat four of the numbers as you have 16 circles.

When the dice are rolled and the numbers added together, the corresponding number is searched for on the sheet and it’s coloured. One player, you can time it for a little bit of excitement [depending on whether your child would enjoy the added pressure or not], or two players – the winner is the one with most circles coloured.


Roll the dice, add and record the numbers in the circles. Which did they get most? Least?


This is a more fun way to keep times tables going at home. Times tables can be a real struggle for children and so, so boring to learn. We all know we need to just get them embedded in our brains, but boy it’s hard.

So…you’ll need two dice again, and then decide on which set of times tables you want to play. Add some of the multiples in the chosen times table to the sheet that you know they’re still learning to get to grips with [so if you’re using the 3 times table, 3, 6, 9, 12 and so on] and then they roll the two dice to be added together and multiplied by the chosen times table.

So, if we’d chosen the 3 times table, we roll two dice [or one, depending on how far up the times table you’d like to go] and say we scored 7. We then multiply the 7 times 3and we’re searching for 21 on the sheet to colour in. Easy, and it’s all over in less than ten minutes. They can play alone or take it in turns to roll. Winner has the most coloured when they’re all done.


I’ve included a few links to different dice for you, in case you’re short of these precious cubes at home. Haha.

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  1. Thank you for the great ideas. I am drawn to the idea of a fun 5 minutes of maths every day to engage reluctant learners. Every home has dice so what a super way to learn numbers.

    1. Hey, thank you! Five minutes a day builds their confidence and number skills easily – and rolling a dice is always more fun than just a boring worksheet. We have dice everywhere here!

  2. Thanks for the printable and for the great ideas. I shall send to my daughter who is home schooling my 5 year old granddaughter.

  3. Lots of great ideas! My hands up, I don’t like maths! My daughter is in high school and she showed me her maths work when home schooling started…. I can’t do it! I was so perplexed! She is in year 9 but I’m sure I never had to learn what she is learning now!

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