My STEM Units

Sunday, February 2, 2014

STEM@home: Math

STEM, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, is a term used by teachers to encompass lessons and projects which include these subjects. STEM units usually start with a problem.  The teacher guides the students through discovery and experimenting to find solutions.  STEM does not just happen at school. In fact, STEM can be very effective, engaging, and fun at home.  

Over the last few weeks, we have been looking at the various aspects of STEM and how you can encourage your child at home.


There are many ways to work on math skills at home.  Playing games is probably my favorite.  Never boring, usually loud, mostly funny, sometimes messy and always engaging. You most likely already have the supplies needed and can get started today!

Card Games:

There are as many card games as there are skill levels.  If your child is young, you may want to play Quick Draw.  Deal out the cards to the two players.  One player calls "draw!" and the two players flip over their top card.  Both players add the numbers shown in their head.  The first player to shout out the correct sum keeps both cards.  Play continues until all cards have been played.  The winner is the player with the most cards.

This game can be changed ever so slightly to work on subtraction.  Or multiplication.  Whatever level your child is on right now, they can do this with cards.  There are many great resources online.  Making Math More Fun is an 89 page "book" online with 41 card games for all levels, plus cards to print out.  (Click here to see the book)

If you don't have a deck of cards, you can print them from the book mentioned above.  Dollar stores usually have decks for $1.  If you live near a casino, you can get used decks for free.  Casinos have to change out their decks periodically to prevent cheating.  The decks just pile up to be thrown away.  If you go in and ask at the cashiers booth, they will more than likely give you a handful.  I have done this every year for my classroom and have received over 100 decks of cards, for free.  

Dice Games:

There are just as many dice games as there are card games.  Do a simple Google or Pinterest search using "dice games for students" and you will find hundreds.

One of my boys' favorite dice games was Two Dice Toss.  You can use a pre-printed graph or make your own.  You will also need something to write with (mine preferred crayons) and two dice.  Player 1 rolls both dice and adds them up.  They color in a box on the graph with the same sum.  For instance, if they rolled a 2 and a 5, they would color in a box on the 7.  Play continues until one sum reaches the top of the graph first.  Or until your food arrives at the restaurant.  (My boys used to love this game so much, I put two dice in my purse and we played at restaurants while waiting for our food)

A great online resource for dice games is  They have games for one dice, two dice, dominoes, and coins.

STEM@home is a series focusing on bring STEM activities into your home.  Read on and experience STEM@home today:

STEM@home: Science - Watching Science on TV
STEM@home: Science - Exploring national parks
STEM@home: Technology - Using apps to support your child

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