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Play At Home: I Like Math

Photo – Ethiopia – 2019 _– Ife 16 – Individual.jpg

This is a fun game where whoever adds the fastest wins! At Right To Play, we use play to teach important life lessons and skills in ways that engage children and youth of all ages. All our games include a Reflect-Connect-Apply (RCA) section that reinforces the lesson or skill that the game is designed to teach through a guided discussion with the participants.

  • Ages: 8+
  • Key learning: to mentally add numbers.
  • Goal of the game: a game where we work with others to add numbers as quickly as possible using mental math.
  • What You Need: 2 or more players

Opening Questions
  • Why is math important?
  • What is mental math? When are some times in your life you've used mental math?
  • How do you do mental math?
How To Play

Step 1

Divide into pairs and kneel facing one another.

Step 2

Each person will leave one hand behind their back and move their other hand forward in a fist.

  • At the same time, both of you shake your fists three times singing, “I like math.”
  • On the third shake of your hands, at the same time that you say “math,” each person will extend their fingers.
  • They can extend between 0 - 5 fingers.
  • You will look at the two sets of fingers and add them together using mental math. For example, if one person has extended five fingers and the other person has extended three fingers, then you will have to solve the math equation 5 + 3. The answer will be 8.
  • Whoever adds the number correctly out loud first stands up. The person who does not remains kneeling.
  • If you're playing with more than 2 people, once you finish, move around to find someone who is also kneeling or standing to play against.
  • If you add the second number correctly first, you continue to stand. If you do not, you must kneel again.
  • Try to stay standing for as long as possible.

Step 3

Now you can use two hands.

  • Make fists with both hands and shake them three times while chanting, “I like math.”
  • On the third shake of your fists, extend 0-10 fingers with both hands.

Step 4

Once everyone is comfortable with this version of the game, challenge yourselves to work with higher numbers (e.g. one finger represents units of five or ten).

  • You can also use multiplication instead of addition.
Watch For
  • Is everyone quickly recognizing the number associated with the fingers?
  • Does everyone understand how to add the numbers together? Are they helping each other and sharing ideas for how to add the numbers together?
  • What else do you see people doing, if anything, as they add the numbers together? Are they using mental math or a combination of strategies?


  • How did you do in adding numbers together mentally?
  • Was it easier to add or multiply the numbers together?
  • Were some numbers easier/more difficult for you to add together than others? Which ones? Why do you think that is?


  • What did you do to add the numbers together in your mind? How did you do that? What strategy did you use?
  • Have you ever had to add numbers together in your mind? Where? For what reasons?


  • What different strategies could you try to add numbers together?
  • How can mental math help you in your everyday life?