Fun Math Stuff You Can Do With Your Kids

5 Great Alternatives to Math Textbooks and Worksheets

Real mathematicians approach a problem with a sense of playfulness. They get a feeling of satisfaction when they find the right answer -- and that's what you should strive for with your kids as well. Here are some resources that can help:

Museum of Mathematics

If you're in or near New York City, the National Museum of Mathematics lets kids get hands-on with some of the wonders of math.

There are tons of puzzles, and even a couple of rides: a square-wheeled bike you can pedal over a corrugated track, and a Coaster Roller that lets you pull a platform over some strange-looking "balls."

The Museum is located in Manhattan at 11 East 26th Street, between Fifth Avenue and Madison Avenue, and is open seven days a week. More »

Katherine Belsey/

One of the printable toys you can find on the website is a Calculating Frog. According to paper engineer and designer Katherine Belsey, it's based on a 1916 tin toy called an “Educated Monkey.” Belsey's cute paper version will make learning math facts more fun than flash cards ever could.

Just slide the frog's feet to point to the numbers you want to multiply, divide, add or subtract and his hands will point to the answer. The printable file costs $1.99.

You can also find a free printable version of the original monkey design on the website for Makedo cardboard construction toys. More »


Vi Hart calls herself a "recreational mathemusician." Her witty and intriguing short math-based videos explore everything from folded paper shapes like hexaflexagons to the math in your Thanksgiving green bean casserole.

Check out Hart's viral series "Doodling in Math Class" series on YouTube. You can also see more of her videos on the education site Khan Academy. More »

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Parents rave about the educational app DragonBox. A game for smartphone, tablet, or desktop computer, DragonBox "secretly" teaches the principles of algebra as kids work their way through different levels.

Players learn to "balance equations" by dragging and dropping items on both sides of the split screen. Beat the various challenges and you can add to your collection of colorful dragons that hatch and grow as you progress.

The DragonBox website claims that children as young as 4 are soon solving equations at a middle school level. From what homeschool parents have told me, the cost is well worth it.

DragonBox Algebra 5+ for younger kids costs $5.99. The more advanced DragonBox Algebra 12+ for middle and high school students is $9.99. More »


Bedtime Math works on the same principle as the bedtime story -- share a little math at the end of the day and make it an enjoyable part of your child's life. According to the website, "Bedtime Math isn’t an official 'curriculum.'  It’s just a fun chance for kids to do math in their heads, so someday when they’re shopping and everything’s 20% off, they can figure out the sale price before the store closes."

You can access their Daily Math puzzles online, or sign up for their emails without charge. There's also a free app for on-the-go math fun, as well as a Bedtime Math book by founder Laura Overdeck.

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