Fourth grade is a key year for a child’s math education. Granted, every grade in elementary school math is important, but a 4th grader faces new challenges as they transition from the flash cards and memorization of their younger years to more advanced concepts that will ultimately prepare them for algebra and geometry in middle and high school.
Fourth-graders struggling with math can benefit from an afterschool math program or additional tutoring. But all kids at this age, whether proficient or requiring extra help, can keep their skills sharp with quick, enjoyable math drills outside of school. Parents don’t need to turn to extra, tedious worksheets for their kids, who see enough written problems at school and for homework. Here are five effective and fun math drills that you can introduce to your 4th grader:
1. License plate game
Parents may feel like chauffeurs in their children’s busy lives, but time in the car can be turned into math opportunities. There are numbers all over the road—especially on the license plates of other cars. Instruct your 4th grader to pick out a car and read the numbers on the plate. From these numbers, the possibilities for math drills are endless:
- Double the number, or divide it by two.
- Multiply the digits together.
- Turn the first two digits into one number and multiply by the third digit.
- Round to the nearest ten or hundred.
- Reverse the number and add it to the original.
2. Multiplication/division dice
Roll two dice and multiply the generated two-digit number by the result of a third die, or divide the larger number by the smaller (don’t forget the remainder!). For more of a multiplication challenge, add another die to the second number. This easy game for fourth-graders provides multiplication and division work without the worksheets.
3. Multiplication war
A deck of cards can be a great accessory for math drills. Take out the jacks, queens, and kings, and use the cards to generate two- or three-digit numbers. You can use the deck to play a game similar to multiplication dice, or you can play multiplication war. Flip two cards, multiply them, and the higher product wins the opponent’s cards—just like regular war. For more of a challenge, use three cards at a time, generating a two-digit number to be multiplied by the third card; you might not get many wars, but fourth-graders will get a lot of math.
4. Mind-bending multiples
Most fourth-graders have had experience counting multiples of single-digit numbers and 10 (e.g., count by threes: 3, 6, 9, 12 …). But have they ever counted by 14s or 27s? This math drill will challenge kids to add and multiply in their heads. Pick a low (at first) two-digit number and count by that number to at least past 100. For an added twist, ask your child to guess how many times the two-digit number will be counted in the three-digit number (e.g., about how many times will 19 go into 200?). This adds estimation and a little bit of division into the process.
5. Grocery store math
A trip to the grocery store is an extravaganza in quick math drills. Weighing produce (e.g., how much will five oranges cost at $1.75 a pound?), determining actual prices on sale items (e.g., if eight packages of ramen noodles are $2.00, how much does each package cost?), and keeping a running tally of the food in your cart (using rounding and estimating) are among the many challenges that can turn an otherwise boring trip to the store into a math adventure.
What quick math drills do your children enjoy?