Being able to quickly and naturally do basic math like addition and multiplication in your mind is a very useful skill. Mental math is a skill that is being lost in our generation of cell phones where a calculator is never far away. As I have home schooled my kids off and on over the years, I have noticed a trend with some of my kids. They understand the algebra or other concepts but they get the problem wrong because of mistakes with basic math like addition or multiplication. Those simple mistakes didn’t happen because my kids don’t know their addition or multiplication facts. They happened because they made mistakes when they were working quickly.
I looked all over for a way for my kids to practice basic math skills in a way that they would enjoy but nothing appealed to them and it all felt like homework until our friends taught us this road trip game that my kids love!
With my big family of 10, we spend a lot of time in the car. I hate to spend that time with all of my kids on their phones or tablets, so I was so happy when a friend of ours taught us this fun game that my kids love and actually helps keep improve their mental math. My kids love it and actually get quite competitive about it and it gets them off their phones.
What is this game that helps kids do basic math skills quickly and easily?
We call our game Bingo. (Not to be confused with the traditional bingo game.) It is really simple to play.
- As you drive, look for yellow cars and motorcycles.
- If you see a yellow car, say bingo. If you see a motorcycle, say “bingo motorcycle”.
- You get 5 points for each yellow car and 10 points for each motorcycle.
- You can play as individuals or as a team.
- If you play as individuals, everyone tries to get the most points. We play for different things like being able to ride shotgun, a treat at the store, a free pass on washing dishes that day etc. We keep it different and interesting for the kids who are with me at the time.
- If you play as a team, we pick a goal that everyone will enjoy like ice cream cones on the way home, renting a movie to watch that night etc.
- From time to time I change the amount of points they get. Sometimes it’s 5 points for a yellow car, sometimes it’s 4 or 7, or 9. The motorcycles are always worth twice as much as the yellow cars. Changing the amount of points keeps them mentally awake and helps them quickly add a lot of different amounts.
This game is easy to play and really fun. Sometimes the math is simple, but there are times when we pull into a parking lot and we see 3 yellow cars and 4 motorcycles at the same time and the math can be more challenging. They have to add quickly because new cars and motorcycles are coming all the time.
This game has another benefit besides improving basic math. It helps kids become more attentive drivers. It teaches them to be aware of the other cars on the road and especially aware of motorcycles. Teaching kids to always look for motorcycles may help reduce the number of motorcycle accidents that happen every day.