I'm Lovin' Homework: Math {A Mini Series}

Check out all of the posts in this series here:

Post 1: TEAM Homework

First of all, thanks for reading yesterday's post about how I set up my homework and for leaving such great questions!  I updated the post last night with answers to your questions (scroll to the bottom of the post) and will continue to do so with new questions so keep them coming!

But, today's post is all about making...
...or at least math HOMEWORK

I've chosen one word to represent my goal for each subject's homework...and for math engaging is what I aim for with the homework.  A question about my math homework is what actually got the ball rolling on this series, so I thought it might be good to focus on it FIRST.

Traditionally, math homework is....well...BORING!  You give a student a worksheet, much like one they've already completed at school and ask them to do it that night for more "practice."  I mean, really??  Completing 20 or more problems that are almost identical is no fun for anyone.  Students having been sitting at desks for most of the day and much of their tasks have been paper/pencil.  That is not what they want to be doing when they get home!

It helped me, as a teacher, tremendously when I began to send home the worksheets for the week all at once.  You know...to be "flexible."  Well, it was flexible as far as TIME mattered - no time for math homework tonight because of soccer?  No problem - just do it extra tomorrow night! Wait!  Yikes!  40 problems in one sitting?? AHHH!  It wasn't very flexible in the format.  It wasn't making students "love" math or homework.  In fact, the opposite - they began to dread it.  And so did I.  Checking all of those problems??  Ugh!
Did you know that second graders actually LIKE math?  Every single year when I give my self-interest survey during the first week of school, math is the favorite subject of students - by far!  You know when they start hating it?  When they have to sit and do worksheet after worksheet.  I'm not hating on worksheets.  They definitely have their time and place.  However, if it's possible to practice those SAME skills in a FUN way, why not??

I've always used a ton of games in my classroom - especially in math.  I cannot walk into a Dollar Tree without leaving with a bag of playing cards and dice.  I have containers and containers full.  I'm not sure what my obsession is with having so many of them.  But, I will say, they do come in handy!  Especially when I had a brainstorm one day and thought, "The kids love playing math games so much, what if I could create games to meet all of the standards using JUST playing cards?"

And that is how this little ditty came to be...
I started with our 2nd grade {common core} standards and tried to develop a game {using only playing cards} to address each one of the standards.  I was beyond thrilled with the result and so were the kids!  

I introduce each game in class, showing students how to play it, partnering them up and giving them time to play it.  Then, they will see the game appear on their homework options.  They are familiar with the games and are able to teach Mom, Dad, sister, brother, or a friend to play {of course, the directions are right there if they forget}.

I knew the students would be excited about playing games for homework, but I had no idea how much parents would LOVE them!  I must say that the emails and feedback that I received reassured me that this was a wonderful change.  Parents were ecstatic to be able to spend "fun" time with their child while practicing skills for homework.  I mean, usually homework and family time fight against each other so combining the two was a win-win for families!  And also for the teacher - no more worksheets to collect and check! ;)

The Set Up
I print the games on colored cardstock (each domain/unit is on a different color) and each time we learn a new game it is placed on a metal ring.  This helps students to find the assigned games easily, but it also helps parents find "needed" games easily too.  If their child is weak in the area of money then they know to continuously go back to the green cards for extra practice.  By the end of the year students will have a full set of math games! Can you say summer review fun, too??  #meltateachersheart

My students have daily folders that go home and come back to school each day.  All of their important papers are kept in there.  I added a pencil pouch to the folder and this is where their "game stash" is kept.  Since the games are kept in here, it is easy for them to pull them out anywhere - home, school, daycare - to play.  It also makes it easy for us to add new games as they are introduced.

Of course, the one thing students need to go along with the card game directions is CARDS!  I supply these for my students at the beginning of the year.  I pick up the playing cards from the Dollar Tree (2 packs for $1.00), remove all of the face cards (those aren't need for any of the second grade games), and bind them with a rubberband (or you could put them in a ziploc bag).

That's it!  Math homework for the YEAR!!  That's right - I use these cards and the games to practice all skills...addition, subtraction, telling time, money, geometry, graphing....all.of.it.

So, do we have math workbooks?  Yes.  Our math curriculum is consumable books.  Honestly, I don't use the workbook pages at all in class - we are almost solely hands-on and use whiteboards for problem practice usually.  So, I do send home the workbook pages for each unit at the beginning of the unit. I just rip that entire section out, staple them together and send home as extra practice.  Some parents like to have worksheets as a backup or to do it "the way we did it" back in the day.  I send them home and they can use them if they wish.  I do not want them returned.  Some of my students even enjoy using them to "play school."  That's fine, too!  I'm all about options! ;)

What about your test scores?  All I can say is that my math test scores were higher than they've been in the past this year.  Was it because of these games?  I have no idea.  This was the only thing I changed in my math routine this year so at least I can say the worksheets weren't missed. :)

Again, I hope I've given you something to think about in regards to homework. Drop back by tomorrow to read about homework in another subject!

If you're interested in the card games I created, you can find them in our TpT shop!  We have them for 1st Grade, 2nd Grade, and 3rd Grade!  And, I must say, where else can you get a year's worth of math homework for under $6.00??  That's a DEAL {no pun intended}. :)

I typically purchase my decks of cards from Dollar Tree (2/$1.00) but Amazon also has a great deal and it's sometimes more convenient. :) Click the image below to view the Amazon deal through my affiliate link.

I'd love to hear your questions if you have them!


  1. OMG I love the math game for homework. Last year I made a family math night where I sent home the math games we played during stations but I think your home work idea is awesome! I definitely will be sharing since this year I don't teach math:(

  2. My "Dealing With Math Homework" packet is downloading right now! One of the first things I did this morning was check Bloglovin' to see if you'd posted more about your homework routine. I have been using Saxon Math for the last four years (TONS of worksheets), so this was very refreshing! Can't wait to try it out. :) Look forward to hearing about your reading and spelling homework!

    Mrs. Heeren's Happenings

  3. These look great! Are you going to be doing them for Kindergarten by any chance?

  4. wow! What a GREAT post! I will be teaching first grade this year and am heading over now to check out your first grade math games. I totally might do this and I think it is so unique and fun! :)


  5. Um, please tell me there is a fifth grade set coming out soon!! I love this idea!!

  6. I love this and know my students will too! I have a question- What happens if a student loses the games or playing cards? This is a problem with a select few in my class every year.

    I Heart Teaching Elementary

  7. Thank you so much for writing this post.......and all of the ones on homework past and future. I will now definitely be adding this product to my wish list and purchasing in the very near future. Thanks for your quick reply to my question on TPT about this product, also.


  8. What wonderful ideas. Again, I plan on stealing some ideas, and am purchasing your games for 3rd grade.

  9. Keep it coming girl! You are blowing my mind...in the best way possible! I love it :)

    Little In Betweens
    (formerly Teach on a Limb)

  10. What a wonderful idea! I'd love to try this! The only thing is we have to take homework grades 2x a nine weeks for a 10% grade and I am not sure how I would get a good represented grade in math each nine weeks. Any suggestions? :)
    The Blessed OCDiva

  11. I love this homework series. I am in search of different ideas for homework. Last year less than half my students turned in their homework. So I know I need to do something different to support my students better. I can't wait to see what else you have in store for this series.

    Ms Richards's Musings

  12. This sounds amazing! I teach in a school where parents want homework, but I hate giving them worksheets, or our questions out of the textbook! These math games would be a blast, and would be something that would be easy to integrate into our classroom and homework routine! Thank you so much for such a fun alternative to homework!!

    Mrs. 3rd Grade 

  13. As I was reading the other posts I began to laugh! I also was excited to see what you were going to write! I am definitely buying these today! Thanks :)

  14. I love the way you do math homework! I would love to use this idea in my classroom. Will you be making a 4th grade edition? I truly hope your answer is "YES"!

  15. I love how you include a pencil bag for all the supplies and that the games and cards go back and forth each night. I might have to do that this year!

    What I Have Learned

  16. I am loving this idea more and more as you post more and more blogs! I think I will definitely need to use this this year. I really only use the workbooks when subs come, so easy and no copies!

  17. I would love to see this for 4th grade. Any plans to create more?


  18. I agree with Suzann! I would really love to see this for 4th grade as well. Would you consider creating one?

  19. I was already intrigued by this new concept, but I seriously said "ooohhhh" out loud in my kitchen all by myself just now when I saw you have first and second grade sets, since I teach a combined 1/2 class. Add to basket!


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