Teach Your Kids German – The Parents Guide

German is a great language for kids to learn since English is a Germanic language so some words are similar to English, which can make it one of the easier languages for kids to pick up. It is also a good language for kids because it is the most widely spoken first language in the EU and Germany has the forth strongest economy (based on GDP) in the world, so having some knowledge of German may be a very useful job skill for your kids later in life.

It might seem like a big undertaking to teach your kids a new language, but there are lots of products available that can help parents. We have found some really good online videos, DVDs, books, apps, and online games that will help children learn to speak German in a fun way.

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The Best German Language Learning Programs and Websites for Kids

  • Petra Lingua is an online language course that is designed for children between the ages of 3 and 10 years that uses a multimedia approach of text, audio and video, pictures and interactive exercises.
  • Blinde-kuh is a German search engine that only brings up kid friendly information.
  • Kindernetz has lot of German videos for kids.
  • Lingonetz is an interactive website that helps children from ages 6 to 12 learn the German language.
  • Tivi has German TV shows from a German children’s station.
  • Chillola is a free foreign language website for children. Kids learn German through games and activities
  • Dino Lingo’s German for Kids is a DVD based learning system that includes CDs, books, posters and flashcards for children who are learning German. It isn’t cheap ($100+) but it is generally very well reviewed. You can see a preview of it here.
  • Zoom School Picture Dictionary is a useful online resource for helping kids learn German.
  • Duolingo is a newer site and app that is a lot of fun to use, especially for kids. The site uses a lot of the same ideas as video games to help kids learn a new language.

The Best DVDs to Teach Kids German

There are a few good DVDs for kids under 5, but not much for older kids. If you are looking for a DVD for an older child who would like to learn German you could try Watch & Learn German with Professor Toto or German for Kids: Learn German Beginner by Language Tree. The reviews for both DVDs are a little mixed so we don’t want to recommend them, but check them out to see if they are your kind of thing (they might be available at your local library). The DVDs that are a good option for kids ages 0-5 to help them learn German are:

  • Early Lingo Colors and Shapes at The Park DVD (Part 1 German) or a 6-DVD Box Set. If you are looking for a total immersion DVD Early Lingo is a good choice. This DVD for children ages 6 months to 6 years has cartoon characters Jojo and Lulu learning all about colors and shapes and words for things found in the park in German. The single episode DVD is around 32 minutes running time and has over 90 German words and phrases. You can watch a preview for it here.
  • German for Kids: Language Box Set (Vol. I) Another decent DVD for the under 5’s is the Little Pim German series. Each episode uses an animated panda bear and real kids, and teaches simple words and phrases for everyday activities. This DVD set introduces over 180 words and phrases for everyday activities. You can watch a preview of it here.
  • Bilingual Baby: Teach Baby German has over 60 words and phrases about everyday objects that children can recognize and are a part of their world, such as puppies, toys, etc.

Free Online Games to Help Teach German

An easy way to expose children to a new language in a fun way is through online games. There isn’t a huge selection of German -English games for kids, but one that is worth checking out is Digital Dialects it has lots of simple games that will help kids learn German basics.

Best German Apps for Kids

  • Kinderapp is an app designed for toddlers to help them learn their first words. This app has a German language option on it so it would be helpful for very young kids who are just beginning to speak. Kids get to know important objects from their immediate environment at home, in an interactive and fun way.
  • Learn German – Baby Flash Cards is a flashcard app for kids ages 1-4. It has over 450 images with text and voiceovers. There are additional real sounds where applicable to enhance visual and auditory learning and memory simultaneously. Parents have the option to turn voiceovers off during parent-child learning session and turn voiceovers on when the child is self-learning. They can enable Question
  • Learn German by MindSnacks has 9 games designed to teach German vocabulary and conversation skills. You can download the first lesson for free and if you like it you can upgrade to access all 50 lessons and 40+ hours of content.
  • Smart Speller German Learning has 80 pictures in 7 categories (numbers and colours, fruit & veg, vehicles, farm animals, shapes, body parts). The game is played by tapping a moving object and then completing a word puzzle. The word selection features basic and most common words from each category.
  •  Learn German Kids helps kids learn basic German words in a child friendly way. There are 6 categories including the alphabet, colors, numbers, months, days and fruits.

German Learning Books for Kids

  • Let’s Learn German Picture Dictionary by Marlene Goodman introduces beginning language learners to more than 1,550 commonly taught basic German words displayed in 30 two-page spreads that illustrate the meanings of words. The images focus on scenes familiar to children aged three through eight, such as home life, the classroom, city life, sports, the zoo, etc.  This picture Dictionary also includes an index and glossary of all the illustrated words in the book.
  • German for Children with Two Audio CDs by Catherine Bruzzone has a full-color illustrated guidebook that features cartoons, characters, and fun facts. It also includes two audio CDs that guide your child through the course and teach language through a combination of German-language songs, games, and activities.
  • Lightning-Fast German for Kids and Families by Carolyn Woods is a good option for parents who want to teach their kids German but don’t speak German themselves. This book show parents ways to incorporate German into everyday activities, so children can learn German while doing the things that are common at home.
  • 52 Weeks of Family German Eileen Mc Aree is a book that is similar to Lightning-Fast German for Kids and Families in that it is a family approach to getting kids speaking German. This book has 52 small, weekly lessons that will get you and your family speaking and understanding German right away. All of the weekly activities are integrated into modern family life. Games and fun activities are included to help you on your language learning journey.

Free Online German Lessons for Kids

If you have any amazing resources that you have used to help your kids learn German, let us know in the comments below!

 

The Best Resources to Teach Children Chess

There are many reasons to teach children chess, some of the reported benefits include helping to improve visual memory, attention span, spatial-reasoning ability, critical thinking skills, math and reading skills.  There are even some studies that suggest playing chess can help increase a child’s IQ.

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There are lots of different ways to get kids interested in chess, so we have included links to the best websites, apps, books, sets and online videos that will help parents find the best ways to teach their own kids how to play.

*For very young children who are just beginning to learn a lot of people recommend teaching just one piece at a time. A good explanation on how to do this is here.

Chess Websites /Online Chess Courses for Kids

  • Chess Kid is the #1 chess site for kids. It has some free content that you are able to access if you sign up for a free account. There is also an option to upgrade to a gold membership that gives you greater access to videos and some of the other playing options on the site.  They have a few different pricing options, the basic is for 1 kid for one month for $7.99 or $49.99 a year,  up to 3 kids for $99.99 a year.
  • Chess Kids has some free online lessons for kids and has a feature that allows kids to play against the computer. This site also has as lots chess resources for parents and kids including videos.

Chess Apps for Kids

Most kids love playing against a computer once they have mastered the basics of chess. There are a number of apps that offer great introductions with fun tutorials, as well as the opportunity to play against the computer.

  • Chess Academy for Kids is designed to teach children chess in a step-by-step way, where they can learn as well as practice. This app is good for older children aged 8+ to teach themselves the rules and basic strategies of chess, as well as for younger children aged 5+ to learn chess with adult help. This app has tutorials and a game mode.
  • Dinosaur Chess: Learn to Play! is another app designed specifically for kids to learn how to play chess.  This app has 11 interactive lessons as well as 20 mini games and puzzles all with a dinosaur theme.
  • Newbie Chess isn’t designed for kids but it is a good beginner chess app that is okay for kids to use. This app has lots of graphical effects that make it easy for new players to understand game rules and tactics.
  • t Chess Lite  is another chess app that isn’t designed for kids but it is fun and easy for any beginner to use.
  • Chess Invaders is a game where alien forces are invading the galaxy and the player must defend the galaxy where everything behaves according to the rules of chess. The player has to move pieces according to their chess movement rules, so kids will learn the rules of chess while playing a fun game.
  • Shredder Chess Lite if you are looking for something a little more serious you can try Shredder. It’s one of the most successful chess apps with lots of features for the serious player.

Beginner Chess Books for Kids

It is useful to have a reference book for kids who are learning chess so they can read about the various pieces and learn rules and strategies. There are quite a lot of children’s chess books, these are some of the most popular and best reviewed:

  • Chess for Children: How to Play the World’s Most Popular Board Game by Murray Chandler teaches kids the basic moves of chess and it explains all the rules in step by step manner. The game is taught through a cartoon character, George, and his pet alligator, Kirsty, a self-proclaimed Grand Alligator of Chess.  Murray Chandler has a few other very popular chess books including Chess Tactics for Kids, Chess Puzzles and How to Beat Your Dad at Chess, but if you are looking for a great beginner chess book Chess for Children is the one to get.
  • Chess for Kids by Michael Basman is another very good book to help make chess understandable to children  Like most other DK books the pictures are very good, the text is simple, and the information is arranged in such a way that so kids can easily refer to the book as they play.  It covers all the basic information that kids need to know about chess including the history and detailed information about each of the pieces.
  • Checkmate!: My First Chess Book  by Garry Kasparov is another very popular choice as an excellent book for beginners. It covers the basics, the pieces and their moves, notation, winning and drawing, etc.
  • Chess is Child’s Play: Teaching Techniques That Work by Laura Sherman and Bill Kilpatrick is a book specifically written for parents who are trying to teach their kids chess. This  book has a step-by-step method for teaching chess to children. This book is especially good for parents who don’t know how to play chess themselves because it teaches the parent the game while showing how to teach your children.

Chess Sets for Kids

If you already have a chess set there is no reason to buy any special type of set, but if you are having a bit of trouble getting your kids interested in chess and are looking for a cool set that might help spark an interest in chess, or you are just looking for a good beginner set, you could try some of the following sets that are easy and fun for kids to use:

  • No Stress Chess is a neat way to approach chess for a beginner. This chess set uses cards that tell you which piece to move. Once you become comfortable with the moves and what each chess piece can do, then you can flip the two-sided board over and play regular chess. This set includes rules for two variations of playing using the action cards, and all the necessary rules for standard chess. This game is great for anyone who might be a little intimidated by learning chess.
  • ThinkFun Solitaire Chess is another fun game that is a different approach to learning chess for a beginner. This game is more of a puzzle game than a chess set, but it is an easy way to help kids learn the rules of chess. The game has one set of pieces that lets the player use the movement of chess pieces to clear the entire board. There 60 puzzles that include levels for easy, medium and hard.
  • Science Wiz Chess Once A Pawn A Time  is a fun beginner chess set that is great for young kids. The instructions books are entertaining and easy to understand and written in a style that is more storybook that instruction book.
  • Super Mario Chess  would obviously be a good option for any child who is a Mario fan. The set is a little pricey, but it’s a nice set with great reviews so it would be fun if your kids are into Mario and you would like them to learn chess.
  • LEGO Kingdoms Set Chess Set  is another pricey set but would be a good way to help encourage a child who loves LEGO to learn chess.

Teaching Kids Chess Videos

Chess Kid has a great introductory video that will help your kids play chess

This video is a good overview of chess done by Archie Jennings and his eight year old son.

 

Hopefully you found something that will help you teach your kids chess, if you have any resources that you have used and really like let us know in the comments below.

photo credit: jessamyn via photopin

Teach Chemistry To Your Kids – An Introduction For Parents

Chemistry can be a fun and fascinating area of science for children to explore at home. Learning about chemistry can help kids develop their analytical skills, help them understand how things work and it can lead them into a wide range of rewarding careers later on in life.

So if your kids are showing an interest in chemistry or you would like them to start to learn about it, we have found lots of really good introductory resources that will hopefully show them that learning about chemistry and science can be super fun and exciting.

kids learn chemistry

Best Chemistry Books for Kids

The best way to introduce chemistry to young kids is to show them what chemistry can do. There are lots of fantastic books that have experiments for kids, as well as some really good books with overviews of what chemistry is all about. Our favourite chemistry books for kids are:

  • Basher Science: Chemistry: Getting a Big Reaction (ages 9+) by Simon Basher and Dan Green The Basher Science series are small, visually appealing books that turn ideas and elements of a particular topic into characters. The chemistry book in this series covers things like basic states, atoms, ions, nanoparticles, pH, combustion and lots of other stuff. It’s a very good overview of matter and the ways in which things interact, combine and change.
  • DK Eyewitness Books: Chemistry (for ages 8-12) by Ann Newmark The DK Eyewitness books are always nicely done and this one is no exception. It’s another really good overview of facts about chemistry, including information about the traditions of ancient alchemy and the technology of today. Each page is packed with beautiful pictures and lots of information about chemistry and how the world works.
  • The Book of Totally Irresponsible Science: 64 Daring Experiments for Young Scientists by Sean Connolly (for kids ages 9-15, although you could go as young as 6 with parental supervision) The experiments in this book are simple and fun. The author tells the reader how long the experiment will take and whether there are any risks or danger. At the end of each experiment he describes the scientific reason for the results. A great thing about this book is that none of the ingredients are hard to find, everything can be made with household products and the instructions are easy enough that a child is able to follow them.
  • Naked Eggs and Flying Potatoes: Unforgettable Experiments That Make Science Fun by Steve Spangler (for kids ages 9+) is a very popular book, especially with homeschoolers. The instructions are easy to understand, and the full color photographs and simple along with the directions, help kids figure out how to complete the experiments. The science behind the experiments is also well-explained and engaging and the experiments use items that are everyday household items.
  • Candy Experiments by Loralee Leavitt (for ages 7-10) is a fun book that lets kids test candy for secret ingredients, peel the skin off candy corn, or float an “m” from M&M’s. You can spread candy dyes into rainbows, or pour rainbow layers of colored water, growing enormous gummy worms and turning cotton candy into slime, all while learning a bit of science.

Websites

  • Chem4Kids is a site that teaches the basics of chemistry to everyone. It has tutorials on matter, atoms, elements, the periodic table, reactions, and biochemistry.
  • Science Kids has a few easy chemistry experiments for kids, games, facts, lessons and lots of other things to help kids learn chemistry.
  • Home Experiments has a really good list of fun science experiments you can do at home.
  • Reeko’s Mad Scientist Lab has K-12 educational and fun science experiments and school science projects for teachers, parents and kids of all ages.
  •  The American Chemical Society has a really good section on its site for kids. Lot of great info and activities listed.

Online Videos

There are thousands interesting online chemistry videos. They mostly involve high school or college kids blowing things up. If you are looking for some good online chemistry lessons for smaller kids, we found some great videos that have a few of the ‘classic’ beginner  experiments that are a good starting point to getting kids interested in chemistry.

  • Steve Spangler’s You Tube channel and his website are a great resources to find fun chemistry videos for kids. Check out his Mentos Diet Coke Geyser.
  • Custard powder bombs are an old school chemistry trick that are fun to watch, but don’t try this at home!
  • This video is a good introduction for kids (k-grade 3) about acids and bases.
  • Making a crystal garden is an easy and fun experiment for kids.

Chemistry Sets

There is a lot of grumbling online about the modern chemistry set. Partly because of liability concerns and regulations, the modern chemistry set often doesn’t even include any actual chemicals. Don’t worry though, there are still a lot of really great beginner chemistry sets available that will help your kids learn to love chemisty (despite not being able to blow anything up).
A good place to start if you are looking for a good quality chemistry set for kids is with the company Thames & Kosmos. They have a nice beginner chemistry set or if you are looking for something a bit more serious they have a series of sets called The Chem series that has 4 sets starting from a very simple Chem C500 all the way up to their CHEM C3000 (V 2.0). These sets would be great for kids who are showing a serious interest in chemistry, not for a beginner.

Another good beginner kit for ages 5 to 10 is the Sciencewiz Chemistry Experiments Kit and Book 35 Experiments, Chemistry. It comes with all the materials your kids will need to perform 35 experiments. Some of the experiments include how to make candles, squirt with water pressure, sink and float an egg, dye a flower from the inside out, squeeze an egg into a bottle, capturing a CO2 explosion and growing crystals.

If you are looking for a chemistry set for a child who love the series The Magic School Bus there is a fun Magic School Bus – Chemistry Lab is great for kids ages 5 to 12. Some of the experiments included in this kit are: how to make sticky ice, use litmus paper, measure pH, perform chromatography, make bubble sculptures, wake-up fungus, create slime, form a bouncy ball, learn about density, produce a milk rainbow, plate copper, explode a volcano and more.

If you are looking for a simple set for kids ages 4 to 8 you could try the POOF-Slinky 0SA221 Scientific Explorer My First Mind Blowing Science Kit. It is a smaller and cheaper kit than the ones listed above. This kit only has 11 experiments, so it’s pretty basic, but it’s a good intro to chemistry for very young kids.

A good kit that focuses on crystal growing is the POOF-Slinky 0SA230 Scientific Explorer Ultimate Crystal Growing Kit. This kit is appropriate for kids ages 9+ and it is all about growing crystals. It has the materials and the instructions to let kids grow 13 different types of crystals.

DIY Chemistry Sets

For those of you who like to live a little more dangerously and want a bit more excitement in your kid’s chemistry set, you can always make your own. Obviously the internet is a great place to find info on how to do this. Check out Great Balls of Fire on Makezine or Bob Thompsons Homeschooler Chemistry Set for the ultimate instructions on how to create a DIY chemistry set for your kids. There is also a good thread here that has some great info if you want to build a chemistry set from scratch.

Online Games

Hopefully you found something that you can use to help get your children interested in chemistry. If you have any resources that you have used to help your kids learn chemistry that you think are helpful for kids, let us know in the comments below.

photo credit: aktivioslo via photopin cc

How to Teach Kids to Play Drums

The drums are a great instrument for kids to learn. Not only does drumming help with brain development and coordination, it can also help with stress relief, improve kids’ ability to concentrate, help increase physical stamina and even lead to an increase in IQ scores. If you are a parent who would like get your kids into drumming, we have found lots of super cool resources that you can use at home to teach your kids.

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Becoming a great drummer takes lots of practice so having different resources available will help your child to become less bored with practicing. So with that in mind, here is our roundup of the best books, DVDs, online videos, apps and some recommendations for the best drum sets for kids that will help parents help their kids to become amazing drummers!

Books

  • Drumset For Preschoolers is a book that was written for parents and teachers of 2-6 year-olds who want their preschooler to learn to play. It uses a color coding music notation system and is organized into three skill levels so the parent can choose which level fits the child’s abilities. Parents who don’t play themselves will find this book easy to use as it covers everything you need to know to get your child drumming.
  • Alfred’s Kid’s Drum Course Complete  (for ages 5+) is a fun method that teaches kids to play rhythms and songs on a variety of instruments and sound sources.  The CDs let you hear how the music should sound, and each lesson is explained in plain language that make it easy for kids to understand.
  • Mel bay presents Kid’s Rock Drum Method Book/CD Set has exercises and beats for kids to practice. The book is geared towards younger drummers, but is appropriate for older kids who are beginning too. The book is moderately paced, introducing concepts one at a time for an easy learning process. A CD is also included.
  • Mel Bay Drum Lessons for Kids of All Ages book/CD set is another book for the beginning drum student. It’s a fun book for kids learning to play, that teaches the fundamentals that kids need to learn. The CD that is included has eight play-along tunes.
  • If you are a parent with some musical background the two books that are recommended the most for beginners are Progressive Steps to Syncopation for the Modern Drummer and Stick Control: For the Snare Drummer. These aren’t for very small children, but would be good for ages 11 or 12 + with the help of someone with drumming experience who can read musical notation.

DVDs

There are a few DVDs that are specifically made to help teach children how to play the drums, although unfortunately the reviews for the DVDs that are available are pretty mixed. If you are thinking of buying a DVD make sure you check out the previews.  Here are some of the DVDs that are available:

  • Drumming For Kids I first watched this DVD maybe 5 years ago and wasn’t a huge fan. It’s pretty dated and very corny. However, my husband loved it and still (inexplicably) quotes the star of this DVD, Sam Zucchini. Younger kids might really like this DVD, but kids over age 8 or so would probably not get much out of it.
  • Realistic Rock for Kids has a book as well as 2 CDs and the DVD. There aren’t many reviews for this DVD around so have a look at the preview if you are thinking buying it. Although this is Carmine Appice’s DVD, 12-year-old contest winner Pete Biggiani does all of the lessons. This DVD teaches the basics of Drumming such as how to read notes, how to hold the sticks, simple hand/foot coordination exercises, etc.
  • Alfred’s Kid’s Drumset Course (Kid’s Courses!) is another DVD that you might come across, but beware because the reviews for this DVD aren’t great. It kind of looks like an adult course where they just added some graphics with a cartoon crocodile. You can view the preview for it  here.
  • A DVD that gets recommended a lot and is okay for kids (ages 10+) even though it is made for an adult audience is Getting Started on Drums Featuring Tommy Igoe DVD – Setting Up / Start Playing. This DVD basically takes you through setting up the drum set and then goes through all the basic stuff that you need to know to begin playing. Highly recommended for beginners.

Online Drumming Lessons

There are lots of great drumming lessons online, most are geared for adults but would be fine for kids as well. Here are a few that are for kids that we like:

  • Kids Drumming Lessons  This site is great for kids. It is video drumming lessons that are taught by a kid. Super watchable and highly recommended for kids.
  • Beginner Drum Lessons for Kids is another online series that is geared toward kids.  The videos are well done and easy to follow.
  • Little Kids Rock have an intro lesson on how to hold the drum sticks and then a number of super short lessons on different beats.

Fun Drumming Apps

There isn’t much in the way of drumming lesson apps that are designed specifically for kids, but if your kids are into drumming and are looking for some fun or useful apps here are a few to have a look at:

  • Drum Kids is a simple drumming app for toddlers and preschoolers. The app allows children to hear the rhythms of drummers and music from around the world, including the American Trap Set, Caribbean Steel Pan, Chinese Drum, Cuban Conga and the West African Djembe.  The app also helps kids learn fun facts about each of the types of drums.
  • Drum Kidz Free helps kids learn rhythm on the drum kit (as well as Congas, Bongos, Doumbek, and Djembe). This app has a feature that when a loop is played, the drum will light up when hit at the right time so this helps kids learn basic rhythm. Some other features include the ability to record your drumming, change the pitch, touch sensitivity, reverb, delay, and more. You can also play to your own music on your iPod from within the app.
  • Ratatap Drums Free is designed for adults but would be fun for kids who already have a bit of drumming experience. This app is considered one of the best drum apps in the app store. It has 15 kits to choose from with a fast response time that makes it fun to play.
  • Drums Master is another great drum app. It lets you play with a 6-piece drum kit. You can use it to play along with songs, record your songs, vocals and drums all together, learn info about each part of the instrument, and a tonne of other things.

Kits

If you haven’t got a drum kit for your kids yet and they are under the age of 10 you might want to consider getting a good quality junior drum set. Junior drum kits are basically just mini versions of real drum sets and are a much better option for kids who love to drum than getting a toy set at Toys R Us or Walmart. Here are a few drum kits that have amazing reviews and are highly recommended.

  • De Rosa DRM312-BU Children’s 3 Piece 12 Inch Drum Set  (for ages 3-5) is a great priced set that is available in eight different colors. Reviewers love the quality of this set and find it an especially good choice for toddlers. This set is made of metal and chrome and includes, a 12 inch Bass Drum, 8 inch Tom Tom with holder, 8 inch Snare with holder and Cymbal holder with 8 inch Cymbal. You also get sticks, Bass Drum Pedal and a junior drum throne.
  • Mendini MJDS-3-BL 16-inch 3-Piece Blue Junior Drum Set  is another great choice for a junior drum set. It is slightly bigger than the DeRosa and is good for kids ages 5-10. It comes in 6 different colors and reviewers also love the quality of this kit. This set includes a 16 inch Bass Drum, 10 inch Hanging Tom, 10 inch snare drum with stand, and a 9.5 inch cymbal with bass mounted holder. You also get a bass drum chain driven pedal, a pair of wooden drum sticks, and an adjustable round padded drum throne.
  • Gammon 5-Piece Junior Starter Drum Setis similar to the Mendini except it’s a five piece rather than a three. This set is also a good choice for kids ages 5-10. It’s a good quality, good sound, and looks great. This set includes a 16 inch Lug Bass Drum 5 3/4 inch Wood Snare drum, 10 inch and 8 inch Hang Toms, 12 inch Floor tom 8 inch Hi-Hat Cymbals 10 inch Crash/Ride Cymbal Snare Stand, and a  Hi-Hat Stand. You also get a Bass drum pedal, a of Pair drum sticks, a Drummers Key, and a Drum Stool.

If you have an older kid who wants to learn the drums but you aren’t quite into buying a full drum set you could get a Practice Pad. Practice pads are MUCH cheaper than buying a full set and it will buy you some time to see if your kids will really stick with learning.

Let us know if you have any other recommendations for great resources to help kids learn drums.

photo credit: Garrette via photopin cc

Fun Ways to Help Kids Learn Mental Math

Metal Math is the solving of mathematical problems using nothing but the human brain. In its most basic form, mental math can refer to doing simple addition, subtraction, multiplication or division problems in your head. It can also refer to math tricks and secrets that give people the ability to do much more complicated math problems in their heads quickly.

Obviously the ability to do math in your head is a very important skill for children to master, and it will be useful to them throughout their lives. It is really worth the effort in getting your kids interested and excited about math because there is research showing that children’s proficiency in math correlates strongly with their future earnings, and a good way to go about doing this is by helping them become really good at mental math.

fun mental math

Learning to do mental math takes a lot of hard work, practice and can be a bit difficult, but as with most things, the more your kids practice the better at it they will become. Before getting to the really cool part of mental math (the tricks), your kids need to have a solid foundation in basic math facts. They should be able to quickly add and subtract numbers from 1-20, know their multiplication tables up to the 12s, and know basic division. Once that is mastered, they can move onto the fun stuff and learn all the neat tricks that will make them love math and really excel at school.

This post has a mix of resources that can help with mastery of basic math, as well as resources that are helpful for learning mental math tricks.

Free Online Mental Math Games

  • Mission 2110 Mental Maths is a very fun and slick game for children in grades 4 to 6.
  • Topmarks has a great list of mental math games with appropriate ages listed.
  • Math Blasters has been around for a while, but it is definitely worth a look. There are lots of different forms for Math Blasters you can get it as an app, as a Nintendo DS game or play it directly on the Jumpstart site.
  • Math Playground is a good mental math game for grade 4-6.

Popular Books

There are lots of great math books that give really good overviews of the best mental math strategies and tricks that are useful for kids to learn. It was a little hard to narrow down the list so we are including all of our favourites. Check your local library for these titles, as they are all pretty popular books and will probably be available (for free!)

  • The Verbal Math Lesson Level 1: Step-by-Step Math without Pencil or Paper (for ages 5-7) is a popular book with homeschoolers. This series has three levels that correspond to grade levels, so level one is for kids in grade one, etc. Verbal math is basically the same idea as mental math and this book is a good starting point to help your kids begin to learn how to do math in their head.
  • Speed Math for Kids: The Fast, Fun Way To Do Basic Calculations by Bill Handley (for ages 9+) is a good introduction for kids to mental math. It teaches kids how to multiply and divide large numbers in their head, what they can do to make addition and subtraction easy, tricks for understanding fractions and decimals and how to quickly check answers every time they make a calculation.
  • Greg Tang has a really cool series of books are a slightly different approach to mental math. There are seven books in this series including Math Fables (ages 3-6), Math for All Seasons(ages 5-8), Math-terpieces (ages 5-9), The Grapes of Math (ages 7-12), Math Appeal (ages 7-12), The Best of Times (ages 7-12) and Math Potatoes (ages 7-12). These books helps students learn to manipulate groups of objects in their mind using rhyming couplets, riddles, and visual clues. Also check out Greg Tang Math.com.
  • Arithmetricks: 50 Easy Ways to Add, Subtract, Multiply, and Divide Without a Calculator by Edward H. Julius (for ages 10+) has easy math tricks that are appealing for kids. In addition to the 50 tricks, the text includes a review of mathematical concepts, applications, math curiosities, illustrations and parlor tricks. This is a very well-reviewed and highly recommended book for children in grade 5 and up.

If you are looks for mental math books a couple of titles that you will come across often are Short-Cut Math by Gerard W. Kelly and Secrets of Mental Math by Arthur Benjamin and Michael Shermer. These are great books to help older children to learn mental math, but we wouldn’t recommend getting these for anyone younger than 13 or 14 years old because they are written for an adult audience and would probably be a bit too much for younger kids.

Workbooks

If you want your kid to get good at mental math they will need to practice. It is generally recommended to do at least 15 minutes a day of math practice. An easy way to get kids to practice is with some fun workbooks. Here are a few that have great reviews.

  • Daily Mental Math Series have workbooks for kids in grade 2 to grade 10. They are great for math practice to improve kid’s mental math skills
  • Singapore Mental Math Series are very popular workbooks that have a strong focus on mental math strategies. They have workbooks for grades 2-7.

Apps

Apps are sort of perfect for having kids practice their mental math. There are so many math apps to choose from that would be helpful to mental math practice we tried to narrow it down a bit, here are a few of our favourites:

  • Math Bingo (for ages 5-12) helps children learn to add, subtract, multiply and divide using the simple game of Bingo. This is a good app to help kids improve their math basics.
  • King of Math Junior (for ages 6+) is a mathematics game set in a medieval environment where you climb the social ladder by answering maths questions and solving puzzles.
  • Mathmateer™ has different math missions that involve various math concepts. It’s fun and helpful for kids learning math.
  • Mathemagics – Mental Math Tricks this is a very popular app that has been out for quite a while. It shows you almost 60 math “tricks” and then lets you practice what you learned in the lesson with a practice session. For older kids ages 12+ and adults.
  • Quick Math – Arithmetic & Times Tables (for kids in Grades 3-6) and Quick Math+ (for kids in grade 5 and up) helps kids practice mental addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and mixed operations using handwriting recognition. It’s very fun and addictive to play.
  • Math Evolve (for ages 6+) is an arcade style game that is designed to help kids practice math facts, number sense, and mental math skills.

Free Online Videos

Schoolhouse Rock: Multiplication Classroom Edition If you are looking for something a little retro that reminds you of your own childhood, check out this DVD. It’s not for everyone, but definitely worth a look if you were into Schoolhouse Rock as a child.

For a slightly older child who has mastered the basic math facts have a look at this very watchable series on some of the more common mental math tricks:

Toys

Sometimes kids just aren’t into the worksheets and books so you need a little bit of a different tactic. Here are some fun games that will help your kids with their mental maths without them even realizing they are learning.

  • Math War Addition and Subtraction Game Cards is a fun game to help reinforce addition and subtraction. A lot of the reviewers for this game mentioned that kids have so much fun that they don’t even realize that they are doing math.
  • Think Fun Math Dice (for ages 8-12) and ThinkFun Math Dice Jr (for ages 6+) are both fun and inexpensive games for early math learners. Parents like these dice because the games help reinforce key math concepts, the games are short and you can take these dice anywhere because they are small.
  • Sumoku (for ages 9-13) is a fun crossword-style game with numbers. Players add up their numbered tiles to a multiple of the number on the die. Scores grow with every connected row and column. It provides addition, multiplication and division practice, adds in some Sudoku-like puzzle problem solving.
  • Sum Swamp Addition and Subtraction Game (for ages 4-7) helps kids learn the basic operations of addition and subtraction. Players roll all three dice and create a number sentence by placing the highest number first, the operation symbol second and the smallest number last. The player then adds or subtracts the numbers, and moves ahead the sum or difference.

Websites with good Mental Math Tricks for Younger Kids

Luckily for parents, many mental math secrets are easily available online. Here are a few sites that break down some of the more common mental math secrets that kids can learn.

  • Woodlands Resources is a good straight forward list of some of the best multiplication math tricks that are suitable for younger kids.
  • Dear Teacher has a great breakdown mental math tricks for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

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