Informal Math Alternatives

Math doesn’t have to be boring, and as
home-based educators we are very fortunate because we can choose to use alternative, hands-on activities to help our kids gain a greater understanding of how math works in the real world.
We also have the awesome opportunity to show them how cool, useful, interesting, and fun math can be!
If you’re interested in using a real-life math approach, but you are not sure where to begin, I offer the following sparks (activities) and a few of their benefits:

Make Your Own: Candy Countdown Calendar – After designing and making your calendar, count down the days to the holiday you made it for.

Symbols, Shapes, Letters, & Numbers Game – This game helps people to learn symbols, shapes, letters, and numbers in a less stressful way, and offers them a reason to write/draw them. It also offers players a chance to be as creative as they want to be. If the player creates a scene, or a picture, then creative thinking skills is an added benefit.

An Eggcellent Game – This timing game encourages players to compare their progress each time they play the game.

Roll-n-Score – Make and decorate your own game and keep track of your score on a piece of paper.

8 Ideas for Homemade Water & Nerf Gun Targets – Use recycled items in a creative way to make targets to encourage scoring.

Bottle Roll Bullseye – A simple game that encourages score keeping.

Yacht – Dice Game: The benefits of the game Yacht and how to play it. Links and videos.

Building/Constructing (Engineering)

Inspiring People: Cardstacker – Turn a simple deck or two of playing cards into an amazing structure. This activity is a natural form of engineering and requires creative and critical thinking skills.

Stacking Cup Challenge – How quickly can you stack a bunch of cups and take them down? This activity is also a natural form of engineering and requires players to think and act quickly.


Code Breaker (scroll down to Play Games) – Turn simple to make stamps into a code breaking guessing game that gets players thinking.

Rainbow Codes – This activity brings science, language, and math skills together in one activity. Players think of what they want to say, write it down in a certain way, and offer it to someone to solve.


Make Your Own: Cocoa Bubble Bath/Body wash – Purchase and measure to make your own, personalized bubbles or body wash.

Make Your Own Scented Play Clay – Measure the ingredients to make your own clay, then create whatever you like with it.

Marshmallows – Purchase and measure to make these tasty treats.

Spark of the Day: Pom – Pom Shooter – After making a simple pom-pom shooter, measure how far can a pom-pom go!


Carton Creations – Most creative projects use math to help figure out what the final outcome with will look like. This is an open-ended activity and can be turned into a game, toy, or a useful item.

Glowing Halloween LanternHarvest Thanksgiving LanternGlowing Lantern– Turn an ordinary carton into a holiday lantern. Math is needed to figure out how to cut and place the windows in this project.

Make Your Own Gift Wrap – Use recycled and simple items to decorate your own gift wrap and boxes. Some of these activities include folding projects.

Fall Cut-Outs – This creative craft project can be used for any season.

4th-of July America’s Independence Day – This post includes some activities that are mathematical in nature.

Origami/Paper Folding (Geometry)
Paper Planes – Learn how to fold simple and intricate paper planes and measure how far they can go.

Make Folded Hand Puppet – Fold paper in a variety of ways and create a one of a kind puppet.

Halloween Origami – Have fun folding Halloween icons.

3-D Ornaments – Turn a variety of 3-D shapes into festive ornaments or something else.

Holiday & Winter Origami  – Fold up a variety of winter and holiday icons.

Valentine’s Day: Make Homemade Valentines (scroll down to activity) – Turn a simple heart into a mathematical art project.

Pumpkin Face Game (scroll down to activity) – Use a variety of geometric shapes to make a one of a kind pumpkin.

Spark of the Day: Symbols of Fall Twist Balloons – Use simple twist balloons to make unique mathematical shapes.

Make Your Own GravestonesRounded Gravestone – The rectangular stone is a fun and creative project, the rounded one is more mathematically involved.

Pop & Play Dart Game – Make your own dart game with a twist.

Tangrams – Various geometrical shapes form a variety of interesting shapes.

The Circle – The circle is a fascinating and versatile shape. The activity in this post encourages fraction use.

Polyhedrons – This post offers a variety of projects that can be explored.
Christmas: Make a Christmas Shape ElfMake a Heart-faced Santa – Use your imagination and creativity to turn simple shapes into interesting holiday icons.
10 Fun Projects You Can Do With Symmetry – This post gets your creative juices flowing with geometry.

Spirals – Find spirals in nature and make your own spiral art projects.

Geometric Designs – Explore a variety of geometric designs. Make your own coloring/art projects.

Fractals – Look for fractals in nature and make some of your own.

Star Shape Turn an ordinary circle into a star, learn about different types of stars and make a variety of stars.

Heart Activities – Origami and craft projects with a heart theme.

Magic Square Puzzles – Resources for Magic square puzzles include: Printable and online puzzles, and information about how to solve them.

Yacht – Dice Game: The benefits of the game Yacht and how to play it. Links and videos.

World Math
Spark of the Day: Roman Numerals – Learn Roman numerals, add, subtract, divide and multiply with them.
Logic/Thinking Activities/Games/Observation
Make Your Own: Tic-Tac-Toe Game Board – Tic-Tac-Toe offers players a logical challenge. This activities challenges player to make their own unique game board and playing pieces.

More benefits to come…

Solitaire Challenge #1: Peg Solitaire – 

Make Your Own: ‘What’s Missing’ Picture – 

Last One Standing

Stacking Cup Challenge

Card Flipping Challenge

Petals Around The Rose

Bottle Cap Memory

Heads-Up Coin Flips & Tricks
Science Math


Mini Marble Run

Cook Your Lunch Outside

Snowflake Activities & Resources

Snowflake Math

Language & Math

Create Comic

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