Making math into a game is one of the easiest ways to encourage your children to both enjoy the subject as well as to retain the information. Let’s face it, flashcards are boring and an active child will find it very difficult sitting still for long periods of time trying to get through a stack of cards. The Multiplication Relay Race will allow the child to keep moving, introduce the element of competition, and is just simply a lot of fun.
• Rules of the game – To play, all you need is an open area for the kids to run and four or more players. Just like regular relay races, the children are divided up evenly into teams. Half of the team lines up at the start line and the other half lines up at the opposite side of the designated play area or yard. When the parent or administrator yells “GO!” the first child in each team races to their teammates at the opposite end but before they can tag their teammate, they must answer a multiplication problem correctly. Once they have done so, they may tag their teammate who can then race back towards the start line to answer a question and tag the next teammate. This continues until the last player reaches the finish line and answers the final problem correctly. The first team to cross the finish line and correctly answer all of the questions wins.
• Number of players – Played in this way, this is a great game for a home school co-op group or large families, but it can be adapted for smaller families as well. With only two players racing, the start line and finish lines where the players will switch places would change into challenge points that must be passed before continuing on in the race. A single runner would run down to the challenge point and have to answer 5 problems correctly before being allowed to return to the finish line where they would have to answer another 5 problems correctly. Two administrators would be needed to ask the questions, and whoever finishes first would win.
• Variations – The Multiplication Relay Race is a versatile game. You can adapt it to include addition, subtraction, division, or any combination of math facts as well. This method would allow for students in differing grade levels to compete together. A group of second and third graders could answer addition or subtraction facts while a group of fourth and fifth graders can answer multiplication and division facts. The game can also be adapted for learning any kind of memorized facts like state capitals or science vocabulary.
As much as everyone would like to avoid memorizing facts like the multiplication table, they truly are essential for a student to competently and quickly master higher level math problems. The issue is that memorizing facts is not a fun thing to do. So, turning the chore into an enjoyable game is something homeschooling parents should always be striving to do. The Multiplication Relay Race is just one way to make learning fun!