Master Addition and Subtraction With These Family Math Games

Master Addition and Subtraction With These Family Math Games

Addition and subtraction are the building blocks of math, so it's a good idea to make sure your child is really confident with adding and subtracting.

And to prove that learning doesn't always need to be hard work, we’ve come up with these games you can play at home to help them build a rock-solid foundation in addition and subtraction. 

For some activities all you’ll need is a pencil and some paper. Other games require playing cards, dice and counters and things you can find around the house. You’ll also need some number cards and a number board - to make things easier for you, we have made templates of these that you can print out at home!

Cover Up 

You will need: a tin or pot and up to 10 cubes/counters/pasta shapes/lego bricks

  • Scatter some cubes on the floor or table. 

  • Cover some of them with the inverted container.

  • Ask your child to look at the number of cubes they can see outside the tin, and then tell you how many are underneath.

You can adapt the game by increasing to 20 cubes as your child progresses. 

Bingo Makes 10 

This game is basically bingo, but instead of just marking off the numbers as they’re called out, your child has to do a simple mental math calculation first.

You will need: number cards, pencil and paper.

  • Ask your child to draw a small grid and then put a single-digit number inside each box. For example:


  • Now pick a number card and call it out. If your child has a number that added to your number equals 10, they can cross it off. For example, if you pick out 4, the 6 on the grid could be crossed off as 4 + 6 = 10

  • When all the numbers have been crossed off then your child can call out ‘Bingo!’


Count and Move

You will need: digit cards

  • Spread your digit cards face down on the table.

  • One player calls out an action to be performed, eg clapping, blinking, doing star jumps, pretend sneezes, toe touches etc.

  • The other player turns over a card and has to do that action 10 times minus the number on the card, eg if they turned over the number 4 then they would clap six times.

  • Take turns to pick an action and have the other person turn over a card. 

You can use more cards to strengthen number bonds up to 20 as your child progresses. Choose actions with plenty of movement to get your heart rate going and work your physical muscles at the same time!

Race to 10!

You will need: playing cards (remove the picture cards)

  • Shuffle the 40 number cards and deal them out between you.

  • Then see how quickly you can sort your cards into totals of 10.

  • Any number cards can be used to make 10, such as 3, 4, 4 or 10 or 8, 2.

  • The winner is the first player to make as many tens as they can with their cards.  

10 Pairs

This one is like pairs, except that to make a pair, you need to find two numbers that make 10 when added together.

You will need: playing cards with the picture cards removed

  • Arrange the cards face down in four rows of five

  • Take turns to turn over two cards with the aim of making a total of 10. 

  • If anyone scores 10 then that player keeps the cards. If not, they are turned back over (you have to remember where the numbers are!).

  • Take it in turns to play until all the cards are gone or you cannot continue. 

  • The winner is the player with the most pairs.

For practicing number bonds to 20, simply use a set of number cards [printable template here]

Four in a Row

This game has lots of simple adding and subtracting as well as an element of strategy.

You will need: two dice, some colored counters for each player (or cubes, coins, colored paper, pasta, Lego, or anything that will cover the numbers!) and a number board.

  • Roll the dice and add the two numbers together.

  • Now work out what you will need to make 20.

  • Put a counter of your color on the number if it is showing. For example, if you threw a 3 and a 4 then they add to make 7. To make 20 from 7, you need 13 so you would look for the number 13 on the board and cover it.

  • Only one counter is allowed on each number.

  • The winner is the first player to get four of their counters in a row.    

Key tip: use mathematical words

Children can get confused by different mathematical terms, but you can help your child get used to them by using the different words as you play these games.

ADDITION: +, add, plus, total, more than, greater than, increase by, altogether, sum, make, made

SUBTRACTION: -, take away, less than, minus, subtract, difference, decrease, fewer, less, take, between


This is a take on the well-known game of Snap with a little bit of mental math added in. 

You will need: Number cards or a deck of playing cards with the picture cards taken out.

  • Choose a target number between 10 and 20, for example 15. 

  • Deal the cards out between the players and take turns to lay out one at a time into a central pile.

  • When two cards which add up to the target number are placed one after the other, the race is on to say "Snap!" first. 

  • Whichever player says "Snap!" first collects all the cards in the central pile. 

  • The game continues until one player has all the cards.   

About Komodo
– Komodo is a fun and effective way to boost elementary math skills. Designed for 5 to 11 year olds to use in the home, Komodo uses a little and often approach to learning math (15 minutes, three to five times per week) that fits into the busy family routine. Komodo helps users develop fluency and confidence in math – without keeping them at the screen for long.

And now we've got Komodo English too - check it out here.

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