Beach Ball Math

We’re working hard on learning multiplication tables right now.  Really hard.  Because it’s just that – really hard to learn all those numbers and remember all those answers.  Sometimes we all get bogged down in the boring repetition and the same-ol-flashcard drills.

Time to breathe a little life back into the lesson, I say.

Enter beach ball math.


My kids tend to pick things up with lightning speed and accuracy if you put either music or motion to it, so we utilize that a lot at our house.  We’re constantly dancing it out while we memorize, jogging while going over states and capitals, or jump roping while we chant our spelling words.   Beach ball math is another way to incorporate memorization and movement.

You take a beach ball and write numbers all over it.  Ours includes zero through 12.  I wrote them in an upper row and a lower row within colored sections so it’s really easy to see which number your thumbs are closest to.

The first mathematician catches the ball and calls out the numbers his right and left thumbs are closest to, and then multiplies them together and calls out the answer.


The ball gets tossed again and again the numbers and answer are called out.  You can play with just one player, two, or have a whole circle of people in on the game.  You keep tossing and solving until someone makes a mistake!


Truth be told, we keep on going even if someone makes a mistake, we just all call out the right answer, along with the problem: “9 x 9 = 81!”  or “8 x 7 = 56!”  Sometimes it takes a bit of thinking before the answer surfaces.  We try to keep it going quickly, kind of in a rhythm, but pauses are okay.  After all, we’re still learning.


Sometimes things get silly.  That’s also okay with me.  I’m a big believer that we learn well when we are joyful.


My kids are so excited when I pulled out the beach ball and tell them it’s time for math.  We probably won’t learn all of our times tables that way, but it will definitely be a breath of fresh air in the math department!


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