Math Facts Baseball – Use this simple game to review addition and subtraction facts!
Okay, so baseball season just ended, so this probably should have been a football game. But I randomly thought of this idea one afternoon, and the boys have been loving it. In fact, the day after we first played this game, my 6 and 9 year olds got it out after breakfast to play it some more. And then when we took photos of it, they kept on playing after I was done with the camera. It’s always great to find a math practice game that is fun enough that kids choose to play it!
Here’s what you need to set up the game:
- Game Board – I just drew a simple baseball diamond on poster board.
- Two Dice
- Number Cards – I made cards with the numbers 0-12 (See more on this at the bottom of the post!)
- Counters to use as baseball players, 9 for each team.
How to Play:
Label each base as well as home plate with your number cards. These numbers will change each inning.
The game is played by rolling two dice. The player can either add the two numbers or subtract one number from the other. For example, if a player rolls a 2 and a 5, he can count that either as 2+5=7 or 5-2=3. If the player can create a math sentence from the dice that equals one of the numbers on the baseball field, his “batter” (math counter) runs to that base. If the numbers rolled cannot be used to create a math sentence that matches one of the answers on the board, then that is an “out.” (We didn’t do strikes – the game would go on forever!) If you can make a math sentence that equals the number on home plate, you get a home run!
Sometimes, a player will roll a combination which yields two possible answers that are both on the board. In the photo above, the player could either do 5+3=8 or 5-3=2, both of which are on the board. It was good for my 6 year old to have to use some strategy here – the 8 is the better choice since it’s on second base!
Each player continues their turn until they have rolled three “outs.”
If there are counters on the bases and the player rolls another hit, then all of the counters will run that number of bases. So for example, if there are runners on 1st and 3rd and the player rolls a 1st base number, the runner on 1st will go to 2nd and the runner on 3rd will run home. If the child had rolled a second base number with counters on the bases, they would have all moved two bases, and so on. This sounds complicated, but I was surprised at how quickly the boys picked it up!
Here is how we kept track of the score:
I made a chart with a column for each boy and then within those, a column for outs and runs scored in each inning. We have been playing three innings at a time – that seems to be a good length to the game.
This game introduces some really interesting math!
When we roll two dice, is there an equal chance of getting each answer? We had started with the numbers 1-12. Is there an ideal way to label the bases that will give the greatest chance for rolling a hit?
After Owen (first grade) had played this game for a few days, I gave him this chart to fill out during his math time. The left side shows the possible rolls of the dice, and the right side shows the possible outcomes.
I knew that he would be tired after this much, so I had already made a chart with all of the possible outcomes.
Using my chart, we made a list of how many different ways each number could be rolled. Here’s what we found:
*NOTE: We did not count a roll of 2,1 to be different from 1,2. But that would be a great way to do this with older kids! Using dice of two different colors would help.
0 – 6 ways
1 – 5 ways
2 – 5 ways
3 – 4 ways
4 – 4 ways
5 – 3 ways
6 – 3 ways
7 – 3 ways
8 – 2 ways
9 – 2 ways
10 – 2 ways
11 – 1 way
12 – 1 way
What other observations can we make from this chart? (These are great things to draw out from kids during a discussion.)
We should have had a 0 card! We had not used one in our initial game, and we were missing out, as 0 is the most likely possible outcome.
You can only get a 0 when you roll doubles.
Anything above a 6 can only be made with an addition sentence, not a subtraction sentence.
Lower numbers on the bases will yield the highest number of runs in the baseball game.
And then, we figured out if the game would work with multiplication.
Gresham (fourth grade) had been wanting to do the game with multiplication and division. I knew that division wouldn’t work very well because 3 divided by 2 would be 1.5, for example. But how many number cards would we need for multiplication? Gresham thought that we would need all the numbers from 1-36, because 6 x 6 is the highest possible roll, and that would be 36. He was on the right track, but not quite…
We made a chart to list the possible outcomes for multiplication. There are actually only 18 possibilities! There were 13 with addition and subtraction. BUT, the greatest number of ways to roll each possible outcome was only 2, so I’m not sure if it would be a very satisfying game. We haven’t tried it yet – if you try it, be sure to let us know!
Expand the game with math dice.
Another way to expand this game would be to use math dice that have 12 sides and the numbers 1-12 on them. Of course, that would greatly increase your possible outcomes… 🙂
Carol Nov 11, 2015
You didn't say how to determine what numbers go on the bases. Is it just by shuffling and then laying them on in order?
Sarah Nov 11, 2015
I just chose numbers each time, making sure that each round was different. You could also just shuffle them. If kids are playing it by themselves, they could turn all the numbers face down and then draw four for each round.
Justine Jan 17, 2016
Brillliant! Love the inspiration that comes in the minute you need it. Can't wait to play this with my 1st grader.
Morgan Jan 26, 2016
Carol Mar 20, 2016
I think football would be a great set up for multiplication!! Each 10 yards can have the possible products and when the dice are rolled they either advance or lose yardage? I think we'll try it!! Thanks for the ideas!!
Nicole Mar 28, 2016
Carol, I was thinking along the same lines for using multiplication with football. WOuld you please report back if you try it?
Jessica Nov 30, 2018
How did it go?
Julie Apr 5, 2016
Thank you! My 2nd graders will LOVE this!
Bridget Apr 26, 2016
This is an extremely fun game. My little guy is in kindergarten and LOVES this game. He is in the process of memorizing his math facts so, we wrote down the addition and subtraction problems from each roll.
We had a blast!
Thank you so much!!!
Sarah Apr 28, 2016
That's great, I'm so glad he enjoyed it! Thanks for taking the time to comment. :-)
Linda Sep 17, 2016
Have you tried using three dice to play it for multiplication?
Michael Mar 23, 2017
This a great idea!! Thanks for sharing!
Jessica Jun 12, 2017
You could add dice and use the same concept but with order of operations; good for when they get older.
Emily Jul 17, 2017
Do you clear the bases after an out?
Emily Jul 17, 2017
Never mind... I just realized my question doesn't make sense! Great game... I'm excited to try it!
Julie Kauffman Jul 21, 2017
Would this be challenging enough for fourth graders?
Christa Aug 31, 2017
I want to try it using a deck of cards with picture cards as 10 and/or Jacks and queens worth 11, kings and aces 12! Great idea! Thanks for sharing!
Lisa Apr 8, 2020
Oh My! Thank you for this idea on using cards. We are testing it out today. I have a 3rd grader that is very bored with the school work that is being sent home during this pandemic. Thank you again!
Alexandra Howard Apr 14, 2019
Thank you for this game. My 1st graders are going to love it, and it is going to boost their numeracy skills as well as student engagement.
Marcia Bickford Oct 21, 2020
Cool game! Thanks for sharing!
Paige Caligiuri Dec 10, 2020
We played today for math and my first grade son loved it! We used counting bears and dry erase markers directly on the table to save paper. We'll definitely be playing again.
Angela N Dec 28, 2020
Played this with my second grade nephew and Kinder niece today. My nephew said “it makes math fun!” My niece just added the dice together.
For older students, you could try three dice with two operations. Multiply two dice and divide by the third die. Great game!!!
Julie Oct 21, 2022
I love that this is so simple to get together, but has so many possibilities. I'm practicing facts to 20 with a student, so made one die 1-6, and the other 7-12. Base cards go from 7-14 ( facts to 13 & 14 are my target skill today). Love that this is frugal fun for girls, too!
Fraser Oct 24, 2022
Good played using lego men .
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