magic triangles: hands-on math game

magic triangle math It’s been crazy busy over here for the past few days, with visiting family in the Keystone State, attending BlogHer in NYC, and then spending some more time with family.

But after the wash was done, the suitcases away, Hermie back and settled in her new terrarium, and the kids and I slowly re-adjusted to our new summer schedule without swim and dive, the fun began.

Summer math and reading packets from school.  Yes, we’ve dented them for sure, but there is a bunch more waiting for us–the pages that Maddy and Owen skipped because they needed more help, more explanation, and a wee bit more support.

So that’s what we’ve been doing.

Not every day, all day–don’t get me wrong.

But in the morning, after chores and after a bit of reading and lazying around, we’ve hit the packets.

One activity, though, really caught my eye.  Maddy, who’s rocking and rolling onto grade three (I still cannot believe it even as I type it!), has a section in her math packet of hands-on math learning activities.  I love it.  It’s perfect for her because she needs hands-on, and she needs practice with the basics.

And who doesn’t love a few good math games?

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Magic Triangles — Hands-on Math Game: The premise of Magic Triangles is really simple.

Using an equilateral triangle with three empty circles on each side, children move around numbers 1-6 (written on small pieces of paper) until the sum of each side matches the sums of the other sides.

Super easy, right? Not so much.

magic triangle math game

Maddy’s Magic Triangle is set up and ready to go. . . now just to figure out that Magic Sum!

This activity had Maddy moving numbers and moving them again and then moving them again until she got it.  And when she mastered it? She was elated.

We used supplies that were close at hand, but you could really just use a white board or paper if that’s all you have. I like the hands-on element–the moving the numbers around, holding the triangle, and really being able to feel the game in your hands.  But it can be a great game to play with pencil and paper as you wait for a table in a restaurant, too.


magic triangle math game

Owen tried his hand at the Magic Triangle Math Game–but he was stumped.

But the first thing he did the next morning? Try his hand at the Magic Triangle until he figured it out!

We cut an equilateral triangle from a piece of cardboard, and then we stuck three blue circles on each side.  Maddy wanted to use sticky notes for the numbers, so she wrote numbers 1-6 on small orange stickies.  And then she started thinking and didn’t stop until she figured it out.

We didn’t record solutions (gulp!), and we didn’t try to find multiple solutions. Perhaps we’ll give that a ‘go’ today. And I won’t tell you what the ‘Magic Sum’ is so that it’s not ruined for you, so have fun with it!

And that’s it–just a fun, hands-on math game that disguises learning (and serious math practice and critical thinking!) in the name of fun and games.  Right up our alley!

I’m looking forward to trying the other hands-on math games in Maddy’s summer packet, so huge thanks to her amazing grade three team and to Math Teaching Resources where a number of these activities originated.




  1. says

    I like how you create the math triangles. We get printed ones from our school to cut out and then recite. It is mind numbing and boring and I don’t think it works.

    I also like multiplication facts via these skip counting songs I got from my 3rd grade ex-teacher Mom Friend Jen:

    Sorry to has missed you at BlogHer. I would have really liked to have met you! Next year perhaps!

    • amy says

      oooooh, Jane! You have me intrigued. . . how can I find out what those ‘magic’ sums are? (Please be patient–I’m not a mathy gal!)


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