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It’s Saturday morning. You pull out the multiplication flashcards. Your son see them and lets out a pained cry.
“Nooooooo!” he wails.
During parent conferences, your child’s teacher asked you to practice multiplication facts at home, but your child wants nothing to do with flashcards.
Does this sound familiar?
Now, imagine your son or daughter’s reaction when you pull out a new dartboard and hand over the darts. Believe it or not, every game of darts requires players to add, subtract, multiply, and divide. This makes darts an excellent game to play to improve mental math skills. And it’s fun, too!
Last weekend, I pulled out a magnetic dartboard. My son couldn’t wait to start chucking darts at it. He had no idea we were about to practice multiplication.
The Math Behind Darts
To play a traditional game of darts, each player starts with a score of 501 (to shorten the game, you can also start with 301 or any number ending in ’01). On a player’s turn he/she gets three darts to toss. At the end of the turn, the player adds up his score and subtracts it from the running total.
For example, let’s say your score was 19, 3, and 12. You would add up the three numbers and subtract the total from 501 on your first turn.
Sometimes you’ll land on the double or treble band. This requires you to double the section’s number of points (multiply by 2) or treble the section’s number of points (multiply by 3).
Each dartboard is numbered from 1-20 around the board in non-sequential order. The inner red circle is the bullseye and if a player lands a dart there, the score is 50. If a player lands his dart in the green ring around the red circle, the score is 25. This is called the 25 ring.
Modify the Game of Darts to Meet Your Child’s Needs
How to use a dartboard with younger children
For children just starting to add, simply make your own numbers and attach them to your dartboard. You can use small numbers around the dartboard to practice the math facts your child needs to learn. You can place 2’s, 3’s, and 4’s around your dartboard to practice adding these numbers. You may want to include a band for doubling the totals as an extra challenge.
No need to subtract from 501 when your child is just learning to add. Simply add up the totals and the person with the highest score wins.
How to use a dartboard with older children
Modify your dartboard to add larger numbers and challenge children to multiply by 2 and 3 when they land on the double and treble bands.
When your child throws a dart that lands in the outer red or green circle, your child must double that sections number of points. For more help on scoring with great images, see this post on four ways to play darts on four ways to play darts. Here is a screenshot from the post.
If the darts lands in the inner red or green circle you child must treble (triple) the score (multiply by 3). This offers a perfect opportunity to discuss different ways to multiply. You can add 18 three times. To do it quickly in your head, you can round the 18 to 20 and add 20 three times and then subtract 6. You can also use a piece of paper or whiteboard to work out the multiplication equation or just add 18 three times.
When your child is ready, use a traditional dartboard and practice subtracting the total from 501 or 301. You can your child by having him/her think ahead about what score they would need to win (and get all the way down to zero).
To win, your child must get to zero. Otherwise, he reverts to his earlier score and tries again. Pinpointing the final numbers to aim at will make it easier to get to zero. This requires children to think and plan ahead.
One popular strategy is to finish with doubles. If you try to get a 32, you may be able to double 16 to win or get to 8 and 8, etc.
Do you want to have fun with your children and help them improve their mental math skills at the same time? Try using a dartboard. It’s fun for the entire family. Using a dartboard is helping me improve my mental math skills as well.
Buying a magnetic dartboard was the most fun investment I’ve ever made in my children’s education. As a bonus, the magnetic darts don’t damage the walls!
Here’s the exact model I purchased.
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