someone removing darts from dartboard

Improve Your Child’s Math Skills with a Dartboard

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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.

If you’d like to play online, Topmarks has a great game you can modify yourself. I’ve included the link here. You must enable flash to play.

Here’s a screen shot of a dartboard I created on Topmarks with ‘3’ in the bullseye.modified dartboard to practice math online

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.

dartboard showing when to double 18

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.

dartboard showing the inner red square and how to multiply by 3

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.

Strategy

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.

Conclusion

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.

If you liked this post, you may also find these helpful:

How to Motivate Children to Learn New Skills Without a Daily Battle of Wills

Best Screen-free Educational Toys for Boys

8 thoughts on “Improve Your Child’s Math Skills with a Dartboard”

  1. Hi,
    As a homeschool mom for many years, I was always looking for ways to make learning an exciting adventure for my children.
    This strategy looks like a winner!

    Thanks for the great post.
    River

    Reply
  2. Thank you for this very helpful blog.Me and my husband think education start at home we sat with our kids after school, go through what they ‘v done in school and math is always the problem specially multiplication.This is the first time i heard about dartboard,i think it wonderful because kids learn better when it fun.As a parents we always looking for the best strategies to teach.

    Reply
  3. You are one smart mommy,
    It is a fact kids learn the best through games, and you have used the simple dart game to teach children how to learn math. I would never have thought of using a dartboard game to teach my children how to add numbers through such a simple game

    Jeff

    Reply
    • Thanks, Jeff. Playing darts is so fun, children don’t realize they’re learning while they play. Thank you for taking the time to comment on my post.

      Reply
  4. Woow I would never have thought to use Darts as a game to teach basic math to kids, but it makes so much sense and the adjustments you suggested to be made that align with kids is perfect. I will try this with my nephew. Great post.

    Reply

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