Even though Comm. Central is on Christmas break, the Majors are still doing math, handwriting and a few other fun things. Complaining to my husband that I wanted our son to work harder in math, my dear man said, "Can you figure out a way to make it feel like a competition to him?" I am not a competitive soul - I don't understand the need for competition. I'm here to tell you this worked for us.
Draw a huge circle, put numbers around it and one inside (see below). Then add around the circle. For example, 7+18=25, 7+12 =19, etc. Time yourself and try to be faster each time. I gave him a minute each round. Then put a different number in the center. I think this will work too for subtraction, multiplication or division. Today we only worked on addition.
Once he finished going around the circle, I told him how many seconds remained. For even more math, he told me how many seconds it took him to complete the task. We did it again to see if he could beat his time. (On more than one occasion, he lost several seconds arguing with me about the correct answer…) Below is the tally sheet. You can see after the third try on his 8s he was fatigued, taking over a minute to complete the circle. I had him to (change speeds) write three words in cursive then back to math. This proved to be enough of a distraction to make it the best round of 8s. I didn't want to end on a frustrating note.
The idea for this game came from Strayer Upton Practical Arithmetics, book one (originally published in 1934). We've borrowed books one and two from a friend and my understanding is book one is for third grade and book two is for fourth. I really like their emphasis on figuring in your head and the many, many, many practical word problems.