Crunch It – Math Game to teach Addition and Subtraction


I have been lucky enough to have the chance to homeschool our kidlet, but it’s not always an easy adventure. One of the biggest struggles we have had is Math. Specifically? Subtraction. I was tearing my hair out trying to get this kid to understand the process and spent one afternoon telling my neighbor about it. A few days later my daughter was at her house playing and she called me to come over. She had come up with a Math Game to teach Addition and Subtraction! And more importantly? My 8 year old was LOVING it!! (And yes, she gave me permission to share!)

Crunch It – Math Game to teach Addition and Subtraction

This game is super simple to make, and fun to play! It’s totally adaptable and customizable. I’m sharing the items my neighbor and I used, but you’re welcome to take it and run with it however works for you! (For example, we used a cookie sheet to contain the beads because there are four-legged creatures running around and we were preparing for the inevitable bump!) 

Crunch It - Math Game to teach Addition and Subtraction

You will need:

  • 1 large sheet of paper or card stock (We actually used a large mailing envelope.) 
  • 5 different colors of paper (4 sheets of each! We used cardstock.) 
  • 5 sets of beads – at least 20 of each color.
  • Laminator (optional – we wanted to make the “game board” more durable, as well as have the ability to use a dry erase marker.)
  • Envelope to hold cards (which we used the front to label our different colors and placeholders.) 
  • Dry Erase Marker.


this-moms-reviewFirst, take your cardstock and cut each sheet into 8 equal pieces, cut one of those 1/8 sheets in half as well. 

To make the game board, take 2.5 cards of each color and arrange them on your cardstock. (1 row of each color along the top, 1 row of each color directly below, and then the half cards along the bottom. As pictured.) We used scrap book adhesive and then laminated this board. 

Take your remaining cards and label each color with two sets of 0-9. (Examples posted in the photo below.) 

I also recommend finding an envelope (to be used as storage for your cards) and labeling it with your colors and the place values of each color. (In our version of the game? Red = 1’s, Yellow = 10’s, Green = 100’s, Blue = 1,000’s, Pink = 10,000’s.)


Playing is just as simple as putting together this game! (And again, open to your interpretation and the methods that you need to use for your local school system!) My daughter always has a piece of scratch paper with her so she can physically work out the problem if needed. And this game does take up our entire coffee table, so you’ve been warned! 

First spread out your cards (make sure they’re in the color-coded order you’ve picked) number sides down in two piles – top and bottom.  

Flip over the top card of each pile. Take your colored beads and place the amount of beads listed on the cards in the corresponding box. (In the image pictured, there were 7 beads in the top box, 3 in the bottom. 6 yellow in the top, 2 in the bottom. 2 green on top, 1 on bottom.)

Here’s where the name of this game comes in – each time she got the beads set up in the full equation? We would chant “Crunch It” 3 times before she started subtracting. (She thought it would be more fun if we didn’t call it “subtracting” and instead we were “Crunching” the numbers.) 

Now is where it gets a little tricky, as you’re doing math! You remove the number of beads from the top, to match the bottom (you can place those discarded in the bottom 1/2 box, or as my daughter does she simply counts how many she removes and writes that number in the bottom box.) 

Example from the photo? Discard 1 bead from the top green, write “1” in the 1/2 box. Discard 4 from the top green, and then write “4” in the 1/2 box. Take 4 beads from the top red box to match the 3 in the bottom and write “4” in the 1/2 box. And you have the answer to 267 – 123 as 144!

When it came time to borrow and carry, she would add and subtract beads from the appropriate boxes.

We sweetened the pot (because she REALLY dislikes math) and she got 1 skittle for each correct answer! 

I should also add that we started with just subtracting 1’s, and then once she did ten correct? Moved to subtracting 10’s. After ten correct, we added another place value and kept going until she was subtracting 10,000’s! 

This game quickly became a favorite, and we spend at least one evening each week playing together! We’ve turned it into a challenge – for each “round” she moves up, she can cross one chore off her list for the next day! And after just 2 weeks of playing this game, my 8 year old was subtracting like a pro! 

Out of frustration, we created a fun math hame to teach Addition and Subtraction! Do you have any tips for math-hating kids out there? 


I’m a Nebraska girl transplanted to Southern Colorado! I’m a homeschooling, coffee loving, book reading, hockey mom with a passion for music, blogging and serving others! I’m glad you’ve joined me in my little corner of the web!

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