I was in my friend Peggy's room last week, and her kiddos were making equations to equal the number of the day, which was 44. I noticed that all the kids were using just two numbers in their equations (40 + 4, 50 - 6, etc.). I decided to try a little "evil" math on them, so I asked if anyone could make an equation with three numbers to equal 44. Crickets chirping. Okay, so they needed a little more support. I asked them if I added 20 + 20, what would I still have to do to get to 44. That did it! Hands went up, and we wrote the equation 20 + 20 + 4 on the chart. They, of course, followed with more. We even got into some multiplication and division! Very cool.
This experience made me realize that we need to get our kiddos to think outside the box on a regular basis. Throw them a curve ball, so to speak. With that on my mind, I created these easy little math games for combining 3 numbers, using multiple operations, to make a target number.
There are two versions: one that uses just addition and subtraction to make 11 and another that uses addition, subtraction, and multiplication to make 21. Because there's a strategy component, you're also sharpening their problem solving skills! Click on the links to grab your freebies. :)
If you are looking for more low-prep, high-engagement activities, check out this blog post to see more great games for multiplication.