This idea dates ALL the way back to my days as a public school teacher! I used to play this game on days when we had indoor recess. As a homeschool mom, I love that all of my kids can play it together, while doing different levels of math! Lovely! Also, I plan on playing this in my Essentials class at our local Classical Conversations Community.
Have the kids sit in a circle. (or triangle in this case) Throw the ball to a brother. After catching the ball, he looks at his thumbs. Preschoolers/Kinders identify the numbers that are under their thumbs. Younger Elementary students will add or subtract the numbers under their thumbs. Upper elementary kids will multiply the numbers under their thumbs. Also, olders could square or cube each number. If their thumb lands on a black square, then they choose the closest number to their thumb. After performing his math problem, he throws it to the next brother. Each child is doing his own math level, while participating in the same game. (Did you notice? They have shirts on….for once….I just wanted to prove to you that they DO own shirts!)
My son caught the ball with his thumbs on the three and the six. So, he will say “3 times 6 equals 18” and throw it to the next brother. (Notice that I wrote a line under the numbers so they know which way to look at the number.)
My boys are not allowed to touch this soccer ball unless they are doing math. For that reason, they have been known to pick it up and do math facts all on their own!!! You’ve got to love that!! To play solo, just toss the ball in the air and catch it. Play the game as described, but just continue catching it by yourself.