Table Tennis and Math

I love playing table tennis (but I really call it ping pong all the time)! I played it a lot as a kid and I play occasionally as an adult....we have a table in the basement:-) I would never claim to be a SERIOUS player, but I'm not bad!

I was playing with my daughter the other day, and it occurred to me that playing ping pong is a great way for younger children to practice their addition facts and some multiples of 5 (good for older kids too, if they don't know these facts very well). Now, this idea is based on the "serving rules" that we used when I was growing up. It appears (after I searched for info) that these are not the official rules any more, but since I'm not a professional, I'm ok with playing by the unofficial rules!  The way we played is that the server switches every 5 points, and we played to 21 points.

So, here's where the math comes in....when you're playing, you need to know when to switch who's serving, so you need to know what adds up to the multiples of 5. When the score is 5-0, 4-1, or 3-2, serving switches. To switch servers at 10 points, players  need to know that the score would be 10-0, 9-1, 8-2, 7-3, 6-4, or 5-5. When serving switches at a total of 15 points, the score possibilities are 15-0, 14-1, 13-2, 12-3, 11-4, 10-5, 9-6, 8-7. At 20 points, the score would be 20-0, 19-1, 18-2, 17-3, 16-4, 15-5, 14-6, 13-7, 12-8, 11-9, 10-10. The repetition of these facts throughout many games can really help kids learn them.

Over the years, I have noticed that students (in general) seem less aware of, and less automatic with the digits that will add to 10. Playing ping pong is a great way for kids to practice these facts without thinking that they're practicing math (math in real-life!).

This is great for parents to do with their kids, but also - a mini ping pong table in the classroom sounds like fun!!

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