We play a fair amount of math games so I thought I’d share some of our favorites here. We’ll go through stages where we play games a lot, usually when someone needs to cement a concept or as a form of drill for memorizing facts. Sometimes I forget to pull out the resources we have and they get dusty on the shelf. Sometimes I’ll pull them out when attitudes are bad (mine included) and we need to inject some fun into our learning day. Regardless, they are a welcome addition to math education around here.
Equate is one of my favorite games right now. Its’ a very simple concept, Scrabble but with number and operation tiles rather than letters. It does require a certain amount of math knowledge, it’s really for kids who know at least basic addition and subtraction.The nice thing is that it’s fun even for older kids and adults as you can try to maximize points with more sophisticated equations ( 9 x 3= 35-8). There are junior tiles that have less division and no fractions. I bought those but typically we just pick out the fractions from the regular tiles. There are also advanced tiles with integers and exponents that could be fun for much older kids. It’s a fun game, and John and I both enjoy it.
This is a deceptively simple and fun game. It comes with two target dice that you roll to get a number. You then roll the other dice and try and combine them in a way to get the closest to the target number. It’s very portable, which is nice and also comes in a junior version.Other commercial games we enjoy are GeoShapes ( a deceptively difficult geometry game), Blokus and Set. Blokus and Set aren’t marketed as “math” games but there is a lot of math in them. And because the kids just think of them as fun games they will play them anytime. And don’t forget the math used in a game like Monopoly.
If you really LOVE math games then this is the granddaddy of them all: the Right Start Math card game set. It is quite pricey but it has a ton of games for all ages and with laminated cards will easily last through multiple kids. We don’t use the Right Start curriculum but I did purchase the games a few years ago and for the most part have been pleased.They do sell individual games on the site and an instructional DVD if you want to make your own cards. You can also watch videos of some of the games being played. Here is Go to the Dump which is always a favorite here in kindergarten.
If you are more of DIY kind of person, this book by Peggy Kaye is a fabulous resource. She outlines games for every age that you can easily make yourself. I’ve made several of her games and they all are quick to make and fun to play. She also has written several other “game books” (Games for… Reading, Writing, Learning, Books) but I’ve found the math one to be the most useful.
Some of the games we play the most consistently are simple ones I made up. We play a lot of “math war” which is the regular war card game but with varying levels of mathematical ability. For a preschooler, the traditional war game is excellent to review number order. Then we play addition war : each player puts down two cards and adds them together, highest number wins. You can probably figure out how to play subtraction and multiplication war.
Recently, we’ve ventured into the digital world for math games. I know there are many great online resources out there but I’ve been reluctant to add yet another reason for the kids to want to be at the computer. I’d heard great things about Timez Attack for memorizing multiplication tables and I decided to check it out. We downloaded the free version (there is a paid version that has more exciting games but the same math). So far, it’s been a hit. John really enjoys playing it and I’m impressed with the way it does help cement those facts.
Bottom line is that the best game is the one that is played.
How about you? Anyone have a favorite math game? I’d love to get more ideas for our school.