Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Mathematical Games

I found this article in a Rochester, New Hampshire School Newsletter and thought it was worth sharing. Games are great learning experiences.

Want to Help Build Your Child’s Mathematical Thinking? Play a Game!       by Mary Moriarty

Did you ever spend a summer afternoon or cold winter night playing round after round of Crazy Eights or Sorry!® or take pleasure in making one’s sibling say the dreaded words, “You sank my battleship!”? You were probably having fun playing these games, (unless it was your battleship being sunk), but what you probably didn’t know is that you were actually improving your mathematical thinking.

 In 2007, Geetha B. Ramani and Robert Siegler of Carnegie Mellon University conducted a study of preschool students enrolled in Head Start to see what the impact of playing linear board games (such as Chutes & Ladders®) would have on “enhancing young children’s numerical knowledge”. They concluded that “playing such a game for roughly one hour (spread out over four fifteen to twenty minute sessions) increased (the preschoolers) proficiency on four diverse numerical tasks: numerical magnitude (how much a number is worth) comparison (is 4 less than or more than 5), number line estimation (on a number line from 1 – 10, where would 5 go), counting (1, 2, 3….), and numeral identification (the symbol 3 represents what number). The gains remained nine weeks later.” (Ramani, Siegler, 2007)

 It doesn’t stop with Chutes and Ladders®, such games as Jenga® and Guess Who?® help children to develop their mathematical thinking as it re-lates to strategy, spacial perceptions, attributes, patterns and/or geometry. The benefits of playing these games, extends beyond the mathematics, and opens the door to a wonderful opportunity for children to learn about: turn taking, being a good sport, interacting with others, understanding and following directions and having fun with-out the television or computer being on!

Consider setting aside one night a week to have Family Game Night. You will not only help build your child’s mathe-matical knowledge, but are sure to create some lasting family memories!

Commercial Games that Use Mathematics

Counting, Adding, and Subtracting

Chutes and Ladders® (3+)

Hi-Ho! Cherry-O® (3+)

Sorry!® (6+)

Trouble® (5+)

Uno® (6+)

Attributes, Patterns, and Geometry

Crazy Eights - traditional card game (4+) Guess Who?® (6+)

Guess Where?® (6+)

Jigsaw puzzles

Rummikub® (8+)

Tangrams (5+)

Strategy and Spacial Perception

The a-MAZE-ing Labyrinth® (8+)