In a recent blog, I mentioned the value of games involving lots of counting and calculation. This blog lists some commercial games, available in most toy/game stores.
• Chutes & Ladders (sometimes titled Snakes & Ladders): the classic dice game of moving your piece to the 100th square, hoping to avoid the downward chutes and trying to land on the upward ladders.
– variation on Chutes & Ladders: as your child gets older and learns how to subtract and multiply, after the dice are rolled allow each player to choose whether to add, subtract, or multiply the two numbers. A player rolling a 5 and a 3 could move either 8 (from 5 + 3), or 15 (from 5 x 3), or 2 (from 5 – 2), or even -2 (from 3 – 5). This variation helps kids realize there are more relationships between two numbers than always just adding.
• Mancala: remember this? – moving stones around from your side of the board to your end zone – counting, estimating, visualizing moves.
• Monopoly: lots of practice both with the counting of your piece across the board as well as use of play money, making change, buying and paying and renting.
• Parcheesi; Sorry: these traditional games involving lots of counting and moving pieces. From sheer experience of lots of counting, players learn to look for shortcuts, counting on, counting back, etc.
• Ring-A-Round: another game of three regular six-sided dice to find expressions equal to number goals from 2 to 18, in a ring around your own colored post. Players can use any combination of +, –, x, or ÷ to find a number goal – for example, rolling a 3, 4, 5 could results in 12 (from 3 + 4 + 5), or 17 (from 5 + 3 x 4, or from 5 x 4 – 3), or 11 (from 3 x 5 – 4), or 3 (from[5 + 4] ÷ 3), or 6 (from 5 + 4 – 3), etc.
• Backgammon: the ancient dice game allowing players to decompose sums into desired parts in order to move all pieces to their own goal.
• Yahtzee: there’s no better dice game allowing so many intriguing combinations and arrangements of numbers.
• Cribbage: the pegging game of counting points with pairs, three of a kind, cards adding to 15, strategizing to reach 31.
• Kenken: this game is available as a board game but is more commonly found in newspapers, magazines, and booklets. Kind of like Sudoku but with arithmetic thrown in.
• The Game of 24: use each of the four numbers on a card exactly once each to create an expression equal to 24 – for example, a card with the numbers 2, 2, 6, 8 would have a solution of (6 + 8 – 2) x 2. Each box has dozens of such cards, with each card marked with degree of difficulty.
There certainly are other games of computation that I haven’t included here. Write me at info@AlgebraForKids.com with your favorite counting/calculating game for kids.