Keep math skills up with summer games

Published 1:22 pm Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Keeping math skills sharp is an ongoing process. Because math concepts build on each other, it is important that children retain basic facts.

A fun way to do this with children is to play math games. A game that I play with my son is called “Ice Ice Baby.” All you need is two ice trays, a die and some Cheerios. Player one rolls a five, so he/she places a Cheerio in five of the cubes. Player two rolls a three, so he/she places a Cheerio in three of the cubes. The first player to fill all of his/her cubes says, “Ice Ice Baby,” and they are the winner.

This game is perfect for children who need to practice one-to-one correspondence.

The game of war is a good game for children to compare numbers. All you need is a deck of cards. Player one has a three and player two has a ten. The player with the higher number keeps both cards. At the end of the game, the player with the most cards wins.

Another card game to play is blackjack. Each player receives two cards. The player to come closest to 21 without going over wins. While I’m not advocating gambling, this is a good way for children to enhance their mental math skills by practicing basic addition facts.

Guess My Factor is a card game that works on multiplication skills, and it requires three players. Two players face each other. One player is the dealer/judge. The dealer places one card face down in front of each player. When the dealer says go, each player picks up their cards without looking at them and holds them against their forehead so that the card is visible to their opponent. The dealer states the product of the card to the players. For example, if one player has an eight and the other has a three, the dealer would call out “24” because eight times three is 24. The player who guesses which card he/she is holding correctly wins the cards for that round of play. At the end of the game, the player with the most cards wins. To make the game more challenging, aces can be used as 11s, 12s, or higher numbers.

Games which require strategy are a great way to help children problem-solve and develop higher order thinking skills. Sudoku, checkers, chess, clue, and Monopoly are a few that come to mind. The main thing to remember is to keep learning fun during the summer.