Educational math board games have long been used to nurture academic and social skills in children through an enjoyable and engaging approach. Learning basic math skills such as addition and multiplication tables, or even adding fractions and long division can be somewhat tedious and even downright difficult for some. Since most expert educators agree that children tend to learn and retain new concepts better when the material is presented in a fun and engaging way, educational math board games offer great opportunities for students to succeed in math and even experience a greater appreciation for a subject that is feared and hated by many.
Superior educational math board games help students remain engaged and interested in math and retain the concepts learned even after the game has ended. These games will accomplish many of the following things: increase students’ enthusiasm for math; improve students’ abilities to count, recognize numbers, compare number values and estimate number values; reinforce basic math skills; reinforce concepts in a valuable and enjoyable way; and, be geared to develop increasingly more refined tactics for success (or winning the game!)
As you prepare to determine if a math board game is suitable for your students, you should consider the following aspects:
- Does it allow for sufficient math practice and review at the desired level?
- Does it require excessive speed that might be disadvantageous to some students and advantageous for faster performing students?
- Does it seem simplistic enough for beginners while still offering critical thinking opportunities?
- Does the game appear interesting to you?
- Does it only require chance to be successful or is strategy involved as well?
Most people are familiar with the popular board game, Monopoly. Yes, Monopoly is a great educational math board game for youngsters! It consists of a board, 2 dice, tokens, 32 houses and 12 hotels. There are Chance and Community Chest cards, a Title Deed card for each property, play money and a banker’s tray. The object of the game is to become the wealthiest player through buying, renting and selling property. This game allows children to practice counting as they move their tokens around the board; they learn to estimate the number of spaces to move when the dice are rolled; and they practice making purchases and making change during real estate transactions. There is some chance involved but there is unquestionably a great deal of problem-solving and tactical abilities required to perform well in this game.
Another educational math board game is Blokus which consists of a board of 400 squares and 84 tile pieces in four different colors (21 differently shaped pieces per color). These include: 1 piece consisting of a single tile, 1 piece consisting of two tiles, 2 pieces consisting of three tiles, 5 pieces consisting of four tiles, and 12 pieces consisting of five tiles. The object of the game is to achieve the highest score by placing the most tiles on the board and blocking other players from placing all their tiles on the board.
Each player chooses a color and the play goes in this order: blue, yellow, red, and green. After each player plays a piece from their respective corners, each subsequent piece must be played as to touch only at the corners. This strategy game calls attention to patterns. Also, players have to try to anticipate their opponents’ moves and try to frustrate their efforts to lay their larger tile pieces on the board. The game ends when all players are unable to lay down any more pieces. The scoring is calculated using positive and negative numbers. Then, they determine the total area of all the unused tile pieces.
Math Smart is an educational math board game which helps children to easily begin to master the skills of basic math. There is a Math Smart game that for each of the following: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and fractions. Each game plays like dominos and teaches like a tutor. There are 100 durable cards in each game. Each card has a math problem on one half and a boldly circled answer to a different math problem on the other half. Players match the correct answer with the matching problem while forming domino-type patterns with the cards. Math Smart is a simple and fun way to capture childrens’ interest while at the same time helping them to master basic math skills.
As children play these and similar types of games, they are able to practice many fundamental math skills in an entertaining and interactive way. When they enjoy what they are doing, they will want to play longer and more frequently. Games are a fantastic response to a child’s desire for meaningful and creative play as evidenced by their degree of concentration while playing. They offer a varied manner in which to drill and reinforce math skills other than through the conventional manner of worksheets. The use of quality educational math board games allows a plethora of math skills to be practiced and introduced in a concrete and engaging forum.