When the clouds roll in and the rain pours down it may turn out to be the perfect time to settle in for some table games and practice math skills along the way! Better yet, open the windows a bit or set up a cozy spot on your porch and listen to the rain pitter patter on the roof as you play.  The sounds of rain soothe the heart and calms the nervous system making you even more apt to center, focus, and enjoy the fun! In this blog post, you will learn about what math games my family and I enjoy that makes us laugh, shriek with joy, or ponder over what potential game-winning strategies to use. 

So let’s get started!

Sleeping Queens

Kings, queens, dragons, knights and magic wands…this game has all the characters you need to tell a story of magic, fantasy, and excitement. It is technically designed for ages 8 and up, but my 3 year old daughter has been able to hold her own while absolutely loving it the whole way through.  My one year old sits on my lap and holds or picks up cards when it is our turn too (even though many end up on the floor of course!)  

The game is a perfect blend of simple strategy and luck so that everyone can have fun.  Players can win if they collect 4 queens or 40 points or 5 queens and 50 points.  Each collected queen has a different point value so players are asked to add up their points along the way. 

The queens display all multiples of 5 so it is the best way to practice counting by both 5s and 10’s and multiplication. Plus, the number cards (1-9) can be used to make number sentences or equations so that you can trade in for new cards. A player might make various combinations of subtraction or addition sentences such as 9-2=7 or 2+3+4=9. The character illustrations are enchanting and funny too!  We always find ourselves giggling over the pictures and on the edge of our seats hoping to wake up our favorite type of queen!

Product: Sleeping Queens

Recommended Age Range: 8+

Price Range: $15

 

Mancala

Did you know that mancala is the most common game played in the entire world?  This is one of those games that the young and old can play with just the same amount of engagement and delight.  We love this game because of its treasures that remind us of the gems and jewels that King Neptune of the sea collects. Mancala is captivating and educational for many reasons.  Here are just some of the few: learning to count by 1’s, 2’s, 3’s, 4’s, etc., subitizing, multiplication, problem solving, logical thinking, planning a strategy and much more.  Not only are there several opportunities to practice counting, but players also need to think critically about which pocket to start from and why.  There are strategies to learn that may help increase your chances of winning. Different versions of the game can make the strategies even more complex. My daughter even made up her own version that involved counting by 2’s. 

Product: Mancala

Recommended Age Range: 6+ 

Price Range: $8 and up

Dominoes

You can play dominoes hundreds of ways and every single one of them brings lots of learning and fun.  Dominoes build upon dice patterns, subitizing, addition, subtraction, fractions, division, matching, sorting, classifying, problem solving, critical thinking, and much more! 

I would recommend starting with traditional play and then move onto variations. For example, practice multiples like ‘fives and threes’ where the goal is to have the two ends of the domino chain end in a multiple of three or multiple of five to score a point. 

Here is a common way that we play that involves the formation of number bonds.  Begin by dividing the dominos evenly then take turns playing.  Every domino placed must form a “number bond” of three numbers in which the largest number is the sum of the two smaller numbers. 

When we play you can use some of these questions to dig deeper into understanding number patterns even more clearly:

  • How many dominoes are there in the double-six set?
  • How many doubles are there?
  • How many ones, twos or threes are there?
  • How many dominoes have a total of ten dots on them?

Product: Dominos

Recommended Age Range: 6+ (younger kids can play and have fun with a little adult help)

Price Range: $14 and up

 

Dragonwood

This game is teeming with adventure, fun, and mystery! My kids cannot wait to see what type of adventure or event card will turn up next and the anticipation of capturing the dragon is huge! This adventure challenges players to capture creatures in the enchanted forest of Dragonwood. 

Kids can practice with understanding the role of probability since you’ll have to calculate the likelihood of getting a particular set of cards or number total on the dice. You will also have to learn how to strategize which creature to pursue throughout the game. The kids will have to keep adding up the dice roll probabilities in their head, thinking critically about how many cards to play, adding the numbers on the dice and adding their victory points for a total score. Most all, you can tell an adventure story of a walk through Dragonwood that you will never forget!

Title: Dragonwood

Recommended Age Range: 8+ 

Price Range: $14 

 

Polyhedral Dice

These dice have added to the chest of treasures that my children love to collect and make part of their everyday play.  Just like dominoes and mancala, dice prove to be one of the most versatile and expansive tools for learning and fun. We have used these polyhedral dice to talk about probability, multiplication, addition, subtraction, number bonds, and more. My children will often create their own games with the dice that involves number bonds, comparing, adding or subtracting.  

One game in particular has proven to be a hit with us so far. It is called Race to 500.  The object of the game is to add up numbers to 500 or more. First person to 500 wins. One player at a time rolls two dice and uses them to create a two digit number. If a 6 and 3 are rolled you can make 36 or 63.  The next player does the same thing.  Each time a player rolls, they add the number to the previous one rolled.  We write our numbers on scrap paper and use base ten blocks and a hundreds chart to support the process.  We also frame the game in terms of our favorite race car, Lightning McQueen.  The numbers on the dice equate to how fast Lightning races in miles per hour and the kids cannot wait until he reaches 500 miles per hour to win the race.  

These are the dice that we have enjoyed. My kids and I chose them because of the bright, attractive colors, individual pouches with the animal sketches on the front. Mommy appreciates the fact that the dice material is eco-friendly.

Denise Gaskins has an excellent blog with many more ideas of dice and hundreds of other ways to play with math that I highly recommend.

Title: Polyhedral Dice Set

Recommended Age Range: 8+ 

Price Range: $10 and up

 

So what are you waiting for?  Bring on the giggles and fun with these math games and brighten up your rainy days!

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