10 Family-Favorite Games for Learning Math Through Play

Oops! I can’t believe I forgot to post these links when my latest book came out way back in March. Indie author fail…

Do you want your children to enjoy learning math?

Teach them how to play!

In excerpts from five of my most popular books, the Let’s Play Math Sampler features ten kid-tested games covering math concepts from counting to prealgebra.

Pick up a copy of the Let’s Play Math Sampler today, and make math a playful family adventure.

and other online retailers, or order the paperback by special request at your favorite local bookshop.

…And now I just need to go back and update my original pre-order post, so everyone can find the book no matter which blog they happen to read…

“Laughing Girl” photo (top) by ND Strupler via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

8 Weeks of Playful Math for Families

Yes, your kids CAN learn to love math. Keep your children’s math skills fresh with my 8-week email series of math games and activities.

No purchase necessary! Just sign up for my email newsletter, and every week for the next two months you’ll automatically receive one of my favorite math club activities or an excerpt from my series of math game books.

Math Game: Six Hundred

Today I’m working on the next book in my Math You Can Play series, culling the games that don’t fit. Six Hundred is a fine game, but I can’t figure out how it landed in the prealgebra manuscript…

Math Concepts: addition, multiplication, parity (odd or even).
Players: any number.
Equipment: six regular 6-sided dice (my math club kids love this set), free printable score sheet, pen or pencil.

Set-Up

A full game consists of eighteen rounds of play. Players may share the dice and score sheet, taking turns around the table. But for a large group you may want to have extras, so that two or more people can be rolling their dice at the same time.

How to Play

On your turn, roll all six dice up to three times. After each roll, you may set aside one or more dice to keep for scoring, if you wish. Once a die has been set aside, you may not change your mind and roll it again.

After the third roll, choose an unused category on your score sheet. Count the dice according to the rules for that section, and write down your score. If your dice do not fit anywhere, then you must take a zero in the category of your choice.

When all players have filled their score sheet and recorded any appropriate bonuses (or penalties), whoever has the highest score wins.

Scoring

Dice are scored in eighteen categories, in four sections, as follows. The maximum possible score is 600 points.

Numbers

Record the sum of only the dice showing that number. For example, if you rolled 1, 1, 3, 4, 4, 4, you could score 2 in the Ones category. Or you could score 12 in the Fours category, or zero in the Fives.

Bonus: If the combined Numbers score is 80 or more, add 35 points to your total.

Rungs (1–4)

Score the total of all six dice. Like a ladder, the score in each rung must be greater than the one before it. Rung 1 gets the lowest number, and Rung 4 the highest.

You may fill in the rungs in any order. But if you write 18 in Rung 2, then the score in Rung 1 must be 17 or less, and the score in Rung 3 must be at least 19.

Penalty: If the Rung scores don’t fit the ascending value rule, this category is worth zero.

Clusters

Score the total of all six dice, if they fit the rules for that category.

• Four of a Kind: at least four dice show the same number.
• Five of a Kind: at least five dice show the same number.
• Odds: all six dice show odd numbers.
• Evens: all six dice show even numbers.
Patterns

Score the amount shown for each pattern.

• Series: 30 points you roll 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.
• Pairs: 30 points if you roll three pairs of matching numbers. Four dice showing the same number may be counted as two pairs.
• Triplets: 30 points if you roll two sets of three dice with the same numbers, such as three 2s and three 5s.
• Sextet: 36 points when all six dice show the same number.
Game Bonus

If you score at least one point in all eighteen categories, or if the only zero you take is for the sextet, then award yourself an additional 36 points.

History

Players around the world have played poker-style dice games for ages. I grew up with Yahtzee, but you may know the game by Yatzy, Yacht, Generala, or another name.

Reiner Knizia included this mathematical version in his book Dice Games Properly Explained. And I found it online at Michael Ayers’s Stick Insect blog.

John Golden posted a simpler “Mathzee” game played with five dice on his Math Hombre blog — and while you’re there, be sure to check out his amazing Math Games page.

CREDITS: Feature photo (top) by rekre89 via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

Getting Started with Playful Family Math

One of the most common questions I get from parents who want to help their children enjoy math is, “Where do we start?”

Math games meet children each at their own level. The child who sits at the head of the class can solidify skills. The child who lags behind grade level can build fluency and gain confidence.

And (as Peggy Kaye pointed out in her book Games for Math) both will learn something even more important — that hard mental effort can be fun.

Now I’ve put together a short, inexpensive book to help families begin playing with math.

Let’s Play Math Sampler: 10 Family-Favorite Games for Learning Math Through Play contains short excerpts from my most popular books, including a preview of two games from my work-in-progress Prealgebra & Geometry Games.

Don’t miss it: Order your copy today.

and other online retailers, or order the paperback by special request at your favorite local bookshop.

“Denise Gaskins is that sound voice of reason that comes into my head when I get agitated teaching. This isn’t performance — this is play. My kids aren’t on trial, they are learning to learn.”

—Sonya Post

“By exploring math in a playful way, your kids will be happy to learn and will discover an enjoyment of math in the process. You might even have fun, too! ”

—Olisia Yeend

Playful Math Education Carnival 123: Hundred Chart Edition

Do you enjoy math? I hope so!

If not, browsing this post just may change your mind.

Welcome to the 123rd edition of the Playful Math Education Blog Carnival — a smorgasbord of delectable tidbits of mathy fun.

The Playful Math Carnival is like a free online magazine devoted to learning, teaching, and playing around with math from preschool to high school. This month’s edition features $\left ( 1 + 2 + 3 \right )^{2} = 36 \:$ articles from bloggers all across the internet.

You’re sure to find something that will delight both you and your child.

By tradition, we start the carnival with a puzzle in honor of our 123rd edition. But if you would like to jump straight to our featured blog posts, click here to see the Table of Contents.

Or more, depending on how you count. And on whether I keep finding things to squeeze in under the looming deadline. But if there are more, then there are certainly 36. Right?

The 1-2-3 Puzzle

Write down any whole number. It can be a single-digit number, or as big as you like.

For example:
64,861,287,124,425,928

Now, count up the number of even digits (including zeros), the number of odd digits, and the total number of digits it contains. Write those numbers down in order, like this:
even 12, odd 5, total 17

Then, string those numbers together to make a new long number, like so:
12,517

Perform the same operation on this new number. Count the even digits, odd digits, and total length:
even 1, odd 4, total 5

And do it again:
145
even 1, odd 2, total 3

If you keep going, will your number always turn into 123?

Math Game: Number Train

Math Concepts: number symbols, numerical order, thinking ahead.
Players: two or more.
Equipment: one math deck of playing cards (remove face cards and jokers), or a double deck for more than four players; additional cards to use as train cars.

Set-Up

Give each player four to six miscellaneous cards (such as the face cards and jokers you removed from the card deck) to serve as the cars of their number trains.

Lay these cards face down in a horizontal row, as shown. Shuffle the math card deck and spread it on the table as a fishing pond.

How to Play

On your turn, draw one card and play it face up on one of your train cars. The numbers on your train must increase from left to right, but they do not need to be in consecutive order. If you do not have an appropriate blank place for your card, you have two choices:

• Mix the new card back into the fishing pond.

• Use the new number to replace one of your other cards, and then discard the old one.

The first player to complete a train of numbers that increases from left to right wins the game.

Variations

House Rule: Decide how strict you will be about the “increases from left to right” rule and repeated numbers. Does “1, 3, 3, 7, 8” count as a valid number train? Or will the player have to keep trying for a card to replace one of the threes?

For older players: You can adapt Number Train to play with more advanced students: