Games and Puzzles Help Kids Learn Math

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    Chad Richard is the Program Consultant for K-12 Numeracy with the Durham Catholic District School Board and a tutor with Homework Help, the free online math resource for kids in grades 7 to 10.

    Learn more about Homework Help here.



    “Life is more fun if you play games!” ~Roald Dahl


    I have always loved this quote because it’s true - games and puzzles do make life more fun. Maybe it’s because they’re often associated with a reward of some kind - whether it’s an actual prize, or just the sweet feeling of success.


    Games and puzzles can also help us be more successful in our math learning. They teach us perseverance, patience, strategy, problem solving, and how to learn from our mistakes, in a relatively risk free environment. Win or Lose, we’re always ready to play another day - that’s the same attitude we want to instill in our kids when it comes to math.

    There is nothing like board games or puzzles to bring the family together, and research shows that they can improve a child’s problem solving and abstract reasoning skills.


    war_card_game_170x255.jpgBut with so many games and puzzles to choose from, where do you start?


    Here are some fun and easy suggestions:


    1. Apps: As we all know, kids spend a lot of time with digital devices. App stores have lots of games and puzzles, many of them for free. Let your kids have fun and learn math skills too, with games like checkers, chess, card games and Sudoku.  If you search for great puzzles and games on most search engines, you’ll find articles with great app recommendations for various devices.  Here’s one great app list.
    2. Card Games: If you are not fortunate enough to have the latest gadget, don’t fret as all you need is a deck of cards.  There are hundreds of card games that can help your kids learn math skills like counting, ordering, quantity, memory, operations, spatial reasoning and problem solving.  Here’s a list of 10 easy games to teach your kids.
    3. Board Games:  Kids can fine tune many math skills with their favourite board games.  “Snakes and Ladders” teaches kids
      counting, “Sorry” teaches kids quantity, “Chinese Checkers” can teach ordering, and a good game of “Monopoly” (Junior or regular) is packed with math, board games_259x169.jpgfrom counting board spaces, to learning about money.  Most board games are under 20 dollars, so they’re an inexpensive investment in your child’s math learning that can reap rich rewards.
    4. Puzzles:  A good jigsaw puzzle can improve a child’s spatial reasoning, which research shows is critical to a child’s math development. If you want something even more challenging, try puzzles like Sudoku, KenKen, and Kakuro.
    5. Dice:  Last but not least, do not underestimate the power of dice.  This portable and inexpensive prop has the power to improve a child’s math skills, especially his or her operational sense. There are many games using dice that can help kids improve their abilities to add, subtract, multiply and divide.  Happy Playing!