Playing games with your kids doesn’t have to wait until schoolwork is done! Math skills for all ages are
hiding in your favorite family games. Using these games as teaching tools isn’t just fun, it encourages
play and is a great tool for visual and kinetic learners.
The premise of Yahtzee is collecting a series of poker-like hands from rolling five dice. The hidden skills
here are addition, multiplication and number comparison. The score of each Yahtzee hand is calculated
differently (add all the numbers, add only some numbers, add a fixed amount or multiply for a bonus). In
the strategy, players have to decide which hand to select because you can only get each hand once. For
kids not ready to add, this is where number sense can start. Counting the dots, identifying the largest or
smallest number and matching. Final scores will reach the hundreds place.
There’s so much here to unpack. Of course, as above in Yahtzee, there are dice whose sum is needed on every turn. Younger players practice counting spaces while the big kids work as the bankers, practicing addition and subtraction into the thousands. The bankers will also have to make equivalent trades, and every once in a while, calculate income tax!
This game is old school. I remember playing it in elementary school in the 80s. I enjoyed it so much that I taught my high school math classes at all levels how to play, just for fun. You deal five cards out for
everyone to see and then using PEMDAS get them to equal a sixth number. This works in so many ways.
You can truly solve these problems using the four basic operations (numbers ranging 1-25), but older
kids can use exponents or factorials. If you would like to purchase this game, I found it on Amazon.
Any age child can play this. In fact, I think it’s easier for younger kids than it is for teens. This is another
game that I loved playing with my students. All you have to do is get three the same (or three different)
of certain attributes: color, shape, shading, number. The hidden math skills in this game are sorting and
get ready for it…Proofs! A two-column proof can be created to justify any of the sets your geometry
student finds. Again, this hidden gem can be found on Amazon.
Spatial reasoning and graphing are in play here. This introduces kids to the first quadrant of the
coordinate plane, and you can double dip with map skills. To increase the difficulty, use a dry erase
marker to create your own 4-quadrant graph so students can graph with negative numbers. For older
students, each turn is an ever-changing probability problem of ships to whoIe and water to whole.
This is just the beginning. There are so many great games to integrate into your math lessons, even the
biggest game cabinet couldn’t hold them all. Do you have ideas to share? Please let us know!