## In Terms of Decimals, Math Is the Best Game in Town!

Ask fourth, fifth, and sixth grade teachers about decimals and the question is followed by groans of dissatisfaction. Basically, the groans stem from the lack of success that teachers have in teaching this concept. As one student put it, a decimal is “a thing that makes numbers even more confusing”.

Teachers can get some help in this area by playing decimal math games with their students. A math game has advantages over the traditional approach. Playing a game increases the excitement of any mathematics lesson, and games are engaging and give students the chance to cooperate and communicate with their peers. The following decimal games are two student favorites:

Decimal Dice

What you need:
2 players
two dice
paper and pencil.

Player #1 rolls the dice one at a time. The first number rolled is the whole number and the second number rolled is the decimal.

Example: Player #1 rolls a two and then a 6 – the score is 2.6

Player #1 records this decimal at the top of his/her paper.

Player #2 rolls the dice, one at a time, and records his/her score.

Players continue to alternate turns until each player has 10 decimals.

Player #1 adds his/her 10 decimals together. Player #2 does the same. Players exchange papers and check each other’s addition.

For each double rolled (2.2, 3.3, 6.6, etc.) you add 10 bonus points to your final score.

The player with the highest sum wins the game.

Variation: This game can also be played with subtraction. Begin with a score of 100. Roll the dice in the same manner and subtract your decimal from your score. If you roll doubles, subtract 10 bonus points. The person with the LOWEST score wins!

Decimal Dice 2

What you need:
2 players
two dice
paper and pencils

In this game, each player will roll the two dice exactly three times. At the end of three rounds, the player closest to 10 wins the game.

Player #1 rolls both dice. Player #1 must decide which of the numbers is the whole number and which is the decimal.

Example: Player #1 rolls a two and a 6 – he/she decides whether to
make 2.6 or 6.2

Player #1 records this decimal on his/her recording sheet.

Player #2 rolls both dice. Player #2 must decide which of the numbers is the whole number and which is the decimal and record this on his/her recording sheet.

Players continue to alternate turns until each player has thrown the dice three times.

Players add their decimals. Players exchange papers and check each other’s addition.

The player with the sum closest to 10 wins the game.

## TV and Math

Toddlers who watch a lot of television were more likely to experience a range of problems by the fourth grade, including lower grades, poorer health and more problems with school bullies, a new study reports.

Compared with children who watched less television, those with more TV exposure participated less in class and had lower math grades.

The findings suggest that the differences were strongly linked with television exposure, not parental care, and that excessive television is not good for a developing brain.

Research indicates that early learning has lasting results. When we look at child development studies, we find that between birth and age 7, children enjoy their greatest learning curve. They have a strong, basic desire to learn. They are like sponges, soaking up everything around them. They are unintimidated, curious, eager to learn, and love to be active.

It’s the perfect time to get these children excited about math! How do parents of young children do that? As National Board Certified Teacher with a specialty in early childhood, I strongly recommend that parents use math games to prompt interest and development in math.

I’ve found that math games are, from a teacher’s and a parent’s point of view, wonderfully useful. Math games put children in exactly the right frame of mind for learning. Children are normally very eager to play games. They relax when they play, and they concentrate. They don’t mind repeating certain facts or procedures over and over.

Children throw themselves into playing games the way they never throw themselves into filling out workbook pages or dittos. And games can help children learn almost everything they need to master in elementary math. Good, child-centered games are designed to take the boredom and frustration out of the repetitive practice necessary for children to master important math skills and concepts.

Playing math games is even more beneficial than spending the same amount of time drilling basic facts using flash cards. Not only are games a lot more fun, but the potential for learning and reasoning about mathematics is much greater, as well. In a non-threatening game format, children will be more focused and retention will be greater.

## Math and Summer Brain Drain

Summer brain drain іѕ thе widely acknowledged loss οf academic skills whісh happens during the two to three months of summer vacation. Studies cite anywhere frοm аbουt 2.5 months tο 3 months οf learning lost οr forgotten whеn skills аrе nοt being practiced.

Studies show that math skills deteriorate the most. Children forget at least one month of math each summer, and that loss is cumulative. Your child will forget about a year of math instruction over the 12 years of schooling. Many οf thе computational skills whісh generally аrе nοt practiced over thе summer, аrе simply forgotten.

What can parents, who worry аbουt keeping their kids аt thе top οf thеіr game, do? Involve your children in math that keeps their computational skills up and yet is engaging and fun! If pleasure is not a part of what they are doing, neither you or the children will be willing to do it very much or for very long.

I’ve been teaching math to children for many years, and I’ve found that math games are, from a teacher’s and a parent’s point of view, wonderfully useful. Math games put children in exactly the right frame of mind for learning. Children are normally very eager to play games. They relax when they play, and they concentrate. They don’t mind repeating certain facts or procedures over and over.

Children throw themselves into playing games the way they never throw themselves into filling out workbook pages or dittos. And games can help children learn almost everything they need to master in elementary math. Good, child-centered games are designed to take the boredom and frustration out of the repetitive practice necessary for children to master important math skills and concepts.

Playing math games is even more beneficial than spending the same amount of time drilling basic facts using flash cards. Not only are games a lot more fun, but the potential for learning and reasoning about mathematics is much greater, as well. In a non-threatening game format, children will be more focused and retention will be greater.

Games solidify the achievements of children who are already good at math, and they shore up children who need shoring up.

Involve yουr kids wіth math games. They will hеƖр уου know аnԁ focus οn уουr child’s computational weaknesses and strengths. Thіѕ summer, give уουr child thе opportunity tο hаνе fun, ɡеt a step ahead οf thе coming school year, and gain an advantage over their peers.

Polish those math skills with math games thіѕ summer, аnԁ уουr student wіƖƖ shine later!

## Kids + Math Games = Super

Parents are their children’s first and most enduring teachers. Even the best teacher your child encounters in school will only be with your child for a year, perhaps two. Even after children enter school, they spend seventy percent of their waking hours outside of the school setting. As a parent, you have greater opportunity to make a difference, to teach, model, and guide your child’s learning, than anyone else. You have a more intimate knowledge of your child’s needs and talents. You have a keener interest in your child’s schooling and future, and deeper motivation to help your child succeed. No one is better placed or more qualified than you to make a difference in your child’s academic and lifelong education.

Keeping in mind the profound impact you can have on your children as readers, writers, mathematicians, and scientists, what can you do to turn your home into a rich learning environment? I don’t mean bring out the worksheets, flash cards, and dittos. It is about offering your children experiences that are most appropriate – learning experiences that are fun for all, a part of your everyday lives, and are deeper, richer, and longer lasting. These kinds of experiences develop children who are more persistent, more creative, and eager to do challenging work.

I have a suggestion for mathematics – math games.

Math games for kids and families are the perfect way to reinforce and extend the skills children learn at school. They are one of the most effective ways that parents can develop their child’s math skills without lecturing or applying pressure.

When studying math, there’s an element of repetition that’s an important part of learning new concepts and developing automatic recall of math facts. Number facts (remember those times tables?) can be boring and tedious to learn and practice. A game can generate an enormous amount of practice – practice that does not have kids complaining about how much work they are having to do. What better way can there be than an interesting game as a way of mastering them?

Games offer targeted practice in math fundamentals. And games can, if you select the right ones, help children learn almost everything they need to master in elementary math. Good, child-centered games are designed to take the boredom and frustration out of the repetitive practice necessary for children to master important math skills and concepts.

Your kids – whether you’re a parent or teacher – will learn, without even realising they are learning.

## Math Games and Summer Vacation

Just because school will soon be out for the summer, it doesn’t mean a child’s brain should stop working. In fact, keeping a child’s mind fresh with review, as well as new ideas, can keep those brains in tip-top shape for the following school year.

During the summer, it is important to help your children retain and enhance what they learned in school. Most kids don’t want to sit down and do anything educational during the summer, so this can present a challenge.

Math skills, particularly, can be hard to retain during summer vacation. Kids may spend hours reading books at the beach and doing crafts at camp, but doing math can be extremely unappealing.

Teachers know that the several months off for summer vacation sees considerable slippage in their students’ math skills. Kids who practice summer math will have an easier time transitioning back to school, while kids who don’t may lose a couple months of learning.

Don’t let this summer be a math-avoidance time. Who says math has to be something your child dreads? It should, instead, be something the child looks forward to and thrives on. The trick is to teach your kids math by combining it with fun activities.

Many years ago I discovered that math games fit the bill wonderfully! Math games put children in exactly the right frame of mind for learning. Children are normally very eager to play games. They relax when they play, and they concentrate. They don’t mind repeating certain facts or procedures over and over. In an engaging math game, children will be more focused and retention will be greater.

Dittos, flashcards, or workbook pages are not appropriate if you want your child to be excited about math. Children throw themselves into playing games the way they never throw themselves into filling out workbook pages or dittos.

Games offer a pleasant way for you to get involved in your child’s math education. You may be one of those many parents who don’t feel comfortable with math, or who assume it takes special expertise to help your child. Believe me, as a veteran teacher, when I say that you don’t have to be a math genius to play a game. With a math game, you don’t have to worry about pushing or pressuring your child. All that you have to do is propose a game to your child and start to play.

Games can help your child learn almost everything they need to master in elementary math. Games solidify the achievements of children who are already good at math, and they shore up children who need shoring up.

There are plenty of fun math games that you and your children can play to help them retain their math skills. Get a jump start on the coming school year! Sit down and play some math games with your children.

Children are all the same in one way: they love to play games. Put the right game in front of a child, explain the rules, and that child will eagerly play, happy and alert.

Math, on the other hand, can be intimidating for kids. If we understand the nature of a child’s strengths and weaknesses, we can help any child to achieve and feel good in mathematics. It’s a matter of finding the best itinerary and the best route through the subject’s many possible pathways.

They need practical arithmetic experiences that are fun. Playing math games is an effective and engaging one of those possible pathways. Whether you’re a parent or teacher, your children will learn, without even realising they are learning.

One of the things we positively know about children (and adults) is that if pleasure is not a part of what you are doing, you will not be willing to do it very much or for very long.

Many parents regard play as rather trivial in the lives of their young children and would much rather see their kids get involved in “educational” activities. To parents, it often seems that all children do is play! They play until they are five or six, then they go off to school and start to learn. They play until they are big enough to really begin to do things.

The act of playing is an important tool that influences a child’s life. The primary goals of childhood are to grow, learn, and play. It is often through play that children learn to make sense of the world around them. It is a child’s “job” to play to develop physical coordination, emotional maturity, social skills to interact with others, and self-confidence to try new experiences and explore new environments.

Play to a child IS learning! They learn to play and play to learn. Play is terribly important to a child. It is not a distraction. It’s not something they do to take up time. It’s a child’s life.

So, begin to “play” with your child. Math games are a fantastic way to learn as you play.

## Math Games + Fun = Learning

Most elementary schools, these days, have after-school programs. Children (of working parents) play organized outdoor games, work on homework, read, do art projects, and watch educational (hopefully) videos.

As an elementary mathematics specialist, I have trained after-school program facilitators to use math games for fun and learning. When kids are having fun, they are more open to learning. When they are having fun, they want to keep doing whatever they are doing.

Practice is provided with math games, minimizing review worksheets and stressful flash cards, presenting a variety of repetition, and creating hours of fun learning math facts and concepts. A student would much rather solve a problem as part of a card game, than doing that same problem on a worksheet! Even better–that same problem will come up again and again in a card game, with the student happily solving it again and again. If you put the same problem on a worksheeet again and again, you get complaints!

Playing fun card games is not a waste of time. Students in after-school programs will think they are getting away with “no work” when they play a math game. With innovative and challenging math games, review and reinforcement are built right in!

The key to helping children practice their math skills willingly is using math games that are effective, engaging, and fun. The idea of mixing math and games is one important segment of how to become a successful after-school center.

## Getting Young Children Excited About Math? YES!!

Research indicates that early learning has lasting results. When we look at child development studies, we find that between birth and age 7, children enjoy their greatest learning curve. They have a strong, basic desire to learn. They are like sponges, soaking up everything around them. They are unintimidated, curious, eager to learn, and love to be active.

It’s the perfect time to get these children excited about math! How do parents of young children do that? The NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) has some great suggestions, one of which is to use math games to prompt interest and development in math.

“Play is one of the most important ways children learn about their world and master skills for coping with it. Games are a particularly useful form of play that help children develop mathematical concepts and reasoning and practice basic mathematical skills. In addition to being challenging, interesting, and enjoyable for children, games provide a means for structuring experiences to meet children’s developmental needs. Games can salso serve as an invaluable diagnostic tool. By observing a child playing a particular math game, parents can detect specific strengths and weaknesses in mathematical concepts, reasoning, and skills.”

The following is a very simple, fun game for 3-5 year olds:

Five to Win
What you need:
2- 4 players
cards 1 – 5, 4 of each

The object of the game is to be the first player to get the cards 1 – 5.

Shuffle cards and deal five cards to each player. Place the remaining cards in a pile face down with the last one turned over as a discard pile. Player #1 selects a card from the face-down pile or the discard pile and fits it into sequence in his/her hand. That player must then discard one card to always keep five cards in their hand. Player #2 does the same. When the sequence 1-5 is complete, the player calls out “Five” and lays down their cards.

Variation: As children become more skilled in handling their cards, the sequence 1-10 can be introduced.

## Basic Math Skills and Meaningful Jobs

Being able to read, write, and do basic math is a requirement for almost any meaningful job these days. The reason we have to spend so many resources on remedial work, whether that be at universities, community colleges or other adult education programs, is some adults did not learn their basic math facts when their young minds were most capable of learning.

That is true today, and it will be true in the future. In order for your child to have success with more advanced math, and be prepared for a future with a meaningful job, it is essential that they memorize their basic math facts to the level of automaticity.

Your child is introduced to basic math concepts such as counting and simple adding in kindergarten.

Third graders and fourth graders need to master the multiplication tables to 12×12 and the related division facts.

The exact order and manner in which math facts and concepts are introduced varies with the curriculum your child’s school uses and math standards, which can vary from state to state, but the above is a general guide.

Essentially, your child should demonstrate mastery of these types of facts by the end of fourth grade in order to be prepared for the challenges of more advanced math. It may come quickly for your child, or it may take time, but through focused practice, they will be able to increase their proficiency.

This can be achieved through skill and drill repetition (dittos, workbook pages, timed tests, and/or flashcards) which is usually extremely boring and tedious. There is another more effective, creative, and fun method. Math games! Games are engaging (maintain interest); dittos, workbook pages, or flash cards rarely are.

Parents can offer greater opportunities for their child to succeed in math if they support the learning of the basics at home. Games fit the bill wonderfully!

Math games for kids and families are the perfect way to reinforce and extend the skills children learn at school. They are one of the most effective ways that parents can develop their child’s math skills without lecturing or applying pressure. When studying math, there’s an element of repetition that’s an important part of learning new concepts and developing automatic recall of math facts. Number facts (remember those times tables?) can be boring and tedious to learn and practice. A game can generate an enormous amount of practice – practice that does not have kids complaining about how much work they are having to do. What better way can there be than an interesting game as a way of mastering them?

Games are fun and create a context for developing children’s mathematical reasoning. Through playing and analyzing games, children also gain computational fluency by describing more efficient strategies and discussing relationships among numbers.

Games teach or reinforce many of the skills that a formal curriculum teaches, plus a skill that math homework sometimes, mistakenly, leaves out – the skill of having fun with math, of thinking hard and enjoying it.

## Making Math a Challenge and Fun

Why do so many children feel like math is a chore? I believe that it’s not the math that turns kids off. It’s the way mathematics is taught. Standardized instruction and memorization of details, which moves at a plodding pace, leave some students bored and many frustrated.

We know a lot about how children learn mathematics, but rarely use that information to inform our teaching. Here are some ways to teach math that reflects the research on how children learn mathematics:

• By confronting tasks and problems that offer a variety of solution strategies
• By engaging in meaningful conversation with partners and small groups about the tasks and problems: describing, explaining, deciding, and considering
• By encountering the mathematics in familiar, real-life situations, stories, songs, and games

I’ve been teaching math to children for many years, and I’ve found that math games are, from a teacher’s point of view, wonderfully useful. Math games put children in exactly the right frame of mind for learning. Children are normally very eager to play games. They relax when they play, and they concentrate. They don’t mind repeating certain facts or procedures over and over.

Children throw themselves into playing games the way they never throw themselves into filling out workbook pages or dittos. And games can, if you select the right ones, help children learn almost everything they need to master in elementary math. Good, child-centered games are designed to take the boredom and frustration out of the repetitive practice necessary for children to master important math skills and concepts.

Playing math games is even more beneficial than spending the same amount of time drilling basic facts using flash cards. Not only are games a lot more fun, but the potential for learning and reasoning about mathematics is much greater, as well. Games require a variety of problem-solving skills, such as making and testing hypotheses, creating strategies (thinking and planning ahead), and organizing information. Plus, as children play, they further their development of hand-eye coordination, concentration levels, visual discrimination, memory, and their ability to communicate and use mathematical language.

Research has demonstrated that students learn more if they are actively engaged with the math they are studying. Constance Kamii, a world renowned expert on how children learn math puts it this way, “Children who are mentally active develop faster than those who are passive.”

Active learning is, in short, anything that students do in a classroom other than merely listen to a teacher’s lecture. There are several ways of doing this. Playing math games is a particularly useful one.

Math games:
• provoke students into discussing, explaining, and thinking
• challenge and interest students
• get students actively involved in their learning
• result in learning
• provide some immediate assessment

In the process of playing the game, students may develop initiative, interest, curiosity, resourcefulness, independence, and responsibility. Would that happen with a ditto or workbook page?

Teaching methods that stress rote memorization of basic number facts or algorithmic procedures are usually boring and do not require learners to participate actively in thought and reflection.

Games teach or reinforce many of the skills that a formal curriculum teaches, plus a skill that formal learning sometimes, mistakenly, leaves out – the skill of having fun with math, of thinking hard and enjoying it.