Making Math Count!
a game plan
Tags: math games, math books,
Posted: 2014-02-25 07:54:41

Your job is not to teach new lessons, but to reinforce what your child is learning now. Often kids get the concept but need to gain speed and confidence in their addition and multiplication facts. Instead of flash cards and workbooks, take the time to play math games. When you see a problem contact the teacher. Chances are the teacher will have suggestions for you and will go over the material with your child and others.

Any game with score keeping is an opportunity for math practice. Spare change piling up? Have your 2nd and 3rd grader help you count the coins. Don't forget classics like Yatsee for a lively way to play with numbers.  Here are some games that can help you in making math a part of your family’s game times.

Math Games

2013 Award
Educational Insights Even Steven's Odd Game
(Educational Insights \$19.99 Score: )

A rapid fire dice game that reinforces addition, subtraction skills. The game comes with 40 2-level challenge cards, four dice holders, and 24 dice in red, yellow, green, blue and white. Everyone plays at one time, rolling his dice again and again to be the first to complete the challenge and fill his dice holder playing board. First one to win 10 challenges is the winner. For 2-4 players ages 7 & up.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

2013 Award
eeBoo Design Tiles
(eeBoo \$19.99 Score: )

A brain-teaser the whole family will enjoy. Neither a game, nor a puzzle in the traditional sense, this is closest to a set of parquetry blocks with patterns, but a lot more challenging. The 64 double-sided chipboard pieces are used to copy or create a variety of geometric patterns. 16 small patterns to follow are printed inside the box or players can create their own variations. The patterns are trickier than they appear. For example, one pattern looked like it could be created with crescents and corner pieces; but some parts turned out to require two triangles that were printed with patterns that create the corners and crescents. The thick chipboard pieces will hold up to lots of handling. Put it on the coffee table and do a few cooperatively. It's marked for 5 & up.  We think slightly older kids and the adults in their lives will enjoy it more.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

2013 Award
Gamewright Iota
(Gamewright \$8.95 Score: )

Our testers liked the design of the teeny-weeny tin loaded with 66 teeny-weeny cards that are played by creating a lines of matching colors, numbers, or shapes. Sounds simple, but you are juggling multiple attributes each time. As the grid gets more complex, so do the opportunities to score. It's small enough to take along, though you need a big space to play as the grid expands. Along with the fun, this is a game that involves, spatial relations, visual discrimination, strategy skills and simple addition or multiplication as the value of lines build with every play. 8 & up.

Age: Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

2013 Award
Sifteo Cubes Intelligent Game System
(Sifteo \$129.99 Score: )

Sifteo Cubes is a revolutionary toy that looks to change how kids, and tech-loving adults, play with blocks. Co-founder David Merrill's 2009 TED Talk originally opened our eyes to the possibilities of Sifteo blocks. Each Sifteo Cubes set comes with one home speaker, three cubes, one USB cable, and a carrying pouch. Additional cubes can be bought separately to enhance the learning and gaming experience. New games can be downloaded by plugging the home speaker into a computer and purchasing games from Sifteo's website. Although the cubes are still a new product the games are innovative, educational, and most importantly, fun.

Sifteo Cubes sets come with four games, Cube Buddies, Code Breakers, Word Caravan, and Chroma Splash. Each game presents different learning challenges to young users.

Word Caravan is a word puzzle game that utilizes the tilt and neighbor-awareness of the cubes. The goal of the game is to create a specified number of words from the letters displayed in the cubes; each cube shows two letters whose order can be switched by tilting the cube in each direction. Word Caravan is a fun and thought-provoking game that requires young readers to creatively access the situation and make words on the spot. For more experienced readers the cubes do not always recognize advanced vocabulary, and simply ask for low-level words to complete the level.

Chroma Splash is a challenging puzzles game that incorporates the tilt, touch, and neighbor-awareness capabilities of the cubes. The game asks that players match colored bubbles on neighboring cubes and then pop the matching bubbles to move to the next level. Each level has different color and positioning combinations that require gamers to think through the puzzle before starting.

Code Crackers proved to be a great mathematics puzzle game. The objective of the game asks players to combine the numbers displayed on the cube using different mathematical functions to make the target number at the end of the equation. Beginning levels test basic addition and subtraction skills. As difficulty rises the equation lengths are extended and multiplication and division are added to the game.

Cube Buddies tests the facial recognition abilities of players, and asks gamers to recreate the scrambled faces of various cartoon characters. It uses the familiar neighbor-awareness function to match the various misplaced facial features together.

In addition to the four games sent with every Sifteo Cubes set, we tested two additional games, Sandwich Kingdom and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Ninja Slide, as well as two smaller color and sound programs, Bliss Bomb and B!

Sandwich Kingdom quickly proved to resemble many of the old Sega Genesis and Gameboy RPGs such as Shining Force and Golden Sun. Like the beginning of all these games Sandwich Kingdom has long-winded dialogue and movement motions. Unfortunately the redeeming quality for all of those old games, the turn-based fighting, is not included in Sandwich Kingdom. Despite the lack of fighting the method used to move throughout the maze-like levels is spectacular, and redeems Sandwich Kingdom as a top-notch puzzle-labyrinth game. The use of multiple cube displays to reveal the level layout by laying them next to each other is ingenious. It allows players to investigate multiple routes before moving the character by tapping the display you wish the main character to walk to.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Ninja Slide is my favorite game of the Sifteo Cubes set. It is reminiscent of Rush Hour with the addition of slight cartoon violence. Each stage asks the player to tilt and click Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, or Rafael to a specified end point. The player slides through the puzzle-like courses, ranging across multiple cube displays, occasionally dispatching enemies with one of the four ninja turtles' unique weapons.

Bliss Bomb and B! are two interesting additions to the Sifteo Cubes set. Bliss Bomb is a strobe color program that allows users to combine the different cube displays to create different colored and patterned shapes on the screen. Unfortunately this can be a bit irritating to look at after an extended period of time. B!'s function as a interactive sound system is a interesting concept. Each screen displays a different pattern that has it's own color and sound. When the cube screen is tapped a sound is emitted and the pattern changes. Overall both of these programs are not the most engaging additions to the otherwise stellar Sifteo Cubes set. They would likely only keep users occupied for a matter of minutes before moving on to the one of the more extensive and lengthy puzzle game programs.

- review by Matthew Weinstein

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens, Teens, Adult. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

2013 Awards
(LeapFrog \$149.99 Score: )

How do you make a good thing better? We loved the original Leap Pad and now the Ultra takes it to a new level. It has a Hi-Res 7-inch light-touch screen, a built in 9- hour rechargeable battery, and is loaded with 11 Apps. It has a front and back camera and has 8 GB of Memory that can hold 40,000 photos or more than 100 Game apps. The Leap Pad Ultra has kid-safe Wi-Fi that will not take kids to the web locations they should not reach, but it gives them access to the Leap Frog library of more than 800 games, ebooks, videos and music that is child friendly and age appropriate. You can download learning games that are suited to you child's skill level. You'll find games to reinforce math, reading, art, science and social studies. This Leap Pad Ultra does it all and should it be accidentally dropped - not to worry. It can do that too and keep on playing. 4-9

Age: Preschool, Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

2013 Awards
Plan Toys Fraction Fun
(Plan Toys \$17.99 Score: )

Introduce preschoolers to fractions in a playful way with this handsome wooden puzzle. Whole, halves, thirds, and quarters are put together on this slightly curved two-sided puzzle board. One side features classic geometric shapes; the reverse invites exploration of how to use the shapes in new ways.

SNAP: A good concrete way to reinforce fractions. To follow up: Declare a day as Halves Day... use sandwiches cut in halves, fruit cut in halves, etc. Declare another day as Quarters Day and serve foods cut to match.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

2010 Award
eeBoo Animal Counting Puzzles
(eeBoo \$15 Score: )

There are ten three piece puzzles that are handsomely designed in this set. The background colors provide the cues kids need to fit the pieces together. Each puzzle is marked with the numeral and the number word that tells how many animals are pictured. The words are just an extra feature that older kids will enjoy. The pieces are large and thick and the storybook illustrations are by illustrator Kevin Hawkes. Also see the Animal Spelling Puzzles by the same artist. These puzzles are marked for 3 & up, but they are really a better choice for somewhat older children. Also special, with the same art but a simpler format, a Counting Animals Learning Puzzle (\$ 8 ) A 10-piece puzzle board with disks that you pop out and match up by the color-coded rim. 3 & up.

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

2006 Award
Alphabet & Number Puzzle Pairs
(eeBoo \$14.95 Score: )

A handsome set of two-piece puzzles with easy-to-recognize objects to pair with upper- and lower-case letters or objects and numerals. The letter/number sides are color-coded along the edges to help make the matches. Illustrated by Saxton Freymann, well-known artist of How are You Peeling? and Food for Thought. These can be used for simple games or solo puzzle play. (212) 222-0823.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2006. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

2013 Awards
Janod Barnyard Dominoes
(Janod \$24.99 Score: )

Cows, ducks, hens, tractors and farmer's hat and boots are easy to match on these wooden dominos. Turn them over and play a traditional match the dots domino game. Finished in smooth natural wood these are basic gear that will be used for naming and knowing as well as for matching, stacking, or collapsing games. 28 pieces.

SNAP: Introduce the playing pieces by finding all the cows as a first game, finding all the sheep as another game...etc. Playing a traditional game of dominoes can wait. Knowing and naming and matching builds the readiness for the old-fashioined game. These are nice for stacking and lining up, too.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2013.

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