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Homeschool Math Lessons Made Easy - The Secrets of Learning - Understanding Math Games
Darren Michalczuk

Math Games

Games can be very effective tools for teaching math to elementary students, especially if they are designed properly. Those who are familiar with the game of Cribbage know how quickly you can learn to add numbers up to 15. A game that is fun enough to be repeated over and over again can give a student a chance to practice their skills. If played enough, these skills can become automatic. Learning basic skills for math can be fun rather than a chore.

What makes a good game? There are many games that we soon grow tired of for obvious reasons. People who play Tic Tac Toe for more than a few minutes soon realize that it is very simple and it ends up always being a tie game. Snakes and Ladders is often played once or twice, but players often grow tired of the simple randomness of the game. Cribbage and chess are games that never lose their appeal. They are played often, by many different people and are even taken to the level of tournament competition. These games have commonalities and can be applied to classroom math games.

One thing successful games have in common is the element of strategy. If a player cannot make any choices that change the outcome of the game, they donít really become involved mentally. A player that needs to make a decision such as which cards to keep or which chess piece to move becomes an active participant. Imagine a child playing a video game that doesnít react to the controls. Essentially, it would be like watching TV mindlessly. If you want you want a student to develop a strong mind, let them develop strategy.

Another key factor of a successful is the element of chance. Although a Scrabble player may have the dictionary memorized, a score is dependent on the letters that are randomly chosen. Even though it is a game of skill, the element of chance evens out the playing field. A player may be outmatched, but he or she still feels like they have chance to win.

Games should also be challenging. Games that are too simple often get put on the shelf. The game of golf is a perfect example of what a game should be. It takes a few minutes to learn the rules of the game but a lifetime to master it. Simple rules get players involved and make it easy to recruit new members. The challenge of trying to master the game keeps players coming back.

There are also playability factors of a game that make it enjoyable. If the timelines are unrealistic, like a game that takes 4 hours, players will get bored. If you need eight players for a game, chances are the game wonít be played. If there are fourteen pages of rules, ten players wonít make it past page one.

From experience, games are a great way to encourage math skills. When students are finished assignments early, they can play while others finish. Students can take part in tournaments with these games, keeping track of games, scores and points for and against, further developing their skills. They can also make it a part of homework, strengthening parent/child relationships at home.

Though we have developed many games for the classroom, it is easy for us to create more to focus on a specific areas of math since we understand what makes a good game. Addition, fractions or geometry can be turned into simple board games with the right mind. Time goes into its design, but the hours of practice and enjoyment with math it brings is invaluable.

Darren Michalczuk is the founder of the Brick School. He is an experienced classroom teacher who has developed many programs and resources for math, language and music. The Brick School offers quality educational posters, programs and worksheets online for elementary language arts, math and music. Materials are designed to promote effective learning strategies in an easy to understand, straight-forward format. They offer both practical solutions to learning problems and leading edge technology and techniques. It reaches both struggling students and those who need extra challenges in class. With the latest software and leading edge learning strategies, our materials are paving the way for learning. User-friendly programs give students instant feedback while they practice important basic skills. Lessons and study guides also include proven learning strategies and memories techniques. Please visit our website.

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