Monday, June 30, 2008

New Math Games Review

Ok, I promised you a review of the math games I bought to use this summer and I'm finally going to get around to it.


Today we got Pegs in the Park in the mail.  Hmm.  I paid $9.50 for it at Rainbow Resource and I guess it was worth it. 


They review it like this:  This board game requires no reading skills and is recommended for children that want to have fun with counting. It comes with 44 colorful, friendly cards with pictures themed in a park. Each card has a (+) or (-) number. Pick up a card with 7 happy kites, and you move forward seven spaces. Draw a card with 5 angry ants, and you have to go back 5 spaces. First one to get to the ice-cream truck wins! Pegs in the Park teaches counting, forward and backward skills, and eye-hand coordination. *Jon

I just sat down with Daisy, Pepper and Banana Boy to play.  I would say it is Candyland with counting.  It does teach counting, forward and backward and eye-hand coordination.  All true.


Here were a few things about it I found frustrating, making it not a perfect game:  The spaces on the board are tinier than the base of the playing piece.  It was hard to count the tiny spaces and hard to see exactly on which space your peg was.bbYou get more spaces to count this way (ie: you won't finish the game too quickly), but I don't see it being easy for anyone under 5--just who I would be targeting for counting practice.  Those of us who played today are all stellar counters and know how to move from space to space in a board game.


The holes in the board are just a tad hard to get the piece into.  I would have liked a thicker board with a longer peg on the bottom.


It is just as frustrating as Candyland.  Go forward 5. Go forward 8.  Go back 6.  Lose a turn.  You only have one space to go!  OH, NO, go back 10!  (at least it doesn't send you all the way back to start!)  Daisy picked all the bad cards and spent most of the game within the first 15 spaces of her board, mostly going backwards.


I think I will play it with Pepper and Banana Boy, but change the game from picking one card and counting, to picking two cards and adding or subtracting the total.


Roll 'n Add -- Got this in my Rainbow order today, too.  This game, I love!  Simple, yet brilliant.  A fast play.  You get a sturdy cardboard tic-tac-toe board and twenty thick plastic markers numbered 1-20, plus two 10-sided dice.  Think Hollywood Squares meets addition.


Roll the two dice, add the total, pick out the matching marker (there is only one of each number, but one side is purple, the other orange, so you flip it to your color)  Place it on the tic-tac-toe board.  Now take turns and try to get three of your colored pieces in a row to make tic-tac-toe.  If that number has already been used, you can move the piece to another spot, if it's yours or flip it if it is your opponent's.  It practices addition facts to 20 using the numbers 1-10, something you don't get in most math games which use 6-sided dice (you know, the highest total you can get is 6+6=12).


There is also a version of the game where you take out all the odd-numbered discs and shake one die to find the doubles (shake an 8, play a 16; shake a 1, play a 2)


Here's something exciting!  They also make Roll 'n Multiply!  (It costs twice as much, but it must come with many more discs)  It's going on my next wish list!


Another game I got is Munch Math and I love this one, too!  This website gives you an excellent overview and screen shot of the game board, so I won't go into great detail here.  But even Banana Boy has played this with us and has done all right.  He can easily do the addition and subtraction and with help, can figure out the multiplication.  Pepper can do the mult. on her own (she's 7) and if I remind her which number is the dividend and which is the whatever-the-other-one is called (divisor, maybe?), and she thinks in terms of cookies, she can do the division. 


My favorite part of Munch Math, is that you have to try out all 4 operations to decide where to play.  Say you shake a 5 and a 4.  You can add and get nine, subtract and get one, multiply and get 20 and divide--well, that doesn't work.  So if you have a 9 and a 1 on your food, you have to decide which to cover.  Will it be easier to shake another 9 or another one?  Pepper quickly figured out that the only way to get zero is to shake doubles (two of the same number, like 5 - 5) and subtract.  So even though you could use 5 + 5 for your 10, you don't shake doubles that often so you should cover your zero right away.


We also bought Number Hunt.  The best part about this game is that it is organic and fair trade.  Honestly, there are 6 different ways to play and practice different skills, but the directions are very vague and don't always seem to work out in actual play.  We had to make up some of our own rules in confusing situations.  We do still play it.  It's not useless.  Our favorite version is Compare It, where you shake the die and compare that number to the number of the space on which you are sitting.  If the die is higher, you move forward that many.  If the space is higher, you move back the number on the die.  The die is wooden, large and very nice.  The markers are small, flat and cardboard--I like nice tall pieces I can easily hold.  I always wanted to be the horse in Monopoly!


Another one I bought is Addition & Subtraction Game Board Books -- six cardboard games in one folder.  Not worth $16.50, unless you don't own and can't find ANY other math games anywhere.  The games are pretty basic and also sometimes confusing to figure out.  We made up our own rules for some of these, too.  The biggest thing that annoyed ME, was that the game boards, made of laminated tagboard, are folded in half and stored in the folder.  The logical result of this is that they don't lie flat when you play them, making the tiny cardboard, laminated circle markers slide around. Erg!


On a positive note, I bought Lauri's Shape Bingo from Rainbow for $11.95 and what you see is what you get!  It's Lauri quality, fun to play (even if you don't need to learn your shapes!) and good for teaching a variety of shapes if you do need to learn them.  Plus they can simply be used as puzzles!  It's always fun to play Bingo, even if you don't need to learn something!  Daisy, Pepper, Banana Boy and I all enjoyed this.


And lastly, our most super-fun purchase today was a handful of SMENCILS!  It's not a math game, but Banana Boy couldn't WAIT to get out his math book and use his (really stinky!) Chocolate Smencil.    I didn't even tell him to!  I'd think carefully about just which artificial scents you can stomach.  Of course, I'm very sensitive to smells anyway.  I think I'd enjoy the peppermint or the root beer.  There's a great review of these over at Rainbow.


Let me know if you have other math games you are enjoying.  It's so much cheaper to get a good review for free than to buy the game and try it out myself!




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