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News from Mathnasium of Parker

Board Games that Help With Math Thinking

Apr 24, 2019

Often times board games are presented as math games. Good, right? Math is math and really any type of math is good to practice. However, while many board games having small elements of math in them, like cards that require simple math, numbered spaces to count or money, they only allow kids to practice math facts or formulas. Games like this don’t always allow as much choice. Players then don’t have the opportunity to choose different actions, strategize or plan ahead. 

Math in board games doesn’t always have to be so boring and repetitive! Math is not just about repeating and memorizing – at its best, math allows brains to critically think and expand on really big concepts. Games that include conceptual elements are great ways to experience the beauty of math and its influence on the world. They can help kids develop skills such as resource management, spatial reasoning, complex problem solving, pattern recognition and more.

With that said, below is a list of board games for helping students of all ages develop higher learning math skills. There are rough age recommendations, but many of these games are good for ages 6 to 96, Tsuro, for example. 

 

Robot Turtles

Robot Turtles is a fast paced, fun game that teaches kids skills that set them up for programming. The older kid or adult is the “turtle mover” and provides feedback by moving all other players’ turtles according to the actions each player chose. You can start very simple with the actions given in this game and add extra elements in subsequent games to make it more challenging for kids who are older or kids who play the game a lot. Fun fact about Robot Turtles: it made its way to production through Kickstarter and has so far been the most backed tabletop game in Kickstarter history.

Recommended ages: 3+

Time to play: 10 – 20 minutes

Number of players: 2 - 5 

Math skills practiced: algorithmic expression, computational thinking, rotation.

 

Qwirkle

Qwirkle is a tile-based sequence creation game that’s similar to Scrabble where players play by creating a sequence of tiles that match in either shape or color. Points are kept for each connection a player makes with the objective being to extend as many chains as they can during each of their turns. This one is a great quick game and it’s very easy to learn. 

Recommended ages: 5+

Time to play: 10 – 20 minutes

Number of players: 2 - 4

Math skills practiced: pattern recognition, counting, addition.

 

Tsuro

Tsuro is a tile-based game where players take turns placing tiles to create paths for other players to follow. The objective of the game is to be the last player on the board, so players are generally trying to run the paths off of the board. Placing tiles and following paths is a concept that many younger players can understand, but strategizing about which card to play and where to move on the board to control more of the space and actions of other players is something older players can learn.

Recommended ages: 6+

Time to play: 20 minutes

Number of players: 2 - 8

Math skills practiced: spatial reasoning, pattern recognition, complex problem solving.

 

Suspend

In Suspend, players add wire pieces with notches to build one big, ever-changing sculpture. Each time a bar is added, the balance shifts and the structures starts to change. The idea is for players to add all their game pieces without making it fall – a testament to understanding balance and steady hands. The game is very simple but exciting because it’s unknown when the whole structure will come crashing down. 

Recommended ages: 8+

Time to play: 20 minutes

Number of players: 1 - 4

Math skills practiced: physics, symmetry.

 

Love Letter

Love Letter is a card game that is had very simple playing instructions: on your turn you draw a card and play the card. The goal is to get the princess and eliminate other players while doing so and the deck is full of characters who help you and detour you. There are only 16 cards in the deck, so it’s a great way for kids to learn to remember what card have come up and what’s been played and conclude what will happen next based on deduction. There are several other versions of this game, including Batman and The Hobbit, which might be better fits for kids based on what they’re into.

Recommended ages: 10+

Time to play: 20 minutes

Number of players: 2 - 5

Math skills practiced: critical thinking, estimation, memory.

 

We hope this helps you bring family and math fun into your kid’s world and that you can start building your own collection of math board games. Now that you have a list of games… go play! Also, be sure to let us know at Mathnasium of Parker, if we’ve missed any of your favorites.