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Fun Board Games to Teach Elementary Math Concepts

written by: Elizabeth Wistrom•edited by: SForsyth•updated: 10/26/2012

Sometimes, finding ways to keep math practice fun can be a challenge. Try using board games that teach and reinforce basic math skills.

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    Let's Play

    Using games is a fun way to incorporate repetitive practice into your homework routine. Here is a list of board games and the mathematical concepts which can be learned:

    Addition, Subtraction and Counting Skills

    • Chutes and Ladders (3+)
    • Candy Land (3+)
    • Connect Four (7+)
    • Hi Ho! Cherry-O (3+)
    • My Card Games - Math Rummy by Leap Frog (3+)
    • Sorry! (6+)
    • Cariboo (3+)
    • Trouble (5+)
    • Hungry Hungry Hippos (4+)
    • Pay Day (8+)
    • Uno (6+)
    • War
    • Spot the Dots - Addition (6+)
    • Sum Swamp - Addition and Subtraction (5+)
    • Count and Seek Pet House (4+)

    Patterns, Attributes, Shapes and Geometry

    • Crazy Eights (4+)
    • Guess Who? (6+)
    • Lucky Ducks (3+)
    • Rummikub (8+)
    • Category 5 (8+)
    • Tanagrams
    • Jigsaw Puzzles

    Strategy, Reasoning, and Spacial Perception

    • Mastermind (8+)
    • Monopoly, Junior (8+)
    • Mousetrap (6+)
    • Apples to Apples, Junior (9+)
    • The Game of Life (9+)
    • Yahtzee (9+)
    • Cadoo (7+)
    • Battleship (7+)
    • Clue Jr. (5+)
    • Clue (8+)
    • Connect Four (7+)
    • Mille Bornes (8+)
    • Othello (8+)
    • Jenga (6+)
    • Blokus (5+)
    • Mancala (6+)
    • Pretty Pretty Princess (5+)
    • Memory (3+)

    General Strategy Games

    • Chess
    • Backgammon
    • Checkers
    • Solitaire
    • Pokémon

    *** The ages provided have been suggested by the manufacturers and publishers. They are, however, designed to be merely a guide for parents. You may find that your child is ready to play a game several years before the suggested age. As the parent, you know your child's abilities better than anyone. Let his or her interest and motivation be the ultimate determining factor when choosing elementary math board games.

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    The Benefits

    There are many benefits to using games to teach math:

    1. Games are fun to play! As is true with any homework assignment, keeping math lessons fun can be quite a challenge. Games are easy and designed to entertain. Through games, mathematical knowledge can develop effortlessly.
    2. Elementary math board games are an alternative to drill sheets, flash cards and memorization exercises. Since repetition is a necessary component of learning, it is important that practice is provided through a variety of engaging methods.
    3. Games allow children to make connections between learning concepts and understanding how they are applied in the real world. They also provide a context for children to see how concepts and facts themselves are related.
    4. Games provide motivation for mastery. Children like to win, and this desire to win gives them a reason for achieving mastery of a skill or concept.
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    Make certain the instructions are simple and understandable. You will also want to be certain the game is not too hard or too easy for your child. While some level of challenge is appropriate, you do not want the child frustrated. Finally, take the time to explain to your child just why you are playing the game. This will help with those real-world connections, and ultimately enable your child to be successful in learning!