I’m not a huge game playing educationalist. Yeah sure we play games here and there but more for review than teaching concepts. I’ve always thought there were more time efficient ways of imparting a new concept to the munchkins than games. I also like to see work written down so I can file it away as evidence that we are actually doing something.
But there’s hope for me.
I picked up this title after reading Kendra’s post on Box Cars and One-Eyed Jacks books. I have seen these books so many times and always walked passed them. But after trying out one of their skip counting games I decided that they were worth a closer look.
As we’ve just starting fractions I picked up this book to sample first.
It came with several additional resources for use with the games. There are a deck of cards, various fraction dice and a set of fraction circles. (I would recommend additional fraction circle sets for some of the games. Ideally you would need one per player. Thankfully I already owned another set. But you could easily make them too.)
Over the holidays I read through a bunch of the games and got quite excited. But for me the proof would be in the playing of them. Sure games are fun and motivating but would they actually “learn” anything.
On Monday we started with a game called, “Remove the Stack”. The boys each had a set of fraction circles (see where additional fraction sets come in handy) and they had to select a fraction die and roll it. They then had to verbalise the fraction that was rolled (introducing Brayden to the “names” of fractions and reinforcing it for Ethan as he told Brayden about the “other” names like halves and quarters) and then select the corresponding piece from their sets and remove it.
Over the duration of the game the boys both got quite good at knowing what size fraction piece was what. They also got good at finding equivalent fractions when they no longer had any of the rolled fractions left eg 2/8s instead of 1/4). I hadn’t even considered introducing “equivalency” to Brayden (just turned seven) but with the game it was easy. It just happened as part and parcel of an exciting game. Not some big new scary concept to challenge them.
The goal of the game was to be the first player to have removed all of their fraction pieces. The boys really enjoyed this game and have asked repeatedly during the week to play the game again. We have also played several other games from the book.
In our second game each of the required three players rolled a fraction die, worked together to order the fractions from smallest to largest and then confirmed their ordering by matching fraction circles to the dice. (We made a little “smallest, medium and largest” chart to make things really clear for the boys).
The person who rolled the middle sized fraction was the winner of the round. I like that the point allocation for many of the games is based on luck rather than ability as it enables players to be of differing abilities which is of course ideal for homeschooling families. Plus Mum doesn’t have to “let” the children win occasionally. Luck takes care of it and Mum hasn’t got a hope!! I haven’t won a game ALL week!!! No fair!
Today we played a fraction comparison game. The boys had to draw two cards each from the special cards that came with the book (they don’t have all of the character cards and include additional number cards). Using the cards they had to make a “proper” fraction (introducing them to new terminology) and determine whose fraction would be the largest before using the fraction circles to confirm their answers.
I’ll be very interested to see how well the learning from these games translate into written activities. I might have to throw a little written fraction work into the mix soon to see what happens.
But I am so pleased with our week our Math. Although technically we’ve done a lot less “work”, as the games take so much more time to do than a few workbook pages, we’ve actually covered a lot more new content with a lot less complaint and obviously a lot more fun.
However I don’t think I’m ever going to be a total game convert. I still think written work is an important component of a balanced Math program. But I can see us using a lot more game learning in the future…probably. Hehehe. Old habits die hard.