Board Games and Math Skills

Dominos Board GamesIn 1995, \Griffin, Case and Capodilupo formulated an instructional intervention that used board games to improve numeracy skills. What they found is that kids not only manifested higher level of numeracy skills on the research measure but on the standardized achievement tests as well. The correlation was also made between middle-class homes use of board games and the improved math achievement over the lower-income homes where board games were not played as much.

Now, with the new dyscalculia research, there is a lot of discussion on how children count. Do they count in patterns by 2s, 3s, 5s, or do they count dots one by one. The latter being a sign of weak number sense, which are then assigned further labels. The best approach to playing board games with kids or having kids play them on their own is not to even pay attention on ways kids count. Let them have a choice. Young kids, 5 and 6 year olds will count dominos dots one by one. They will also probably make a point to touch each dot as they count. That’s great. They are developing their numerical sense and rushing them to skip count will only be counter-productive. The skip counting will develop with the visual presentation of numbers.

Keep in mind that board games like Dominos and Trouble are fun for a wide range of ages and they develop a number of math skills:

  • estimation
  • qualitative rating categories (larger, smaller)
  • linear presentation of numbers
  • spatial skills

Have Fun!

Lena, M. Ed.



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