Posts in Board Games
Head Full of Numbers

Some of my favorite classroom activities are the Four Fours or the 2019 Game. I love the way they allow kids to be mathematically creative while also practicing important skills such as writing expressions and equations.

Well, someone took that principle and made a great little game with it. The game is called Head Full of Numbers.

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Board GamesKent HainesComment

A couple of weeks ago we ran out of paper towels:

My wife: "Maybe we could get some tomor-"

Me: "I'll go to Target!" [grabs keys, runs to door]

I'm always happy to make a Target run, since it seems like my search for every item takes me right past the games section. Weird.

Anyway, since I'm already there, I might as well check to see if there's anything new...

This time, I found a fascinating game that I can't thinking about: Tipsy.

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Tiny Polka Dot Part 2: Two New Games

One of the first games I ever recommended on this newsletter was Dan Finkel's fantastic game, Tiny Polka Dot.

The game is actually more like a deck of cards that was designed to get your young child thinking about math as much as possible. As a result, you can actually play dozens of games with these simple cards.

Just to recap: the deck is make up of six colorful "suits" of cards that display the numbers from 0-10. Each suit displays the numbers in a distinct way, which allows your child to build flexibility with different representations of numbers.

But even once they're totally confident with counting and basic addition, there are still a ton of fun games to play. Today I'd like to share with you a couple of my favorites.

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Machi Koro

Because of this newsletter, I tend to try out games with a frenetic pace. I find a new game, try it a few times to see how fun and mathy it is, and then I move along.

My kids, however, don't move on as quickly. Sometimes they get fixated on a game I love (like Kingdomino) and I'll happily play a round any time they want. Other times, they insist that I play one more round of a... less engaging game (like War).

Fortunately, my son's latest obsession is a game that falls into that first category: I think it's a great game that combines strategy and luck in a satisfying way. The game is Machi Koro.

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24 - Make the Order of Operations Fun!

This week I'm sharing a game that is a mainstay in math classrooms all across the country. 

The reasons are obvious: the game gets kids to use their knowledge of operations to solve problems, but in a way that feels much more like a creative exercise or a puzzle than most classroom activities.

While it's perfect for the elementary or middle school classroom, it's also a fun brain teaser to play with your kids.  As long as they are decent with their multiplication facts, they're old enough to play!

The game is called 24.

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Wits and Wagers (and Wits and Wagers Family Edition)

As the game nerd of my extended family, I often play the role of wrangler, trying to get my siblings and cousins to sit still long enough to learn how to play this game they've never heard of. 

So I love when a game is intuitive and quick to explain, while still being fun enough to justify the attention of six or eight family members at a time.

A couple of weeks ago, I introduced my family to one such game: Wits and Wagers. The gameplay is straightforward, but the game comes with moments of surprise and turns of luck that my family really enjoyed. And of course, there is a ton of fun, accessible math to consider while playing.

Anyway, let's find out how to play!

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Guest Post: What Skills Do Games Help Your Child Learn?

Today we have a guest! A couple of months ago, I got an email from Kyle DeBoer, a math teacher at Advent Episcopal School here in Birmingham. We met up in his class to chat about math, games, and whatever else came up.

The second I saw the game closet in his classroom, I knew I had met one of my people.

(Here is picture of part of it. I mean, come on! Amazing.)

Kyle runs a strategy games club in the afternoons at his school, so he's seen firsthand the ways that board and card games can help kids develop skills that can lead them to success in math. And he's here to tell you all about it.

So take it away, Kyle!

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Spot It!

If you have very young kids who can't recognize numerals or read instructions, then some of the games I recommend are just a little too advanced for your kids.

But this week's recommendation is absolutely playable by a three-year-old, while still remaining fun for older kids. I liken it to an even more accessible version of SET. Big groups can play, the instructions are incredibly simple, and there are a ton of fun variations that you can try.

The game is a simple little card game called Spot It!

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Among board game folks, Carcassonne is known as a gateway game. The gameplay is very simple to pick up, the game plays well with 2 or more people, and people of all ages can play.

I was introduced to the game by my friends the Schmarpenters (names have been changed to protect the nerdy). We didn't play with kids the first time around. But the game, which involved no reading and very basic math, felt like a perfect fit for some parent-child math conversation.

So I picked up my own copy and, sure enough, my son loves what he calls "The Castle Game." My older daughter, who is 4, has even enjoyed playing with the tiles, although she's still a couple years from playing the game in full.

I think Carcassonne is going to be a mainstay in the Haines household for quite some time.

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Pattern Play Blocks - An All-Ages Math Toy

Some of the games I recommend are definitely for older kids. 

But at the heart of Games for Young Minds is the idea that kids should be having mathematically rich experiences from an early age.

Which is why I'm so happy to discuss this week's recommendation. Pattern Play is a game that a two-year-old can enjoy playing with, yet the math ideas are rich enough to keep much older kids happily occupied as well. It's the first game that I've seen my 1 year old baby drawn to at the same time as my kindergartner.

Let's check it out!

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Ticket to Ride

Ticket to Ride is a phenomenon for a reason: The game is just plain fun.

I remember when I first realized how enjoyable and versatile the game was: I brought it over to my dad's on Thanksgiving, and we played a nice, friendly face-up version of the game with my son and a couple of his cousins. Then I left the game over there that night, in case anyone wanted to play later.

The next day, my dad told me about the brutal, conniving, back-stabbing game of Ticket to Ride that the adults had played the night before. 

I figure that when a game is just as fun played face-up or face-down, it's a keeper. Ticket to Ride is definitely more expensive than the typical game that I recommend, so maybe it works best as a birthday present than an impulse purchase. But it's strategically deep enough to remain a big part of your board game rotation for years.

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