The following post is written by Amy Vickery, True North Homeschool Academy Special Needs Teacher.
Having taught for 16 years, I have seen many different approaches to math. I have found that the best approach is to be hands-on, visual, consistent, and thorough. Manipulatives can definitely meet the requirements of this approach, but so can games! RightStart’s Math Card Games is a set of games with custom cards.
The RightStart Games set comes with the following:
- Math Card Games, 5th edition
- Math Card Games Instructional DVD
- AL Abacus Standard
- Card Deck – Basic
- Card Deck – Multiplication
- Product Card Envelopes
- Card Deck – Fraction
- Card Deck – Corners
- Card Deck – Money
- Card Deck – Clock
- Laminated Fraction Charts
While you have to read the directions in the book very carefully to play the games, the included DVD and instructional videos available on the website make these games easy to explore and play! The students and my own son have enjoyed these games we have played in the True North Homeschool Academy Math Games Classes and at home.
Here are some of the games we tried, and what we thought of them:
Making Ten Game
My student and my son both really enjoy this game. We even modified it to add to 9, 8, 7, and 6 to reinforce those facts as well. The directions in the book were a little unclear, though. Because I have played the game on the IPad app, I understood most of the directions. The instructional DVD or the video on their website would also be useful to someone who wants to learn the game quickly and easily, or for those who are visual (like me). I did not discover the videos until after we had played the game. After reading through the directions several times, I was still unsure whether I was supposed to turn the cards over all at once, one at a time, or if that mattered. My conclusion was whichever made the student feel more successful. Overall, a fun game.
Multiples in Common
This was a fun game! Took about one round to get it down, but the kids really enjoyed it! Really made them think as at first, they wanted to just multiply the two numbers together to find the Least Common Multiple. As we went, they got faster at finding the right answer the first time! I let the students (I had 3 in class) team up against me. The first game I won by 1. As we entered into the second game, the comment was, “Come on guys, let’s bring it!” What a fun way to reinforce the Least Common Multiples!!!
We have played War in my classes and with my son, who is at about a second grade level for math. We have played it adding 2 cards, adding 3 cards, multiplying, and multiply then add. Kids really respond well to this game and seem to enjoy it. It is a game of luck, though, so they get disappointed when the cards don’t go “their way.”
I have one student who has fallen in love with this game. It is definitely a game of strategy. He will think through all the possibilities to see how many points he can earn. He currently holds a high score of over 700. He prefers to play by multiples of 3 rather than multiples of 5, as this offers more possibilities for play.
This is another game of strategy, so my strategic thinking students really like it. You have 4 sets of multiplication fact families you are working with, so it is a good way to reinforce those facts once they start to get them down, or to reinforce skip counting when first learning.
Here are a few other thoughts to consider when looking into whether or not to buy the RightStart Games set.
Making My Own Game
Using the cards, I was even able to create a “game” for my 3-year-old, who wants to do everything Big Brother does. We took one of each card (1-10), and worked to put them in order. These games and cards are great resources to create your own games, expand on a game in the manual, or play the game as written. It’s all about exploring math together, having fun and enjoying time together. When your child is relaxed and enjoying himself, math will “click” and make more sense!
Abacus and Custom Cards
When we are on the go, or I want to my son to “see” the problem a different way, I have found the Abacus a useful tool. It helps him to subitize (know how many without counting), the numbers quickly, an important skill in math. I even saw a Mini-Abacus available on their website now! The custom cards with fractions, time, multiplication, and money allow for math games to be played beyond what other programs I have seen allow. They really have given a lot of thought and consideration to putting together a set of games that can range throughout their curriculum.
Even after having the book for several months, I am still discovering new games and enjoying them with my students and my son. I really appreciate the wide variety of games – both “luck” based and “strategy” based that appeal to different types of learners. No matter what curriculum you are using as a base, it would be worth the investment to buy the RightStart Games set to use to supplement and add to your math routine.
Amy holds a Masters of Science in Education, Specializing in Curriculum and Instruction, from the University of Central Missouri and a Bachelors of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies from Texas State University-San Marcos. Also, she spent 2 years of college studying Interpretation for the Deaf and Deaf Studies and knows American Sign Language. Her teaching certifications include Special Education, English as a Second Language and Generalist (early childhood through fourth). She is now part of the Struggling Learners Department of True North Homeschool Academy and loves the discovery approach to learning. Teaching children how to learn will help them reach their goals and dreams.