Can Board Games Help Learn Math?

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If you are looking for a simple and fun way of bringing more math into your child’s life, then here’s a solution for you. It costs little, takes no time to set up and is a great way to engage the whole family. I’m talking about playing a round or two of a board game.

If you read (or listened to) “Judy Moody Goes to College, you know what I’m talking about. The story revolves around Judy’s problems with math and how she overcomes them. Hint – her tutor, Chloe, starts off playing a round of “Life” with Judy.

Turns out, board games do help children acquire numerical knowledge. So if your child (and yourself) are bored to tears with worksheets and rote learning, board games such as Chutes and Ladders, the Candy Land, and the Ladybugs Game offer a great alternative.

After playing a few rounds of the Ladybug Game with my son I found out another unexpected benefit. If your child, like my son, has small motor difficulties that make work with manipulatives frustrating, board games offer a stress-free and enjoyable alternative.

But the benefits of board games go beyond simple counting (or addition and multiplication). There are games – board games, card games, computer games – that teach children mathematical thinking, including geometric, logical and probabilistic thinking. Here’s a great list, broken down by particular math skills, to get you started.

While right now our stack of board games is small – the Ladybug Game, Candy Land and Four-in-a-Row (which proved the most amazingly flexible so far), I am slowly adding more titles to my wish list.

As for Judy Moody, playing “Life” changes her attitude towards math. She learns that math is everywhere, that life is full of math and, as a result, acquires a new “mathtitude”.

Do you play board games with your child?


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