Crystal came to me the other day and asked me to make a math game for my kids to help them learn their math problems. Here’s what I came up with:

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*Untitled Math Game*

Make two decks of cards. One of them (the “student deck”) is made up on the different math problems to be learned. (e.g. “5+2”, “4+1”, and the like). The other deck of cards (the “teacher deck”) is made up of cards with the answers for the problems in the student deck (e.g. “7”, “5”, and so on). In addition, the teacher deck has an “I Win!” card that is put at the bottom of the deck.

The student starts by drawing 7 cards from his deck. When he is ready, he tells the teacher to start. The teacher will then flop cards from his deck onto the table. This should be at a regular pace (every 3-5 seconds). The student then attempts to match the cards in his hand with the cards that the teacher is flopping onto the table. Each matched pair is pulled off the table. The student may draw more cards from his deck whenever he desires.

The teacher wins if he flops his “I Win!” card or if he has more cards on the table than the student has cards in hand.

The student wins if he manages to get rid of his cards before the teacher flops the “I Win!” card.

The student’s score is equal to the number of matches he has made. So, even if the student loses, he can still measure his progress.

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This has not yet been playtested; I’ll report back when I know more. But, in the meantime, any thoughts?

October 7th, 2009 at 11:06 am

I think this is a great idea, so the feedback is far more enthusiastic than critical.

* I am a little leery of having both sides be multiple cards – becomes a bit memory-juggly. If the kid has 1 formula or the teacher has 1 answer, then it might be a better intro (with multi-card hands as an advanced version)

* As an alternate, what if they kid draws numbers and operators and can try to build a formula to match the teacher’s formula? (I actually intend to use this one on my kid when he’s old enough to kill robots, so to speak. Put numbers on robot chests and let him create formulas to shoot them)

-Rob D.

October 7th, 2009 at 12:13 pm

How do you handle the student getting a match wrong?

I’ve never been very fond of speed challenges in arithmetic. Math is often better taken at the student’s own pace. A constantly-paced escalating challenge doesn’t sound like something that would make math fun to me.

Consider that if the student has a poor draw, in which the teacher winds up having more than five cards turned over, the amount of information in the game will increase dramatically. I’m not sure I could hold more than six solutions in my head while on the clock.

October 7th, 2009 at 12:42 pm

Rob,

I’m actually looking for the memory juggly bit. The goal is to (attempt to) teach pattern recognition, which is faster than calculation. So, for example, I want the student to recognize “3+2” as being “5”, not calculate that it is 5. This is the same reason that the student is given the formulas, not the answers.

Leastwise, that’s the theory.

Also, this isn’t intended to be how the student learns the problems. Because that would be cruel. Rather, the idea is that this is a way to test what the student theoretically already knows.

October 7th, 2009 at 12:46 pm

Bryan,

“How do you handle the student getting a match wrong?”

Hmm. Silly me, I plumb forgot about that. I guess, in my head, the idea would be that it simply wouldn’t count as being correct when totaling the final score. I mean, design-wise, if you get an answer wrong, the game will eventually overwhelm the student, simply because the student will have a dead card in his hand. But this may not be the best way to handle it.

“Consider that if the student has a poor draw, in which the teacher winds up having more than five cards turned over, the amount of information in the game will increase dramatically. I’m not sure I could hold more than six solutions in my head while on the clock.”

Yeah, this is an area of concern to me, too. Again, as I mentioned to Rob, since the goal of this is actually to teach pattern recognition, this may not be a problem. But I could be very, very wrong. So, yeah, this is an area I’m going to watch in playtest.

October 8th, 2009 at 8:50 am

educational games?? hmmm… you might be on to something here.