Transforming how math is taught and learned
I recently did a review on the Math for Love game called Prime Climb in January and recently got the news from Math for Love founder, Dan Finkel, that his team is putting out a new math game that is specifically designed for young children. It’s exactly what I was waiting to hear! If you have never heard of Dan, I suggest you check out his TedX Talk on Five Principles of Extraordinary Math Teaching to gear up for this review. As our family learned this year, the United States public school system starts teaching addition and subtraction in kindergarten and as someone who went to college to study economics and statistics, I don’t want my daughters to think of math as memorization and repetition. I didn’t start out knowing I wanted to study economics until I started taking college courses while in high school that allowed me to connect my desire to understand macro and micro economics and finance to numbers and a light went on in my brain. I was just fifteen when thinking about math and money ignited a love to study statistics and invigorated my entire course of study for my undergraduate degree. It wasn’t the ‘math’ that got me hooked, no, it was the analysis process that allowed me to bend and twist variables to come up with interesting ways to look at finances on a larger scale that allowed me to think about math differently. I am convinced that I would have arrived at this approach much sooner if I had been taught in a different way and the great thing about education is that it doesn’t have to stop in the classroom.
As Dan relays in his talk, thinking happens when we struggle and children need time to be able to make observations and spend time with numbers in a personal way. Mathematical literacy is such an important aspect in our lives and I’ve tried to find ways to make math fun through games and even homework. It’s important to tie the subject of math with analysis and to think of numbers in abstract ways while tying it to every day life. If you are a parent that feels like you are struggling right along with your child when doing math homework, remember that not knowing the answer is perfectly acceptable. What’s not acceptable is not having a willingness to learn. You can change your attitude towards numbers and math by having courage to explore ideas and play with the subject. I am not my child’s ‘teacher’ at her elementary school, but when we discuss math topics at home I will understand how she is being taught at school, work on the homework with her, and we discuss and have fun with the math. The Tiny Polka Dot game is another way to tie in the idea that subjects, like math, are meant to debated and answers are not just found in the key in the back of the book. It’s this approach that allows children to grasp concepts and think further than the problem that is in front of them. Transforming the way we teach math is to help children find a desire to truly love math and to continue to struggle and learn from it..
Math for Love created Tiny Polka Dot to teach fundamental ideas in counting and mathematics. Tiny Polka Dot is a game deck designed for children 3 to 8 years old The math inside Tiny Polka Dot is central to what kids need to be ready for Kindergarten, 1st grade, and 2nd grade. But the most important lesson Tiny Polka Dot teaches is that math is play.
In the Box:
- 66 Cards, in six suits.
Rules for Play:
Any of the games listed below can be played with 2 – 6 players. I’ll list a few of the simple games we have started using in our house and include a list of games that have rules for play included with the game. We have been able to play the games “Match the Dots” and “Hungry Numbers” with both our girls and Brooke has enjoyed learning “Dot Memory” with me. Bob and I really enjoy how versatile the game is and that you can keep adding different versions of the game as the child’s learning advances. It’s a creative way to think about numbers and a simple way to add math play into your family’s life.
Most kids will enjoy starting with a game that is easy for them. It’s fun to be successful! If a game becomes too easy, you can move on to a more advanced game. On the other hand, if a game is too hard, the kids will likely lose focus, or want to stop. That’s a sign you need to move to a simpler version. Don’t be afraid to try a game with both your children if they are at different age groups. It was surprising at how patient Brooke was at showing Brie how to play “Match the Dots” and Brie really enjoyed learning from her older sister. That was definitely a shock! We plan to keep adding new games with Brooke as we go and we are definitely enjoying the process.
Match The Dots. Recommended Age 3 – 6
Pick two suits at a time, and start with numbers your child knows. Players take turns matching pairs of cards with the same number of dots. Keep each match. The game ends when all the cards are gone. For greater challenge, add in larger numbers and additional suits.
Hungry Numbers. Recommended Age: 3 – 6
Line up the numeral cards from 1 – 5. These are the hungry numbers. The children take turns choosing dot cards and feeding them to each numeral card, which “eats” the dot card when it goes above the dot card. (Enhance the game by making eating sound effects: “Nom nom nom.”) The game is over when all the dot cards have been “eaten.”
Dot Memory. Recommend Age: 3 – 7
Start with numbers 1 – 3, in four suits. Shuffle and deal out all twelve cards, face down, in three rows of four. Take turns turning two cards face up, so everyone can see them. If they are cards of the same number, keep them. If not, turn them face down again and let the next player take their turn. Match is two cards with the same number of dots.
Other Games that you can play with the deck include:
- Dot Five Memory. Recommend Age: 4 – 7
- Dot Fives. Recommend Age 4 – 7
- Dot Tens. Recommended Age: 5 – 8
- Dot Ten Memory. Recommended Age: 5 – 8
- PowerDot. Recommended Age 4 – 8
- PowerDot Pro. Recommended Age 4 – 8.
- Polka Dot Puzzle (Age 5 and up)
- Supreme (Age 5 and up)
Kickstarter Campaign! Math for Love game, Tiny Polka Dot Math, is kickstarting the game on April 19. Check out the link HERE and see if you can purchase some great goodies from Math for Love for your kiddos!
Parents – Definitely check out the Math for Love website which offers wonderful resources like Professional Development, Lesson Plans, Math for Kids, and Games for your budding mathematician. I feel that the more involvement a parent has in the education of their children, the better, and the Prime Climb game is a fun and simple way to bring multiplication, division, and Prime Numbers all in one easy to play game. Awesome!
List Price: $ 15.00