We’ve all heard about the benefits of board games when it comes to enhancing learning and development. Well, here’s some fantastic news—recent research reveals that number-based board games like Monopoly, Othello, and Chutes and Ladders can work wonders in improving our young children’s math skills!
The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Early Years, delved into the topic over the past 23 years, and the findings are truly fascinating. For kids aged three to nine, playing these number-based board games can lead to better counting, improved addition abilities, and enhanced number recognition. Isn’t that amazing?
Dr. Jaime Balladares, the lead author of the study from Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, shares the exciting news: “Board games enhance mathematical abilities for young children. Using board games can be considered a strategy with potential effects on basic and complex math skills. Board games can easily be adapted to include learning objectives related to mathematical skills or other domains.”
But wait, there’s more! The magic of these board games lies in their format. Games, where players take turns to move pieces around a board, are the ones that prove beneficial for our little learners. These games offer fixed rules, which limit a player’s activities, and the moves on the board generally determine the overall playing situation. The consistency of this format helps in reinforcing math skills and concepts.
Board Games vs Worksheets
Despite the undeniable advantages of number-based board games, it’s surprising to note that preschools rarely use them, and many families turn to paper worksheets like Brain Quest or Kumon or online math games. As a result, this research aimed to compile evidence of board games’ effects on children to spread the word about their benefits.
Here’s how the study was conducted: The researchers analyzed 19 studies published from 2000 onwards, involving children aged from three to nine years. All the studies focused on the relationship between board games and mathematical skills. The children participating in the studies received special board game sessions, led by teachers, therapists, or parents, on average twice a week for 20 minutes over one-and-a-half months.
The results were nothing short of impressive! Math skills improved significantly among more than half (52%) of the tasks analyzed after the sessions. In almost a third (32%) of cases, children who took part in the board game intervention performed better than those who did not participate.
Now, this opens up a whole new world of opportunities. The researchers are planning to explore the effects of board games on other cognitive and developmental skills. They’re urging the development of more and better educational board games and implementing scientific procedures to evaluate their efficacy. Isn’t that an exciting prospect?
So, parents, it’s time to dust off those old board games and set up regular game nights with your kids. Let them dive into the world of numbers and math through these entertaining and educational games. The best part? You can join in the fun too! By doing so, you not only boost their math skills but also create lasting memories and strong family bonds.
The power of board games in nurturing our children’s minds is immense. Let’s embrace this effective and enjoyable approach to learning, and watch our little ones flourish in the world of numbers. The joy and learning that come from these board games are truly priceless. So, gather your family around the game board, and let the math magic unfold! Check out these math-based board games to get started.
Are you looking for engaging and effective alternatives to Kumon Online for your child’s math learning journey? Well, you’ve come to the right place! While Kumon Online is undoubtedly a popular choice, there are numerous other fantastic options available that can provide a fresh and dynamic approach to math education. In this blog post, we’ll explore some exciting alternatives to Kumon Online, offering you a range of options to consider for your child’s mathematical growth.
Thinkster is an online math tutoring program that takes a personalized approach to teaching math. What’s great about Thinkster Math is that it tailors the instruction specifically to your child’s needs. They provide interactive worksheets, engaging video tutorials, and even feedback from experienced math tutors. It’s a great resource that combines AI with the guidance of real tutors.
Khan Academy is an incredible online platform that offers a wide range of subjects, including math, completely free of charge. With its interactive lessons, practice exercises, and personalized learning approach, Khan Academy provides an engaging and comprehensive alternative to Kumon Online. It covers various grade levels and offers detailed progress tracking, allowing you to monitor your child’s development.
If you’re searching for an interactive and gamified math learning experience, Mathletics is the perfect choice. With its captivating interface and engaging activities, Mathletics makes math feel like an exciting adventure. It offers curriculum-aligned content, adaptive learning features, and even friendly competitions to keep your child motivated and eager to explore the world of numbers.
For young math enthusiasts who crave a challenge, Beast Academy is a unique option. Designed for students in grades 2-5, Beast Academy provides a comic book-style curriculum that brings math to life. Its unconventional approach combines storytelling, puzzles, and problem-solving tasks to ignite your child’s curiosity and passion for mathematics.
Prodigy is an online math game that captivates children’s attention while reinforcing important math skills. With its immersive gameplay and adaptive learning technology, Prodigy makes math enjoyable and interactive. It covers various math topics and allows your child to progress at their own pace, making learning an exciting adventure.
IXL is a comprehensive online learning platform that covers a wide range of subjects, including math. It offers a vast library of interactive exercises, providing practice across different math concepts and skills. IXL provides detailed feedback and explanations, ensuring your child understands each concept thoroughly.
DreamBox Learning is an adaptive math program that caters to your child’s individual needs. It provides personalized lessons and activities based on their unique strengths and weaknesses. DreamBox Learning’s engaging and interactive interface keeps children motivated and focused on their math journey.
Mathseeds is specifically designed for early math learners, targeting children aged 3 to 9. It uses captivating animations, games, and activities to introduce foundational math skills in a fun and interactive way. Mathseeds encourages independent exploration and provides progress reports to keep you informed about your child’s achievements.
As parents, we have a multitude of alternatives to Kumon Online that can cater to our child’s unique learning needs and make math an exciting adventure. Whether you opt for Khan Academy’s comprehensive approach, Mathletics’ gamified experience, or Beast Academy’s unconventional style, there is a wealth of resources available to help your child thrive in their mathematical journey. Explore these alternatives, consider your child’s interests and learning style, and choose the option that best suits their needs. Remember, learning math doesn’t have to be a chore—it can be a thrilling and enjoyable experience for your child!
Whether you’re a math enthusiast or someone who finds it challenging, there’s no denying that mathematics is a crucial part of our daily lives. As parents, we hold the key to helping our children excel in math. Let’s explore some practical tips to boost your child’s math skills at home.
Make Math Fun and Engaging:
Introduce math concepts through interactive games, puzzles, and activities. Incorporate math into everyday experiences, such as counting objects during grocery shopping or calculating distances during a family road trip. By making math enjoyable, you create a positive association and motivate your child to explore mathematical concepts with curiosity and enthusiasm. When my kids were toddlers, I used to count in 2s with them while pushing them on the playground swings!
Emphasize Real-World Applications:
Highlight the practical applications of math in our daily lives. Discuss how math is used in cooking, budgeting, measuring, and even playing sports and in politics. By demonstrating the relevance of math, you help your child connect abstract concepts with concrete situations, making math more relatable and meaningful.
Provide Math Resources:
Equip your home with math resources, such as age-appropriate books, puzzles, and educational apps. Utilize online platforms that offer math games, interactive tutorials, and practice exercises. These resources provide additional support and encourage independent exploration of math concepts.
Establish a Math Routine:
Set aside dedicated time each day for math activities. Whether it’s a few minutes of mental math practice or engaging in problem-solving tasks, establishing a math routine helps create a structured learning environment and reinforces your child’s commitment to math skills development.
Encourage Critical Thinking:
Math is about so much more than just memorizing formulas and equations. It’s an exciting subject that sparks critical thinking and problem-solving skills in your child’s mind. Help them develop these skills by presenting them with open-ended math problems that require creative thinking. Encourage them to explain how they arrived at their solutions, fostering their ability to reason and analyze. Let’s unlock their inner problem-solver together! This nurtures their analytical abilities and helps them approach math with a growth mindset.
Connect Math with Other Subjects:
Mathematics has strong connections to various disciplines, including science, art, and even music. Help your child explore these connections by engaging in cross-curricular activities. For example, measuring ingredients during a baking session combines math with practical life skills and creativity.
Celebrate Mistakes as Learning Opportunities:
Mathematics is a subject where mistakes are valuable learning opportunities. Encourage your child to embrace mistakes and view them as stepping stones toward understanding. Offer positive feedback and guide them through the process of correcting errors. This fosters resilience, perseverance, and a growth mindset toward math.
Support Homework Completion:
Be actively involved in your child’s homework routine. Create a quiet, well-lit space where they can concentrate on their assignments. Offer assistance when needed but encourage them to solve problems independently. By providing a supportive environment for homework completion, you instill a sense of responsibility and reinforce the importance of completing math tasks.
Engage in Math Conversations:
Initiate math-related conversations with your child. Ask them about their math lessons, what they find challenging, or their favorite math topics. Discuss interesting math facts or puzzles together. Engaging in these conversations cultivates a positive attitude toward math and deepens their understanding of mathematical concepts.
Be a Math Role Model:
Remember, as a parent, you have a special influence on your child’s learning journey. Show them just how excited you are about math! Share with them how you use math in your everyday life and talk about the ways you’ve overcome math challenges. By being open and enthusiastic about math, you’ll inspire your child to embrace it with the same positivity and determination. You’ve got this!
My teen kids used Exam Solutions to help them with their UK curriculum A Level Maths studies and I’ve also used it as a reference when researching ways to introduce new topics to my tutees.
I was therefore delighted to connect with Michael of Air Maths Tuition who also helps to run and update the Exam Solutions website. Michael loves tutoring and sharing his love of maths as much as I do, so I’ve invited him to share in the ins and outs of this popular UK maths resource with my Maths Insider readers.
– Caroline – Maths Insider
Are you looking for help with maths? I’m sure if you ‘google it’, you’ll find several resources out there.
But one of the few standout resources for maths is ExamSolutions. ExamSolutions is a free maths resource that specialises in video tutorials for AS and A level maths. It helps British and International students and teachers across the world. Since it started in 2006, there are now over 4000 video tutorials, crafted solely for the purpose of making high quality support available to all students, for FREE.
As a resource that has served students and teachers for almost 14 years, it has become a brand. You may know the man behind the voice in all the videos as, ‘the ExamSolutionsGuy’, but his real name is Stuart Sidders. He is a fully qualified maths teacher with over 40 years of experience teaching in state schools.
I was just one of the many students who used Stuart’s videos to help me through my A levels. All those years ago, I remember struggling to understand integration. After searching around on google, I stumbled across a video by ExamSolutions (Watch the same video below).
The video was short, easy to understand and there were plenty more examples for me to practice my new skills. This was truly the turning point for me. I began to use the videos instead of my textbook and was able to achieve an A at the end. Between then and now, I have achieved a First-Class honours degree in Maths, had a stint in the City of London as a Stock Trader and taught several students at different levels in Maths. I am now working alongside Stuart to open things up on the GCSE side. Between us, we have a combined 50 years of teaching experience.
So what’s on offer?
When it comes to resources for AS and A level Maths, you’re probably going to be spoilt for choice with ExamSolutions. We have over 4000 bite – sized maths videos, with various topics for you to choose from. To find the help you need, just type in YouTube [your topic] followed by ‘ExamSolutions’. You can also choose from a selection of topics on the Pure Maths index, Statistics index and Mechanic index pages on our website.
Even better, the video tutorials teach you exactly how it’s done from scratch and carefully explains each concept. There are also several examples which help to expose you to the different types of questions you may come across in the exams. With over 500 topics, we cover such an extensive range that many students use our videos instead of their textbooks.
Are videos better than textbooks?
Statistics show that videos are 12 times more popular (in terms of social media shares) than text.
Here are 3 reasons why our videos are so effective and why we spend most of our time making videos for students:
Videos are more memorable – After all, the idea of learning is to be able to recall key points and methods and apply them to problems.
It’s an easier watch – studies have shown that the brain processes videos much quicker than it does with text, making harder topics easier to absorb and understand.
It’s quicker – Whether it is cooking, cleaning, or learning, we all want faster results!
Our videos help students to take on information in a very short time span. Compare 10 minutes of a clear and concise video tutorial to an hour-long classroom and it seems like a no brainer.
GCSE Worked solutions to Past papers
We also produce handwritten Worked Solutions to GCSE maths past papers. We believe these are more ‘user friendly’ and detailed than mark schemes. Imagine revising from a past exam paper where you not only get answers to the questions, but you also get worked solutions with annotations, useful definitions, comments, labels and colour! Learning from questions this way is unique and arguably one of the more practical ways of learning mathematics at this level.
Writing the solutions by hand also provides its own cognitive value for students. This raw approach makes the idea of being able to write their own solutions more achievable. Naturally, when you see that someone else can do it, it helps you to believe that you can also do it.
We’ll be putting out more of these resource for iGCSE’s soon so look out for this on our IGCSE past papers page. You can also find past papers and mark schemes on our website.
During the peak of the Covid-19 crisis we produced live streams for students whilst they were off school, again all free, and judging by the feedback received at the end of sessions, were very successful. You can get to see us teaching LIVE here.
What teachers and students say about ExamSolutions
In conclusion, ExamSolutions has helped hundreds of thousands of students and teachers over the years.
There is no better reward than to learn that we are helping to change people’s lives. It’s the support from students and teachers that drives us do more.
To get an idea of the impact this resource has made in people’s lives in the last 3 years, view our testimionals page.
Prodigy Math Game Review – Short version – I gave money to a stranger on the internet for an upgrade to Prodigy Math game, a math program that I wasn’t initially a fan of and for something that I already had the free version of.
Long version – I use Life of Fred math with my home schooled 10 year old. He loves it but the delivery of our next book had been delayed. So I decided to use this as a chance to test some online math programs in the meantime. Prodigy Game being one of them. Read on for my Prodigy Math Game review!
Introducing my Prodigy Math Game Review
I’d heard others rave about Prodigy Math but I’m not usually a fan of gamified math, as often kids spend too much time playing inside the game and not enough time “mathing” OR kids just think the games are lame because the game play is not as good as whatever the latest big game studio thing is they like playing.
After trying a few other programs – none of which impressed my son – I finally got round to setting him up on Prodigy Math. He spent 20 mins scoffing about how rubbish the gameplay was but then voluntarily came back to it later on in the day and played for another 30 mins, even tackling hated (for him) topics like long multiplication and decimal subtraction and learning new topics such as mean, mode and median. Each question has a built in hint which gives a brief explanation for how to solve that type of question but realistically students need to have studied the topic previously as the hints are brief and quite general or have a parent on hand to help them.
An addictive math game
The following day my son played for an hour and declared he needed the paid version. Now the full price is $8.99 a month paid monthly or $4.99 a month paid up front for the year. I’m happy to pay for educational stuff BUT I’ve also recently discovered the world of Group Buys – where a group of parents club together (usually on FB Groups) and get a discounted rate on a program. I’ve bought a few things in recent months this way (including a fab story app and a typing app). The Group Buy rate for Prodigy Game was $14 for the whole year.
So my son complained about how he can’t believe I gave money to a stranger on the internet and that how he’s going to have wait at least another 8 days to get the upgrade which will get him more coins, armour, pets etc. however, despite this he approached another hour on the game that day.
I was impressed! The gameplay is kitsch (think Pokemon) but is fast, smooth and addictive. The time spent on gaming compared to the time spent on the math is much better than on some other programs I’ve tried (Education City – I’m looking at you!) There are even You tube channels where you can watch kids doing Prodigy Game “Let’s play” videos complete with them solving math problems. What a time to be alive!
Setting up a free Prodigy Game account
Both parent and teacher versions of Prodigy Game are FREE. The paid upgrade is primarily for the kids so they can level-up faster – but the people behind Prodigy claim that paid students end up playing for longer and making faster math progress because of the higher in-game rewards (my son’s single session record so far has been almost 3 hours on the game with me forcing him to stop!)
On both the free and paid teacher versions you can assign specific topics for your child to work on using the Planner tool. This is a great way to reinforce topic that your child is working on at school or to revisit some of their weak spots from previous topics. With the planner you can choose to add questions on topics from the US, Canada or UK curriculum.
I’ve invited Mark Maclaine, a London based super tutor specialising in maths, science and school admissions, to share his best maths exam revision tips for panic-free exams.
To really get to grips with your maths exam revision, you’ll need to use techniques that actively help you engage with the topics. Reading through notes and copying out questions will only get you so far, so for the times when you want to try changing up your revision plan, these are my 5 best maths exam revision tips.
1. Practise past papers
Working through past papers is the best way to get an understanding of the exam format and different types of questions that will come up. Remember that it’s vital you practise past papers under timed conditions! You won’t have unlimited time in the exam, so timing yourself will help you get to know what you’re capable of getting done in the exam. As you get used to the question formats, you’ll get more comfortable with the questions and quicker at knowing how to approach them.
Ensure you review the papers with a mark scheme and take the time to understand why your answer might be wrong instead of marking your work without looking over it properly. It might be frustrating initially, but you can’t always memorise your way to success with maths, so ensuring you have a thorough understanding is key. If the mark scheme provides more than one method for solving a question then ensure that you look over other ways you could have approached it. This can be a useful way to deepen your knowledge and challenge yourself to grow.
You should also always remember that there’s no shame in getting things wrong – in fact, making mistakes is one of the best ways to learn. Whilst it’s easy to put off the more challenging questions, it’s important that you focus on getting better in these areas as soon as possible. Doing past papers helps to identify questions that need some more work so you can prioritise these. After all, practise makes perfect.
2. Group revision
Two heads are better than one, and two people working together have a better chance of solving something than you on your own. Whilst you don’t need to limit yourself to working with one other person, make sure that you keep your group relatively small to help you stay on track with work.
Chances are the people in your group will each have different things that they’re good at, so there’ll be plenty that they can help you with, and equally a lot that you can help them with. One of the most powerful learning methods is actually teaching. Taking turns to explain concepts to one another will encourage you to solidify your knowledge and will very quickly expose areas you might need to work on. The more fun you make this the easier it will be to do! Try to challenge each other to find faster and more efficient methods if you can.
3. Write yourself instructions
If you can’t set up a study group, the next best way of reinforcing what you’ve learnt is by explaining questions to yourself. As with any skill, it takes time to get comfortable new concepts. Writing down the steps you have to take to answer a question will simplify the process for you, as well as help to make it stick in your memory. Order your instructions into a list or flowchart that you can refer to time and time again.
To avoid confusion when you come back to your instructions, make sure you explain it in as much detail as possible. Imagine that you’re explaining the process to someone else who has no knowledge in the area. This will help you when you revisit your revision and need some direction of where to start.
Flashcards are useful for more concise snippets of information. Use flashcards to refresh your memory on the topics you cover by writing a prompt or question on one side and the answer on the other. When you have your flashcards ready, go through them and keep track of the ones you get right and wrong. Make sure you put the ones you get wrong to the back of the pile so that you can review them and ensure that doesn’t happen in the exam. You could also experiment with putting them up around the house and answering them each time you see a card. Eventually, you will have seen the question enough to know exactly how to handle it.
You should also use your flashcards to help compile a last minute cheat sheet. A cheat sheet is essentially a flash card with all of the things you’ll want to look over right before your exam. Use your flashcards to compile the ultimate card with all of this information on, from formulae to technical vocab – anything you might need fresh in your memory for the exam.
5. Memorise (where possible)
Whilst maths is mainly about understanding topics and applying this knowledge to questions, there are a few things that you can memorise to help you out in the exam. Make flashcards for circle theorems and SOHCAHTOA equations. Looking over these regularly will help ingrain them in your memory and ensure you don’t miss out on easy marks.
Inputting numbers into a memorised formula is another one of the simplest way to boost your marks, so make sure you take the time to learn your formulae! To help remember these, try writing them over and over until they stick or put them up around your house.
If you’re still struggling with your maths revision, seek out extra help. Whether it be from a parent, teacher, or tutor, someone else might be able to explain an area you’re struggling with in a way that it suddenly clicks for you.
In need of a maths tutor in the UK? Look no further. Tutorfair is a website that allows you to find and book private tutors for face-to-face tuition. For every student who pays, Tutorfair give free tutoring to a child who can’t. With hundreds of verified tutors who specialise in Dyslexia, 11+, GCSEs, A-levels and degree level subjects, why not get in touch for some help with your maths?
Mark Maclaine is a London based super tutor specialising in maths, science and school admissions, and co-founder of Tutorfair. Tutorfair is a website where parents and students can find and book local tutors or online tuition.
Who doesn’t love lego bricks? This simple toy appeals to kids of all ages and even holds the title of being the “world’s most powerful brand.” Certainly in my household, my kids love to build with lego bricks and I love the fact that they are using math without realising it. For a more formal approach to using Lego bricks to teach math, check out these 10 awesome lego math videos for creative kids (and their parents!)
1. Lego Color Sorting Activity For Preschool Math and Fine Motor Development
Put your preschooler to work sorting their lego by color or size. Muffin tins or used egg cartons make excellent temporary containers for this activity. You could also buy sectioned containers so that the newly sorted lego stays organized for the long term.
2. The simplest way to explain Math to Kids with Lego
Fractions are best served with a helping of physical objects. Give those pizzas a break and use lego math to demonstrate basic fractions and addition and subtraction of fractions. This video also shows how to use lego to represent square numbers.
3. Maths with Lego: Improper fractions to Mixed Numbers
The idea of improper fractions is often difficult to demonstrate with real objects. This lego math video will walk you step-by-step through the process along with examples to solve alongside.
4. Three Prisoners problem – LEGO Star Wars Math
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away the force of mathematics was unleashed. Is the force strong with you? How can the prisoners work out which of them is to be executed. This video shows the solution to a classic math problem – The 3 Prisoners Problem – acted out and explained using lego minifigs.
5. Lego Perfect Diagonals
Watch this video to learn how to use geometry to solve a common problem for lego builders – How to form perfect diagonals while still connecting to the studs.
6. A Lego Brickumentary Clip
In 1958 LEGO estimated six standard LEGO bricks could come together nearly 103 million ways. Professor Soren Eilers calculated the real number — 915 million ways. Discover how Professor Soren worked out the mathematical solution to tricky question.
7. Teaching Division Basics Using LEGO® Bricks – Brick Math Series
Dr Shirley Disseler walks through a series of division problems using lego bricks and shows how to form division sentences from the representations. Dr Shirley has also made videos in the Brick Math series with show how to use lego math to demonstrate factors, multiplication and fractions.
8. Geometry Activity # 1 LEGOmaniacs Have Fun Building Math Activities LEGO Homeschooling Lessons
Build a variety of square-based structures using lego bricks. This video introduces the concept of squares being shapes of equal length and investigates how squares can be constructed with different shaped lego bricks.
9. Pythagoras Theorem
Watch this video prove Pythagoras’ Theorem using graph paper and lego bricks. This is a fantastic hands on way to explore this important math equation using lego.
10. LEGO MATH : Fractions, Decimals, Tenths
Explore the relationship between place value, fractions, decimals and tenths with this lego math video which features lego bricks, lego minifigs and even a tidy up lego AT-AT.
Which is your favorite lego math video? Tell me in the comments below!
Have you ever wondered what makes some people into natural mathematicians while others seem to struggle with grasping even basic concepts? Do you wonder whether there are things you should be doing to help your children reach their potential in math? Here’s my rundown of recent math education research into how we learn, and how best to develop your child’s math skills.
Stella Lourenco, a psychologist from Emory University conducted a study showing that babies with a stronger interest in a video stream of mirrored images went on to have greater mathematical skill at age four than those with less interest.
This may be why some people seem to have a natural aptitude for math, while others find it difficult. The good news is that spatial reasoning can improve with training. Lourenco suggests that an increased focus on this area in early math education could be helpful.
Procedural memory governs our mastery of non-conscious skills, things like driving. In this research, Tanya M. Evans PhD shows that procedural memory is also important in developing math ability. She suggests that problems with underlying brain structure could be at the root of math difficulties.
Action Point: Storytelling can be a great way to support the development of procedural memory. The structure helps children to remember what comes next, setting them in good stead for math concepts later on.
A recent University of Pittsburgh study shows that we transfer our math skills to our children. Math education researchers found that a child’s performance in standardised tests could be predicted by looking at a parent’s performance in similar examinations.
Action Point: Your understanding is key to developing your child’s understanding. If you’re not confident in your own abilities, try Khan Academy or a similar programme to boost your performance in the basics.
Self-talk influences our performance throughout life. Math is no different. Dario Cvencek’s study shows that performance in math tests links to stereotypes. This in turn determines how children think of themselves as math learners. For example, girls who subscribe to the theory that ‘math is for boys’ will tend to have weaker mathematical ability.
Researchers measured explicit and subconscious beliefs in children through a range of tests. They then monitored their results in standardised tests at the end of the school year. They found that implicit, subconscious beliefs affected math scores while explicit beliefs did not.
Action Point: Cvencek says, “If we can boost children’s math self-concepts early in development, this may also help boost their actual math achievement and interest in the discipline.”
Using MRI technology, scientists at Carnegie Mellon University have been able to see what’s happening in the brain while students are solving maths problems. They identified four distinct stages of the thought process: encoding, planning, solving and responding. Using MRI, they analysed how long respondents spent on each stage of the process.
Action Point: Professor John Anderson hopes that his research will eventually lead to improvements in classroom instruction.
The orbitofrontal cortex, just behind the eyes, carries out a constant stream of calculations and computations. All this without us being consciously aware of what’s happening. This process shapes our behaviour and reactions to situations. Using a safari park simulation, researchers from Princeton University demonstrated that people could accurately decide which area of the virtual park a specific group of animals had come from, based on their previous experience in the game.
This ability would have been important to our ancestors’ daily survival, and it’s just as crucial for us today. Even those without confidence in their math skills can take heart from the fact that our brains have an innate ability to conduct complex mathematical computations.
Getting young children to trace letters and numbers with their fingers is a standard part of early childhood education. Recent research by Dr Paul Ginns suggests that this benefit extends to other areas as well, specifically, solving math problems.
A survey of children aged 9-16 in Sydney showed that using the index finger to trace over important elements of algebra and geometry problems helped to improve their skill in solving those problems.
Action Point: If you have young children, you probably already encourage them to trace letters and numbers. Try to find ways to maintain that habit as they get older. One suggestion is to let them see you modelling the behaviour as you try to figure out measurements for DIY or craft projects.
Marije Fagginger Auer’s research shows that “children can benefit from writing down their calculations, especially the more vulnerable group with lower ability”. Current trends lean towards a heavy focus on mental strategies that don’t require children to ‘show their workings’. This research found that a written process of working out the solution resulted in a higher proportion of correct answers, although this took more time.
Action Point: The results of this math education research will be used to improve teacher training programmes. Meanwhile, it’s easy to encourage children to write down their process for answering questions. This will work especially well in areas they find more challenging.
This fascinating research shows that blind people have the same innate numerical reasoning abilities as sighted people. It was previously thought that the basic number sense present in humans and animals was related purely to sight. This study found that, in blind people, the visual cortex plays an important role in numerical reasoning.
Co-author of the study, Marina Bedny says that the findings suggest that the brain as a whole is far more adaptable than previously believed. “If we can make the visual cortex do math, in principle, we can make any part of the brain do anything.”
Games are a great way to boost math learning, we know that already. It’s also been known for a while that a highly developed sense of number in infancy can predict later math success. Johns Hopkins University researchers have taken this a step further with a study that suggests that games can bolster an innate sense of mathematical awareness.
Children were given a game to play on a tablet, where they had to decide whether there were more blue or yellow spots on the screen at one time. This had to be done quickly, without counting. Testing after the dots game found that those children who played the ‘proper’ version of the game (with questions progressing from easiest to hardest) performed much better.
Action Point: This study shows that even a small investment of time can pay dividends. It is well worth adding a few number games and activities to your days.
Research from RMIT University, Melbourne, shows that playing video games can sharpen teenagers’ math skills, while Facebook and other social networking sites can dull them. Associate Professor Alberto Posso said, “Students who play online games almost every day score 15 points above the average in maths and 17 points above the average in science.”
Action Point: One recommendation from this study is that teachers should try to incorporate popular video games into their classes, providing that they’re not violent games.
This research has found that one-to-one tutoring can not only improve math ability but also treat math anxiety itself. Using fMRI scans on children with high math anxiety, researchers showed that, after an eight-week tutoring programme, the brain’s fear circuits and amygdala were no longer activated by exposure to maths.
Action Point: If your child suffers from anxiety around math work, and you’ve been wondering whether a private tutor might help, maybe this is the confirmation you need.
It’s interesting to read math education research, especially when it backs up what you already know. You’ll find plenty of math resources here at Maths Insider to help you encourage your children as they grow their math abilities. I especially love reading research into how very young children learn. It’s fascinating to understand the science behind the things that most of us do instinctively.
Are you keen to help your children cement the math skills they’re learning, but finding them less than willing to spend their free time practising times tables or number bonds? Hopefully, you’ve had a chance to look around here at Maths Insider to see some of my suggestions for ways to make math practice more fun. Here’s a list of math toys and games with a definite emphasis on fun and a whole lot of math learning thrown in for good measure.
Number skills builders for preschoolers
1 Smart Snacks Number Pops – a fun way to encourage number recognition and fine motor skills at the same time. Match the numbers to the dots and slide the coloured shell over the corresponding lolly.
Contains 10 ice cream pops. Recommended for age 2+.
2 Melissa & Doug’s Stack & Count Parking Garage is a sturdy, colourful toy that will appeal to car-crazy toddlers, and teach them their numbers while they play. Your kids will love dropping the wooden cars into the slot and seeing them fit neatly on top of the car beneath.
Recommended for age 2+.
Cool math for young kids
3In this Math Explosion Game, the math side of things takes a very definite second-place to the excitement of exploding a volcano! The game uses customised math facts making it suitable for a range of ages to play together. Math practice and volcanic eruptions – what’s not to like?
2-4 players. Recommended for age 5+.
4 The Magnetic Apple Fractions toy helps link important math concepts with everyday experiences. Colour-coded plastic pieces are held together by magnets to create a fun toy that helps develop awareness of fractions. Comes with an activity guide to help you get the most out of it.
Recommended for age 5+.
5 Sequence for Kidslooks just like a normal board game, it doesn’t scream ‘I’m an educational toy’, making it ideal for those of us with more cynical children. A strategy-building game that can be played by non-readers but which is engaging enough for adults as well. Throw in a side order of unicorns and dragons, and you’re sure to find this one a crowd-pleaser.
2-4 players. Recommended for ages 3-6.
Engaging math games for older kids
6 Do you fancy being a Super Math Spy? Use your super-fast mental math skills to carry out secret missions. Complete with spy goggles and finger-print cards, this is a fun game that’s never the same. A great way to encourage the kind of speed and automatic recall of facts that we all know is so important for later math success.
2-4 players. Recommended for age 7+.
7 Make-a-Monster Math Test Prep Games. Spin the spinner, answer math questions, and race to build your own funny monster. Specifically designed to target skills needed for standardised state and national tests. This link is to the Grade 3 set, but it’s available for Grades 3-5.
2-4 players. Recommended for age 8+.
8 The best games are easy to learn but challenging to play. Flip 4fits right into this category. A fun way to practice basic math skills and develop strategic thinking at the same time.
2-4 players. Recommended for age 8-12.
9 Build space rockets and explore the solar system in Xtronaut: The Game of Solar System Exploration. This game offers an awesome introduction to rocket science and space exploration while developing strategic thinking and planning skills. Developed by the leader of the NASA OSIRIS-REx mission, it contains a wealth of real-world learning.
2-4 players. Recommended for age 7+.
10 An irresistible curiosity that is bound to attract young and old alike. The Clever Catch Multiplication Ball is a large inflatable ball covered in math problems. Perfect for either organised game-play or informal exploration.
Recommended for Grades 3-7.
11 Think Fun’s Gravity Maze has 60 challenges across four play levels, so it will keep your kids (and you) puzzling for a good long time. Use your logic and spatial reasoning skills to figure out how to create a path that will take the marble to the target tower. A simple concept with endless variations
Single-player. Recommended for ages 8-15 years.
12 The Ozbot Bit is a tiny (just over 1”) robot that you programme yourself. Start with basic colour-coded commands, and progress to OzoBlockly, which allows you to fully programme your robot. Coding is the latest buzz in STEM education, and this is a fun way to back up what your kids are learning at school.
Recommended for age 8+.
13 The Laser Maze Logic Game, also from Think Fun, is another game designed to develop sequential reasoning and hone those planning skills. Arrange the mirrored tokens to reflect the laser beam onto the targets in 60 different challenges at a range of levels.
Single-player. Recommended for ages 8-15 years.
14 Do your kids like to play to an audience? Are they budding performers and entertainers? If so, the 4M Math Magic Puzzles and Games set could be the perfect addition to your rainy-day cupboard. They’ll learn to perform 15 math tricks and amazing speed calculations to wow friends and family.
Recommended for age 8+.
Fabulous geometry fun for the whole family
15 K’NEX is a classic toy that works on many levels. This Elementary Math and Geometry Building Set tallies up with national standards and common core requirements. Use the teacher’s guide and building instructions, or simply play and experiment – they’ll be learning without even realising it.
Set suitable for 3-4 children to use together. Recommended for ages 2-16.
Sumaze! is a cool problem-solving app that helps kids and adults build an intuitive approach to math. I’ve been playing it for for past week and it really is kind of addictive!
What I also love about it is that it’s low stakes – no timers and no negative audio sounds when you get the puzzle wrong, so it’s perfect for nervous young mathematicians!
Sumaze’s puzzles involve arithmetic, inequalities, the modulus function, indices, logarithms and primes and players don’t need ANY previous knowledge of these topics in order to play. This app was created by the UK organization Mathematics in Education and Industry (MEI) and the Sigma network who provide support for excellence in mathematics and statistics.
If you and your family loved the Dragonbox suite of apps – you’ll love this too!
Watch the video below to see some of the Sumaze gameplay:
Sumaze! 2 is now also available. It includes puzzles which involve fractions, decimals, percentages, primes and digits.