Math Games to Play at Home & NMF2017 Retrospective

April 27, 2017

I’m hosting a math night for parents and students tonight at a local elementary school tonight. These are always fun events, because

  1. I get to preach how games and puzzles are some of the best ways to support math understanding at home
  2. We get to play said games and puzzles and have a great time.

See the bottom of this post, where you can see my handout of puzzles and games to play at home, and other resources to check out.

In addition to my other favorites, I think I’m going to share the “Polka Loop Puzzle.” This is a classic puzzle we included as one of the puzzles to play in Tiny Polka Dot.

Last weekend I took this puzzle, among others, to the National Math Festival in DC. It was, not surprisingly, a blast. My only sadness is I was so busy sharing the puzzles and games I brought that I didn’t get to see all the other spectacular presentations.

I got to spend a lot of time with the folks from ThinkFun, from the Julia Robinson Festival nationwide, from Gathering for Gardner, and others, since we were all in the same section of the event. One big theme: the values of games in creating a math-positive culture at home. Everyone basically had their own variation on the sentiment that “What books are to reading, games are to math.” (One variant I was struck with: “What books are to writing, games are to math.”

Students would start by solving the puzzle from 1 to 5, and then add on a 6, then a 7, until they had it solved up to 10. One student really showed me something new when she concocted, and solved, a totally new variation on the puzzle I’d never seen before. Instead of putting one card on the bottom of the deck, you put one card on the bottom for each letter in the number that’s coming next.

Want more math games to play at home? Check out the handout I’m passing out at the Math Games Night tonight. And let me know what great games and puzzles I should add!

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