Games are a great way to work on many different learning skills with children. I love when I can get a lot of learning in and they don’t see it as learning, just as having fun. Today I created a simple game board. I made it in the shape of a snail since we are learning about pond ecosystems this week and the shape of a snail lends itself easily into a game board shape.
I find that children who do not play games at home struggle to count on a game board. They want to count the space they are on as 1 and then the space in front of them as two. If you did this, then every time you roll a 1 you go no where. When I teach children to count on a game board, we start with 0. Zero is the spot you are standing on and 1 is the spot in front of you. This does two things… it gets you to understand how to count on a game board, AND it reinforces counting from zero instead of one.
Here are a few simple ways to use the board to practice math skills.
Start at the snails head. Roll a die on your turn and then move forward that many spaces. The first person to get to the inside of the shell, the finish spot, wins. As we say in class… easy peasy! This skill works on counting forward 0-6, recognizing the common dice configuration of the numbers 1-6, taking turns and playing a game.
Create cards that your child can use to practice a skill. I created counting cards with items you would find in a pond ecosystem. The child would draw a card and count the number of items on the card. If he/she gets it correct they then move forward that many spaces. This allows you to practice counting items beyond 6, work on varied configurations of counted objects and much more. If you want to work on numbers higher than 10 you could have the child count the number of items on the card and then if they get it correct roll the die and move according to that so you don’t move through the game too quickly.
This same game board can be used for any number of skills. Practice letter recognition, matching shapes, and any skill you want. Create game pieces that show the skill you wish to work on and then move around the board as you get the answers correct. You can even do it with various level children by creating different skill cards for each child. So a 3 year old might work on recognizing shapes and colors, a 5 year old might work on counting items from 6-12 and a 7 year old might work on addition facts. This way they are all working on skills they need to practice, can play the same game and have an equal chance of getting the answers correct.