Surprisingly, all of the kids in Electrons Math Games wanted to play chess today.  Because we had a large group, we split into two teams and used Quick Chess to play a shortened game on a larger floor board.  It was a lot of fun but there were some excellent questions raised as to whether games such as Blokus and chess were actually “math” games in the same sense as counting games such as Monopoly.
This week, we took a few minutes up front to examine what actually constitutes a math game.  We discussed that math itself includes:

  •  Numerical computations:  Calculation, representation, measurement, communication using numbers, etc.
  • Reasoning and logic:  Making sense of something as well as understanding and weighing outcomes.
  • Strategy:  Plan of action designed to achieve a goal.

and that a game is:

  • An artificial competition or conflict defined by rules that results in a quantifiable outcome.

So, any game which meets the above criteria could be considered a math game and the benefit to playing such games is that they are applicable to all walks of life, not just math-related problems.
We also discussed team versus individual competition since most games can be played either way.  The added benefit of teams is the insight gained from having multiple participants (one great chess move came about last week this way) and the individual experiences that each brings to the game.  As game participants (whether individual or teams), we can learn from others’ experiences as well as our own to ensure the best possible outcome.
We then set some ground rules for game competitions:

  • Being fair to our opponents and other team members by treating them politely with respect, win or lose.
  • Quietly giving other team members and opponents time to consider their options when it is their turn and then respecting their choices.

To finish out the class, we played a relay race to fill a multiplication table and tried a multiplication factor card game which we most likely won’t repeat (BORING!!) before moving on to board games.  Going forward, we will probably continue with this format, starting with a group game before moving to board games.  Please let me know if you have any suggestions for math games that you have enjoyed at home.  Thanks for everyone’s input and assistance.

Quick Chess
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