I’ve been wanting to share this little collection of books for a long time, and today is finally the day! I discovered Denise Gaskins’ Let’s Play Math blog a few years ago now, and I frequently peruse it for ideas to add a little sparkle to our Fun Fridays and, this year at least, the math games class I’m facilitating at our homeschool co-op. When I saw that she was coming out with a couple of books, I purchased them over the summer in preparation for the math games class and because after teaching math at home for six years, I could use some fresh inspiration, especially for my kindergartener.

These two volumes have definitely not disappointed. *Counting and Number Bonds: Math Games for Early Learners *contains instructions for over twenty different games, with countless variations. The games are divided into four sections:

- Early Counting
- Childhood Classics
- Number Bonds
- Bigger Numbers

The target age range for the games in this book is preschool through grade two. I have played several of these games with the DLM, and each one was met with delight on his part and the sharing of delightful conversation about numbers and thinking between us.

*Addition and Subtraction: Math Games for Elementary Students* also contains over twenty games, also with countless variations. This book is divided into four sections:

- Tens and Teens
- Numbers to One Hundred
- Mixed Operations
- Logic and Probability

The target age range for this volume is kindergarten through grade four, which is admittedly a pretty big range. However, these books are deceptively simple, as my introduction of several of them to our math games class at co op has attested. The children in this class are in grades three through six, and I have yet to use a game that the oldest students have scoffed at.

Both volumes include so much more than just math games instructions! Each one is about 120 pages in length and follows the same format. The first section is entitled “A Strategy for Learning” and includes an introduction and a short section detailing the supplies needed to play the games. In the introduction Gaskins both builds a very convincing argument and promises inspiration:

Math games push children to develop a creatively logical approach to solving problems. When children play games, they build reasoning skills that will help them throughout their lives. In the stress-free struggle of a game, players learn to think things through. They must consider their options, change their plans in reaction to new situations, and look for the less obvious solutions in order to outwit their opponents.

Even more important, games help children learn to enjoy the challenge of thinking hard. In the context of a game, children willingly practice far more arithmetic than they would suffer through on a workbook page, and their vocabulary grows as they discuss options and strategies with their fellow players. Because their attention is focused on their next move, they don’t notice how much they are learning. (3-4)

The supplies needed for the games are simple, mostly household items: playing cards, game boards that can be affixed to file folders or the like after being downloaded and printed from Denise Gaskins’ website, tokens or small toys to use as markers, etc. Following the games section is a section entitled “Playing to Learn Math” that goes into bit more detail about the philsophy behind this method. She begins with a convincing argument entitled “Diagnosis: Workbook Syndrome,” which she defines as “a distressing malady that afflicts children in public, private, and home schools across our country. A child suffering from this disease has learned to do calculations on a school math page but cannot make sense of numbers in real life” (82). She works to strike a balance between rote learning versus more conceptual math by removing the *versus* and presenting them as components of a well-rounded education that will “grow together” (85). In the end of this section she makes a very appropriate and encouraging comparison between learning math facts and learning to type. The very last section of the book is Resources and References, and both of these are plentiful and helpful. She gives some basic game-playing instructions, lots of books and websites for further investigation, and (perhaps most interesting of all for this quote lover), a list of sources for the quotes on mathematics and education that are sprinkled liberally throughout the book. The indices in these volumes are thorough and useful.

I fear that I’ve gone and on with the details to the point that I’ve buried the wonder and beauty of these books. I have never had a homeschool resource that more closely matches my own philsophy and enthusiasm about making mathematics learning connected, engaging, and yes, even fun. I love what Gaskins has to say about working *with* your children as opposed to simply assigning them work to do:

Real education, the kind of learning that sticks for a lifetime, comes through relationships. Our children learn more from give-and-take of simple discussion with an adult than from even the best workbook or teaching video. (6-7)

This sums up the philosophy that I try to keep forefront in our home, and it’s the thing that makes these books such a valuable addition to our library of educational resources. I cannot recommend them or Denise Gaskins’ other resources enough. She is a homeschooling mother with decades of experience, and she is very accessible to those of us who are still in the trenches. She not only shares math games, she also shares a whole philosophy as well as endless variations and ways to approach teaching math. These books would be useful to any homeschooling parent, no matter the ages of his or her children–the games are fun ones and, as Gaskins points out in the book, it’s better to play an easy game with joy than a hard game under duress. The easy game played joyfully will

reap many more benefits. It would also be useful to a classroom teacher looking for new meaningful activities for his or her students. These books are available in both print format (linked above), which is what I purchased. They’re also available in a combo bundle for the Kindle, linked here. Gaskins has several more titles in this series coming out in the future, and I cannot wait to get my hands on them! Highly, highly Recommended. (Tabletop Academy Press, 2015)

***********************************************************************

**Denise Gaskins has very generously agreed to give one copy of each of these titles to a couple of Hope Is the Word readers (who are U.S. residents). To be entered to win, please do the following:**

**Leave a comment telling me which of the two books you’d like.****In your comment, tell me if you play math games in your home, and if so, which one is your children’s favorite. I’d like to add to our repertoire!****Be sure to include your email address in your comment. If your name is chosen but I have no contact information, I’ll have to pick another winner.****Share this giveaway on the social media of your choice and come back and tell me about it in a separate comment for another chance to win.**

**This giveaway will end Sunday, October 18, at 8 p.m. CST. **

Bridgett

How great would it be to win either of these?!!!

Amy

Thanks for commenting, Bridgett!

Ashleigh Reade

I’d be interested in either of the titles. We love to play all sorts of games in our house. The “mathiest” favorite right now is Yahtzee. I recently bought Krypto which was my absolute favorite game in 5th grade. I can’t wait to play it with the girls! I may or may not have jumped the gun purchasing it last month. 🙂

Amy

Ashleigh,

I’m most curious about Krypto. If it was your favorite, it must be good! 🙂 I’m off to search for it. Thanks for sharing!

Denise Gaskins

Krypto is an advanced target-number game. You can play it with regular playing cards, too. See this post: Game: Target Number (or 24). (Krypto is mentioned in the comments.)

Amy

Thanks for chiming in, Denise! 🙂

Tracie

Oh, they both sound good! But I think “Counting and Number Bonds: Math Games for Early Learners” would be perfect for us right now. We like to play a lot of Monopoly, Jr., and I would love to have more on hand!

Amy

Tracie,

My girls love Monopoly! Thanks for sharing.

Megan

I’d like the K-4 book. My oldest son loves Multiplication Math War – a simple card game – instead of flash cards for drilling his times tables. I just bought Sumoku for a Christmas present (but we obviously haven’t yet tried it yet). I have high hopes!

Amy

Megan,

My 9 year old and I just played Multiplication War a few weeks ago! We have Sumoku, too, and enjoyed a game of it just a last week. 🙂

Katharine Wise

A math game we discovered recently is “Four Strikes You’re Out” which I read which we learned about from Marilyn Burns’ website. (Actually, I think saw the blog post when Denise FB page Shareef it.) It’s like Hangman for math. One person thinks of a Math problem and writes it out leaving boxes for each digit of the numbers. The other player guesses a single number from 0-9. The first player fills in wherever that digit belongs. Incorrect digits earn a strike. I’d love the Addition and Subtraction book. :-)) katharinewise@yahoo.com

Amy

Katharine,

Thanks for sharing that game. My math games class would love that one.

Hannah

These sound like great books! I’d be interested in either title, as my kids range in age from 1-12. We enjoy the game Mancala in our home, which is good counting practice for my younger ones.

hannah (at) teamgreever (dot) com

Amy

Hannah,

Mancala is a great one. Thanks for sharing!

Jordyn Passarella

Thank you for this give away! I learned of you through the Shoals homeschooling group. While my husband excelled in Math, it was always my weakest subject. I have 3 children I am homeschooling and would love and appreciate either book! My kiddos are 5,4, and 22 months. As far as math games goes, we count, add, and subtract house hold items, toys, and tid bits in books while reading. Often times, after a book, we return to talk more deeply about the story and my kids will count certain items on the page. Thank you!

Amy

Jordyn,

Maybe one day we can meet up! 🙂 All of that matematical discussion is WONDERFUL!

Jordyn Passarella

I just shared this giveaway on my FB page, as well 🙂

Amy

Thanks, Jordyn!

Andrea

We’d love the addition and subtraction book.

As for games, we have Down and Out (also called Shut the Box) that works on addition. We also learned about Boardslam recently which I found as a printable and would be for your girls (my 3rd and 5th grader love that one!).

Krypto – I’m off to look for that one. I remember playing that as well.

Amy

Andrea,

Thank you so much for sharing! My girls got to play Shut the Box at a historical reenactment once, and it was fun.

Joy Orton

We would love the K-4 book.

I’m new at this homeschooling gig, so I need to find more math games. We use math in cooking and baking, especially to double recipes. (What’s double of 2/3 cup?)

Amy

Joy,

Hi, friend! Thanks so much for commenting! You can’t get better at real-life math, can you? 🙂

Alice Epstein

I’d love the first volume (my oldest just turned three). We don’t play anything that I would count as games – but we try to count everything and practice our numbers as often as possible (cooking, bath time (body parts), steps, etc.).

Thanks ! Alice

Amy

That’s perfect, Alice. Thanks!

bekahcubed

How fun! Having had an enormous case of workbook-itis as a homeschool graduate, I’ve been collecting math games and activities in a Pinterest board, hoping to avoid transmitting the same disease to my own kids. Of course, I’m only beginning the journey – so I’d get the preschool book if I were to win (I’d probably plan on sharing it with my sister-in-law who’s got a three year headstart on having children!) But even if I don’t win, I’m saving this post away in my “homeschool resources” document so I know to look up this series as the time draws nearer.

bekahcubed

I also shared this on Facebook – tagging my sisters-in-law, both of whom plan on homeschooling and have little ones entering preschool age.

Amy

I love it, Rebekah–trying to keep from spreading the “disease”! 😉

Jennifer merritt

I would be interested in the Addition and Subtraction for my first grader. I have different resources for math games. We enjoy Multiplication Bingo.

Amy

Great, Jennifer! Thanks for commenting! 🙂

Debbie Menter

Hi! I am one of the sister in laws that Rebekah mentioned! I have a 4 and 2 year old as well as a 2 month old, so just starting our homeschool journey and would love the preschool book as well. I am also a homeschool graduate, and have a degree in early childhood education, so I know how much a child learns through play! This year I have started more “formal” preschool, and for math we love to bake, play with Melissa and Doug shape pattern boards, play with cards (put the correct number of pennies on each card), and play with beads, etc. Would love more ideas since math is so traditionally workbookish and I hated it as a child.

Amy

So nice to “meet” you, Debbie. Rebekah and I have been bloggy friends for years! 🙂 Thank you for your input and ideas! I’m always so excited to hear from a homeschool graduate, especially.

Debbie Menter

I am also sharing this on facebook

jennifer M

I also shared on fb. 🙂

Audrey Butters

I would love the addition and subtraction book!! We just discovered Pokemon, and it’s ALL math and strategy! Who knew?! We also just got Cinq-O, a dice game you can keep in your purse to play on the go. We haven’t tried it yet but have heard great things! Thank you for this post!!

Amy

Audrey,

Welcome to Hope Is the Word and thanks for sharing–Pokemon? I had no idea! 🙂 I think I’ve seen Cinq-O, but I’ve never played it.

Becky W

I love Denise’s website and if I were to win, my first choice would be the addition and subtraction book, but I would take either. Favorite math games here have been Sum Swamp (even the older kids like to join in on that one and I like it, too!), Can’t Stop, and Rightstart’s Corners. We used to play math games almost daily, but as the older kids get older we’ve gotten busier and the games often are low on the priority list. I need to change that and make them more of a priority!

Amy

Becky,

Thanks for commenting! Yes, we’re RightStart users, too, so the RS games get lots of play here. I know what you mean about having to make time for games. That’s one reason I chose to teach the math games class at co-op. At least then I know we’ll play once a week.

Carolyn

Fun math? Maybe this will change my kids minds 😉

Jennifer

I would like the one for the younger grades. How fun! I think you know where to find me, but my email is jennkimb@aol.com

Jennifer

And we do Right Start Math, but we only do the games with it. New games would be great!

Amy

I know where you are. 🙂

Rebekah

I would love to win the addition and subtraction book to help add some interest to our learning time. We sometimes play war using addition and we also written numbers on the bricks outside for something different.

Amy

You’re very creative, Rebekah! We used to write on the windows in our old house. I need to pull out the window markers and crayons in our new house.

Bluerose

I’d love to try the Addition and Subtraction one. My Grasshopper is in 1st grade, but he really struggles with numbers. We recently turned to Life of Fred for help, which he loves, but still struggles. We use games to help him, but the electronic ones are the most helpful right now, mostly ABCmouse and Leapfrog. I’d love to find more games that help him away from the screen, though!!!

Bluerose

I tweeted:

https://twitter.com/BluerosesHeart/status/655831919846928384

(My email is bluerosesheart at yahoo dot com.)

Amy

Thanks for sharing, Bluerose! I know what you mean about games that pull them away from the screen!

Miranda R

I would love either of these, but I think the addition and subtraction one would be best! My boys love math more than any other subject.

Miranda.randolph@yahoo.com

Amy

That’s great, Miranda! Math is a lot of fun!

Miranda R

I also shared your Facebook status!

juanita

I don’t know if you would call Set a math game but we can’t get enough of it right now. Lately I’ve been too “just get it done” focused, but I have resolved to enjoy myself again. We would probably get most use out of Addition and Subtraction: Math Games for Elementary Students.