I am a big advocate of learning through play and, more specifically, through playing tabletop games. I really think there’s such a broad range of skills that can be learnt through this medium, from maths and reading skills, to social skills like sharing, taking turns and working as part of a team.
One game that I play with Pip on most weekdays is Roll For It, a very simple and quick game that’s good for number skills and also for introducing the idea of probability and decision making.
On each turn, you roll the dice and try to match the dice you’ve rolled to the dice in the picture. If you manage to match all of the dice on one card, you win that card and score the number of points shown on it. First player to reach 40 points is the winner. If you don’t match all of the dice on a card in one turn, you can leave the dice you do have that match on that card until the next turn and try again, as long as another player doesn’t get it first!
At first, Pip quickly caught on to the basic premise of matching dice but didn’t really get that some cards were easier to win than others – for example, it’s much easier to get 4 dice and win 10 points, than get 6 dice and win 15. So while she was spending multiple turns trying to get six fives, lets say, on her dice, I was scoring more points by going for the easier cards.
After a few games, she gradually picked up on this and now generally makes pretty clever decisions about what card she’ll go for. It’s also helping her to look at adding larger numbers than she’s used to. Generally when we’ve got our whiteboard out and we’re looking at addition sums, I keep the numbers to below ten. But this game needs you to add numbers up to forty. She struggles with this but I think it’s giving a nice, casual and fun introduction to it. It also gives her an aim for her maths skills as we tell her ‘If you keep practicing with your sums, soon you’ll be able to keep your own score’. This seems to really help focus her attention.
This is a great family game, since it’s one we can all play and enjoy together, rather than it being either a bit too simple and boring for adults or a bit too advanced for children. Despite having a recommended minimum age limit of 8, Pip has picked up this game really easily and, aside from us having to keep score for her, she can play it independently.
Thanks for reading!