As an early childhood educator I have learned that young children enjoy creating learning items for their classroom environment. The children I have worked with loved creating books, art and games for the classroom. I found that one great way to include literacy with learning math was having children create a math board game using a book or character from a book as the game theme.
This can be a small group activity in the class and can span multiple days. The teacher can assign small groups based on children’s similar interests. To create the board game you need supplies such as a large white board, colored sharpies, rulers, tape, glue, and your book related themed items such as stickers and other fun decorative items. Reading the book and presenting the idea of making a game from the theme of the book will most likely help get the children intrigued. Once the board game is created, the adult can guide children in writing the rules of the game. Use the children’s own words and help guide them to create sensible and manageable game rules.
The game can cover many different math concepts such as one-to-one correspondence or basic counting. Creating a board game allows you to modify the rules based on a young child’s ability and frustration level. Making a game with a spinner with the numbers 1-5 is a great way to foster numeral recognition. Then, when a child moves a token the correct number of spaces, cognitive connections start to be made about the number symbol and the amount it represents. To make a game more challenging, a die can be used or multiple dies where the the child must add up the total pips and then move the correct spaces.
One of the benefits of creating your own board or card game is that the child can decide when they are ready to challenge themselves. The child can create a game that can be played with one player, and this can help the individual child learn without having the pressure of others watching. Other games can be played with multiple players, using partners or the collective.
Creating games can also help children connect with their artistic personality by giving them the freedom to decorate the board and game pieces based off of their interests. This will keep the child stay engaged, and encourage self initiative. Learning is most powerful when connected to a child’s interests and making games can be a rewarding and fun part of the learning process