Looking for math games?

Question: My children enjoyed all the challenging math problems that you had in the column one summer. Now, I am wondering if you know of any math games that they could play. – For Fun with Math

Answer: There are a number of classic board games like Monopoly(tm), Yahtzee(tm), and Number Scrabble(tm) that involve considerable math. Look for more games in toy stores, especially those using dice.
Our all-time favorite is dominoes as it is a real skill builder. Play the version in which players score points when the open ends of the dominoes add up to multiples of 5. One point is given for 5, two for 10, and so on. Dominoes can also be played in a similar way using multiples, such as 3, 4, or 7.
A challenging game for your older children is to write a date such as one for a holiday or historic event. For example, for Valentine’s Day, you would write 2/14/07. The next step is to use all the digits to make an equation using addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. The digits must be kept in order, but they can also be combined. Here is a solution for Valentine’s Day: (2+1) + 4 = 0 + 7. Be aware that your children will not be able to make an equation for all dates. Some families play this game every night at the supper table for the current day’s date.
You can also play several different Solitaire games. In one, you give all the cards their face value, with Aces (1), Jacks (11), Queens(12), and Kings (13). The object of the game is to combine the number value of five cards in any way using any operation to equal 100. Begin by discarding two cards from the deck and dealing yourself five cards. For example, if the cards dealt are 10, 4, 3, 2, and 8, they could be arranged like this to equal 100. 10_ x (3 – 8/4) = 100. After a solution has been found for the first five cards, take the next five cards from the top of the deck and repeat the challenge. The game is won if the player can work through the whole deck, meeting each challenge.

Question: My oldest daughter was consistently the brightest child in her class in kindergarten through third grade. She was never challenged even in the school’s gifted program.

Fortunately, I found an alternative this year. My daughter is now in a charter school that requires an IQ score of 130 or better. I can already see the unique benefits of this superior learning environment. She is being challenged to do her best. I just want other parents to know that there are great programs out there for gifted children if you look for them. – Satisfied Parent

Answer: Opportunities are rapidly growing for gifted children to be in challenging programs. There are self-contained classrooms for gifted children for all or part of the day as well as magnet schools like the one your daughter attends. The newest opportunity is online classes, designed for gifted children beginning at the kindergarten level.

Parents should also look for opportunities within the community to expand the educational opportunities for their gifted children. There are wonderful Saturday and summer programs for children at colleges, museums, art galleries, orchestras, and libraries. Publications for the gifted and talented will have more even more suggestions.

Question: My son is in fifth grade and not doing well in science. I sent the teacher a note asking how I could help at home. She has never responded, and his grades continue to be very low. My son doesn’t ever seem to have science homework. How can I help him do better in science? – Scientifically Challenged


Answer: First of all, when you don’t get a response from a teacher but need an answer, you try again. Notes can get lost on the way to school. A phone call, letter, or email might be a more effective way to communicate.

When children have trouble with science, it’s often because they simply haven’t learned how to study this type of material. One of the most effective methods that help children understand science material is called SQ3R. Your son may have learned it in the classroom but not be using it. Have him bring his science book home every night and work on reading the current assignment with you using SQ3R.
With SQ3R, children first look over all the material that was assigned and read all the headings in bold type. This gives them an idea of what is covered in the assignment. Next, they write a question for each of these headings and then read to find the answer to the question. Then they will write the answer to the question and recite it aloud. The entire assignment is done in this fashion. The last step is to review all the questions and make sure that your son can answer them. The questions and answers should be reviewed the next day and before the test. Have your son talk his way through the material with you until he has the SQ3R habit and better grades.
Parents should send questions to Dear Teacher, in care ofPittsburgh Parent, PO Box 395, Carmel, IN 46082-0395, or email DearTeacher@excite.com.