## MATH GAMES FOR ADULT AND CHILD

PLAYING MATH GAMES WITH A YOUNG CHILD

Children are ready considerably before the age of three to play and think mathematically.1 This collection of games is one attempt to make this play enjoyable and meaningful for the parent, or adult, or teacher, and the child.

HOW MANY WOULD YOU LIKE? is the first math game my son, Michael, and I ever played. As a child, Michael played it with other adults in the family. As a teenager, he taught the game with me at Family Math Day workshops and played it, teaching it, to younger children. In addition to the mathematics it taught, it provided precious, peaceful, one-on-one time for the young Michael and anyone choosing to play with him. As an older child, it, and the other games in this book, provided something he passed on to younger children when he assumed the authority role of Saftey Patrol member at his school's first-grade door. If you have never learned to play with a young child, playing HOW MANY WOULD YOU LIKE? is a good first step for you to take.

Of course, Mike didn't start playing with requests for four of one kind, two of another and one of yet another kind of thing. Shortly after Michael was two years old, he and his grandfather Michael Azzolino were sitting on the living room sofa with a handful of play money from some old game. His Grandpa, while in the act of watching tv, turned to Michael and said, "How many would you like?"

Since Michael only knew the words one and two and probably didn't understand completely their meaning, he answered, "One, please." They played, and the game was born.

This game illustrates some important points.

• ONE PLAYS A GAME TO HAVE FUN.
If Mike weren't enjoying himself, play wouldn't have continued. If Grandpa weren't enjoying the closeness it brought him, the giving it demanded of him, and the satisfaction in seeing his grandson grow as they played, play wouldn't have continued.

• FREE PLAY WITH GAME PIECES MAY BE NECESSARY BEFORE A GAME BEGINS.
A teacher knows that until the children have had the opportunity to handle, feel, and see new equipment, activity with it will ensue. When new material is used or when a new game is played, leave time for the items to be handled and examined. Permit play with the material in ways other than its designed use if this is at all possible. Let the child explore and create.

• GIVE A CHILD TIME TO ANSWER!!!!
It takes children longer to think through something than it takes for adults. Young children often repeat a phrase over and over again: they're still thinking the same thing, we're annoyed by the repetition.

• ADULTS MAY NEED SOMETHING ELSE TO DO WHILE PLAYING A GAME WITH A CHILD.
When Grandpa and Mike played the game, Grandpa watched tv. When Mike and Mommy played the game, Mommy graded papers. Many adults claim, "I can't play games with little kids. It's just too boring, they go too slow." These people CAN play games with young children: they just haven't realized they also need to do something else at the same time.
Having the adult concentrate on more than the game may make the playing more enjoyable for ' both players. The child has more time to respond and the adult is distracted enough to decrease his or her playing ability: this makes the game more evenly matched. One should be careful, however, that the adult does not spend too much time on the other activity. This could be uncomfortable for both players.

• LET THE CHILD INITIATE GAME PLAYING ACTIVITIES.
At our house, Mike was generally the one who wanted to start playing a game. A game isn't played when there are swings to swing upon, dirt to dig, or bikes to ride: rather, games are played when it's wet and cold outside or when the dirt's been dug and the body tires.

• PLAY A QUIET GAME AT A QUIET TIME.
These math games can be enjoyed at day's end, before getting ready for bed, when having a late snack, or while the adult is doing some place-restrictive work like grading papers, peeling potatoes, or watching a video.

• DON'T PLAY A GAME EVERY CHANCE YOU GET.
Traveling in a car, plane, or train can be the perfect time for playing games but it may also be the perfect time for relaxing and not interacting.

• THE ADULT AND CHILD ARE EQUALS WHEN PLAYING A GAME. THEY ARE BOTH PLAYERS.
There needn't be a teacher and a student when playing a game. There may be an expert and a novice, but, each remains just a player. This equality may be uncomfortable for the adult for a time, but it gives the child a chance to be an equal with an adult.

• SHIFT ROLES WHILE PLAYING A GAME.
If there is more than one role a player can assume during a game, the child should have a chance to play each role when ready. Let your child keep score. Let him or her be the banker. It takes longer to play, but the play is very valuable.

• MAKE A GAME YOUR OWN!!!
These games are meant as workable games in themselves, but also as starting points for your own unique variations or set of rules. Make the game enjoyable for the players or don't play it. If the game is a flop the first time you play it, don't play it for awhile. Wait, leave time for growing and learning and then try it or a variation again. If something is not a challenge or pleasure to play, don't make it part of YOUR collection of games.   GAMES ARE FOR ENJOYMENT.

1Goleman, Daniel, "August 27, 1992: Study Finds Babies At 5 Months Grasp Simple Mathematics," Themes of the Times: MATHMATICS, A contemporary view of selected college subjects from the pages of THE NEW YORK TIMES, Prentice Hall, p. 1.