Staying Nimble with Numbers
Strategies for Holding onto Skills
Tags: Math, numbers, summer,
Posted: 2014-08-23 09:28:24 By:




2014 Award
Magic School Bus Math Explosion
(The Young Scientists Club $29.99 Score: )

Math Explosion makes math a blast! Basically, this is a flashcard game, except it does not come with premade cards. You get to select the ones that match your child's individual needs. You go on line to print out the right ones to reinforce the child's skills level. Scholastic has provided your choice of addition, subtraction, multiplication tables and division problems that you print out on colorful paper they provide. The game board comes with a small mountain and container where the vinegar cup goes (be forewarned the mountain is a bit out of shape since it comes smushed with rubber bands to fit it into the box...and they do not provide vinegar or the baking soda needed for play, but it, that said, you probably won't mind. Here's how it works. Players take turns answering math facts and if they get the right answer they advance on the board... with a chance to add a spoonful of baking soda to the playing piece cup. The first to reach the volcano gets to pour the baking soda into the volcano. You could say this game is a blast, with kids racing to be the one to set off the explosion, which, by the way collects neatly in a tray provided. Science and math, a fun combo for kids at various grade levels. We generally do not encourage games that are designed around flashcards. They are not for everyone. Keep in mind, flashcards do not teach math, they reinforce it. For developing speed and memory they can be useful.  But for kids still struggling with basics you might want to find another way to build confidence instead of speed. 6-10

New for 2015, another version of this game with a volcano as a payoff, Science Explosion. This one is more like a science trivia game. Players start out with four master cards, such as an insect card that shows the body parts of an insect. Their object is to draw or trade the five matching topic cards that match their master card. Each time they make a match they move one place and add a bit of vinegar to the volcano. We suspect this will be a better bet for home schoolers or kids who are truely into science trivia. Marked for 5 & up.  


Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on




2014 Awards
Pattern Play
(MindWare $34.99 Score: )

Like a set of parquetry blocks, these geometric wooden blocks fit into a wooden frame in various patterns. There are forty colorful blocks in the set and forty pattern cards that challenge kids' visual discrimination and matching skills. Children can make up their own patterns as well. Marked for 3 and up. We'd say the "and up" is more accurate. Three's are not ready for this kind of matching game, though they will like playing with the pieces. This kind of matching of patterns is more appropriate for fives and up. We suggest a basket for holding the pieces, so they don't go lost. Getting them all back in the frame and box is not going to happen every time they touch this toy. A large basket or bigger box will save the pieces!

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on




2013 Award
Gamewright Iota
(Gamewright $8.95 Score: )

Our testers liked the design of the teeny-weeny tin loaded with 66 teeny-weeny cards that are played by creating a lines of matching colors, numbers, or shapes. Sounds simple, but you are juggling multiple attributes each time. As the grid gets more complex, so do the opportunities to score. It's small enough to take along, though you need a big space to play as the grid expands. Along with the fun, this is a game that involves, spatial relations, visual discrimination, strategy skills and simple addition or multiplication as the value of lines build with every play. 8 & up.

Age: Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on




2014 Awards
I Sea 10! Math Game
(Learning Resources $9.99 Score: )

For summer fun -- keep math skills alive with this lively game. Place fish cards on tabletop with numbers face down. Players take turns turning two cards over at a time. When they see numerals that add up to ten they call out "I see 10!" and take the cards. But watch out for sharks! If you turn up a shark instead of a numeral you have to turn back any sets of tens you have collected. The winner is the one with the greatest number of tens at the end of the game. The cards are small but sturdy, about the size of a quarter and easy to flip. This is a great game for 6-8s.

Age: . Award Year: 2014.




2013 Award
Educational Insights Even Steven's Odd Game
(Educational Insights $19.99 Score: )

A rapid fire dice game that reinforces addition, subtraction skills. The game comes with 40 2-level challenge cards, four dice holders, and 24 dice in red, yellow, green, blue and white. Everyone plays at one time, rolling his dice again and again to be the first to complete the challenge and fill his dice holder playing board. First one to win 10 challenges is the winner. For 2-4 players ages 7 & up.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on




2013 Awards
LeapFrog Leap Pad Ultra
(LeapFrog $149.99 Score: )

How do you make a good thing better? We loved the original Leap Pad and now the Ultra takes it to a new level. It has a Hi-Res 7-inch light-touch screen, a built in 9- hour rechargeable battery, and is loaded with 11 Apps. It has a front and back camera and has 8 GB of Memory that can hold 40,000 photos or more than 100 Game apps. The Leap Pad Ultra has kid-safe Wi-Fi that will not take kids to the web locations they should not reach, but it gives them access to the Leap Frog library of more than 800 games, ebooks, videos and music that is child friendly and age appropriate. You can download learning games that are suited to you child's skill level. You'll find games to reinforce math, reading, art, science and social studies. This Leap Pad Ultra does it all and should it be accidentally dropped - not to worry. It can do that too and keep on playing. 4-9

Age: Preschool, Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on


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