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Well, the literacy journey is pretty smooth so far (yay, early readers!) but it turns out that studies show math literacy is a better indicator of success in school. Or, to be more specific, regular literacy indicates your kid will do better overall but math literacy early on means your kid might be in the 5% of American kids who actually graduate without a terror of advanced mathematics and THAT means they have (A) more school options and (B) an easier time if they go to college.
It’s just…math literacy is kinda boring compared to regular literacy. Addition is no match for Harry Potter.
The good news is that the new push for math literacy in kids means smarter resources are coming out and they’re aiming for a younger audience. We’ve found a few (particularly the games) that get the kids doing math without realizing they’re learning. Here’s the roundup:
1 /// They Keep Multiplying Math Keyboard – This toy is a classic and while it’s not all bells and whistles, it’s a great way to sneak some math practice into car rides. If nothing else, your kid can push all the buttons and pretend to be flying a space ship (like Calvin) until he/she notices that those figures are worth memorizing.
2 /// ThinkFun Math Dice Jr. – You can do a ton with math dice, the obvious being that you roll the dice to create practice problems. This particular set is an actual game, with instructions and pieces and everything, but the pieces are great for lots of math learning. Eva used to use them to figure out her addition homework.
3 /// Tiny Polka Dot – A super popular (and addictive) set of math games.
4 /// The Grapes Of Math – Silly math problems that range from super easy to pretty hard. It’s mostly a good way to learn how to approach problem solving so complex problems don’t seem to difficult when you first approach them.
5 /// Multicolored Numbers Puzzle Play Mat – We don’t actually have one of these because I’m a mean unreasonable mother but the public library has one and the kids are obsessed with putting it together in numerical order. Maybe for Christmas…
6 /// Math Curse – Classic and funny by one of the greats.
7 /// Learning Resources Sum Swamp Game – I love the games from Learning Resources because they’re easy for kids to understand (no reading required). Fair warning: this game can go on for a bit so it’s not for the rushed. (If you like five minute games, check out Hi Ho Cherry-O.)
8 /// Learning Resources Money Bags Coin Value Game – This game is a little harder (Kindergarten at least) but it’s more fun and great practice for doing quick money math.
9 /// Everything You Need to Ace Math in One Big Fat Notebook: The Complete Middle School Study Guide – Why did I sneak a middle school reference book into an early childhood math literacy roundup? I picked this book up at Costco because I liked the format (bought the whole set, in fact) and it turns out there’s a TON I’ve forgotten about math. Most of it is well beyond the early stages where my kids are at but there’s a lot of vocabulary that I can use now to get them comfortable and it was nice to refresh a little! Plus, I like having harder reference books on hand so I can at least show them the answer to a tricky question, even if it’s a little above their heads.