## Sunday, January 26, 2014

### Our Favorite Free, Low-Tech Math Game Of The Moment

The 8-year old loves to play games and I'm always grateful when she finds one that doesn't involve a video screen. Her teacher recently sent home a sheet explaining the game “Shut The Box” that I'd like to share with you because it's doing a marvelous job of reinforcing her math skills. Note: I would credit the game's source, but the sheet doesn't list one.

Here's what you need to play: a sheet of paper, pencils or crayons of different colors, and a pair of dice. Yep. That's it. Don't you love the simplicity?

Here's how you play:
1. Write the numbers 1 through 12 on the sheet of paper.
2. Player 1 rolls the dice. They cross out one or more numbers that add up to that roll. So if a player rolls an 8, she can cross out the 8, or the 6 and 2, or the 7 and 1, or the 3 and 5. Each player should use a different color of pencil or crayon to keep track of their turns.
3. After the numbers 6 and up are crossed off, the player can choose to roll just one die.
4. If the player manages to cross off all of the numbers, she's “shut the box.” If she can't match a roll to the remaining numbers, her turn ends, and any uncrossed numbers are tallied up. Then the next person goes.
5. The person with the lowest number wins.

We played this 10 times yesterday and 20 times today! I could see playing this game in a restaurant, but instead of carrying dice around, I'd use this free app I just found for my Android phone called Dice 3-D which is available in Google's Play Store. You merely shake or tap the phone to roll the dice. Obvious hint: choose the tap option with smaller children so the phone doesn't go flying.

And speaking of an awesome little game you can play in a restaurant, I'm reminded of this great homemade variation of the game KerPlunk my son and I played when he was little.  I think we saw it on the long-defunct PBS show, Zoom.

 I loved this show!

Here's what you need to play: a cup, a rubber band or hair elastic, a few pennies, a toothpick or pencil (the handle of a spoon works, too), a napkin or paper towel.

Here's how you play:
1. Stretch the napkin over the cup and secure with a rubber band. It will look kind of like a drum.
2. Place a few pennies on the napkin.
3. Players take turns poking a hole in the napkin. The object of the game is to avoid being the one who lets the pennies fall in the cup.

I used this game as a catalyst to discuss gravity and tensile strength. We experimented with variations on this game using paper towels, napkins, and toilet paper to see which paper products were the strongest. We've even tried using different brands of paper towels to determine which was the strongest; in our tests, Bounty killed the other brands.

Thanks for reading! Please come back in a day or two, won't you?