As a birthday present to myself, I am sharing a guest post from my husband, Alec. Alec is both a math lover and a board game lover. Consequently, so are our children. I hope these suggestions lead to many fun afternoons at your house, too!
We play a lot of math-related board and card games at home (Love Rat-a-tat-cat!) and I have a growing list of games to recommend that are neither typical (i.e. Monopoly) nor boring (like a lot of “math learning” games tend to be in my opinion). Instead, they’re funny, colorful, and offer layered strategy to make them accessible to beginners and geeks alike.
While many of these games are listed as 8 years + or even 10 years +, I’ve found that with a very gentle introduction, all can be played by both our Kindergartener, Milo, and our 2nd grader, Holden:
Flea Circus: As the flea circus owner, you try to entice dogs and cats to come to your circus by playing different kinds of flea cards (acrobat fleas, bearded flea, etc) each with different values – the math is mostly in the rules of special cards and managing your dogs and cats. Learn more on boardgamegeek.com or Buy on Amazon.
Baker’s Dozen (also known as “13”): You have to be able to do is add up numbers to see if they’re more or less than 13. If you can make someone else “bust” 13 then they have to eat the moldy doughnut! Lowest score (i.e. least poison) wins. Originally known as Poison, the game style was made a little sweeter by introducing doughnuts rather than murder. Learn more on boardgamegeek or Buy on Amazon.
Carcassonne: Build cities, roads, and more. Place cards/tiles along and little worker figures which collect points for you over time (we drop the farmer rules for Kindergartener involvement, if you know the game) but fundamentally this game is just about counting. Learn more at boardgamegeek or buy on Amazon.
Dungeon Raiders: Everyone playing is venturing into a dungeon together – each round you to play a card from each person’s hand (numbered 1-5) to defeat a monster or acquire a treasure, by adding your cards together (this is collaborative game, so the adult can help direct the game/strategy the game but the kids get to make their own decisions). Currently out of print but you can probably score a copy on CraigsList. Learn more at boardgamegeek.