Scholarly Critique #4

Playing Games in Classroom Helping Pupils Grasp Math – Benefits for poor children seen to be particularly encouraging

By Sean Cavangh

This article initially grabbed my attention because it is about math. A subject that I enjoy but that many of my student teachers find challenging to teach in a classroom because they do not enjoy math. There are times when I discuss math standards and ask for ideas regarding how to make math fun, that I receive blank stares or comments like, ‘we could sing songs or count our fingers and toes’. Math is fun and most people use it daily without really ever thinking about it. From identifying shapes, to calculating the correct amount to give as a tip, to where they need to place their hands as they anticipate the arch of the baseball so they can catch it in a mitt to win the game. Another item that attracted me was that the article had a directly link to the research by Ramani and Siegler (2007) regarding Promoting Board and Stable Improvements in Low-Income Children’s Numerical Knowledge Through Playing Number Board Games. I appreciate it when authors provide direct links to resources that they refer to in their writings.

His idea regarding learning is that research is indicating that students who come from disadvantaged areas are quicker to pick ups on different math concepts when they are experiencing numbers within a game. Though this articles does not directly address the social benefits, I believe that they are still an underlying support. When you do worksheets by yourself there is no support and the grade can feel demeaning. Where as when you play a game there are different winners each time. Thus giving you the feeling of hope that through a better understanding you will be a winner. The value of a simple game compared to expensive specific text, worksheets, computer tasks.

It is interesting (and really quite sad) to read the findings regarding parents and teachers being reluctant in viewing games as a learning tool and adding them to their activities. As this article focuses on low-income children I am drawn to my History background which indicates that low-income children in the past were better with numbers and calculations because they were helping with the buying and selling that the family did to make a living. Think about the farm children that work in their families stand, they can quickly make change (calculations using 10,000’s down to 10’s – unfortunately credit cards have taken away that opportunity) and understand basic geometry (how many items will fit neatly in that sack).

This is one of the most power comments in the article, ‘Turning off the television and engaging children in a simple game just a few times a week can greatly improve their comfort in math, said Mr. Clements, who has designed a curriculum based in board games, puzzles, computer software, and other activities to build youngsters’ number skills.’ It discusses that there are different types of games and the importance of ‘engaging’ children in activities. Not just sitting them down and saying do this by yourself, ask me questions if you do not understand. This leads to more social interactions which are beneficial to all children’s growth both socially and emotionally.

This article also provided a link to Everyday Mathematics: Resource and Information Center via The University of Chicago. This is a great tool for teachers. I plugged in the word ‘games’ into the websites search tool and it came up with over 100 different articles and activities. Another website I will be adding to my course for my student teachers. The more resources teachers attain and use during college the better they will be at bring new ideas, such as using gaming to help children build math and social skills, into their classroom and changing for the better our current education system.


Retrieved on March 17, 2016.

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