Scholarly Critiques #5 – Math plus Literature

Developing Math Games Based on Children’s Literature

By K. Cutler, D. Gilkerson, S. Parrott, and M. Browne

Maybe it is because Pi Day was just a couple of days ago or the impending doom of the calendar numbers reaching 4/15/2016, I have been drawn to another article about math and games. This brings in another subject, literature, which is considering I am needed to create a new syllabus for a literature class we are offering at the college this fall. Another reason that I choose this article is that this is another subject area that, in general, we continue to see a widening in the learning disparity. Children with limited access or may be from a low income family are struggling to keep up with their peers. Helping student teachers to find meaningful ways to demonstrate that learning is fun and all subjects are connected, is something that I try to focus on each semester.

The authors cite several different research papers regarding learning activities for young children and how this learning needs to be meaningful and come from the real world (in other words give the copier a break no more ditto sheets). The idea of using literature as a tool for expanded learning opportunities which involved all eleven of the different subject areas as well as the four different domains of: social, emotional, cognitive, and physical. Most of the paper discussed how simple board games with dice/spinners can help children with number recognition. Combine this with a board that follows a books storyline it also encourages the children to sequence and learn to use recall tools.

Socialization, turn taking, and understanding how to control emotions are a key factor to the games that were suggested. Though my experience with young children and games it is recommended to pair children who are newer to playing games with more experienced peers. This encourages socialization as well as the more experienced child gets to take on the role of the leader.

All games shown were material games so the children would have hands on experiences. Though there are books that have online/app games that children can play as well. I would be helpful if there were some simple programs that teachers could use to create games by inserting pictures and words from books in order to make a game that children could play on the computer or app. This would allow for a greater diversity of games for the teacher to offer. Also if the program was simple enough older children could help with creating the games and rewards (points) system.

I appreciated that the authors provided a variety of different game styles and examples for teachers to build off of. Though each game would be limited in its own way because it would be directly tied to a book, it is also very flexible in the fact that the teacher can select which type of game format they would use: from simple board to a board with different path choices, to creating a fish through the role of the die. This type of choice also allows for the teacher to recognize the different levels of learning that happen in the classroom in order to create a game that most children can be successful playing.

This article was easy to read with great ideas for teachers. I am going to add it to my online classroom for my student teachers to read because I think it will be helpful when we discuss creating games for children.

Retrieved March 18, 2016: https://www.naeyc.org/files/yc/file/200301/MathGames.pdf

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