A perfect blend of strategy and skills.
Almost every kids’ online math game involves one or the other, but rarely both. Normally, math games involve the player solving a math problem and, if they get the answer correct, they get to play a game.
I make a distinction between a game that makes you smarter and a game that teaches you math.
Angry Birds definitely can improve critical thinking skills along with other brain functions, but does it teach you to solve an actual math problem? Not really.
Sudoku helps the player to learn deductive reasoning. It’s a great thinking game. It involves numbers, but doesn’t teach any actual math that will help a child in school.
Now don’t take me wrong. I think that thinking games are awesome and I encourage my students to play Flow, Little Alchemy, and several other great strategy games. There’s just something beautiful when a game-maker comes up with a strategy game that actually teaches kids math vocabulary or math skills. Calculation Nation is a math game website produced by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM.) All the games (with the exception of Slamball) teach basic math skills while engaging the player in addictive strategy. For example, Times Square requires the player to constantly do multiplication facts in his/her head. Players must also keep track of offensive and defensive moves to obtain 4 in a row.
Another math game website to check out is GregTangMath.com. Greg has developed some excellent thinking games that kids love. My favorite game is Kakooma.
Another aspect of math games that I desire for my kids is the ability to play another real live kid. This makes the game much more exciting. Calculation Nation offers this option.
What are your favorite digital math games?