Developing Board Games Based on Children's Literature

"Many researchers and educators support greater involvement with math concepts in the preschool through activities that are hands-on (Hunter 2000), natural (Clements 2001), have meaning for children (Zanger 1998; Moyer 2000), and come from everyday life (Kliman 1999). Rather than teach math skills by drilling and rote memorization, teachers can plan rich environments and offer developmentally sequenced opportunities that allow children to explore math concepts in the context of play.

Children’s literature has been widely described as a tool to provide hands-on opportunities to apply math concepts and skills (Conaway & Bostick Midkiff 1994; Whitin & Gary 1994; Smith 1995; Kolstad, Briggs, & Whalen 1996; Moyer 2000). Integrating mathematics and literacy creates an interweaving of curriculum rather than a compartmentalizing of academic subjects. Many children’s books provide a natural, meaningful path for exploringand exchanging ideas about math concepts. Also, as children often read favorite books again and again, if a math activity is based on a familiar story line, the math experience can be recalled as the book is being read, providing a powerful mental connection for remembering concepts and skills (Moyer 2000)." ~ Kay M. Cutler, Deanna Gilkerson, Sue Parrott, and Mary Teresa Bowne, Developing Math Games Based on Children’s Literature, Young Children, 2003

Several of my long path board games are based on children's picture books. Here are examples of a circular path game and tug-of-war path game, also based on picture books:

In the circular path game, based on Rosie's Walk by Pat Hutchins, players start and end in the same place -- similar to the way that the story starts and ends in the same place.

The tug-of-war path game, based on the book Who Took the Cookies from the Cookie Jar? by Bonnie Lass and Philemon Sturges, can be played in two ways. (1) Each player starts on her own end, rolls a die or spins a spinner, and moves her pawn until she ends at the cookie. The cookie is attached with Velcro, so the winner can literally "take" the cookie when she lands on it!  :-) Or (2) The players use the cookie as the pawn. The cookie starts in the middle. Each time a player rolls the die, she moves the cookie the corresponding number of spaces toward her end.  The cookie moves back-and-forth with each turn --much like playing tug-of-war -- until one player gets it to her end.

The tug-of -war path game can be easily adapted to match any book. Simply change the icon attached to the middle of the game.  It can also be adapted to match any ability by adjusting the number of spaces.

For more ideas, read the NAEYC article Developing Math Games Based on Children's Literature. Also, see the previous Math at Play blog and facebook posts about board games:

The Benefits of Board Games
Find a Game Board in a Book!
Let's Make a Long Path Game!
Let's Make a Short Path Game!
A Cooperative Short Path Game
"I'm Board is a Good Thing!
A Great Source for Preschool Board Games
Keep Them Guessing
Number Line Board Games
Examples of Number Line Board Games
A Fabric Number Line Board Game!
Board Game Accessories

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