I had an opportunity to finally sit down and play MathDice Jr. this week. My father-in-law is in town, so I roped him and Dave into a game with Emily.
We had tried out the game once before, but I had had a hard time explaining the rules to Emily, so we had just done the quick game and then stopped, I could see her attention wandering.
With all three adults attention focused on her, she did a bit better this time, keeping her attention until the very end.
It is a simple game comprised of a small cloth mat, one target die, five scoring dice, and a little drawstring bag to hold it all.
The one complaint I would have is that I think they should have had some fun tokens to go with it. As it stands right now, you have to go and find some tokens to use on the playing board. That wasn’t a big deal though, Emily was a penny, and then we picked coins according to our age – so her grandfather was the quarter.
There is the option for a short game or a long game – I think that this is primarily determined by the child’s ability to pay attention. Emily is five, and the game is for six and up, she was getting wiggly and distracted by the end of the long game.
The idea of the game is to throw the target die, a 12-sided die, then throw the five scoring dice, attempting to use them (only once) to add or subtract to the number on the scoring die.
For example, say you had the following scenario..
Target die: 4
Scoring die: 1,5, 3,2,6
You could use them as follows: 5-1=4, 6-2=4
So two combinations. You would then move your token two spaces on the game mat.
You could even use multiplication and division, but MathDice Jr is oriented towards the younger set.
The instructions suggest a more competitive play, in which players shout out “Math Dice” when they see a potential combination, even if it isn’t their roll. From the beginning we decided on the cooperative play option – mainly because Emily would be an extreme disadvantage and not be able to make the calculations fast enough.
She’s quickly getting there, however, and I could see this game moving at a faster, more exciting pace soon.
What it is doing for her is teaching her how to do basic subtraction and addition on the fly, which is our area of focus currently. So this little game really helps with that.
We also discussed, while playing it, that there should be a bonus for using all of the scoring die in one fell swoop – move five paces – or something like that.
In any case, we had fun and I can see this game helping Emily really ‘get’ the concept.