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My sons teacher is also the schools Math specialist so when she held a workshop last term about how to help your child do well in Maths, I was keen to attend and see if I could pick up some tips. I was impressed seeing all the things that the school were doing that were fun, but also games, and I was inspired to have a look and see if I could find some suitable games for home.
I was thinking that Orchard Toys may have something suitable, but when I spotted this Sum Swamp game by Learning Resources, I thought it looked ideal. It is aimed at children aged 5 plus. I have played it with both my sons aged 4 and 6, and I would say my 6 year old who is in year one at school is much more competent at playing than my 4 year old who is in reception year. Perhaps the extra teaching of addition and subtraction in year one makes it a lot more appealing.
The game is for 2-4 players. It is quite a quick game especially if you are only playing with 2 people. (Estimated game play time is 10 minutes.) There are 4 lovely looking counters to move round the board that are creatures you might find in a swamp, so you can choose to be a snake, a snail, a frog or a turtle. These are in bright colours.
The game has a board that is approximately A3 in size when it is open, and you also get 3 die with this game. Two of them are green with the numbers 1-6 on them. The third die features the plus and minus signs, with 3 of each on the die.
The game follows a traditional format of rolling the die then moving around a path on the board. To start playing you all roll one of the number die, and the person with the highest number starts. To move, you roll all 3 die, placing the largest number first to make the sum. You then complete the sum to work out how many squares you can move.
Then as you move round the board, you need to follow additional instructions if you land on a particular square. As well as a few shortcuts, there is also a tricky endless loop that you can get stuck in if you enter to add to the fun and frustration. There are then squares labelled with numbers or the word odd or even.
If you land on a number square, on the next turn you roll the +/- dice and whichever you land on, you go back or forward the number you landed on in the first go. With the odd and even squares, you must roll a corresponding odd or even number to move on from that square, so you may be stuck there a couple of goes until you manage to move on.
This game is not really that exciting for the adult who is playing it. However my son in year one who is the intended audience is enthralled by it. He really enjoys the challenge of solving the sums before moving, and it is re-inforcing knowledge he has learned at school such as what odd and even means, and solving the simple sums. It is certainly a lot more fun that answering a series of equations in his homework book, and I find he is getting a lot quicker at solving the equations in his head.
My younger son can do the sums with help as he is familiar with addition and subtraction but he finds it a lot more challenging. Here I would say that although it say 5 plus, I would say that it would be better if your child is at least in year one, and if they struggle with this, maybe perhaps when they are in year two and they have had more chance to practice in school.
The game looks really attractive, it has been well thought out to be fun as well as educational, and it is something my son asks to play even though he has other board games that are more for fun. I like that there aren't too many complicated parts to set up and you can just get this out the box and be playing within seconds. Children could play this without adults but I prefer to play something like this with my children so I can check that they are getting the sums correct and checking their understanding.
The competitive element makes my son want to play this, and as it is all down to luck what numbers you roll, he is engaged because there is a good chance he will win.
I think this is perfect for extra Maths practice without the child even noticing, and it is a good way to have fun with your child. This was £11.95 when I bought it before Christmas, and it is still similarly priced now. I think this is a reasonable price for the quality and play value we are having from it.