CORVALLIS – Teaching families that learning math can be an enjoyable experience by simply playing games was the goal of the Family Math Game Night at Corvallis Primary School on Friday. The school served dinner and taught games – helping families spend time together.

“The staff at Corvallis Primary School is focusing on improving the math skills of our students,” said Principal Janice Stranahan. “In support of that effort, we’ve invited families to join us for geometric pizza dinner and fun math games.”

Corvallis curriculum/technology director Wendy Ihde said the evening was designed to show families fun ways to do math.

“I got this idea a year ago at a conference,” said Ihde. “Eliza Sorte, the Flathead Curriculum Co-op coordinator [author of “Math Play”], designed an event for teaching kids the basic math facts in a fun way. So this night of games is a great opportunity for parents to learn to help their kids.”

The evening was designed for families of children in kindergarten through fourth grade. The CPS staff had seven tables with three games at each table, equaling 21 games. Each game had three levels of play for each game – making the games easy to use by younger children, using addition and subtraction, and harder for older children, using division and multiplication.

“The evening is to show fun ways to do math, so it is not a chore,” said Ihde. “Each family will get a packet of the directions for the games and cards and dice. Each game doesn’t need much to be able to play it. The idea is to make it so everyone can play the games.”

Ihde credits the Corvallis parent coordinators, Deserie Ives and LaDonna Livingston, for arranging the evening.

Ives said the event has a value beyond one fun night.

“We’re trying to get the parents to know the new ways of teaching,” she said. “Math has changed since they were in school and there are different ways of doing it. I think it’s great to bring the parents to show them how to help kids at home.”

The Heiland family – Adam, Jamie, Laney and Colt – came to enjoy the evening together.

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“Family nights are the best things the school can do for the kids,” said Adam. “Kids need time together with their parents – math is a bonus.”

“I love that Corvallis school is family oriented,” said Laney. “Plus, I love math.”

A game called ‘Addition Snap’ can be played from kindergarten to grade six with variations. The game is played with a regular deck of cards (face cards removed). Two players divide the cards evenly, both players turn over a card at the same time, they each add them in their head and the first person to say the correct answer out loud takes both cards.

If they say the answer at the same time, the process is repeated and the next player who gives a correct answer faster than their opponent takes all the played cards. The game continues until all the cards have been used and the player with the most cards wins.

Variations: Instead of adding the two cards, subtract the smaller number from the larger number or an even more challenging option is to multiply the two cards.

Another game that was a big hit could be played a variety of ways – as a subtraction game ‘Zero and You’re Out’ or as an addition game ‘Roll Up to 100.’ Each player has a pencil and paper or 1-100 chart, and they share a die. For the subtraction version each player starts with 100 point which they note on their paper. The first player rolls the die and subtracts this number for their points; player two rolls the die and subtracts that number from their points. Players may count backwards or use counters. The first to roll down to zero is the winner.

For the addition version players start at zero and add up to 100.

Variations: Cards may be used instead of dice. Younger grades use cards Ace (1) – 5, older grades use Ace (1) – 9.

“The Family Math Game Night is fun,” said Jaime. “Anything that gets my kids doing math is great.”

“Sometimes math is hard and just being able to see the fun in it really appeals to everyone,” said Ihde.