Academic journal article Science and Children

With Board Games, It's How Children Count That Counts

Academic journal article Science and Children

With Board Games, It's How Children Count That Counts

Article excerpt

Teachers and parents like to use board games to teach skills that range from fair play to counting. When it comes to improving early number skills, a new report finds that how children count is what really counts.

Games like Chutes and Ladders require players to count out the spaces along which they move their tokens at each turn. Earlier studies have pointed to the benefits to young children of playing games that require counting. The new study suggests the simple act of playing a number game may not yield the benefits earlier studies have detailed. What matters is how children count while they play.

"We found that it's the way that children count--whether the counting procedure forces them to attend to the numbers in the spaces of a board game--that yields real benefits in the use of numbers," said Elida Laski, a developmental psychologist who coauthored the study. "What's most important is whether you count within a larger series of numbers, or simply start from one each time you move a piece."

The researchers tested two counting methods in a study of 40 children who played a 100-space board game designed by the researchers to mimic products like Chutes and Ladders. In the first method, referred to as "count-from-one," children started counting from the number 1 each time they moved a piece. In the other method, students would "count on" from the actual numerical place of their latest landing spot in the game. …

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