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Math and Games for Kids by Age

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Hi all! I've been a member for a long time and have been programming games since I first touched a computer, back in the "Golden Age" era of SNES and other 2D gaming platforms. It highly motivated me to learn the logical tools that I find too many people (especially youth) lacking today. While I (thankfully, right now) don't have any kids, but my 2 nephews are about old enough where I thought they would have learned certain things by now. After looking into it some more, evaluating the performance of their school: it's clear something has to be done. I'm not going to get into a full discussion about how horrible the schools are or how little money we have to dedicate to education. My first question is, does anyone have a good listing of subjects covered by age? I've had a lot of discussions with them, and it seems the more they are taught about math the less they know overall. The big picture just isn't being discussed at all. It sounds like they've been fed information from a book without any reasoning. For example, I can ask the younger (8) one if he knows multiplication or division and he'll always say "No." However, I can always ask him a question about how many Hamburgers he could buy with $5, and he'll figure it out! I'm not a teacher, and I don't want to be paid for doing this. I just don't want to see my nephews grow up without trade skills and be doomed to a service worker, which appears to be what the schools are producing. I was going to start with the Magic the Gathering card game. I know the kids like card games (Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh) and I know this card game involves basic use of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. (Dividing damage among targets) I thought it would be a fun way to get into the habit of doing things in a proper order, etc. Anyone with ideas or experiences working with kids ages 8 to 10 with general math skills would be a big help. Thanks, Kris

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Hey NullMind!

You certainly have a nice motivation. Although I second the notion that schools are seeming more and more useless, the subject matter would probably best be determined by calling up some members of the school board, or even some higher-ups in a local school's faculty. I will say that in my case, I was almost entirely self-educated for the things that make me useful. The reason I mention that is because I was simply fueled by a passion of creating things, and you are apparently trying to give yourself a means to allow kids to discover that themselves. My guess (emphasis on "guess") is that kids need that "spark" that really communicates with them, so I think you are on the right track by targeting popular fads like Yu-Gi-Oh! (But for obvious reasons, don't go commercial with that. [sick])

I must correct you in the respect that MTG and YGO do not stop at simple math. There are so many conditional scenarios that it would make your head spin. Not to mention the rules actually change! It's why I quit them a long time ago.

If it's just mathematics you are working with, you can just develop a nice little app that quizzes the student with math problems at a certain grade level and reward them with a pointless mini-game after so many consecutive questions right. Try to make these mini-games inspirational in the respect that the kid wants to partake in the content (s)he sees. To target kids that want to be, I don't know, chefs but not know it yet... etc, etc.

I got into Algebra at about... 7th grade. Everything before that was simple math, long division, etc. Later on it was geometry, and then I taught myself everything else up to college material and a bit beyond. (I got my spark!)

The design of your app would be easily user-modifiable if you're clever. Maybe you can make a little scripting language kind of thing in text files that you parse and change the behavior of the app to accommodate.
I think a good goal to be to start a fire of passion burning.

I enrolled in the Game Institute for a while, and I wrote an app for the forum with a similar purpose where users can write text files in a markup language to make their own quizzes. Since it's old and missing files, (Not to mention clunky given it was in my early days of programming) you can download my partial source from way back and see the kind of thing I'm talking about for yourself.

Grab it here.

I hope this helps, and good luck to you.


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