Building a strong foundation in math is one of my highest priorities in the early years of homeschooling. Math was never my strongest subject and I don’t want my kids to feel the same way. A few months back I ordered Beast Academy books and we have really enjoyed them. I’ll tell you all about it and share a game we were inspired to make.
The Beast Academy books were the first proper curriculum I’d purchased. We had previously just incorporated math from our daily lives. Z (6) used Prodigy Math online to do part of the “first grade” curriculum. I’d heard wonderful things about Beast Academy and was thrilled to learn that they were publishing a new level just in time for us to start it. They currently publish levels 3-5 and are coming out with the four books in level 2 now. The first one (2A) was out fall 2017 and the next one is due in February.
He was immediately attracted to the book! The Guide instructional book is presented in a comic book format, which he’s really into anyway. The story follows a group of “beasts” who are in school. They work through problems and learn together. It’s still definitely teaching math, but it’s in a more indirect way. These books are spectacular for kids who enjoy stories and are highly verbal.
The companion activity book contains practice problems. It reviews what was taught in the story, but it also takes the ideas a few steps further. Z does need me to walk him through most of the pages, so it’s not something that he can do independently. He does read through the Guide on his own for fun and we read aloud together the section that pertains to what we are doing that day as well.
The first chapter of book 2A deals with Place Value. After an introduction to the concepts and an explanation about why place value is useful, the chapter introduces addition and subtraction in relation to place value. We completed these digit difference squares and Z was having a bit of trouble so I decided to get a little extra practice in with a game.
Our game is simple: players move from space to space and either add or subtract 1, 10, or 100 based on which space they land on.The first one to the end wins. We also have a few Wild Card spaces to make things more exciting. You can download and print a set of cards down below.
To determine the number that each person starts off with, you have several options. We cut up scraps of paper with all the digits (0-9) on them. Each person drew out three digits and created their starting number with that. You can also have everyone start with the same number or just start everyone with zero.
It’s possible to get into negative numbers with this game. You can go ahead and explain that to your child if they are ready for it or you could just figure out a different way to handle it like roll again. We have played several times and it’s never come up. When laying out our board, I purposely put more -100 spaces toward the end so perhaps that helps.
We had a lot of fun playing this game. It really improved his fluency with the place value addition and subtraction. He mostly gets stuck with regrouping, but he understands it and just needs continued practice.
Making games is a fantastic way to reinforce concepts. We used a square punch to make our board spaces. I folded the paper in half before we glued the squares on and avoided placing a square over the crease. This way, our board can easily be folded for flat storage. We can keep the board but change the numbers so say, plus or minus 5, 50, and 500 to make it more challenging.
The kids are all excited about games these days and are thinking of new ones to create. Have you ever created your own game?