Looking for an activity you can play indoors to get out of the summer heat? This post is for you! The Number Path Picnic Game is fun and educational. Research shows that playing linear board games (like this one) can help children develop a mental number line. Experience shows that kids will want to play this game over and over again.
I’ve chosen this game in particular because there are quite a few variations you can use to mix it up and the materials are minimal. Read on for how to make the Number Path Picnic game one of your go-to summer activities!
- Number Path Picnic board: Find the template here. I recommend putting it in a sheet protector or laminating it.
- 1-3 die: While you can play with a 1-6 die, a 1-3 die will make the game last longer. A few options here: You can make your own with a blank die, use an online dice simulator or phone app, or use an online spinner simulator or phone app.
How to Play
Setup: Each player chooses a token and places it on the Start. Tokens can be anything: favorite small toy, eraser, game piece from another game, etc.
Play: Players take turns rolling the 1-3 die to see how far they can move their token. The first player to the finish wins!
Bring out the Math While Playing
Help your child build important math skills while playing. Set the following ground rules:
- After rolling the die, count and clap the number you roll. For example, if you roll a 3, say one (clap), two (clap), three (clap)
- When moving a token, touch each space and count out loud, one number per space.
Asking your child questions while playing gives them an opportunity to explain their thinking and use math vocabulary. Ask these questions while playing:
- What number is each player on?
- Who is farthest from the start?
- Who is closest to the finish?
Is your child ready for more? Once your child can confidently play with the above ground rules in place, build in the strategy of counting on. Instead of starting to count from one, start counting from the number of the space you are on. For example, if you are on space 3 and you roll a three, you would count on from three – “four, five, six” instead of “one, two, three.”
- Print this blank number template and have your child color it before playing! This gives then a chance to choose their own theme and make the game their own.
- Make it life-size: Use pieces of paper or tiles on the floor to create a life-size number path. In this mode, your children can be the game pieces!
- Take the game outdoors: Use sidewalk chalk to create your own number path outside.
- Print out the Number Path Picnic, put it in a sheet protector, and play all summer long!
- Read more about the math behind number paths and number path games: Math Games for Young Mathematicians: Number Path Games
Number Path Games. Young Mathematicians. Retrieved from https://youngmathematicians.edc.org/jumping-on-the-lily-pads/.
Reed, K. and Young, J. (2017). Play Games, Learn Math! Number Path Games. Teaching Young Children 11(1). Retrieved from https://www.naeyc.org/resources/pubs/tyc/apr2019/number-path-games.