Flashcards, be gone!
Math practice doesn't have to be boring. The math games we tested are engaging, amusing—even a bit addicting.
Here's the scoop on the top nine addition/subtraction math games on the market today.
Want to learn about our methods? Read here about why you should trust us.
MATH GAMES OVERVIEW
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Sweet game, basic math.
Variety of early math concepts
Endless loop can be...endless
Sum Swamp is aces when it comes to practicing early math skills, like distinguishing odd from even numbers, identifying the larger of two numbers, and performing single-digit addition and subtraction. The large number of special spaces and quick-moving gameplay give it a high fun factor, too.
Read full review here
Players consider multiple equations each turn
Strategy element adds to the fun
Turns can feel a bit long
Sequence Num6ers incorporates quite a bit of math practice (each player has to consider multiple additions and/or subtraction equations each turn) while still managing to have the feel of a more traditional strategy game. Let the math competition begin!
Read full review here
The Sneaky Math Award
Lots of fun, great price.
Players must recognize potential equations
Relatively light on the math practice
An all-time favorite. From the colorful characters (Pancake Queen! Chess King!) to the engaging play, Sleeping Queens captivates kids from the get-go and keeps them coming back for more. The math practice is a bit light, but we love that littles get to spot potential equations.
Read full review here
Math Games Basics
This is a truly stand-out group of math games. Our top overall picks, Learning Resources Sum Swamp and Jax Sequence Num6ers, had the highest combined Fun Quotient and Math Factor scores, meaning they were both engaging and called for lots of math muscle flexing. Sum Swamp is fantastic for littles working on basic math concepts, like single-figure addition and subtraction and distinguishing evens and odds. Sequence Num6ers is a great bet for littles ready to tackle double-digit addition and subtraction problems.
Some of the games we tested were more math-heavy than others. Logic Roots Cloud Hopper, which calls for players to solve two double-digit addition or subtraction problems each turn, was among the most math-centric, and we loved the creativity of the outer space storyline. Learning Resources I Sea 10!, Melon Rind Clumsy Thief in the Candy Shop, and Blue Orange Games Double Shutter require players to constantly find new combinations of numbers that add up to 10 (or, in the case of Clumsy Thief, 20). Our testers delighted in the naughtiness of "stealing" candy from one another in Clumsy Thief. Double Shutter stands out as well-suited for solo play and travel (and somewhat addictive for adults!). I Sea 10! generated a fair bit of controversy among our littlest testers, but it's a handy and compact game for practicing addition up to 10. Steve Jackson Games Munchkin Treasure Hunt was also math-centric—lots of addition—with a monster battle theme, though you need time to commit to this one: gameplay can last 45 minutes to an hour.
Then there's the games that keep the math a bit more undercover, like Gamewright's Sleeping Queens and Rat-a-Tat-Cat, the math equivalents of the sneaky chef hiding vegetables in the mac 'n cheese. These two games were the top scorers when it came to the Fun Quotient. They might not serve up quite as big a helping of pluses and minuses as some of our other picks, but gameplay is delightful.
Why You Should Trust Us
We conducted the world's most thorough tests of math games.
OUR MISSION: You want the best for your kids. We want the best for you. We research the best products on the market so you don't have to.
We spent 40+ hours geeking out over math games.
Before we decided which models to put through our rigorous testing process, we surveyed the market. We scouted math games at toy conventions, examined the holdings at retail stores, and plunged into the deepest depths of online reviews. We carefully considered 68 math games (yes, 68!) across 34 different brands before boiling down the list.
We wanted to focus specifically on addition and subtraction, so we excluded any games that required multiplication, division, or other more advanced math concepts. We also wanted to focus on games that included a math component, so anything that felt too flashcard-y didn't make the cut (same for apps and electronics). Others were put aside due to quality concerns. We ultimately selected the nine most promising math games of varying price, popularity, and math-centricity to test.
We paid retail for all nine models, just like you.
After inspecting the pieces and playing (many!) rounds of each game, we calculated a "Fun Quotient" and a "Math Factor" for each game. Here's how we came up with the scores:
The Fun Quotient
Meant to assess the overall enjoyability of the game. How fun is it to play? How quickly does it move? Would you want to play it even if it weren't a "math game?" More points for anything that makes the game fun; points deducted for anything that makes it frustrating.
We used the following metrics to calculate the Fun Quotient:
Length of Play (5%): Loss of points if games tend to drag on too long.
Quality of Components (15%): Loss of points if pieces don't work well, components fall apart, or game has a funny smell.
Clarity of Directions (5%): How easy is it to understand how to play (and win) the game?
Degree to Which Winning Requires Strategy (Rather than Luck) (10%): More points for games that require at least some strategy.
Number of Special Spaces / Wild Cards (15%): Twists in the game can keep play lively.
Degree to Which Play Remains Fresh (15%): Loss of points if the game quickly grew repetitive.
Artwork Quality (5%): Sometimes looks matter.
Time Between Turns (10%): Our littlest testers (and sometimes the big ones) don't want to have to wait too long to get in on the action.
Frequency of Player Controversy (15%): Loss of points if testers end up in tears.
Backstory / Humor of the Game (5%): We appreciate a little creativity. Bonus points if the backstory is amusing.
The Math Factor
All so-called math games are not created equal. They varied quite a bit in how often math was required and the types and variety of math involved. This measure reflects the degree to which games revolved around mathematical concepts. In other words, a measure of the game's overall mathy-ness.
We used the following metrics to calculate the Math Factor:
Math Frequency (65%): A measure of whether the players are doing math constantly, only on their turn, or only occasionally.
Variety of Math (20%): More points for games that require more types of math (i.e., addition and subtraction) than for those that are one-trick ponies.
Generate Equations (10%): We love when kids can get creative with math. Points for games that ask players to be on the lookout for different combinations of numbers that can form an equation.
Multiple Math Calculations (5%): Why do one calculation when you can do two? Points for games that require players to consider multiple math problems before making their move.