I’m gonna be real honest with you for a second. Sometimes kids games bore me to tears. Seriously, one can only play Pretty, Pretty Princess so many times before going Manic, Manic Mommy.
Once in a while, however, a kids game comes along that is so entertaining that I love it almost as much as the kids. Sum Swamp, by Learning Resources, is one of those rare games.
Sum Swamp features simple game play. Players roll three dice, two numbers (1-6) and a function (+ or -). The player arranges them big number, function, smaller number. If the player is correct the move ahead the number of the answer (for instance, 4-2 = 2, the player moves forward 2). Incorrect answers mean no forward movement.
There are several hazard spaces on the board that will send you forward or backward depending on the result of a bonus roll & there are several shortcut spaces. Our favorite part of the game board is the “Endless Loop”, where you might want to be prepared to spend a fair amount of time.
Sum Swamp is an excellent game to teach basic addition and subtraction, but even more so to practice mental math and speed drills.
I know what you’re thinking! You’re thinking “But Meg, my kids already know how to add and subtract!”
-Try throwing in an extra die or two for double digit addition and subtraction.
-Try multiplying instead of adding.
-Instead of subtraction use the – sign as a vinculum (that’s a fancy word meaning “the line in a fraction”) to practice converting irregular fractions
In the words of Mister Giggles, who is 8 years old and no stranger to addition and subtraction:
“I love Sum Swamp because it’s math and I love math! This game helps me practice addition and subtraction in my head.”
Additionally, Sum Swamp is a game I can hand to my kids and say “entertain yourselves!” and I don’t hear (much) arguing as game play is so simple. Oh, and did I mention the ADORABLE moving pieces??? There’s a turtle, a snail, a snake, and a frog. So cute!
We’re really enjoying this addition to our game closet and we think you will too!
Age recommendation: 5-10
Skills: math, mental math, speed drills
Meg Grooms is a long-time homeschooling mother of 6 children, ranging in age from preschool to married with kids of their own. Always a vagabond at heart, Meg and her family have embraced a slow travel lifestyle and currently call Southern California home. Your guess is as good as hers as to where they’ll end up next.
Meg blogs about secular homeschooling and gameschooling at Homeschool Gameschool.