math game placevalue homeschool

Game Review: Dino Math Tracks

                We’ve added a new math game to our homeschool, Dino Math Tracks by Learning Resources

                Whenever I note a regression in knowledge or trouble grasping a concept, I work to find a better way to help my children connect with the information.

                My children definitely show themselves as individuals in the best method for learning and how they prefer to learn.  Both of these ideas become more evident with each passing year.

                Some methods we use:

  • Literary based instruction
  • Verbal practice
  • Written practice
  • Working together
  • Working independently
  • Worksheets (Yes, worksheets.)
  • On-line games/apps
  • On-line classes
  • Play
  • Free discovery
  • Games
  • Delaying Study

Honestly, my favorite go to is games . Through game play the kids work in multiple areas and not just the one I’m looking to support.

                Anyway, I noticed that my daughter was inconsistent in reading larger, multi-digit numbers.  We practiced identifying the place value of different digits, and found that wasn’t where she was stumbling. It just wasn’t translating when she’d read the numbers in their entirety.

                Thankfully, I came across the game Dino Math Tracks from Learning Resources.  Fortunately for both of us, my daughter loves dinosaurs, so the interest was instantaneous!

math game placevalue homeschool educational

The game is played using plastic “dinosaur” figurines: brachiosaurus, stegosaurus, triceratops, and the wooly mammoth.  My daughter asked me to mention that the triceratops figure does not have three horns, and as it is her favorite, she wishes it did.  However, she still loves the game and figures.

Game Play

Each dinosaur type comes in four colors, and each player takes all four of the colors for their dinosaur choice.  The colors correspond to the place value trail on the board:

  • Yellow for the ones place
  • Orange for the tens place
  • Purple for hundreds
  • Blue for the thousands

Each dinosaur will travel on the path of the same color.

math game dinosaur placevalue homeschool

                There are four white dice that are rolled on each player’s turn.  The player chooses how to order the digits into their four-digit number.  For example, if a player rolls the numbers 5, 2, 1, and 4, they may make combinations such as:

5,214 or       1,254    or 2,415   and so on.

Creating the largest valued number isn’t always the best way to go as all four of a player’s dinosaur figures must make it to the end at some point.

                Once the number was decided on, I had my daughter and I read the entire number before moving our dinosaurs.

                We had practiced reading numbers in a variety of settings, using different methods numerous times before I even knew of this game. However, during our first game, she was easily reading the numbers that she was creating.  I’ve learned it’s best just to roll with these accomplishments, file it with “things will happen when they’re ready”, and then celebrate with them!

Moving the pieces

                So, you’ve rolled the dice and made your number, now it’s time to move those dinos!  If you’ve decided on using the number 1,254 then you would move the blue dinosaur one space along the blue thousands path; the purple dinosaur will move two spaces along the purple hundreds trail; the orange dinosaur will move five spaces along the orange trail; and the yellow dinosaur will move four spaces on the yellow ones path.

                If a player’s dinosaur ends on an occupied space, the two players have a showdown, once the original player finishes moving all of their dinosaurs.  There is an additional green die that the two players roll, the person who rolls the larger value gets to move ahead that number of spaces along that trail. Meanwhile, the other player remains on the disputed spot.

This is a very simple game, and that’s what I wanted. 

A more complicated game would mean brain-power would be used in some other capacity whether it be understanding the directions, creating a more elaborate strategy, or something else. Especially when I’m using a game to focus on a specific skill, I seek out games that are very easy to play. (Another example of a skill specific game is Zeus on the Loose. It is a great way to practice adding and subtracting.)

                There is a strategy element to this version.  As I stated earlier, all four of a player’s dinosaurs must make it to the end in order to win.  And though they don’t need to arrive there at the same time, they all have to be there before you opponents’ dinosaurs all arrive.  It’s a great way to play with the importance of place value!

                This is but one of the versions of game play.  It’s the one that we needed most right now.  There are two other adaptations for the game as well.

Adaptations

                The second game is Dino Action Numbers. 

math game placevalue dino educational numbers

Game play begins the same way with rolling the dice, creating your number, and moving your dinosaurs.  The change occurs as the player takes an “Action Numbers” card after they move, and then follows the directions on the card. 

                Here are some examples of the card instructions.

  • “Your orange dinosaur finds a lizard.  Move ahead 2 tens to show a friend.”
  • “Ice age!  Your dinosaur has brand-new ice skates.  Skate ahead 27.”
  • “Storm!  Head for the cave!  Move back 2 thousands, 2 hundreds, 0 tens, and 0 ones.”

The third game is Prehistoric Problem Solving. 

Again game play begins with rolling the dice, creating your number, and moving your dinosaurs.  After moving all of their dinosaurs, the player chooses a “Problem Solving” card.  The player solves the problem (with or without the help of the other players), and then moves according to the answer to the problem.  For instance, if the solution to the problem is 2,124, the player moves their dinosaurs 2 thousands, 1 hundred, 2  tens, and 4 ones spaces on the board. 

math game placevalue homeschool

A couple of “Problem Solving” examples:

  • “If a plant-eating dinosaur can munch on 45 leaves in one mouthful, how many leaves can it eat in two mouthfuls?  Move forward that number of spaces.”
  • “Stegosaurus grew up to 30 feet long.  Tyrannosaurus grew up to 74 feet long.  How much longer was Tyrannosaurus?  Move forward that number of spaces.”

I like the third game for its value in solving simple word problems.  Sometimes children who effortlessly solve mathematical equations will stumble over the simplest word problems; or they fail to take the time to thoroughly read the questions.  Presenting this skill as a game can work both to make it fun and non-threatening for the former, and the competition element can encourage the latter.

Honestly, we’re still playing the first game.  It’s quick and easy, and my daughter asks to play it multiple times.  I’m pretty sure it’s because of the dinosaurs, and that’s awesome!

All-in-all, I’ve been very pleased with this game and the results.  It’s colorful, quick, and fun.  The directions are very easy to follow.  And best of all, multi-digit numbers are flowing off the tongue!

Are there any games that have helped to get over a rough spot of learning, or simply is too good not to share?  I’d love to learn about it!

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