MathMagic, the latest board game from Malaysia, is arousing growing interest among teachers and mathematics advisers. It can best be described as a mathematical version of Scrabble: the concept is similar, but numbers replace letters.
The easy-to-learn game helps students learn basic mathematical skills through probably the best medium of all: play and challenge. Regular playing should build confidence in mastering basic numeracy techniques, including number bonds. The suppliers claim that players can work up to 1,500 mental calculations per game, without realising it.
It also helps children develop strategic thinking skills as they learn to evaluate each move and calculate how they can improve their scores or prevent their opponents from scoring. It is suitable for players f any ability, as long as they can add, subtract, multiply and divide. The game is flexible and can easily be adapted for pupils at key stage 1 and lower ability students, as well as pupils with dyslexia and dyspraxia. Although MathMagic is designed for up to four players, you can also play it as a solitaire game.
MathMagic is to be used at the first-ever world numeracy championship in Malaysia next summer. Paul Godding will be organising the UK event, which will see two British children (one from each of key stages 2 and 3) flown to Kuala Lumpur to compete against players from 12 other countries.
MathMagic is not the cheapest board game for the classroom, but it is one of the best. I am impressed by its simplicity and effectiveness, and the fun it generates. Pupils are guaranteed to be motivated to use their basic numeracy skills to compete.
Chris Drage is ICT manager at John Kelly girls' technology college, London borough of Brent