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How to Choose a Fun and Effective Math Video Game

Let’s face it—not many kids are interested in reciting their multiplication tables or practicing addition when they’ve got video games to play, TV to watch, and technology to explore. Unfortunately, too many parents and educators automatically assume that video games are mere time wasters, as mentioned in our earlier discussion about game-based learning. Of course, sorting out the effective math games from the mediocre ones can be a challenge. Not every game is equal when it comes to producing lasting learning. So, what to do?
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The Truth About Game-Based Educational Software

Math-fact gamification Ask a typical educator about game-based learning and video games in school, and expect at least some skeptical responses. Many educators and parents worry about gaming as an educational tool. Research on the educational worth of video games has been mixed, and some educators point out the fact that most data come from short-term studies. While research on educational software is still young, increasing evidence points to positive outcomes for today’s students—despite the prevalence of headlines linking video games to bad behavior or lukewarm learning outcomes. According to James Gee, an education professor at Arizona State University, blaming all video games for poor results is like blaming all food for the existence of obese people.1
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Do Math Video Games Really Improve Mathematical Skills?

Math can be a frustrating challenge for some kids. Less so for most adults, generally because age and experience make math easier to comprehend. It’s not always so simple for kids. Each child has a unique learning style. Some children learn to add by counting on their fingers. Others may make up a song to help them with their times tables. The best teachers accommodate all learning styles. However, even when teachers use multiple strategies to teach basic addition and subtraction skills, it's sometimes hard to tell if kids are truly fluent in math facts. Flash forward to video games. They've been around a long time and are a huge hit with kids and teenagers. To many teachers (and parents), video games may seem like a complete waste of time. Because kids love them, they want to spend a lot of time playing--sometimes to the exclusion of other worthwhile activities. Enter game-based learning strategies, aka video-based math games. Educators may wonder if these, too, are a waste of time--or if they actually help kids learn. Current brain research seems to indicate the latter outcome.  A Case Study: Timez Attack Big Brainz is a case in point. Its designer, Ben Harrison, was tired of hearing his young daughter come home each day saying that she was "stupid." As she struggled with math, Ben knew there had to be a better way to give his daughter the math skills she needed to feel confident and successful.
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How To Make Multiplication Tables Fun

Learning multiplication tables can be a challenge for children who struggle to grasp these concepts quickly. Luckily, kids are more likely to pick up math-fact skills by playing games that test their knowledge rather than by simply doing math homework. Here are 5 fun ways to help kids memorize times tables:   Play Bottle Cap Multiplication Write the times table equation on the top of a bottle cap and write the answer on the inside of the cap. Once the child answers the question correctly he or she can turn the bottle cap over. Time your child and see how quickly they can flip all the caps over! (Alternately, see how many caps they can flip over within an allotted time).
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