Review: Elementary Math Games by The Critical Thinking Co.

Math is my favorite subject. This wasn’t always the case. In fact, at times, I absolutely hated it. It was so much easier for everyone else, and I struggled. Then, one day, in Freshman Algebra it clicked. Suddenly, I went from the one struggling to the one who was helping others. I had a newfound confidence in my mathematical abilities. I even went to major in Mathematics in college. I taught math in the public school setting, and I loved being about to help my students find a love for Mathematics. With my own children, I find that they have a love-hate relationship with math. While it was once something they despised, they are growing to love it. I attribute this to the curriculum and products that we are using. When I find something that I think will benefit them I am over the moon. When I learned that I was going to be reviewing Elementary Math Games from The Critical Thinking Co., it was if I had won the lottery.

About The Critical Thinking Co.

The Critical Thinking Co. was founded in 1958, by John Baker. Today, his son, Micheal Baker is the President of the Company. During their 60 years of work, they have created over 200 Award-Winning educational books and products. The image below shows a small list of these awards. If you click on the image, it will take you to a full listing of the awards that The Critical Thinking Co. has won.

The goal of The Critical Thinking Co. is to design critical thinking into all areas of education. From Math and Science to Language Arts. By allowing students to analyze their thoughts, they will be given a deeper understanding. As they practice these critical thinking skills they will be able to transfer it to everyday life.

About Elementary Math Games

Elementary Math Games is a 160 page, soft-cover book with perforated pages allowing easy use. It is reproducible which means that you can use it with more than one child by photocopying the pages, and not worrying that you are breaking copyright laws.
Elementary Math Games was designed for the third through fifth grade. Through the 20 included games students work through number skills, operational fluency, and problem-solving strategies. The specific skills that are addressed through these games are as follows:

  • Number Sense
  • Operational Skills
  • Place Value
  • Decimals
  • Fractions
  • Characteristics of Numbers: Multiples and Factors, Prime and Composite Numbers, Perfect Squares
  • Math Vocabulary and Symbols
  • Formulating Math Problem-Solving Strategies
    Many of the games offer variations for playing. For example, the first game, “Greater Than, Less Than” has six variations for playing.

There are minimal materials needs for most of the games, which means low-prep time for the already busy classroom or homeschool teacher. The materials needed are shown at the beginning of the instructions.

The instructions also include questions for the students and teacher to work through, that will help develop a deeper understanding of the concepts.

Elementary Math Games was a 2018 winner of the Tillywig Brain Child Award.

How Did We Use Elementary Math Games?
Let me start off by saying that one of the things I love most about getting new products and curriculum is figuring out the best way to organize it for my family. It is like a puzzle for me to solve. When I received my copy of Elementary Math Games in the mail, I instantly went in planning mode.

The first thing I purchased was two expanding file folders with 13 pockets. I used each pocket to store the materials needed for the games.

I began with the first game and copied the game pages onto colored paper. Since the first game had six variations, I used six different colors of paper. I made four copies of each game page. One for myself and each of my three children.

We then used plastic sheet protectors, and dry-erase markers to create dry-erase sheets. This allowed us to use the gameboards over and over without needing to make a lot of copies.

When playing games that needed cards, such as “Stand Up and Be Counted”, I laminated them for durability. This particular game had three variations, so I copied them onto three different colors of paper, prior to laminating. I then stored the cards in a zip-lock bag.

I purchased a huge pack of multi-leveled dice. This allowed us to play each dice game using a multitude of numbers and levels.

We played one game, and each of its variations, a week. This helped us spread out the games, and become familiar with it before moving on to the next game. At the time this review was written, we have worked through the first four weeks of games. These include Greater Than, Less Than; Stand Up and Be Counted; Clap Your Hands! Stomp Your Feet! and Can You Make?

What Did We Think About Elementary Math Games?
A mom’s view

I LOVED this product. The games were easy to adapt to multiple levels of play. We began each game using your standard 6-sided dice, and as we became familiar with it, we were able to make the game more difficult by using varying dice.
It was very easy to organize and prep for each game. While my system worked well for me, there is a multitude of ways that you could organize the materials. Finding the way that works best for you and your family is critical.
I loved the excitement my kids expressed when they saw me pull out the black expanding file. They loved playing the games and the change in routine that it provided. I noticed their vocabulary, and thinking skills increasing as we played the games. To see a video of my son explaining his strategies for playing “Greater Than. Less Than” click the picture below. This video shows his thought process after playing an entire game.

To be honest, I loved playing the games with them. We are huge game players in our house. Card, board, and dice games are played usually every day. I love the conversations that we have, and the memories we make. I loved playing these games just as much as I did any of the other games we have played in the past. We teased each other and declared ourselves champions. We had so much fun.

The kid’s view
Kisha. Age 11. 5th grade. “When my mom first showed me the book, I almost rolled my eyes. When she promised me it would be fun, I thought she was joking. But, I loved playing these games. We had so much fun that I didn’t feel like I was doing school work. I have asked mom if we can play the games this summer when we aren’t doing work, and she has promised me we can. We didn’t through all the games, so I am excited to learn the new ones. My favorite game was “Clap Your Hands! Stomp Your Feet” because we were able to move around.”

Josiah. Age 10. 4th grade. “It was so fun playing these games. We laughed a lot. I began to think about numbers in a different way. When we played “Greater Than, Less Than” it helped me remember which way the sign would go, and I really had to think about where I placed my numbers. Placing a number in the wrong spot meant I might lose.”

Zathan. Age 8. 3rd grade. “My mom let us play these games a lot. Sometimes if we were getting bored with our work, she would call out “Brain Break” and we would play them. I was really good at “Can You Make?”. I always won.

For More Information
If I piqued your interest enough that you would like to find out more about The Critical Thinking Co., you can connect with them on Social Media through any of the following methods:

Social Media Links:


If you like what you see and want to purchase these materials, head on over to their page by clicking the promotional code below. Use this code to get free shipping and to save 15% off your purchase.

If you are curious to know what my fellow Review Crew Members thought about Elementary Math Games, and other products offered by The Critical Thinking Co., click the banner below.

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