Children love games because they’re fun; I love them because they’re fun and because they tell me so much. I learn the methods children are comfortable with, and because I can ratchet up the demand so they cheerfully accept challenges that they wouldn’t dream of handling via a worksheet. And games stimulate children’s thinking in hypothesising, in problem-solving, and thinking ahead.
Here’s a very simple game that demands children simply have to call upon these thinking skills.
You need a set of cards, numbered from 1 to 12.
Mix them up and deal them out, face up, in a line. When it is your turn to play you can choose to pick up either of the two cards at the end of the line. Players take turns to do this, and the winner is whoever collects cards with the greater value.
The obvious play is to pick up the 10, but that lets your opponent choose the 12. Perhaps it’s better to start with the 6; then whichever card your opponent takes then you get either the 11 or the 12 next turn ….
The game is very easy to use, and there are lots of ways of developing it – it works with three players, and you can use cards with different sets of numbers – negative numbers, fractions, ….