This picture shows my six year old doing some math practice. We have a sheet of grid paper enclosed in a clear plastic sheet so that we can write on it with dry erase and wipe it off. We were playing a math game called Golf, based very loosely off of a game in the book Number Games to Improve Your Child’s Arithmetic by Abraham B. Hurwitz, Arthur Goodard and David T. Epstein.
Each person’s turn consisted of rolling two dice and then deciding how to use the two numbers given. We could multiply, subtract or add the numbers and then move the resulting distance along the grid in either a straight or diagonal line. (So if I rolled a 3 and a 5 I could choose whether I was going to move 2 squares, 8 squares or 15 squares.) We moved by drawing a line the appropriate distance. The goal was to be the first to get your line into a previously marked off hole. As I referred to the game as golf my son wanted sand traps. I created sand traps by circling some squares on the grid. In each sand trap I wrote a number. If you were forced to land in a sand trap and wanted to get out of the sand trap you had to roll a combination of numbers that would allow you to make the number marked. After we played the game a couple of times my son decided he wanted to add harder challenges. He drew a little hill and marked the hole as being in the hill. The edges of the hill were marked with numbers to signify how many squares that one square counted for.
We permitted each person to choose the direction the ball would go after the person had already rolled the dice. To make a harder more realistic game players could be forced to choose which direction they are hitting before they roll the dice. We also had it where diagonal lines could be drawn but only going straight through the corners of the square. (So if a person rolled 2 and 1, he could add them together and draw a diagonal line that would put him three squares over and three squares up from where he started.) At some point in the future I plan to figure out a variation where a person could go diagonal at different angles, maybe having to specify before hand the angle one plans to shoot at or having to calculate the distance one travels as though going in a right angle instead of diagonal, so that if you could travel six squares that turn you could choose to move two over and four up, or one over and five up, etc, etc. But that might make the game too easy, I don’t know yet.
A similar game could be played without the graph paper, using a ruler and protractor. A player could state what angle they want to shoot at, roll the dice and decide which number would be most advantageous (adding the two dice, subtracting one from the other or multiplying) and then using a ruler to measure out that many centimeters or inches.