My kids love playing connect 4. We often have a game on the kitchen table before or after dinner so I thought it might be fun to add a bit of maths to it. Nothing hectic just some basic addition (my youngest is always asking for sums so I thought this might appeal to him).
I wrote a bunch of numbers on some round stickers and stuck them onto the discs then our game proceeded as normal.
Only now when someone has 4 in a row we quickly add up what the numbers on the 4 discs are and we add it under the winning column (Red or Yellow).
We are keeping the running totals under Red or Yellow as there are 4 of us in the family and all of us end up playing games against each other so by keeping the totals under Red or Yellow it is not a personal competition but more an ongoing challenge. Also the kids enjoy the challenge of “trying to help the losing team”. So if Red is losing one of the kids will often be red and try to win so that Read gets more points.
The kids really took to the new connect 4 challenge so we added in an extra angle. On the back of the discs we added some stickers with letters (so now each disk has a number on one side and a letter on another side). Now once each game is over we go and look at the other side and see if we have managed to spell out any words (well words that make sense). This has resulted in lots of laughter as we often end up with bizarre words. Strange, nonsensical words that both kids still attempt to sound out. With lots of giggles and laughter and without realizing they are actually practicing their phonics and blending sounds together.
And yes sometimes one of the kids will insert the disc the wrong way (eg the letter side will be on the side of all the numbers) but then they use their fingers to move the disc back up and out of the game – and they think this is great fun so no big deal really.
A bit sneaky but now while we are playing our Connect 4 game the kids are practicing maths, phonics and writing all at the same time and they are enjoying themselves.
We have kept the numbers small on purpose so my youngest can fully participate, with older kids you could easily use larger numbers. Also we have left the focus on the game itself ie objective is to get 4 discs in a row and once that is achieved we have a look to see what the numbers and letters are. Again my logic for this is I do not want to discourage my youngest from joining in. Over the weekend when my youngest is busy playing with his father I might try to make it more of a challenge for my oldest by seeing if she can actually create words on purpose. But my main objective is to keep it fun for the kids.