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Review of Giggle Facts games

Giggle Facts is quite unique. You could call it "a program" to learn basic addition and subtraction facts. But you could also call it a set of math games. Basically, it combines the two: it is a step-by-step progression of math games where at each step, children learn some addition or subtraction STRATEGY (which allows them to learn the facts), or they just practice strategies they have learned thus far.

So, these games are not just random "practice your math facts" games. They are designed to be used in succession, in a very specific sequence. In fact, there are 50 different games. The author Laurie Laurendeau says it may take up to a YEAR to go through the complete program with the games.

Monkey in the Middle game practices "number sandwich" facts. Click to enlarge.

The program (and the games) is divided into 26 levels, from A to Z. There are 15 separate strategies taught within those levels. Some levels simply practice all the strategies learned up to that point. Each level has 1-3 games. Most of the games (33) are board games, and the rest are played with dominoes, dice, playing cards, or pencil & paper.

For example, in level "E", children learn about "number sandwiches". These are intimately tied in with doubles (learned in level B). For example, for a double fact 4 + 4 = 8, there is a corresponding "number sandwich" 3 + 5 = 8. The three and five are the bottom and top sandwich buns, and 4 is "squeezed" in the middle... So, 3 + 5 is the same as 4 + 4 or double 4. The game board to the right practices this strategy.

Some of the other strategies specifically taught and practiced are:

  • 10 plus a single digit number makes a teen number (10 + 4 makes fourteen)
  • fact families
  • connection between addition and subtraction
  • doubles plus 1 (if you know 6 + 6 = 12, then 6 + 7 is just one more)
  • number pairs that make 10 (sums of 10), called "married numbers".
  • "Super 9", or adding a number onto 9 is like adding onto 10, but one less.
...and many more.

Right on Target game practices facts within 0-18 in general. Click to enlarge.

The board games are very colorful and eye-appealing. My kids have tried several of the easier games (though not nearly all of them yet), and they seem to be fun! They really liked the sandwich game where you can tick off a sandwich filler of your preference after landing on a "number sandwich" fact.

The games vary quite a bit. Many, but not all, are simple "Roll the die, and proceed along the board" type games, or games where players place chips on the board, but they do have all kinds of additional "twists". Sometimes you have to use a deck of cards instead of a die or dice. Sometimes players place chips on certain points along the board. Sometimes the winner is not the fastest player. Plus, 17 of them are not board games at all.

Some of them are perhaps simple, but you could "spice them up" by adding additional rules. The author has not allowed ANY of the games to punish the child for a wrong answer; however my kids were quite happy to add rules of their own that did just that. For example, they decided that you would lose a turn for a wrong answer.

Hang Ten game practices Jump to 10 strategy for subtraction. Click to enlarge.

In general, I think this program is a fantastic deal and definitely recommendable! If you are a TEACHER in grades 1 or 2, you get a LOT of ideas and a lot of games for just $40. If you are a PARENT, it is a great - and FUN - supplement to your kids' school work.

If you are a HOMESCHOOLING PARENT, this program can replace dozens and dozens of pages from your math curriculum. After all, first graders spend a LOT of time just mastering basic addition and subtraction facts. I would venture to say it could replace about 1/2 of first grade math. This is because it's not just practice, practice, more practice... but because the program teaches STRATEGIES or CONCEPTS, and thus helps children develop number sense and understand the relationships between numbers.

Included in the package (for a cost of about $40) are:

  • Giggle Guide, a book that explains all the strategies used, the various levels, and games
  • a student workbook that has one additional worksheet for each level (consumable; 52 worksheets in all) + a sticker sheet
  • 33 board games; these are simple laminated sheets
  • various kinds of dice, a set of dominoes, a marker pen, chips, and a set of playing cards.

Giggle Facts math games $39.99 for one set.

Review by Maria Miller, MSc, author of HomeschoolMath.net

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