Digital currency: Video games for math

5 Days of Video-Game Learning series: Video games that teach math skills

The adults in our family do all of our work – and most of our recreation – via laptop and phone.

My 80-year-old mom keeps up with friends and reading via her iPad.

While we don’t have the latest and greatest video-game systems, technology and especially gaming are a huge part of our lives. Is it any surprise that they’re a major part of our teenage daughter’s homeschooling experience as well?

We’re not just talking the standard “educational games” here. We firmly believe learning happens all the time, and we’ve had chances to discuss all sorts of concepts in popular games like the Assassin’s Creed series, Minecraft, World of Warcraft, and more. We also believe in the value of apps for learning, in a traditional educational sense and beyond.

That’s why I took part in the iHomeschool Network’s “5 days of…” Hopscotch series with a look at 5 days of video-game learning.

Today, we’re talking about how some of our favorite video games have tons of math included.

Video games for math

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There are a lot of “math games,” especially web-based ones.

I’m not opposed to those, but if you have a math-hater, math facts with circus animals are still math facts, you know?

The thing is, we’ve realized that the games that Ashar LOVES playing most have a huge math component.

  • Lego Star Wars – This whole series is for the DS, Wii, Xbox and Playstation systems (and includes Lego Pirates of the Caribbean, Lego Batman, Lego Lord of the Rings and a bunch more) is a TON of fun for Lego-loving kids like mine. And guess what? You break bricks and collect coins. You use those coins to complete various challenges. And that means keeping track of the coins, as well as working on your logic and critical-thinking skills, which are a key part of real-world math!
  • Club Penguin – Ashar loves this web-based game, probably more than any of her others. It’s got a “mission” or “quest” format that you unlock progressively, which keeps the kids coming back, and to unlock various parts, players need to complete challenges. Many of them? Yep, math-based. There’s also a money component here, where you need to save up to buy igloo upgrades for your penguin’s domicile and, you know, cool penguin clothes.
  • Moshi Monsters and Webkinz – I mentioned these for creative play yesterday, but both have a significant math component as well. They have logic games, mini-games that are actually straight math-based (like Moshi Multiply, oddly one of Ashar’s favorites) and, as with Club Penguin, a significant money component that leads to all sorts of adding, subtracting and more! 
  • Nintendogs and Cats, Pet Vet and Horsez – Again, the money component of these games is key. More so than in some other games, Pet Vet in particular requires you to really work for the coins to then buy upgrades, and there’s a lot of logic required about what upgrades you spend money on. Buy a horse stable and you can care for horses (and make more money), but you’ll have to spend a good bit up front. These are some longtime favorites of ours for science as well, again especially the Pet Vet ones!
  • Angry Birds – These apps/web-based games are HUGE for learning physics. (And it’s not terribly inaccurate physics – says this math major!) Ashar loves them, and likes doing things like saying, “Well, I’ll need 100,000 points for three stars, and if I have two birds left, that means I’ll get 20,000 points for them, so I’ll need 80,000 before I’m done.”
  • Rush Hour – This app is based on a board game, and we have that version as well. We play it more on our phones, though, because it’s great for something like passing time in a waiting room or in line! It’s a logic puzzle based on getting a particular car out of a well-packed gridlock. 

These are just some of the games WE play. My challenge and encouragement to you is to look for the math in the games your own family enjoys, and, without being heavy-handed (there’s an art to that!), to discuss it. If you’re laying Minecraft tiles, be overt in talking about how you’ll use 20 tiles to make the floor of your house, and if you can, work in that there are four rows of five tiles. If you play Roblox, same idea. I talk a LOT about real-world math and logical thinking, because I truly believe if you get the idea, you’ll be able to get the “math facts” down without issue!

The rest of the series

Sunday: Why “All my kids want to do is play video games!” isn’t such a bad thing (introduction)
Monday: Virtual friends, virtual art: Video games for social skills and creativity
Today: Digital currency: Video games for math
Wednesday: Pixels and punctuation: Video games for writing and spelling
Thursday: Bringing the past to life: Video games for history and geography
Friday: Our fitness is pretty funny-looking: Video games for physical education

You can read all the posts here!

More great resources for homeschooling and unschooling math

This post is also part of the iHomeschool Network’s Massive Guide to Homeschooling Math.

Click the image to read many, many more posts full of great math advice!

Also, if you’re into the things we do in our family homeschool, check out my previous “5 days of…” series, 5 days of real-world math.

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9 thoughts on “Digital currency: Video games for math

  1. These are great! I am going to look for that lego game. My girls used to play Club Penguin…maybe I can convince them to again? Lately they are all about Minecraft. But math is our most difficult subject, we need all the help and fun games we can get!

    • Theresa, Minecraft is GREAT too! I’ve found that when Sarah and I are playing then together, we have these cool math- and logic-themed discussions, though I’m not sure she sees those things on her own quite yet.

      The Lego games are awesome – and of course Sarah is a huge, huge Lego fan, so she will play them a lot! I hope you find one the girls like! 🙂

  2. I’m with Theresa. Keilee used to LOVE Club Penguin and I had forgotten all about it. Maybe she would like to revisit. It would be so cool if we could find something that all these amazing homeschool girls could do together wouldn’t it? 🙂

  3. im so glad i came across this blog post. my children are not the sit at a table kind of learners and we never have plans so lesson plans are hard for me. lol. my children are 6, 3 and 4 months and they love to watch dad play video games. so im so using video games and computer games as teaching. computer games are how i learned a lot of stuff as a kid. i went to public school but at home if i had a question about something or a topic intrested me i would ask my parents or google it. im so looking into unschooling

  4. These are great! We are looking into the Lego Star Wars game for our next purchase. Our son already loves Prodigy, Minecraft, Jurrasic World, and Shadow of Mordor. 🙂

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