Math Game: Get to 6 (Because They’re 6)

This is a math game I somewhat inadvertently invented while playing around with my six year old one night. I was showing him a calculator, just to show him a calculator. To get him interested in using it, I typed a number, say 9. Then I asked him to do what was necessary to make the number be 6. This case is easy: subtract 3. You can type any number at all: 5, 3, 0, -2.

This is a fun game, because there is a target. It is different than traditional school work. Traditional worksheets ask you to find the answer to a problem, over and over, ad nauseum. What is 2+4? What is 3+3? What is 9-3? In this, in a reversal, you are given the final answer and asked how to get to it. In a way, it is thus also an algebra problem. 9 – x = 6. Solve for x. But they can do it any way they want. If they make a mistake, they can simply keep going. If they type -2, they see it results in 7. Easy. Just subtract 1 more. In this, they learned something. Perhaps they marvel that -2 and -1 is also -3 and this gets them to 6 as well. Number patterns abound: truly the key to math success.

I pick 6 because they are 6. And I attach this to one of the milestones when they are 6.

It can get extremely complicated. My first, a whiz at math, begged me to do a “really hard” one. So I put -119,224. Would you believe he solved it?

This is the power of “target-based” or “purpose-based” education. “What do we need this stuff for?” Well, this partially answers that question. Because you need to get to 6.

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