Leap Frog Math

© copyright 2011-2018, Ruth Elizabeth Barron


This is a game which can incorporate all ages/stages of learning.  If you are interested, enjoy!

Originally, we played it like a snow game called Fox and Geese, which had one person who is “it.”

1.  It:  Whoever is “it” tries to jump over other players.  When he jumps over another player, they switch who is “it.”  The new “it” must wait at least one turn before trying to jump over the former “it” (so no tag-backs).

2.  Base:  “It” cannot go on the squares within the center circle.  To be clear, “it” can be on any square on the big circle, the little circle, or in between, but the nine squares inside the inner circle are base.  Only one player can be on base at a time, so if a new player enters, the first one has to move to one of the four doors to the base, generally as far from “it” as possible.  (But you can’t exit the circle on the same path that the person chasing you out entered.)  Before that player can return to base, she must first move to the outer circle.

3.  Moving:  Players take turns moving.  They can move in any direction they wish.  Each player has ten possible moves each turn:  0-9.

Older children use math flash cards.
They read the problem aloud and answer it.  This helps familiarize younger children with the problems.
If they answer the problem correctly, they move the number of the last digit in the answer.

Younger children use numeral flash cards.
First use single numeral cards.  Later, use numeral cards in combination to make bigger numbers like 27.
If they answer correctly, they move the number of the last digit in the answer.

Still younger children use color or shape flash cards.
If they answer correctly, they move to a nearby square with that color or shape.
Note:  I have a white flash card with an arrow on it to be “zero.”
Our shape and color flash cards are the same.
My youngest daughter was still learning shapes.  She could answer color for the shapes she didn’t know.

Youngest children use animal flash cards.
They can name the animal or make the animal sound to move.
They probably won’t care about moving anyway.
But they will want to feel part.
Let them move their piece wherever they want.  Or assign number values.

4.  Stealing cards:  “It” can try to steal answers, first allowing the other player, whose turn it is, an age appropriate amount of time to answer.  Then, on “it’s” turn, anyone can steal.  If “it” is a younger child, she answers what she knows:  the color of the flash card or the numerals/numbers.

5.  Playing pieces:  Use whatever you want for playing pieces.

6.  Board:  I’m attaching a picture of the game poster I made.  The picture has a glare (from the lamination), but I think you can get the idea.  Black has a rectangle shape.  For the flash card, I glued white rectangles on a black card.  Note:  I was just following the pattern when I colored the nine “base” squares, so I have some colors/shapes twice, and others are missing.  I would change that so each color/shape has one square.  I made the shapes different sizes and styles, within the same basic shape.  Also, I wasn’t very precise in my shapes.  If you can, laminate the poster.


Leap Frog Math game board

Leap Frog Math game board, © copyright 2011-2015, Ruth Elizabeth Barron


7.  Problems with this version of the game:  This way of playing can be very intense and loud, with children trying to shout over each other.  It can lead to discouraged children who don’t want to play anymore because they feel as though they can’t.  Or for other children it may lead to their watching competing players instead of looking at the card.  It wasn’t accomplishing what I wanted to accomplish:  combining fun with learning in a way that incorporates the whole family.

8.  Math + P.E. = Fun:  If you have access to a large sidewalk or patio type area, you can draw out a wheel with spokes using sidewalk chalk and play a “live action” version.  In this version, you run use the number as described above to determine how long you run before you pause for another problem.  The problem with this one is sometimes mommy is so busy running that she forgets to count.

9.  Alternate idea:  For now, I play without having an “it.”  We still move the same way but we just try to jump over other pieces.  You can set a goal like have each person try to jump over every other person or something like that, with no stealing, and keep playing until everyone’s finished.

I really don’t want to teach the children competitiveness and trying to be better than each other.  I want them to encourage each other, not try to beat each other.  They are enjoying the game more this way.


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