Sunday, May 28, 2006

My Three Year Old Learned Numbers Above Ten by Playing Bingo

I attended an Educator Day at Borders once, in either late November or early December 2003. On the Borders Educator Day, everything in the store was 25% off, for educators (which includes homeschooling parents). I purchased a wonderful Bingo game there, with a metal (steel) cage, made by University Games. I had wanted this game for a while but had resisted as the price was $30, so I was thrilled to pay $22.50 for it at the sale price.

My boys loved the spinning of the cage and seeing what number came rolling out of the cage. I feel that the cage in and of itself inspired them to love the game of Bingo. In fact they used to fight over who would turn the cage. I dealt with that by having them take turns for each Bingo ball.

At the time this photo was taken in February 2004, my younger son was 3.5 years old and my older son was 6 years old. By playing the game my younger son learned to read numbers from left to right and he learned for the first time what the numbers 10 and above were. We always used more than one Bingo card so that the game had more searching for numbers. Usually my older son would use more Bingo cards than my younger son because he could scan the cards faster. When I'd play I would use up to six cards to keep myself busy while they took longer to scan their cards.

The biggest problem for my younger son with Bingo was learning to read the numbers from left to right and to learn the names of the numbers. I would say "three-five means thirty five" when I called out the number portion. I also had my older son say the numbers in that way when he announced the numbers. We took turns spinning the cage, with the other child being the reader. I am explaining this to make it clear that from the first time we played the game as a family that my three year old played it with us and that he was actively involved in all parts of the game playing. He most certainly was responsible for scanning his own card. (I would glance at it as well and if I spotted a number he missed I'd ask him to check once again. It didn't happen often. We all were patient with him and didn't get angry while we waited for him to finish scanning his cards.)

Before we played Bingo, he already knew the numbers 0-9 through some uknown real life experiences. I had never had taught him a 'lesson' about numbers of any denomination at that point. He was not afraid to play Bingo even though he didn't know how to read the numbers at first. He learned very quickly and without stress or pressure. His attitude was "I want to play the game and tell me how to do it and I will do it".

My purpose in having Bingo in the house was for a fun game. I did not intend to use Bingo as a homeschooling game with a lesson plan in mind or anything like that. I fully support the use of games to help learning occur but frankly we have the most success in our home when a game is played for fun and it is a great game, and learning happens as an unintended consequence. So many games which are 'educational' in nature as the goal don't capture my children's interest (or mine) and as a by-product, not much is learned and the money spent on the game 'goes to waste'.

I was very happy that my younger son learned to count so easily. It was one less thing I had to teach him. Hooray!

Most of the time my boys would play together (without me). They would decide together to play it, they'd get it out, put it away when done, etc. I would not be involved in the process at all. I had explained to them the first time we used it that it was important not to lose the little balls or else we'd not be able to play the game. They loved Bingo so they were careful with the game (to not lose the pieces, etc.).

They still love this version of Bingo and love to play it with me also. Once we played with the steel cage, other versions of Bingo paled in comparison.

This game would make a great gift for children. Every child who comes to our house and plays this Bingo game loves it (and some adults do, too).

My younger son learned to read numbers over 75 by watching and discussing the outdoor temperature which he read on the digital temperature display in our minivan, also when he was three years old (the Bingo game seemed to ignite his curiosity in numbers).

I think kids are not playing enough board games but that is something I could rant about but will hold my tongue about that for now.

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