Tuesday, March 18th, 2008
Review: 4-Way Coundown Math Game
Is your toddler ready for a game like this? Let’s discuss why or why not below.
4-Way Countdown by Cadaco is a math game aimed at kids 6-years-and-up. My 3-year-old daughter was introduced to it by her 5-year-old friend as a simple counting or adding game.
The game components are two 6-sided dice and a square wood board with a dice pit. The four sides of the board are lined with 10 "keys" each, numbered 1 through 10. The keys are wood bars secured on one end by a metal rod that allows them to flip up or down. When flipped up, their labeled numbers are not visible.
Big Kid Rules
The game begins with all keys in their down position, numbers visible. Players take turns rolling the dice and finding a way to flip one of their keys up.
A key is flipped when the player can deduce a mathematical formula using the dice values, with the key value as the answer.
For example, if a 2 and 4 are rolled, one of these moves is possible:
- 2 + 4 = 6 (flip the 6 key)
- 4 – 2 = 2 (flip the 2 key)
- 4 / 2 = 2 (flip the 2 key)
- 4 x 2 = 8 (flip the 8 key)
When an 11 is rolled, the player may choose an opponent and flip all of his keys down.
When a 12 is rolled, the player’s own keys are flipped down.
AJ’s Adapted Toddler Rules
1. Only addition is used. My daughter counts by pointing her finger at each dot on the dice. At her stage, she’s not really adding, but counting a total from the two dice.
2. When the two dice values combine to produce a number whose key is already flipped, the face value of one die face may instead be flipped.
The roll-11 and roll-12 rules are enforced only when temperament allows. If it’s late in the day and my daughter is tired, or we want a shorter game, we disregard those rules.
A game can be completed in 10 minutes if the roll-11 and roll-12 rules are ignored.
Why this game rocks
- 4-Way Countdown will grow with my child, becoming a richer experience as her math skills develop.
- For ages 3 and 4, the game teaches counting, addition and dice value recognition. At the moment, my daughter can identify a 1, 2 or 3 roll without placing her finger to count the dots, and can add 1 to any number in her head. Hey, you have to start somewhere.
- Excellent quality. My question to the mother-turned-elementary school teacher who showed us this game was… "Where did you find it? From a teacher’s catalog?" Nope… K-Mart.
- The game is fun, or at least we enjoy it. There is a certain satisfaction garnered by identifying an appropriate key and flipping it up with your index finger, hearing wood knock on wood.
On the downside, the sound of the dice hitting the dice pit is on the loud side. I cut and folded a paper towel into the pit to soften the sound.
- Fruit Dominoes (maybe our daughter’s first real game at 18 months?)
- My First Matching Game (cloth tiles)
- Four-Scene Sequencing Cards
- Who Lives Where?
- Snail’s Pace Race (a toddler’s first board game)
- Four First Board Games
- Hisss snake-making tile game
Why this game is totally not age appropriate
A Thinga-reader comment on yesterday’s review of the Crazy Faces card game caught my attention… The parent’s 3-year-old isn’t developmentally ready to play such a card game.
It got me thinking… My daughter’s 5-year-old friend is the only other child we know who plays 4-Way Countdown, so our daughter often plays it with Mom and Dad. Some of her same-age friends are probably capable, while others are one, two, maybe even three years away from being ready for a sit-down math game.
Maybe it comes down to having a good attention span and patience to endure a game that occasionally presents setbacks to the player. Our daughter seems to have an aptitude for games that involve sequence rules.
Maybe it’s a familiarity issue. We began introducing board games to our daughter around age 2. Maybe where some parents opted for videos, or crafts or physical games, we focused on tile matching and puzzles and such.
It was a culture shock the first time our daughter pulled out a puzzle to play with a friend and her friend couldn’t distinguish the significance between the picture side and blank side of a puzzle piece. Maybe experience is everything.
Maybe it’s the example set by Mom and Dad. We play games with her and with our adult friends. A few weeks ago she prepared her stuffed animals around her toddler table to hold her own "game night."
What do you think?