It seems that there aren’t that many fun math games for girls. Have you noticed that most math games are somehow slanted more towards boys? Without wanting to delve into stereotypes, too many games seem to be using shooting as a means to make math practice fun. Also the vast majority of programmers are male (at least in the companies I worked at), which probably does not help.
Well, no rule without exceptions, so in this article I look at some of the math game offerings from my “parent of girls” perspective.
How Girly Are Your Girls?
Now, my girls do enjoy playing Star Wars Battlefront with me (they even let me win from time to time). So they are okay with shooting at things. But it has to be with a certain style. They dislike most shooting games, because they look too violent and destructive to them. Besides, we want to be educational here and not teach violence.
A classic dialog came out in our play review of the Ultimate Math Invaders, one of the shoot-em type math games we tried:
Natasha: “This is so boring”
Sandra: “Do you want to have a play?”
Ok, so no shooting.
Free Math Games for Girls
Few games out there let flowers grow or dresses sparkle. The kinds of free math games for girls that I have seen are mostly of the type “do the math and answer the questions. Afterwards you get to dress up this doll or paint in this picture”.
I have not succeeded in getting my girls interested in these kinds of math games. Just because you give girls the ability to dress up a character does not make it a math game for girls. It simply makes it damn uncool for boys to even go near it.
Multi-player Math Sites and Girls
Then there are the paid-for websites like mathletics. These are quite gender neutral. In fact the games are just lines that show how far along your scores are compared to your competitors. Although the design is futuristic and your overall progress is a rocketship blasting into space. See the boy-style creeping in?
Where the site is clever is that the kids can design their characters by buying accessories and hairdos, etc, with points they have earned.
The problem with mathletics is that the game is simply a competition, leaving a winner and a loser. So one winner and up to three “losers”. You may have heard about the numerous studies that have shown that grading at a young age has no positive effect on kids? So I really wonder about the long-term effects of these kinds of sites and their endless competitions. In my opinion, unless your child (boy or girl) enjoys competition, you may not be doing them any favour by getting them on the site.
The Best Math Games for Girls
Fun & Spooky Math
One of the (many) games we purchased that has actually worked well AND has been popular with our girls is “Fun and Spooky Maths – Addition and Subtraction” by Eureka Multimedia. It has a fun intro and menu, and the games are quite cute (so are the ghosts). So our girls played with it quite regularly and without prompting. A major feat.
It has to be said that the target age group is also rather young. The game teaches relatively early math:
– addition up to 10
– subtraction up to 10
– subtraction using money
A full review of Fun and Spooky is coming soon to this site. One more thing to note: once our kids were beyond the age of 7 they did not touch the game anymore.
The best math game for girls (IMO) I have saved for last – it is MathRider, a game that rehearses basic addition through to division. That game definitely has been designed with girls in mind from the ground up. Retrieving a flower to cure your mother, returning a gem and delivering a letter to the king -now there are tasks that girls can definitely relate to. The riding environments are very pretty and of course you get to ride a horse! All the features are things that our girls immediately related to.
I hasten to add that the final quest is rescuing the princess and riding through a landscape reminiscent of Mordor from Lord of the Rings. That is definitely not girly, but it sure makes the master quests stand out and has proven to make for some very excited girls at our place. Also, all the rewards they receive are very pretty looking.
We also have a full review of MathRider right here.
So for learning the basics of math, I suggest checking out MathRider, definitely the winner in the math games for girls category.