My Secret Weapon to Teach Early Math Skills

If you are teaching your young one early math skills, maybe you should head to the toy store!  My secret weapon for teaching kids skills such as one to one correspondence, counting, subitizing, doubling, and adding is Parcheesi!


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.If you make a purchase from Amazon, I receive a very small fee at no extra cost to you.


Empowering Parents to Teach- Parcheesi


First of all, if you are unfamiliar with the game, I will very briefly describe how the game is played.  Your four pawns are at home, where you wait until you roll a five or a two dice combination of five to enter the board. The game uses two dice to indicate your spaces to move.  You can add the dice together to move one pawn or let two pawns share the dice combinations.  You have to go all the way around the board and get all four pawns to your home to win.  Along the way, you can block players and capture players.  It’s a great strategy game!


Empowering Parents to Teach- Parcheesi


How does Parcheesi help with all of the math skills mentioned?  Let me explain.


Counting:  When the child rolls the dice s/he can count the dots on each die to figure out the value of each one.  Your child can point to the dots while counting. This gives your child a concrete way of practicing counting with an authentic purpose (to see how far to move).


With enough practice, s/he may begin to recognize that three dots is “3” without even having to count the dots.  S/he is subitizing, or recognizing a number quantity quickly without the need to count.  With enough hands on practice counting, s/he will begin to do this automatically.  By playing this game your child is getting a lot of practice counting and subitizing.


Adding:  Since this is a game that allows two dice to be added together to determine the number of spaces to be moved, your child is also practicing adding.  With the help of the dots, your child has a visual representation of the numbers in which to count.  The more practice your child has with objects they can point to and add together (the dots), they will naturally begin to remember some of these math facts and also create a visual representation of number quantities which they will use to figure out new problems.



Empowering Parents to Teach- Parcheesi



One to One Correspondence: This skill is practiced in two ways. First, when your child counts the dots on the dice, s/he should only count each dot once.  For example, if your child rolled a six and counts one the of dots more than once, s/he may incorrectly say there are seven dots.  Encourage your child to count again making sure s/he doesn’t count any dots more than once. With sufficient experience your child will become very good at counting each dot only once.  S/he will likely figure out a strategy that works for him or her to keep track of which dots s/he already counted to avoid over or under counting.


Another way your child is practicing one to one correspondence is when s/he moves their pawn.  Your child can advance one space per number. So, if s/he rolled a six, s/he can only move six spaces.  Young kids may skip spaces or count faster than they move.  Encourage your child to count slowly and move the pawn as she counts.  Sometimes it helps if you, the parent, point with your finger to the next space so your child doesn’t skip spaces. With enough help and practice, your child will learn to move one space per number rolled.


Doubles:  When your are working with two dice there is the chance that you roll two of the same number. You can introduce the term, “doubles”.  For example, if your child rolled two twos, you can explain that two of the same number is called “doubles”, so s/he just rolled double twos!  Not only are you introducing a new term, but you are also building a beginning foundation for multiplication. 

Eventually, your child will commit the these facts to memory.  Having double facts in their memory banks gives them a reference point when figuring out new facts. For example, if your child knows that 5+5=10,  s/he can can use that knowledge plus pattern recognition to quickly figure out that 5+6=11. 




Truthfully, there are many games that can also help your child practice these skills.  Any game that has a board with individual spaces and uses dice can do this!  I like Parcheesi because it tends to be a little longer in terms of play time, giving more practice! My kids also love that they can capture me and send me back to home, keeping them motivated and excited to play.  So next time your child complains about math homework, maybe taking a game break might help :)



To purchase Parcheesi on Amazon:



Empowering Parents to Teach- Our Favorite Games and Toys for Gifted Kids

Our Favorite Games and Toys for Gifted Kids

Looking for a fantastic toy or game for your Gifted little one?  I’ve compiled a list of favorites that my kids love!

My children are currently nine and four.  I have included toys and games that they either repeatedly play with or highly engage them.  To me, that is the sign of a great toy for a mind that craves mental stimulation!


FTC Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small percentage of a sale at no extra cost you.


Science Toys and Games

Snap Circuits Jr.-


Kids have fun building their own circuits!  My advice, don’t look at the pamphlet showing you all the circuits you can make.  Let the kids figure it out first.  There is so much learning in failed attempts.  It gives the child a chance to evaluate why the circuit isn’t working and determine how to fix it.


Empowering Parents to Teach- Snap Circuits Jr.

Attempting to build a circuit


Before I started lunch, I sat with my just-turned four year old and we tried to create a circuit at his request.  It took a couple of attempts, but we eventually did it together. As I was fixing lunch, he explored the toy on his own.  Some of the things I heard him say were, “…do this to complete the circuit” and “If I connect this one…”.  He was fully engaged in this toy and using it in an open ended fashion.  That’s why I love it!


Mad Science  Kit-

Empowering Parents to Teach- Magnet Kit


We got this kit free at an event at my oldest son’s school.  It’s from a franchise company called Mad Science.  In this kit, you receive three small magnets that you arrange so that they repel each other.  Since they are repelling, they appear to be floating on the small rod.  It is an awesome hands on way to learn about magnets and how they behave.  The child can test different ways of arranging the magnets to see what would happen.  If you don’t have a kit like this, it’s ok.  You may be able to make something similar at home with strong magnets from a store!



Human Body Game (from Lakeshore Learning)-

Empowering Parents to Teach- Human Body Game


Even though this is a game, my kids have always used it like a puzzle.  They enjoy taking the body parts out and putting them back in.  In the process, the are learning some basics on where body parts are in the body, the names and general appearance of the parts.  I like the hands on nature of the toy as an introduction to human anatomy. My kids like the puzzle aspect of it!

Math Toys and Games



This game is a lot like Scrabble, but instead of building words the child builds equations.  Kids get to create with all sorts of numbers, even fractions! This is the perfect game for a math loving child.  There are various levels of difficulty available.  They can build the equations mentally or use a paper and pencil to work it out before playing. It’s a very unique game. They might even make up their own way of playing!



 Pattern Play


This toy is essentially hands on geometry.  The child gets to create a pattern or picture using geometric shapes.  They can follow a given pattern or make their own design.  I like how open ended it can be and the combination of math and art.  Many kids don’t realize how much math is in art.  This would be a perfect way for a math focused child to delve into art.




This is another game that my kids use as a toy.  Maybe once they’ve actually played this as a game.  My four year is the one who really loves this.  I refer to this as hands on Tetris.  My preschooler usually tries to fit the different shaped pieces so that they all fit into the board.  It is a wonderful spatial toy!  Just by attempting this challenge he created, he has to manipulate the pieces in a way that makes them fit together in just the right way.  Without realizing it, he is practicing sliding, turning, flipping, and area.



Logic & Reasoning Toys and Games


This is the newest version. We actually have this one and the original. I personally prefer the original.

My son loves this capture the flag style game!  You have to devise a strategy to get past your opponents troops, avoid or diffuse their bombs, and capture their hidden flag!




The goal is to get the most gems in your trough.  You have to plan your moves based on where your gems and your opponents gems are.  There is strategy involved in planning your move and anticipating your opponents move too!



This was one of my favorite games growing up.  My oldest is just now getting into it.  There is a lot of deductive reasoning involved as the player attempts to figure out a hidden color pattern.  The other player gives clues and the person solving the pattern needs to put those clues together.  It’s not as easy as it sounds sometimes.  It’s a pretty good challenge!


I hope this list helps you find a game that is just right for your little ones.  We have so many games in our house; our shelves are bursting with books and games.   I narrowed our selections down to three per category to make the list manageable.  But, I have throw in our honorable mention– Qwirkle!

Empowering Parents to Teach- Qwirkle

Playing a fun game of Qwirkle


We got Q-Bitz as a Christmas gift and it is absolutely amazing. I have to mention this one!

Happy gaming :)

This post is part of the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum May 2014 Blog Hop: Special Tips, Toys, Tricks, and Tools For Parenting & Educating Gifted/2E kids. To read more amazing blog posts, click here!