Not All Preschool Math Games Are Equal


Studies have shown the learning of number knowledge in childhood may directly influence children’s mathematics learning ability as they progress through school. Specifically number sense ability in the preschool stage can directly influence the effectiveness of children’s mathematics learning from first grade to third grade in elementary schools. Previous studies also show that math difficulties in elementary school are mainly rooted in the lack of number knowledge in early childhood. 

This study aimed to explore whether number line games based on the concept of the mental number line can improve children’s number knowledge and basic arithmetic skills. It compared the learning effectiveness between traditional non-number-line mathematic games and number line games. Researchers divided 140 young children into three experimental groups and one control group to compare the effectiveness of the a linear number line game with that of two other games (a nonlinear number line game and a non-number-line game). 

A Boost to Math Skills

Their results showed that the linear number line game could help children to acquire numerical knowledge effectively, especially in number line estimation compared with other experimental groups. In terms of the learning effectiveness of basic arithmetic skills (e.g., addition, subtraction), both the linear and nonlinear number line games were significantly superior to the non-number-line game (a traditional number decomposition and synthesis game). 

The researchers recommend the use of linear number line games, especially those designed to be progressive (from simple to complex), to improve preschool-age children’s numerical knowledge and arithmetic skills. 

StepUp Note

StepUp programs include Vision Blocks exercises for seeing number sets and number dictation exercises for knowledge of spoken and written number names.  The Quick Check Math program adds exercises which integrate math computation and math operation. Altogether, these programs provide useful tools for evaluating and practicing mathematical learning for early learners, and create a foundation for learning and understanding higher math operations.


Note by Nancy W Rowe, M.S., CCC/A

Research from the Department of Early Childhood Education, National Dong Hwa University, published in Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 



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