Numberella is on my back to school wish list
I met Alex Newberry, the inventor of Numberella, at ISTE 2017 in Denver. He had a prototype of his game set up at a table, and I sat down thinking, "Here we go. Another math game aimed at elementary students." I looked around the table at the other educators and their faces showed similar levels of skepticism. All of their faces, that is, except for Alex. He was grinning ear-to-ear. I thought it was a sales tactic, but I now know that not only is Alex a genuinely happy person, but he is also so confident in Numberella that... well, let me tell you.
Learning the game
The first player rolls to see which stack of cards to draw from. Then they perform the math problem(s) on that card. If they are successful, they win the number of ant coins on the card. BUT! The other players can use their character cards to steal your ant coins, take your turn, or skip you. Say someone tries to take your turn, but you're confident you know the answer... you can block them! It is anyone's game! It all depends on the character cards you have. This is incredibly important for student confidence with math. The focus of our ISTE17 game quickly shifted from getting the correct answer to stealing and blocking. And even when I made a calculation error, my peers did not make fun of me. Instead they saw it as an opportunity to win more ant coins. We played the game using a sand timer and magic (I will explain what this is in a bit). It was accelerated because we had a limited amount of time at the table, but I desperately wanted to win all the ant coins. I did not. I still did not feel like I lost because I had a stack of cards showing what math I had gotten right. That's an achievement because I am a sore loser.
There are three levels available for purchase, and I believe we were playing level 2. Level 3 is apparently quite challenging, so give it some thought prior to purchasing. All of the levels have the same differentiations built in for you. You can decide if your students need a challenge that they can use the timer for timed challenges or use magic, a multiplier for when they win a card. With or without the app, you can have students on teams to compete for recognition or prizes. With the app, they can compete against students in other schools in other countries! The app is not necessary, but it does add
Alex finished explaining all of this, and more, and I was hooked. I wanted to walk away with the prototype. Instead, I invited him to the STEM Network's Meet & Greet to share the game with attendees. He joined us and I got to see a new set of educators experience what I did only a few hours earlier. I finally understood why Alex is so confident, why he's always grinning. Numberella is a multifaceted math game unlike any other on the market.
- The entire game is mental math!
- With the exchange of the different sizes of ant coins, students work on motor skills while adding, subtracting, and multiplying. This aspect of the game was a huge draw for me when I thought of my students in occupational therapy.
- Track student strengths and growth by keeping a log of the types of problems they solve. When you correctly solve the math problem(s) on a card, you keep the card until the end of the game. There are word problems, quick fire challenges, conversions, and more. Try making a note of the types of problems solved during a game.
- If you are still on the fence, join in the launch game on Twitter. It is free and you can win a free Numberella t-shirt or box. I have been playing with a team of randomly assigned educators, and I have been loving every minute! #teamthief