Tang Math offers a number of card games and game boards for working on basic math skills in fun formats. These are quick-playing games, so kids won’t get bored. While some games are simple enough for kindergartners, others will challenge the mental math skills of students even up through fifth grade. Full-color game components are both attractive and sturdy. They should hold up under repeated use.
While there are brief rules printed on the card deck boxes, all other game instructions are in the form of short videos that you can access by clicking here. (This will also give you a good preview of some of the games.) I found the directions lacking a bit. They don't seem to cover all key points that you need to know. Some of the advanced games are not demonstrated, although most are fairly easy to figure out. While I generally prefer printed instructions, I can see that with this many games, printed instructions would be cumbersome. Also, on the positive side, the videos make it easy to actually see how play progresses.
Tang Cards are designed like a normal deck of playing cards with numbers from one to ten. Instead of suits, the cards are designed in four different visual formats: fingers on hands showing the number, the number written out as a word, the number represented by dots on a ten grid, and regular numerals. Directions have players play as with War, laying down cards, but winning when they are the first to call out “Match” rather than beating the value of their opponent’s card. However, playing War with the deck seems worthwhile as well. Tang Cards should be great for young students.
NumTanga!™ and NumTanga Magnetic Game Board
NumTanga!™ uses the square-shaped NumTanga! Jr. Card deck plus the magnetic game board. The deck of cards has three different levels: numbers to 20, numbers to 30 and numbers to 100. You need to use cards from only one level at a time. Each card has four different visual presentations of different numbers. For example, one card has the numerals for 15, two hands showing six fingers, an array showing nine dots, and the word three. Another card has the numeral 5, hands showing eight fingers, 15 dots in an array, and the word two. So the numerals for 15 on one card match with the array of 15 on the other card to make a pair. When students make a pair they get to roll the die and move on the magnetic game board. The game board adds other elements such as shortcuts, an extra turn, or moving back. While the directions don’t say this, playing War with this deck of cards is another obvious option.
NumTanga! Sr. is a separate, more-advanced card deck. It has three groups of cards: measurement, fractions, and money. As with the Jr. deck, there are four different visual ways of showing amounts, and players need to find pairs that are equivalent.
Kakooma® is another square-shaped card deck with two different sets available. There is an addition deck with each card showing five numbers and a multiplication deck with six numbers per card. The reverse side of both decks offers an additional challenge since the reverse of each card has an array of nine numbers. On each card face there is only one correct number bond (number family)—three numbers that together make a correct addition fact or three numbers that make a correct multiplication fact. Choose either deck depending upon the skill level of your child. A child can work alone practicing math facts in a manner that’s much more fun than working with flash cards. Or they can play War with other players to see who spots the correct number bond first and yells “Kakooma!”
Numskill™ is yet another card game that works on number bonds, but only with addition facts. Cards in this deck are the size of standard playing cards.
Smart Sums Flashcards and Great Times Flashcards
Smart Sums Flashcards uses ten frames and a “make 10” strategy to help students learn addition facts. (Available September 2017)
Great Times Flashcards is a deck of 40 cards with multiplication facts as well as visual multiplication grids. (Available September 2017)
Aside from the magnetic game board, all of the other boards have players use the wipe-off marker to “make moves.” Only two can play each of these games at a time. All of the boards are designed with space for players to keep score right on the board. Boards are only 8” by 10” in size, and they are constructed with heavy chip board for durability. All boards are double sided.
With Math Limbo™, players can use either the basic side of the game board or the pro level on the reverse. Each side has two triangular arrays of numbers, one for each player. Players take turns rolling one die and crossing out numbers that are either the same as the number rolled or combine through addition or subtraction to make the number. You might vary the game by using the other side of the board which has higher numbers, by rolling two dice, or by allowing players to combine more than two numbers.
Tic-Tac-Tenframe™ and Tic-Tac-Tang™
Tic-Tac-Tenframe™ has four tenframes that are to be completed by filling in dots. Players roll one die and enter that number of dots into one frame. They cannot split their number into more than one frame. It’s a race to get the exact numbers needed to complete each frame. This is great for young children.
In the Tic-Tac-Tang™ game on the reverse side, players take turns rolling a die and writing in the number on their tic-tac-toe grid. Each player works on his or her own grid, but both grids are on one game board. The goal is to get three numbers in a row (vertically, horizontally, or diagonally) that form a number bond.
Web Bonds™ has a “Plus” side and a “Times” side. On the Plus side, one player begins by rolling a die and writing that number in the center circle. Play continues with players rolling the die and choosing a circle where they will write their number. Numbers are linked in a triangular pattern, and the goal is to complete triangular groupings with number bonds. The Times game lays out the grid in squares, and it has 12 different numbers already entered into a number of spots. Players will form multiplication number bonds by rolling numbers and connecting math facts that involve numbers already on the board.
Equato™ basic and pro are both played the same, but the grid for the basic game is a four by four array of blank squares while the pro side’s array is five by five. Players roll one die writing numbers in the blank squares to create equations. They write in the operators and equals signs between the squares. Young players should do only addition equations while older players might create equations using all four operations.
While the card decks are available individually, game boards are not. However you can buy a set with the four double-sided boards for $12.95.
The most convenient way to buy Tang Math products seems to be in Home Kits. Three Home Kit levels are available, and the contents of each are listed below. Note that some items are repeated in more than one kit.
Home Kit Grades K-1
- Tang Cards
- Tic-Tac-Tang and Tic-Tac-Tenframe
- Accessories (Marker, Dice)
Home Kit Grades 1-2
- NumTanga Jr and Magnetic Board
- Kakooma Plus
- Math Limbo
- Accessories (Marker, Dice, Game Pieces)
Home Kit Grades 3-5
- NumTanga Sr and Magnetic Game Board
- Kakooma Times
- Web Bonds
- Accessories (Marker, Dice, Game Pieces)
You might want to put together your own pack, perhaps supplying your own wipe-off marker and dice if you already have them on hand. For example, my self-designed pack for working with children in grades one through five would include the set of four game boards and both Kakooma decks.
Most of these games play very quickly, so they are great for a brief break from a math textbook. They should also be great for a family fun night if you rotate games and pairs of players.
Most importantly, many of the Tang Math games are very effective for getting students to practice mental math without realizing it. At the same time students experience math as something fun—a real bonus.