I love snakes and ladders (or chutes and ladders) as it’s a great way for children to learn numbers up to 100 and to count forwards and backwards which introduces adding and subtraction.

It also introduces the idea that things can go down as well as up, and the fastest doesn’t always win.

To start it’s not necessary to know or be able to say the numbers.

You just throw the dice and take the number of steps that there are dots on the top side of the dice.

If you are playing with your children you can count as they take each step

1, 2, 3, 4…

Once they get the hang of that you can say the number of the squares as they step through. So if they are on square 20 and throw a 4.

21, 22, 23, 24

The knowledge just seeps in.

You may have heard of the elusive obvious. Something right out in the open staring you in the face, something you and everyone else have seen all your life, something so obvious that it gets ignored.

When speaking english if you see 10, you say the word ten, you don’t say ‘one’ ‘zero’. For all the numbers on the board, 1 to 100, everyone says the names of the numbers in words one, two, three … ninety nine, one hundred.

This means that people get used to seeing a single digit (one of 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9) for the numbers zero through nine. Two digits for ten through ninety nine, and three digits for one hundred. It is not necessary to explain about the ‘place value system’ or units, tens and hundreds columns.

There are several versions of the ending the game.

- If you throw enough to get to, or past 100, you finish.
- If you throw exactly enough to get to 100 you finish, if not stay still.
- Count forward to 100. Stop if your move ends on 100, if you threw a larger number then you step backwards to complete your move.

I prefer the 3rd version as

- It prolongs the game
- It doesn’t involve not moving for a turn
- It involves counting backwards

In UK you can buy Snakes & Ladders here

Why not make your own?

- You only need a piece of paper or card board.
- Draw 10 x 10 squares
- Mark 1-10 going left to right, 11 to 20 going right to left, and so on
- Put as many or as few snakes and ladders as you like

My board looks like this

The snakes and ladders go from

Ladders | Snakes |
---|---|

2 to 38 | 98 to 78 |

4 to 14 | 95 to 75 |

8 to 31 | 93 to 73 |

21 to 42 | 91 to 71 |

28 to 84 | 87 to 24 |

51 to 67 | 64 to 60 |

71 to 91 | 62 to 18 |

80 to 100 | 56 to 53 |

49 to 11 | |

47 to 26 | |

16 to 6 |

I don’t know why there are more snakes than ladders, but it will help to make the game last longer.

If you haven’t got dice make one.

Or make a hexagonal top. Learn how to fold a piece of paper into to hexagon here

Then push a stick or used match through the middle of the hexagon so it can spin.

Or get empty bottle and write numbers 1 to 6 (or dots 1 to 6) around the circumference.

Roll the bottle and see which number is on top.

Recently Unicef and IpsosMori published a report saying children need time with parents not more stuff (report summary).

OECD PISA studies publish league tables of how well children in different countries are performing at school. These show children from the UK (and US) dropping down the league tables in maths.

Why not kill two birds with one stone. Spend a little time playing games with your children it might be fun and their maths will improve too.

Or download a Snakes and Ladders printable template for free from here.

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