Pyramath

I See Cards Educational Games
www.pyramath.com

Simple, colorful, and multi-age appropriate--these are all the markings of a great educational card game for our family. The two-player option involves building a double-pyramid shaped arrangement of cards using the four basic mathematical operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division). Solitary players can enjoy building a single pyramid with minimal modification.

Included in the box are 56 glossy, durable playing cards and one brief instructional card. More thorough instructions can be found on the company's website, and I do recommend visiting the site for this purpose and perhaps even viewing the videos. The game is simple enough, but I did not find that the instruction card alone gave my children nearly enough information to play without my help. Fortunately, the company's website information is printed on each game card, so even if the cards are stored in just a rubber-band at some point, the information is readily available.

The blue-bordered cards themselves are interesting to look at. On the back are the four basic math operation symbols with the logo. The game-playing side has a yellow background that fades to orange and large blue numbers facing two directions (so that both players can easily view them). Around the edge of each card is the number translated in word or symbol for English, Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, Roman, and French. We found this fascinating to just look at and read before even playing a game!

Play begins by laying seven cards in a row, with remaining cards stacked to the side. Players take turns taking the top card from the stack and trying to play it on their side of the pyramid. A "4" might be played between a 9 and 5 (9-5=4), or between a 3 and 1 (3+1=4), or between 8 and 3 (8x3=24), or between 8 and 2 (8/2=4). If a play can't be made, the card goes to a face-up discard pile for the other player to have access to. As the pyramid grows, each row of cards gets shorter, going from a row of 7 cards down to 6, then 5, and so on until a player wins by completing the pyramid first. A single-player game differs only in that cards are pulled from the stack in threes rather than individually. One fun perk for solitary players is the online speed solitaire game that is available on the company website! Playing against the clock is great fun (for adults too!), and it provides excellent facts practice.

Other than the woefully brief instructions included in the game, the only other complaint I have is that there are not quite enough cards to complete two pyramids. When one player wins, it is fun for the opponent to try and complete his pyramid too, but the slight card shortage makes this impossible. Even so, this game has countless uses, from being a travel game, to being a homeschooling staple, to being used in large classrooms--the possibilities are endless.

For me, the real magic of Pyramath lies in the fact that younger children can play using any math skills they have mastered, while older children can develop their number relation skills and speed by using all of the possible operations, a fantastic mental exercise! This game is quickly becoming part of our regular math time and fun time, and I highly recommend it.

Product review by Melissa Theberge, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March 2010