Children’s Game Review: Sum Swamp

As a parent and a former teacher I am always interested in finding games that I could play with my child while teaching them some academic skill. This makes learning fun and instills a life long love for learning, which I find really important.

When my daughter was 4 years and 3 months old, she received “Sum Swamp” for Christmas from my mom from our Amazon wish list. I had placed this game on my list because it was geared towards children 5 years old and older and it focuses on basic math skills of adding and subtracting whole single digit numbers from 1 through 6.

Basic Information on Sun Swamp:

  • 2 to 4 players
  • 3 dice; 2 numbered cubed (1 – 6) and 1 die with addition and subtraction operation.
  • 1 folded board
  • 4 little critter game pieces

Objective of Sum Swamp:

  • First player to get to the finish line wins by adding or subtracting.
  • There are some obstacles such as the “Never-ending Loop” and when you land on a numbered rock (you are only allowed to roll the operation die to either move backwards or forward based on the number).
  • Each player will roll all three dice and use the operation that you roll on to either subtract or add the two numbers. For example, if you roll a 3 on one die and a 5 on another die with the addition sign, you will add 3 and 5. Here I introduce the commutative property of addition.
  • If you roll a 3 on one die and a 5 on another die with the subtraction operation, you will subtract 5 and 3. I would also teach that the commutative property does not apply in subtraction problems but only with addition.
  • If you land a numbered rock, you are only able to roll the operation symbol. If the rock you landed on is a 6 and you roll a subtraction symbol, you must move six spaces back.
  • You may get stuck in the never-ending loop and the only way to get out is to land on the “Exit” rock.
  • Game can last between 15 minutes to 30 minutes.

Overall Opinion of Sum Swamp:

  • My daughter and I have always enjoyed playing this game together unless she gets stuck in the never ending loop (it can be pretty frustrating).
  • The game teaches some basic addition and subtraction skills with one digit numbers less than 7 but greater than 0.
  • You can incorporate mathematical language into the game. For example you can reverse the order of the numbers when adding and teach about commutative property of addition. Other mathematical language to use is less than (5 – 4: 4 less than 5), more than (5 + 6: 6 more than 5 or 5 more than 6), increased by or decreased by (5 + 6: 5 increased by 6; 6 – 5: 6 decreased by 5). Children will also understand the word “operation” and how it can be associated with addition (+) and subtraction (-). You can also inform your child that these numbers are one digit numbers and that they are also known as integers.
  • Overall: A+. This game is a real winner for me due to time length (not too long and not too short) and the many ways you can incorporate mathematical language as you play along.