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Mathinator Homeschool Kit - Albert's Insomnia Game Review by Sheila Quach

Rick Buchner

I have never liked math. It has always been a big dark cloud over my head ever since I was a kid. I had several bad experiences in school along with a lack of self-confidence. Which is why any time I can make my kids’ experience with math different than what I had, I jump at it. I want them to enjoy learning and solving problems with every day math skills. It is very important to me that they enjoy math.

I have fun when they learn and if we can do it together as a family that’s even better.  And this brings me to a very exciting card game we have been using together as a family and during our homeschool time over the past several weeks.  Mathinator Homeschool Kit - Albert’s Insomnia Game is a card game that strengthens the foundations of mathematics.  It’s for 7+ and can be played solo or with many.  Each game is pretty fast paced, and no game is the same.

We all remember as kids having to memorize our multiplication tables.  It was like visiting the dentist for me and a few of my kiddos who struggle academically would also agree with me on that.  I mainly used the game twice a week alongside what I was using for math with my youngest son who is eleven.  He memorizes everything, so knowing sequences or his multiplication tables is not a problem.  What I do see him struggle with is when there are multiple problems or if the operation is unknown even if the answer is given he struggles with the abstract nature of the problem.  He also happens to have Autism, so I just accepted that that was just the way it was going to be for him and I didn’t want to push him.  Once we laid out the cards and started playing I saw a very frustrated child take his time to see the numbered cards before him in a different way. 

Mental math is not easy for him, but it is something he expects should come easy because he is in the habit of just memorizing.  Well, in this game you aren’t memorizing math facts.  You are given 4 cards, two of them are yellow and all players can see.  The first player uses as many cards as they want (making sure to only use each card once per turn) to create an equation that equals 1.  Then it’s the next player’s turn to take the same set of 4 cards to create another equation that equals 2 and so forth and so forth for as long as possible.  The player that creates the highest consecutive operations wins the cards dealt for that round and keeps the cards.  Once there are no more yellow cards left, the player with the most cards wins the whole game.  There is a score pad that is included too that can be used.

Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect out of this deck of cards.  But, I will tell you I see the wheels turn and my heart skips a beat when I see the glimmer in my son’s eye when he thinks of yet another equation to win the round.  To see him manipulate through subtraction, addition, multiplication and division all in one long math sentence instead of just going through the motions of memorization gives me confidence that he is really learning.  I have also noticed less frustration when he is working in his math workbook and every day math.  For example, the other day we had family over for dinner and we were baking.  He figured out how many mini cupcakes each person would want and what we needed to do to the recipe to deliver it.  We had to triple the batch and he was able to help from beginning to end.  Usually he would get overwhelmed and give up.

 I think the Mathinator Homeschool Kit - Albert’s Insomnia Game would be the ultimate addition for any homeschool because it allows you to have a lot of fun with your kiddos while they are secretly strengthening their mental math skills.  And don’t just play the game during school time! We have also taken it with us on a few camping trips and our whole family really enjoys playing.

-Product review by Sheila Quach, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, June, 2018