Which Orchard Toys games are useful for children with dyscalculia?

A couple of weeks go I wrote a post highlighting my recommended resources for parents and teachers supporting children with dyslexia. Due to its popularity, I decided to write a similar blog post but this time focus on numeracy resources that can help children with dyscalculia.

Once again, I’ve been very fortunate to be able to try out some of Orchard Toys’ learning games. If you didn’t know already, Orchard Toys are a wonderful company and one of the leading manufacturers of educational puzzles and games. (Full disclosure, Orchard Toys has sponsored this post)

What is Dyscalculia?

Dyscalculia is a specific difficulty with maths understanding that makes maths sums and problem solving with numbers much more challenging. Every area of maths can be affected by dyscalculia from telling the time, to doing addition calculations. The British Dyslexia Association (BDA) states that approximately 6% of the population have dyscalculia; yetis my experience it’s still something that many people haven’t heard of. It’s also worth noting that according to the BDA 60% of dyslexic people will also have difficulties with maths.

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How might you notice a child has dyscalculia?

You may identify that a child could have dyscalculia if they are struggling a lot with numeracy based activities. Pre-school children with dyscalculia may be finding things like counting forwards challenging and may not be able to count objects accurately. Primary aged children with dyscalculia may find maths lessons a lot harder than their peers. They may find learning to tell the time very difficult, make lots of errors with addition and subtraction sums, struggle with learning their left and right, and struggle to memorise their times tables.

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Many children who don’t have dyscalculia find numeracy activities difficult too. The key to spotting if it could be dyscalculia though is if the difficulties are persistent, if they are happening with the majority of their numeracy activities and if these problems are occurring on a very regular basis despite lots of support.

What do you do if you think a child has dyscalculia?

As with any Special Educational Need and Disability (SEND), if you think your child could have dyscalculia the best thing to do is to speak to the SENDCO (Special Educational Needs and Disability Coordinator) at your child’s school. You could mention it to your child’s class teacher first and ask if they can talk to the SENDCO for you. Identifying SEND early means (in theory) your child can get support earlier too.

Which educational games by Orchard Toys would I recommend to help support numeracy skill development for children with dyscalculia and why?

There are some fantastic numeracy based games that Orchard Toys have created. And even if you just suspect dyscalculia (or are simply noticing your child finds numeracy a bit more challenging) there’s no harm in giving them a go. These resources are useful for all children regardless of their maths ability – giving them stress free, fun opportunities to practise their maths skills.

Here are my favourites and why:

  • Match and Count

As I mentioned before, young children with dyscalculia may find counting really difficult and as a lot of numeracy based tasks require you to be able to count, it’s really important to provide lots of opportunities to help. This Match and Count game is ideal for this. There’s twenty pairs of puzzle pieces and the children have to count the animals and find the number piece that matches. A lovely, fun way of helping children to practise counting and make links between the written number and the number they have counted.

  • Catch & Count:

This is another brilliant game for helping make the association between the written number and the number of objects counted. It’s also great for practising those counting skills. Children spin the colourful, ocean themed spinner and then count the number of bubbles and collect the matching cards on their fish board. I absolutely adore the underwater theme of this game, it’s really fun for kids and makes a lovely family game to play together to help practise numeracy skills (without the kids realising!)

  • The Game of Ladybirds:

If your focus is on getting to grips with counting, then this is the game you need. It’s perfect for pre-school age and older children who need a bit of extra practise with their counting and it’s great fun too! Players roll the dice, count the number on the dice and try and find a leaf with that number of dots on. They then turn over the leaf to see how many ladybirds are hidden under it! The player with the most ladybirds at the end of the game wins. What’s particularly lovely about this game is the winner is simply just based on luck of how many ladybirds happen to be under each leaf, not who is the best at counting! This helps to build confidence and a love of maths.

  • Times Table Heroes

I was actually told about this game a while ago by a friend of mine as it’s a favourite for her family and it’s clear to see why. (I say ‘game’, there’s actually two games in one. You get the brilliant Hero City Board Game and Multiplication Bingo.)

Times tables can be really challenging to memorise for a lot of children and it can lead to children being (understandably) very reluctant to practise them. Therefore, having such exciting games that children want to play and that also helps them learn their times tables is fantastic! The illustrations on the box and the game are also very ‘cool’ and not at all ‘babyish’ which I found helped older children get over the initial reservations of playing a maths game together.

All of these games and more can be found on the Orchard Toys website here.

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