Summer Game #15: Top and Bottom Corners

This has nothing to do with summer but with life in general. Homeschooling life that is.

Around eight years ago, I woke up one morning with back pain and, because I’ve had this pain before, I knew it was a kidney stone. Unfortunately this stone was too big to pass on its own so I had to have lithotripsy. Not too long after the procedure, I ended up with the flu. So, there was a four to six weeks span where very little school got done.

That’s when I realized something in the way we school was going to have to change.

At this point I was teaching five children and the oldest, as well as the youngest, had learning challenges. My oldest was not one I could give a book or a worksheet to and have him do it independently. He did better if we sat together as a group to read and discuss. I found it easiest to combine the children and teach as many subjects as I could to the whole group. He had since graduated, but I just kept on teaching this way because I enjoyed it.

But having the kidney stones, being on pain killers, and then being sick with the flu can take its toll. Now, my children thought it was great because they were not doing much, if any, school. I, on the other hand, realized that I was going to have to change some things because my illness was affecting their schooling and it really wasn’t fair to them. I realized that I was going to have to let go of what started off as a positive thing because it was becoming a negative thing.

The two older girls loved gaining their independence! I still kept my two younger boys together as much as possible as they were both delayed learners as well as the younger one having learning differences. But I also started giving them some topics where they could be more independent.

Getting rid of the “negative” can be a bit bittersweet. But when I saw the positive growth and forward progression, I was confident that they won’t miss that much school again because of me. It’s a good thing.

This week’s game is about positive and negative; positive and negative numbers, that is. Top and Bottom Corners is game S11 in the Math Card Games book.

Corners is one of our family’s favorite games and this variation is similar to the original game of Corners.

Using the Corner cards, sums formed by joining top (green) and bottom (black) numbers are added. Sums formed by joining the side (red and blue) numbers are subtracted.

I like to think of it this way: The horizontal numbers are subtracted since the minus sign is like the horizon. The vertical numbers are added, just like the vertical line you have in the plus sign.

Each player starts off with three cards and draws another card after playing one. There is NO scoreless matching in this game. So if you can’t play a card, then your turn is skipped.

The two numbers still need to equal 5, 10, 15, or 20, then that total is added or subtracted to the accumulative scores.

Here we have 3 + 2, which is 5. But it’s going to be a negative sum. Score is –5.

Did any of you notice the blue 8 and 7? Yes, that would be a valid play, but then we’d have –15. No thanks! We’ll stick with a –5.

Next, we added 9 + 1 for a sum of 10. And it’s a positive 10 because it’s vertical! So –5 + 10 is a positive 5. Notice that only the total is written. The –5 + 10 was done mentally.

Some of you may be wondering, if this is a multi-person game, why are they scores combined? Of course, they wouldn’t be when more than one person is playing, but that’s harder to show here. So we’re looking at this particular game as a solitaire game….. Work with me!

Now we added the black 4 + 1, giving us an additional 5 points for a total now of 10.

And another negative matched card, bringing us back down to a total of –5.

Of course, if a card is played to a corner, both positive and negative scores are incurred, so be cautious!

This is a fun game for strategy…. as well as playing with negative numbers!

Happy playing.





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