What errors do children make when playing path games?
Children make counting errors such as skipping over objects or
double-counting as well as addition errors. Counting errors often
continue for an extended period. However, when children make
errors they are often corrected by their peers. Children who are
challenged in their thinking by other children are forced to
rethink their logic and ultimately move ahead in their thinking
and stop making errors.
Another common error that children make is to re-count the
space their mover occupies when they begin a new turn. Some
children stop making this error after playing gross-motor path
games (see activity 7.3) where they themselves are the mover.
Children who successfully use grid games often need a period
of exploration with path games before they are able to play them
in a conventional manner. Initially, some children roll the dice
and hop along the path without regard to the quantity on the
dice. They do not yet perceive the relationship between the roll
of the dice and the spaces on the path. For some children the to-
tal length of a long path may be overwhelming. They may
respond by moving from start to finish quickly.
What is the teacher’s role?
The teacher plans developmentally appropriate games,
encourages social interaction, and stimulates higher-level thinking
strategies through questioning techniques or appropriate modeling.
Teachers must provide a variety of levels of games in order to
best meet the developmental needs of an entire class. Grid games,
short path, and long path games may all be appropriate for cer-
tain children. Teachers might want to create games on these
three levels that all center around a common topic, such as
autumn. Then, any child in the class who wanted to play an au-
tumn game could find one on her level (activities 5.7, 5.12, and
5.18). This does not mean that the teacher should suggest that a
child not play a particular game. Rather, the teacher should allow
the children to play the game in their own way and perhaps after-
ward suggest another game that might be more appropriate.
Path games, especially long path games, require more social
interaction among the participants than grid games, which are
sometimes used by children in parallel-play fashion. The teacher
should observe and facilitate these interactions but not offer solu-
tions. The teacher maintains the role of a mediator to help chil-
dren see each other’s viewpoints and further their thinking.
Younger children often seek the teacher as a partner for playing
path games. They seem to enjoy a close relationship with the