How to Incorporate Playful Math Activities into the Schoolyard

At the beginning of this year, we had a clear mission: boost playful learning activities on school playgrounds through our interactives, especially the Lappset Memo Interactive play pillars. With over 100 Memo’s installed worldwide and a third of them close to or on school playgrounds, the Memo is best suited to fulfil this ambitious goal. Math is one of the universal topics children learn and practice in school, and to make the ultimate Math game was, therefore, a natural choice. The first results are in, and they are exceeding our expectations!

Published: 9 July 2020, edited: 15 May 2023
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The 3 C’s to success: Choice, Control & Competition

We did a lot of testing at multiple schools with children of different ages. We discovered that to create an attractive game for a school playground, you first must add choice and control options, so the children can decide what they want to play and at what difficulty level. The Math game is built on top of a compelling framework in which children can select what type of math topic they want to play. With the first release of the Math game, they can choose addition, multiplication, division, or subtraction. The difficulty level selection is essential for children to enjoy the game. The levels are not connected to grades or age because children’s skill level varies, and you don’t want to rule out any player. Children seem to start on the first level when given the choice of “challenging” sums, which is tremendous!

We added competition and more specific team-based competition to give the children more reasons to return for more. The players can set a score and enter their initials. These initials are saved on the Memo, and other groups can try to beat the score. With every level and topic having its own top 5, there is something to beat every time you play. With this knowledge, we released the Math game in two primary schools without promoting it; Rio del Sol STEAM school in Oxnard, United States, and de Meiboom Daltonschool in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, to see what would happen.

Girl playing the math game on the Lappset Memo

School breaks are now 25% playful math games!

After two months of testing, we can now say that fun playground maths games can boost playful math activities during school breaks. In the first month, we collected the play statistics on the Memo without the new Math game, and after this, we collected another month of play statistics with the addition of the new game. When placed in school playgrounds, our interactive playsets are often played 100% of the time during breaks, resulting in roughly 1-2 hours of play daily. The set of current games focuses heavily on active play. One of our first attempts at simple playground math games called Matty always tested as one of the least played games. But with the new math playground game, an extra learning dimension is added.

Practising a skill on your own level will show increased popularity as a result. Within a month, we’ve seen growth in Math play hours at the Meiboom and a quadruple number of hours playing Math at the Rio del Sol school. This means extra hours of math playground games every week without any effort or involvement of the teachers. The Math game has become the second most popular game on interactive playsets, beating the top games that have been popular for years on the Memo. Listening to the teachers and students, they all love the new game and see the potential. Even including the game in Math class is now something schools want to do, boosting playful learning even more.

“Ahh, do we really have to go back inside for Math class…”

- Tom (student), after playing a prototype of the Math game

Children working together to solve a math problem on the Lappset Memo

The future of educational content on the playground is here.

The Math game is the first step of our mission to boost playful learning on the playground. We’ve now only covered the basics of Math and are continuously working on developing more packs. We collaborate with experts, performing many (international) user tests to expand the math playground game with topics such as percentages, fractions, measurements, units, and money-related sums.

Keep an eye on the My Yalp platform to see all the new exciting content for our interactive playsets. The foundation of flexibility and giving the user power over what they want to practice is highly successful and will be used in the next big challenge and topic at schools: Language!

“This game is a real addition to our Math classes. All teachers agree that the new game is great for Math class!”

- Marina Gielen, teacher Meiboom

Woman using the My Yalp platform to add a game to her playset

Math playground games

We’ve added a massive collection of maths playground logic games to the My Yalp platform. Users can now enjoy anything from percentages, units and even Roman Numerals on the Memo—the perfect set for schools to extend the classroom to the playground. Or even better, include the Memo in the math lessons and have the players practice and automate the techniques they just learned from the Math teacher. 

Christiaan Ribbens, Lead UX/Game developer at Lappset
Author Profile | Christiaan Ribbens - Lead UX Designer Lappset Interactive

One of my favorite aspects of my role at Lappset is to not only create games that entertain but also games that really impact players around the world. We test all year round with many types of players and experts, giving us valuable insights into how to make our games even better. The best thing here is that we constantly measure, visit locations and it's amazing to see games being played more and longer not only on our digital dashboards, but also when we spot a product in the wild.

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