Because thinking is a hard skill to learn. It requires practice. We want our kids to grow up learning how to solve problems, not just follow formulas (though those skills are needed too!).
So with my younger grades, all my focus is on math enrichment. I do some skill-building games, fact practice, and the like.
But my favorite games -- and my students' favorite games -- are the logic games. I tell the kids they have to THINK about each problem and then find a way to solve it. Sometimes we fail. That's okay! We persevere in solving the problem until we find the solution. And there's always more than one way to do that in each level.
These are our top 5 logic games. You can find these, and many more (MANY MORE) on Math Playground, Hooda Math, or Cool Math Games.
If your kids are going to play on the computer anyway, why not have them thinking while they do it?
1. Snail Bob 2: In this game, Snail Bob is trying to navigate his way through a dangerous forest to get to his Grandpa's birthday party. Every level has different difficulties the students must figure out. My students cheer when they get to the birthday party!
2. Cover Orange 2: In this game, you must save the orange (and sometimes the apple) from getting juiced by the evil Ninja Cloud! He throws ninja stars, which of course we all know pierces fruit and kills them! Each level has unique tools (barrels, wheels, wooden blocks, etc.) to use in a variety of ways.
3. Cat Around the World: In this game, you need to feed the hungry cat as he makes his way around the world to various famous locations. Level 1 starts in New York City at the Statue of Liberty. Each level has a variety of challenges, and kids must think about how things move in order to feed the cat. Also check out Cat Around Asia and Cat Around Europe.
4. Factory Balls: This is our all-time favorite! I have students who play this game every day they love it so much. In Factory Balls, you need to recreate a ball using various tools like paint, belts, hats, glasses, covers, seeds, and more. Warning: highly addictive! Also check out Factory Balls 2, 3, 4, and Christmas.
5. Rhinos Vs. Hippos: This is a new discovery for me. In this game, you need to drop the evil rhinos out of the game, but keep the nice hippos. They both roll for an added challenge, and they're sometimes attached to each other, or balanced precariously. It's great fun!
Check some of these out -- you might just like them yourself!