The game of snakes and ladders is a fun and educational way to spend time with your children. I found myself pulling out an old and battered game one rainy day. Within a few minutes of playing with my daughter, it struck me how effective the game is at teaching young children basic math.

An Overview of the Game

Snakes and Ladders (or Chutes and Ladders) is a dice based board game that is played on a gridded board. The game can be played by multiple players with the objective of reaching the ‘end’ tile on the board. Each square on the board is numbered and typically numbered 1 up to 100.

The history of sliding down snakes and climbing ladders is much older than the old tattered board many of us had as a child. With ancient origins from India, the game has a moral basis where the snakes represent vices in life that bring you down and the ladders represent the virtues that advance you through life.

Math, Math and more Math

Snakes and Ladders (or Chutes and Ladders) can be used for a range of great math activities that are of great benefit to your child. Further still, it is fun, educational and a repetitive game. Just perfect for young children!

Here are the math lessons that occur in a game:

  1. Dice and Counting – To move along the board you need to roll a die. Every time the die is rolled a number between one to six comes up and your preschooler needs to count the dots to find out how many spaces they can move. So your child gets plenty of counting practise. If your child is able to recognize the number on the die easily, you can add complexity by rolling two dice and add more addition to the game!
  2. Movement and One-to-One Correspondence – After each die roll, your child needs to move their counter, which requires one-to-one correspondence as they count the required number of spaces to complete their turn. As your child gets familiar with the game they will be able to quickly recognize how far they need to move without counting the spaces.
  3. Movement and Counting-On – As each space on the board is numbered, you can get your child to practice counting on when they need to complete their move. For example if their counter is on number 22 and your child rolls a five, they can practice counting out five numbers from 22 to get to their required answer.


This is a great educational game for children. Full of simple mathematical tasks, it also contains a great moral lesson to make it a truly beneficial game. As a parent, you might even enjoy a game or two as well!

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