‘Sum2Zero’ Is the Perfect Game for Stealth Math Learning!

As a school psychologist and homeschool mom to three children, I rely heavily on games for introducing and reinforcing academic skills. In fact, we play so many games over here that we call ourselves gameschoolers.

Playing games with your children offers a host of educational benefits, plus you build relationships and make memories. I am constantly amazed by the amount of learning that happens when I sit down to play educational board games with my children.

One of my favorite subjects to tackle via games is math. Today, I’m sharing a new-to-us math game that we recently discovered. It is called Sum2Zero.

'Sum2Zero' is the Perfect Game for Stealth Math Learning! | Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley, GeekMom
Image source: Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley

About Sum2Zero

Sum2Zero, from Bear in Mind Games, is an easy-to-play card game based on zero-sum game theory. Sum2Zero is ideal for 2-6 players. It is recommended for ages 10 and up, although my children (ages 9, 8, and 6) had no difficulty learning to play. Sum2Zero is a quick playing game, with most games lasting under 20 minutes.

'Sum2Zero' is the Perfect Game for Stealth Math Learning! | Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley, GeekMom
Image source: Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley

Sum2Zero Components

Children will fall for Sum2Zero immediately, as the coloring of the cards is reminiscent of Uno.

Sum2Zero includes the following:

  • 104 cards
    • 44 positive number cards (1 to 12)
    • 44 negative number cards (-1 to -12)
    • 3 positive imaginary cards
    • 3 negative imaginary cards
    • 2 Boom! cards
    • 2 Reset cards
    • 2 Checked cards
    • 2 Thunder cards
    • 2 Cubit cards

Action Cards

In Sum2Zero, red cards represent negative numbers, while black cards represent positive numbers. The deck also includes the following “action cards”:

  1. Reset (blue) cards – Reset cards can be used to “reset” the game by drawing a new base card from the deck. When a player uses a Reset card, he may choose to play the base card or elect to pass his turn to the next player.
  2. Imaginary cards (black or red) – Red Imaginary cards represent negative numbers, while black Imaginary cards denote positive numbers. The Imaginary card can represent any number. When played, the player must state the positive or negative number to the other players. If the base card is an Imaginary card, the next player chooses the number.
  3. Boom! (orange) cards – Boom! cards allow players to get rid of cards quickly. When played, the player places the Boom! card on the base card and then discards the number of cards indicated on the Boom! card (2 or 3 cards). The player can then elect to play the next base card or pass his/her turn to the next player.
  4. Checked (green) cards – The Checked card forces other players to draw additional cards. The Checked card is played on the base card and all other players must draw the number of cards indicated on the Checked card (1 to 3 cards).
  5. Thunder (purple) cards – The Thunder card is played on the base card. When played, the player must put down the number of cards denoted in the top part of the Thunder card (1 to 3 cards), then draw the number of cards indicated on the bottom (2 or 3 cards), and then draw a new base card. The player can then choose to play the base card or pass to the next player.
  6. Cubit (yell0w) cards – When played, a player must put down the number of cards shown on the Cubit card (2 or 3 cards) and then draw a new base card from the deck. Other players then draw the number of cards indicated on the Cubit card (2 or 3 cards). The player who dealt the Cubit card then has the option of blindly switching the number of cards indicated on the Cubit card (2 or 3 cards) with any other player. The other player cannot refuse to swap cards.
'Sum2Zero' is the Perfect Game for Stealth Math Learning! | Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley, GeekMom
Image source: Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley

How to Play Sum2Zero

Sum2Zero is easy to learn and quick to play, but the game works on mental arithmetic, positive and negative numbers, and planning/strategy.

The object of the game is to place 1 to 3 cards on the “base card” so that the base card plus your cards sum to zero.

How to Play

  1. Shuffle all cards.
  2. Choose one player to be the dealer.
  3. The dealer gives each player 10 cards.
  4. When all players have their hand, the dealer draws one card from the remaining deck and places it face-up on the playing surface. This card is referred to as the base card.
  5. On your turn, the goal is to place 1-3 cards on the base card so that the cards sum to zero.
  6. If a player cannot sum to zero on his or her turn, that player must draw two cards.
  7. The first player to use his or her hand is the winner.
'Sum2Zero' is the Perfect Game for Stealth Math Learning! | Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley, GeekMom
Image source: Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley

Sum2Zero Is Perfect For…

Sum2Zero is the perfect math game for gameschooling and stealth learning. It’s easy to learn, simple to play, works on a host of math skills, and it’s portable!

When children are engaged in fun, hands-on activities, they are often unaware that they are practicing important skills. So much learning can happen through fantastic books, play, and games!

If you like Sum2Zero, be sure to check out Emkata.

I recently reviewed another game by Bear in Mind Games. It is called Emkata and it’s an acrostic word game that is perfect for a family game night.

Now, it’s your turn. Tell me: What is your favorite game right now? Share here!

Disclosure: I received a copy of this game for review purposes.

Cait is a school psychologist, mom to three amazing children, and an unexpected homeschooler. She loves nature, good books, board games, strong coffee, and dancing in her kitchen. You can read about all of these things and more at My Little Poppies. Cait co-hosts The Homeschool Sisters Podcast. She is a contributing writer for Simple Homeschool and her work has also appeared on The Huffington Post, The Mighty, and Scary Mommy. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram and G+.