Sunya offers games both in Adding & Subtracting and Multiplying & Dividing, but since my boys are only partway into memorizing their multiplication facts, I thought it would be best to practice with addition fact families. The guidebook states that it is for ages 7+, but younger children who have already started memorizing addition facts can easily play as well.
- 60 game cards (including numbers 0-9, wild cards, and operations cards)
- 30 science and math facts and riddles cards
- Sunya number line covering -3 through 21
- Teacher/Parent Guidebook (comb-bound) with detailed instructions for playing three variations of Sunya, as well as other math activities for young children and copies of all the math and science facts and riddles cards.
Sunya is played using only the 60 game cards (and possibly the number line for assistance). After deciding whether to use addition or subtraction, the dealer makes a math sentence and then deals four cards to each player.
The Teacher/Parent Guidebook contains 16 pages of game instructions, 3 pages of further activities to do with young children using the Sunya number cards, and 6 pages of math facts and riddles designed to challenge students to look beyond what they already know and practice creative thinking. The book we received was printed in gray scale with a few pages in full color, as the publisher was asking the Review Crew for our opinion on the various styles. While I do think the color pages are more attractive, for the most part the gray scale pages are very clear and easy to read. The only changes I would make on the gray scale pages would be keeping the font all one color in a single paragraph and obviously removing references to colors (i.e. on page 7, where the instructions say that “Cards played from hand are in bold purple”).
As with many games, I found the best way to learn how to play Sunya was just to jump in and start playing. The main idea of the game was simple and easy for Ian (8) and Elijah (6) to play. However, when it came to some of the special rules, we got confused. I had trouble figuring out the purpose behind the “0 & 1 Rule,” which made it hard to remember. And it was frustrating to have a wild card and not be able to go out because you can’t win on a wild card but have to draw another card even though you made a number sentence and successfully used all your cards.
We never got beyond the basic game just because I felt overwhelmed by all the instructions and little rules. I think it’s probably not as complicated as it seemed, so simplified directions would be really helpful.
The “math and science facts and riddles” cards were a big hit with the boys. They’re not really related to the game, just another way to have fun thinking about numbers. Some of the riddles were a play on words (“If you take 3 oranges from 5 oranges, how many do you have? You have 3 oranges.”), so I wasn’t sure if the boys would really understand them, but with my explanations they found the humor and enjoyed sharing them with their friends. There was only one I couldn’t figure out: “What three numbers give the same answer whether added or multiplied together? 1,2, and 3.” (If you get it, please comment and let me know how this is true, because it’s driving me crazy!)
What I liked about Sunya
- The cards are high quality and designed to stand up under normal use.
- The game itself provides good practice of addition/subtraction facts.
- The number cards allow for lots of creative uses.
- The Facts and Riddles cards are lots of fun.
What I felt could use improvement
- It would be helpful to have some difference in the back of the game cards and riddle cards (different color or pattern) so they are easier to tell apart.
- The instructions for the game seem more complicated than they need to be. Some editing for simplification would be helpful. Video on the website of a game being played would be even better, especially with explanations of what to do with 0s and 1s, what the end of the game looks like, and how to play the different variations.
- A box for storage would be helpful. I just put rubberbands around the the two decks and stashed them in a baggie.
The creator of Sunya obviously loves numbers and wants students to experience the same delight. The game is still in the development stages, and in my opinion could use a bit more refining. Overall, however, it is a good concept and helpful for giving students a fun way to practice math facts.