Chess 4 math, a kindergarten book

by Ramon Lorente
2/11/2018 – Chess 4 Math is a kindergarten book that aims to bring chess into the educational curriculum. With the tagline "Play chess, learn math and train your mind", the program aims to develop both cognitive and non-cognitive skills among children. Teachers or students do not necessarily need to have chess knowledge to understand the activities, but of course it can provide an on-ramp to competitive chess as well.

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Using chess to teach mathematics

Working in a kindergarten class as a bilingual instructor has been a fantastic experience, and as a chess master it is evident that I tried to teach them chess too. The idea of using chess to teach mathematics came to me one day when I was participating in a math curriculum training. Knowing that the chess pieces have a numerical value, I thought that it was possible to create math exercises that involve the chess pieces (representing the numbers).

Chess 4 MathThen, I started a conscientious study of the Common Core Mathematical Standards and the Standards for Mathematical Practice, and I found the pedagogical foundation of the idea in the 2nd Standard for Mathematical Practice: "Thinking Abstractly and Quantitatively." The standard states that students need to think abstractly for a given situation, represent it symbolically, and manipulate the representing symbols as if they have a life of their own. Then I realized that the chess pieces could be the abstract representation of the numbers and the symbols that students can manipulate during the activities. From there, I started the design of math exercises with the chess pieces instead of numbers, and with a bit of surprise, the students understood the idea pretty quickly and even showed enthusiasm in seeing more activities. They fell in love with the chess pieces. So, I decided to continue testing the concept and wrote the first book for Kindergarteners. 

Now, I am currently in my second year of testing this project, and I've witnessed to the multiple advantages that this curriculum offers. I believe that it will tremendously increase our possibilities of bringing chess into the elementary classrooms.

The following are a list of five facts that support that sentiment: 

  1. The curriculum develops critical thinking skills in our students since they need to mentally stop and identify the numbers represented by the chess pieces, before resolving any activity.
  2. Students are enjoying seeing the chess symbols, instead of just seeing numbers in math activities, and this has a positive impact on their process of learning mathematics. 
  3. Teachers don't necessarily need to have a deep understanding of chess or even know how to move the pieces to teach this curriculum. This fact increases the possibility of accepting this curriculum into their classrooms.
  4. Teachers are seeing their students more motivated and engaged during the lessons.
  5. As a professional chess coach, I notice an increased number of students with chess enthusiasm and involvement in chess clubs.

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Lesson examples

Lesson examples from Chess 4 Math (click or tap to enlarge)

As a professional chess coach, my primary goals with this project are to increase our possibilities of bringing chess into the regular school's curriculum and offer the opportunity of learning chess to all kindergarten, and eventually all elementary students. 

As an educator, my primary goal is to offer an original, entertaining and engaging way of learning mathematics, as well as the possibility of developing critical thinking skills in our students. 

Book chapters

The books will be available in English and Spanish, and I am in the process of developing interactive games, as well an app for mobile devices. The material follows the Standards used in the Common Core for Mathematics in the United States, but it could be applied to any other country. Fortunately, mathematics and chess have a universal language!

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Ramon began playing chess at the age of seven, and has competed professionally for many years, along side coaching. A FIDE Master, he graduated in Physical Education, in 2010, and has had the opportunity to teach students from different countries and all levels, in Academies, Chess Clubs, and regular classrooms.
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Clarysanex Clarysanex 2/16/2018 02:38
An amazing job Mr. Lorente! The good part of the European educational standards is the fact that they really include sports like chess in their curriculum, unlike education in America that does not teach children to think, create and innovate, just to blind follow what they are told!
Alt-Square1 Alt-Square1 2/12/2018 02:12
Both math and chess are essentially tools for problem-solving. Calculation is just one part of mindset you need to be good at math or chess:
1. identify a problem you want to solve.
2. set up the problem
3. calculate
4. check the result

As can be seen, #1 and #2 (which deal with Structure and Relationships) are much more important than mere calculation.

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kenard kenard 2/12/2018 10:15
What is wrong with numbers? Give chess pieces a numeric value and then use them in math equations. Very stupid! Just use the numbers!
Oniel87 Oniel87 2/12/2018 02:06
We've been talking about this for years but I've never seen anyone who developed it, very interesting the idea of Master Ramon Lorente. Congratulations!
Isachess Isachess 2/12/2018 01:43
For years people talked about the advantage that chess offers to the core subjects and the author did an excellent job with this workbook, aligned with the common core. I've seen his material, and I am sure that many students are going to enjoy the book. Also, the chess number line and chess domino are original ideas by the author. Well done!
Malcom Malcom 2/11/2018 05:29
This idea has been going on for years; why are we talking of him!?
melante melante 2/11/2018 10:26
wonderful project!
Fullstep Fullstep 2/11/2018 04:23
Kids are really cute!
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