Art teacher makes math fun

Experienced cribbage player Linda Bayless matches strategies with seventh grade students Alysha McGraw and Jacob Simpson at Mansfield School. (Provided photo/Marie Goulet)

 

By Adrienne Douke
Empire Press Correspondent

Marie Goulet teaches her seventh and eighth grade students how to play cribbage during second period art class on Nov. 2. (Empire Press photo/Adrienne Douke)

Mansfield School art teacher Marie Goulet has discovered a way to make math fun.

For the past several weeks, Goulet has handed out cribbage boards to her art students to teach them the basics of the game. Cribbage sessions are continuing in Goulet’s second period art class on Fridays until Thanksgiving and perhaps beyond.

Goulet also asked the community to join the fun. Each week experienced cribbage players are matching their skills with Mansfield seventh and eighth graders. The action is quick — with laughter in between — as players consider their strategies.

“We started learning how to play in the last two weeks, we want to keep up this activity for the rest of the year,” Goulet said.

The game of cribbage — known to be a game of numbers — has been around for almost 400 years keeping minds occupied with mathematical calculations and strategies to win points.

“That’s why I thought it would be a good game for my students to learn. It makes them think mathematically, while they are playing. It incorporates math skills with fun,” Goulet noted.

Players collect points by combining their cards together. The highest points a player can get is 29. It takes 121 points to complete the game. Players calculate their strategies by their card combinations in each hand. Each point they score moves them closer to winning.

Cribbage is a staple of family fun, especially during cold winter nights at the kitchen table. Seventh-grader Trevor Moore said, “I challenge my grandpa and dad for a game of crib, it’s fun sharing the game with them.”

Since cribbage games move quickly, the game involves quick thought processes.

“That’s why I chose it as an activity I wanted my students to learn,” Goulet said.

Cribbage is a complicated game that requires memory, math, and strategy skills. Players want to score points, but their opponents want to keep them from scoring points, so experienced cribbage players rely on intuition and mathematical calculations to win the game.

Seventh-grader Brielle Farrington said, “Learning cribbage has helped me get better at math and playing is so much fun.”

“Players learn how to anticipate what cards their opponents have and this increases their memory skills,” Goulet said. “Players also have to remember sequences and card combinations, and this translates into quick thinking. I like to think of it as ‘gymnastics for the brain.’”

Seventh-grader Jacob Simpson said, “I enjoyed learning this game because it’s fun to play.”

“I invited community members who enjoyed playing the game to come play cribbage with the kids. I knew there were some experienced card players in the Mansfield community,” Goulet said.

Long time cribbage players Gary Heselwood and Bill and Linda Bayless are regulars during second period art class. Experienced players teach the importance of cribbage etiquette and fair play with younger players so everyone benefits.

Heselwood said, “I like to help the kids learn the game and it also helps them with their math skills. It’s fun for all of us.”

Goulet has collected cribbage boards over the years. Some boards were donated and others were from yard sales.

After the students complete their skills test, they show Goulet or one of the volunteers that they have learned the game. Then they can choose a board to personalize in art class.

Goulet concluded, “I’ve played cribbage for over 50 years and always enjoyed the game. I thought it would be fun to share the fundamentals in art class with my seventh and eighth grade students and invite anybody who wants to play cribbage to come up and play a few matches with us. So far we’ve had a lot of fun matching skills and strategies.”