By Bruce Firestone | Family

Apr 11

Teach your children the power of positive and negative numbers by playing a terrific game called “Bananas” with them. It’s a free utility brought to you by Prof Bruce and his five kids and (so far) three grandchildren…

Drive everyone “bananas!”

Game creator Bruce M Firestone, PhD, demonstrates the intricacies of Bananas and how sometimes negative numbers can lead to a positive result!

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A girl named Pinky, who by the way is a math whiz, wants you to learn more about the power of positive and negative numbers, so she invented a game for you to try called “Bananas!” Pinky has loved playing with numbers since she was just a teensy kid.

Here’re the rules:

1.      This is a game to teach you the power of positive and negative numbers.

2.     It is a game of strategy too.

3.     To start, each player clicks on “ROLL.” Whoever has the highest sum of two dice goes first.

4.     Decide which player you want to be: Player 1 (red) or Player 2 (blue).

5.     Roll again.

6.     If you get a 4, 5 or 6, these are positive numbers. Simply move one of your players (by left clicking on a token and holding it down) and move it the appropriate number of squares forward.

7.     If you get 1, 2 or 3, these are negative numbers and you must move backwards (ie, in the opposite direction of the arrows)

8.     If you roll only negative numbers at the start of the game, you are stuck—you can’t move any further back than the start.

9.     You can use both die rolls to move one of your tokens or you may decide to share the dice roll between both of your tokens.

10.    If you land on a square occupied by just one of your opponents, they go back to the start—put the player in the “Penalty Box.” That player must start again at square one ☹

11.    If you have two of your player tokens on a single square—you are safe, and your opponent may not land on that square.

12.    If you land on either square with a Mask, you lose a turn. Note that you can often avoid that result by moving one die roll first (say backwards 1, 2 or 3) then forwards with the other die roll.

13.    If you land on a square with one end of a Vine on it, you swing across. Please note that sometimes negative numbers are good—if you are one space ahead of a Vine and you roll a one, you go backwards first and swing across! Negative numbers can actually propel you forward! Remember that Vines only go in one direction—swing forward. If you go backwards, it must be on the board not on a Vine.

Vines can be useful! So can negative numbers!

14.    If you are behind your opponent by four or more squares then even if they roll a 1, 2 or 3, they can’t knock you off! Unless, of course, they roll a 3 with one die and a 1 with the other—but it takes two dice to knock you off, which is harder to do that a single roll of one die.

15.    Or if you are seven squares ahead then no combination of die can get you—remember a 6 and 1 makes 5 not 7! Think about it yourself—if 1, 2 and 3 are negative numbers, there’s no roll of two dice that can ever add to 7…

16.    Beginners may only want to play with one player token—the first to get his or her piece into the WINNER circle, wins. Note any positive number will do—you do not have to roll the exact positive number to win.

17.    For more experienced players, use both pieces and agree that the first person to get both pieces into the WINNER circle wins.

18.    If you roll doubles, you get another turn. There is no limit to how many doubles in a row you may play.

19.    There are shortcuts on the board—look for them in the A’s of the word BANANAS.

20.   To start a new game, simply click on NEW GAME—but this time, the loser of the last game automatically goes first…

Enjoy math!

All the best,


Ps here’s a picture of me with my friend, Inky! You can read more about Inky and moi at,

Bruce M Firestone, B Eng (civil), M Eng-Sci, PhD


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About the Author

Bruce is an entrepreneur/real estate broker/developer/coach/urban guru/keynote speaker/Sens founder/novelist/columnist/peerless husband/dad.