Friday, 12 September 2014

Math Games!

I was so inspired by Abby's post over at The Inspired Apple that I couldn't help but talk about my own favorite math games to use.

Whether I'm working with the whole class, a small group or with struggling learners, I always like to include games. Now don't get the wrong impression - these are not games full of fluff, they are full of content and the students are learning. Bonus: they are having *fun* while learning.

I love using math games when topics are first introduced, to review, and to assess - the trifecta of teaching! The great thing is some of these games can be done with a deck of cards or a few dice and a whiteboard - no extra prep on your part! So let's get to it!

Now I would apologize for the iPhone pictures but . . . I really just think it is my own picture-taking skills that are to blame. I am no photographer. Hand me any camera you'd like, I can't focus or get the lighting right - anyone have any tips?

Another note before we start: I am fully acknowledging that I am not the originator of these games. They have been passed from teacher to teacher for generations - just kidding. But in all seriousness, if anyone does know where or from whom these games originated, please let me know so I can include credit!

The first game is an easy one. Multiplication war. All the students need is a deck of cards - piece of cake! Students play like normal war - split the deck, pull a card, but the first student to say the correct product wins the cards. This game could also be done with addition and subtraction - fun for all ages! One thing to note is that this game is best done when students are paired up by skill level. Students need to be evenly matched for this to work out fairly.

I have no idea the name of this next game, so I called it "Add it Up!" I know, so original! This one requires a recording sheet of some kind. Students take turns drawing two cards each. They record the number sentence and sum and the student with the greatest sum wins the round. It's great because the winner is determined by the luck of the cards - the students don't need to be partnered up by skill level. Another bonus, this game can be done with multiplication and subtraction facts, too.

**Update: I just received a request for a subtraction version of the recording sheet, so I though I'd share that here as well. Click {HERE} or the picture below to grab that freebie.

Umm, apparently I need new whiteboard markers and also need to try one of those Pinterest tips for cleaning whiteboards, yikes!
Last one for today, and probably my favorite - I just love some place value practice! This one can be done as a whole group or as a small group with a student acting as the number caller. Students set up a game board with dashes for each digit, plus a trash can. You can decide how many digits you want the number to be, depending on what your students are learning. In the above pictures, the game board was set up for a 3-digit number, plus the trash can. Teacher (or student) pulls one card from the deck, tells it to the class and each student must decide where to place the number on their game board, trying to end up with a number with the greatest value. Continue pulling cards one at a time and make sure that students place the number for each turn. Students can use the trash can to discard a number they don't want to use,  but they can only use it once during each round. This game can also be done to create numbers with the least value and can be used for numbers with as many digits as you'd like.

I like this game because it requires skill and a bit of luck - any student can win. It can also reveal a lot - for instance when students are discarding eights and nines and placing ones in the hundreds place. Finally, I like it because it requires students to read their answer - reading large numbers can be a skill that students may not practice enough.

I've created some recording sheets for the "Add it Up!" game, just click the picture below:

I've included sheets for addition and multiplication (cleverly titled "Multiply it!"), as well as versions to be used with dice or playing cards. I've also included two and three partner versions because we all know that as soon as you try to pair up students, you have an odd number, it's inevitable.

Enjoy the weekend!


  1. Love these ideas! Thank you so much. Great for Math warmups in the classroom!

    1. I'm glad you like the game suggestions - thanks for stopping by!

  2. My students are struggling with counting on/counting back....I'm hoping this will get them excited!

  3. You have shared some good games here. If you would like some more ideas, check out my blog on learning games. I will link to the math ones, but there are other skills as well...

  4. I really like this. I think that it is important to make math fun, and this game really does that! I would love to try this out with students!

    1. Thank you so much for your comment and stopping by, I really appreciate it!

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  6. These are really good games. Thank you so much. Also check out SAY CHEESE game for times tables practice.

  7. Marvellous ideas - just what I'm looking for so simple and easy instructions!