Wednesday 5 August 2015

Math Games . . . Part 2!

I've said it before ({HERE}) and I'll say it again, I LOVE math games! I find them to be such a fun, relaxed way for students to practice basic facts and skills that they forget they're working hard and learning!

There are a ton of math games out there that are amazing . . . and also require a million different components. I like math games that require little to no prep or supplies, because let's be honest, teachers are busy enough! The two games I'm going to talk about today need only a deck of cards, can't beat that!

Now, I have to be honest. Rather than brand new math games, I'm actually just going to talk about two alternative versions of a game I posted last year, let's call it Multiplication War Version 1.0:

This is a great, fun game for students to practice their basic facts. I talked about it as multiplication war, but primary students could also try it as addition (first person to add the two numbers) or subtraction (first person to subtract the smaller number from the greater one) war. The only problem I talked about then is that students need to be matched up by skill level, which is not always realistic or simple. Today, I have ways to use the basic concept, but not have to worry about students being paired up evenly. Hooray for differentiation!

Introducing, Multiplication War Version 2.0:

For this version, a pair of students splits a deck in half and at the same time, they each choose one card from the top of each deck, giving them each two cards. This creates different questions for each student, introducing an element of luck and reducing the competition to answer first. Students answer their own question and the student with the greatest answer wins the cards for that round.  Since the winner is not determined by answering first, but rather by the random cards they pull, students can freely help each other if they are stuck and the winner is determined by pure luck, not skill level. I love this version. Number 1, because I have seen strong students walk their partners through the answer, benefitting both students, and Number 2, because since it is based on luck, and not skill, it reduces the frustration felt by struggling students that they "can't win" against a stronger opponent. Anyone can win this game (even when students play the teacher!) and that makes students excited to play.

Multiplication War Version 3.0:

This is another version of multiplication war that works best when students are paired up by approximate skill level, but can be adjusted to work with most student pairings. In this version, students split the deck in half. In the first half they place all the cards that represent basic facts they both agree they are comfortable practicing. Students usually start with 5s, 10s, 1s, 2s, etc., but can add more as they learn. In the second half they place the cards that represent the basic facts they do not yet know. Students can then either each take one of the halves, and each flip one card per turn with the first person calling out the answer getting to keep the cards (like regular multiplication war) OR students can place the two halves side by side and play as in the 2.0 version, each taking one card from each deck, to create their own questions to answer.

I like this version because the added step of splitting the deck into known/practice facts and unknown facts allows students to work at a level they both feel comfortable at because each turn will produce a question that they either know or are practicing. This maintains the surprise, but also eases anxiety about suddenly seeing 8 x 8 and having no clue where to start.

Like I said, this works best for students at around the same level (for instance, they both know their 2s, 10s, and 5s, and want to practice their 9s) or can be adapted to students of different levels by using only the numbers with which the struggling learner feels comfortable. This makes the two students on a more level playing field as they are both working on questions they know or want to practice.

In addition to games, I like to bring fun into math whenever & wherever possible. I do not want students to fear math or become bored with it when they feel it is repetitious. But let's be honest, there is a lot of practice, practice, practice, so we as teachers have to keep the students interested. To keep that practice from boring students to tears, I created a little pack of Basic Multiplication & Division Math Mystery Phrases:

Students answer the questions (lots of practice of basic skills) and then use the letters to solve the mystery phrases. The mysteries are fun (gotta keep those students engaged in the material) and self-checking . . .  a bonus for busy teachers! You can click {HERE} or the picture above to grab the mysteries.

And for when students just need some good ol' extra practice, I have 60 Quick Quizzes for Multiplication (click {HERE} to grab) . . .

So how do you keep math fun? I would love to hear your tips and suggestions!

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