Make Math fun with games!
So many of my math students look forward to the last few minutes of our lessons, not because they want it to be over (right?!?) but because they know we get to play games! Now, I don’t know if you guys know this or not, but teachers do not make a HUGE salary. We have to be creative with how we engage our students. So, I make math games! It’s super easy to take a regularly played game such as cards or Monopoly and tweak it to fit your math learnin’ needs! Here are a few of my favorite DIY math games to play with my students.
Initial prep time = approximately 1-2 hours (you can also have your learner help with this process!)
Game set up time = a few minutes to stack the tower
Game play time = 10 – 20 minutes
Materials needed = Block stacking game, permanent markers, blank die (optional)
- This takes some initial prep time, but is a great twist to an already popular game.
- Game play is pretty simple. Each player takes turns pulling out blocks using the regular rules that come with the game. However, before a player can place their block on top of the stack, they must answer a math fact – EASY!
- I chose to use 4 different levels of difficulty on my blocks with red being the easiest, then green, then blue, and finally purple being the most challenging. I did this because I work with different levels of learners, so it makes it easy for me to pick a color that we will play with that day. However, my older kids love to use the colored dice (it’s just a blank die that I colored with sharpie – you could also use cards, hearts = red, diamonds = green, etc) for a random chance at the different types of equations they will solve. I even have a side that says “me” and one that says “you” and players get to either choose for themselves or have the color chosen by the opposite player.
- I chose math facts that students should know without counting. I try to help my students solve the facts without counting by relating “harder” problems to facts that they already know. For example, you’ll see the 5 + 6 = ? block. If they start counting, I’ll say something like, “if you know 5 + 5, then you can easily figure out 5 + 6 because 6 is just one more than 5.”
- The game is so intense, and it’s so interesting to see the various methods and play styles! Some kids are oh so careful, and others just go for it!
Initial prep time = none
game set up time = seconds to sort out the dice and materials you’ll need
game play time = 10 to 30 minutes (depends on your determined “winning” score)
materials needed = white board (or paper), 2 sets of any 3 dice, 1 extra die for the target die (I use different dice for different levels of players. In this example, I am using one 12-sided for the target die, and each player gets a 6-sided, 8-sided and 10-sided die)
- This game is perfect for students who have learned or are learning order of operation. The basic game play goes like this:
- the “target die” is rolled, and each player rolls his or her own 3 “player dice”.
- Each player must use ALL of the numbers that they rolled to come up with the number on the “target die” or as close as they can. They can use any operation, including parenthesis and exponents.
- The player with the closest answer wins a point (I use tally marks in the upper right hand corner of the board). If both players get the exact number, both players get a point. If both players are the same amount away from the target die, no one gets a point. Here are some examples:
- Here is the first round. The target die is 7. Player 1 rolled 1, 9 and 6. She combined her numbers using exponents and addition to get 7! Player 2 rolled 2, 2 and 8. He used parenthesis, division and subtraction to also get 7! They both get a point!
- OK, second round. The target die is 8. Player 1 rolled 9, 6 and 4. She combined her numbers using subtraction and addition to get 7. That’s as close as she could get. Player 2 rolled 8, 1, and 1. He multiplied to get 8! So Player 2 gets a point for this round.
- Play continues like this until one of the players reaches a determined number of tallies. I usually play until 5 if we have only 10 or 15 minutes to play. If we have 20 minutes or more, usually we can get to 10 tallies.
- There are so many addition and multiplication games you can play with dominoes.
- One of my favorites is played somewhat like the card game “War”. Lay all of the dominoes face down and each player flips over one domino. Players either add, subtract or multiply the two sides, and the player with the highest number “wins” all of the flipped dominoes!
- You can make your own memory games or matching games with index cards. Tailor them to your specific learner’s needs by writing addition, subtraction, multiplication, or really any kind of facts on them! It’s also beneficial for your learner to actually participate in making these cards too!
- Pro tip: write with pink or orange highlighter – it doesn’t show through the cards as easily as pencil or some other darker marker or pen. You can also scribble on the “back” to make it even harder to see through.
- Play with these “cards” in the same way you would these popular games:
- Go fish
- Old maid
Games I offer in my store
I also have some fun games that I have created and sell on my store! Click on the links below to find out more about these games that I have created and use all the time with my students.
- Multiplication Baseball – baseball themed multiplication practice for facts 1 through 12. 2 players.
- Go Pigs! – A “Go Fish” style play. Players combine different fractions to make wholes. 2 – 4 players.
- Integer Climb and Dive – Adding and subtracting positive and negative integers practice. 2 players.
- Angle Wars – Players measure and draw angles with a protractor. 2 players.