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Games That Teach

When playing games, children learn a great deal concerning mathematical concepts and number relationships. Games are especially appropriate for the visual and/or kinesthetic learner.  They are suitable for a math center, for differentiated instruction, as well as for introducing or reviewing concepts. 

Games give the learner numerous opportunities to reinforce current knowledge and to try out strategies or techniques without the worry of getting the “wrong” answer. Games provide students of any age with a non-threatening environment for seeing incorrect solutions, not as mistakes, but as steps towards finding the correct mathematical solution. 
1)     Pique student interest and participation in math practice and review.
2)    Provide immediate feedback for the teacher.  (i.e. Who is still having difficulty with a concept?  Who needs verbal assurance?  Why is a student continually getting the wrong answer?)
3)    Encourage and engage even the most reluctant student.
4)    Enhance opportunities to respond correctly.
5)    Reinforce or support a positive attitude or viewpoint of mathematics.
6)    Let students test new problem solving strategies without the fear of failing.
7)    Stimulate logical reasoning.
8)   Require critical thinking skills.
9)    Allow the student to use trial and error strategies.

Check out the following games at Teachers Pay Teachers.

1)      Beat the Teach – This is an addition and multiplication game.  The two objectives are to practice math fact families and to use problem solving strategies.  Procedures as well as detailed instructions are given for each game, and two separate game boards are included.  One game board is specifically made for addition, and the other one is for multiplication.

2)      Big Number – This is a place value game that features seven different game boards. The game boards vary in difficultly beginning with only two places, the ones and tens. Game Board #5 goes to the hundred thousands place and requires the learner to decide where to place six different numbers. All the games have been developed to practice place value using problem solving strategies, reasoning, and intelligent practice.

3)      Bug Mania – This is two different games that provide motivation for the learner to practice addition, subtraction, and multiplication using positive and negative numbers. It is a fun game which is easy to adapt to any grade level, for a whole class, or a small group of students. The games are simple to individualize since not every pair of students must use the same cubes or have the same objective.
4)      Bug Ya - My Students' "Favoritest" Game – Three games are included in this short resource packet.  One is for addition and subtraction; the second is for multiplication, and the third game involves the use of money. The second and third games may involve subtraction with renaming and addition with regrouping based on the numbers that are used. All the games have been developed to extend the recall of facts through playful and skillful practice.

5)      Contact - The object of this game is to touch as many other players’ squares as possible in order to receive the most points.  The game can be simplified by allowing the players to use just two to four operations, or it can be made more challenging by requiring that the players correctly use the order of operations.  It is a fun and attention-grabbing way for students to practice basic math facts and to use critical thinking without doing another “drill and kill” activity.

6)      Could Be - This consists of two separate games, one for addition and one for multiplication.  The objective of these games is to practice basic addition or multiplication facts by using the problem solving strategy of logic. The games are designed to be used with the whole class, small groups, at centers, individually, or as a homework activity.

7)      Digital Logic - In this game, one student thinks of a number while the other players, called Digit Detectives, must find out what it is. They do so by guessing numbers. These guesses are recorded on a score card that is drawn by the students. The gathered information includes how many digits are correct and whether any of the digits are in the right place. This game can easily be adapted for the upper grades by using three, four, or as many digits as appropriate. The more digits involved in the game, the more complex the game.

8)      Dots Lots of Fun - This 12 page resource contains seven math games that use dominoes. A domino blackline is included on the last page of the handout. The games vary in difficulty; so instruction can easily be differentiated. The games involve matching, finding sums, using <, >, and = signs, multiplication practice, and comparing fractions. A memory game is also included which makes an excellent center activity. These games correlate well with the math curriculum, "Everyday Math".

9)      Make A Difference - This is a math game for 2-4 players.  Taking turns, each roll a die numbered 1-6 and then subtracts the number on the die from 10.  They then locate the answer in their column on the game board and place a marker.  Play continues, and each marker moves up or down according to the solution to the subtraction problem. Students review subtraction facts while trying to be the first one to reach the winning space. The game is easily made more challenging by requiring the players to subtract the number rolled on the die (numbered 5-10) from 15.
10)   Race to the "Sum"mit – This is an addition game for 2-4 players. Taking turns, each player rolls two dice numbered 1-6 and then adds the numbers on the die. The player then locates the answer (the sum) in their column on the game board and places a marker. Play continues, and each player’s marker moves up or down according to the solution to the addition problem.  Students review addition facts while trying to be the first one to reach the “Sum”mit. The game is easily made more complex and challenging by replacing the original dice with two dice numbered 5-10.

11)    Red Light, Green Light - This is two games in one.  It can focus on either addition with regrouping (carrying) or subtraction with renaming (borrowing).  The students each have a red light/green light card.  Red means stop; regrouping or renaming is necessary before the problem can be worked.  Green means there is no regrouping or renaming necessary, and the student can proceed to work the problem. 

12)   Roll and Calculate - This math game is designed to practice the addition and subtraction of positive and negative numbers.  Two players take turns rolling two dice numbered 1-6 and then add or subtract the numbers based on the placement on the game board.  The answer must be agreed upon before the next player takes his/her turn.  This game is easily made more difficult by requiring the players to use dice numbered 5-10.  It is a fun and interesting way for students to review adding and subtracting positive and negative numbers without doing a “drill and kill” activity. 

13)    Sly Fox - This is a reading comprehension game for grades 1-5.  Students play the game after reading any selection (reading, social studies, science, etc.).  It can be played with teams of 4-6 students or with a small group of children. This game works is very motivational for the students, and it provides an effective means of determining comprehension of any selection.  The game can be used during structured classroom time, indoor recess time, indoor lunch time, or just when students need additional help with a tutor or parent volunteer.  After the children know how to play Sly Fox, it can be used as a center activity.

14)   Spell Down - This is a spelling game that your whole class can play. It allows every child to participate, and each child has a fair chance of winning the game.  In addition, it is a quiet game because nothing is repeated, not the spelling word or any letter that is said by a child or the teacher. The game is exciting and stimulating for the students.  Game rules as well as six game adaptations are part of the original handout.