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Classroom Games that Boost Math Skills

Janelle Cox

 

Springtime is a great time of year to incorporate classroom games into your daily math agenda. State testing is either just completed, or about to be completed, so your students are restless and fidgety from sitting for so long. Math games can take away some of that pent-up energy, as well as help students review some important math concepts at the same time. Here are a few classroom games about math that I’ve come across that are perfect for students in grades K-6. Remember, when pairing students together for games, be sure to choose the pairs wisely. It’s best to pair students with similar abilities, this way you won’t find students frustrated.

Classroom Games with Math Mats

The Tutor House has a great math game that uses math mats and playing cards. We all know that if you give a child some playing cards, they will engaged right from the start. So for this math game, students draw cards and put the largest numbers on the top row of the mat (in the appropriate boxes) and the smallest number on the bottom row, then they subtract the numbers. Students continue playing until they go through the whole deck of cards. This game can be played individually or with a partner. If played with a partner, students just take turns pulling and subtracting from the deck. There are also other math mats that you can purchase from this site as well.

Boom!

Minds in Bloom came up with a great way to review math skills by using task cards. Players just take turns drawing task cards and answering the questions. If they answer the question correct they get to keep it, if they answer it incorrect they must put it at the bottom of the pile. If students draw a Boom card, they must discard all of the task cards back into the middle. When creating task cards, make sure that students will be able to answer the question fairly quickly, and do not require students to have a lot of thought. For example round 1,345 to the nearest hundred, multiple 9 x 4, etc.

Board Game

You can create your own board game fairly easily by using the same board concept as Candy Land. All you need to do is draw the same type of board on a piece of paper (looks much like a racetrack) and write whatever you want onto the squares. If you find that your students are sick and tired of reciting their math facts, try giving them a game board with their math facts on it. All students would have to do is take turns rolling a die, move forward on the game board, then recite the math fact that they land on. The first person to the finish line wins. You can even give students fun game pawn like race cars!

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Sum it Up

This addition and graphing activity can be downloaded for free at Teachers Pay Teachers. To play, pair students together and give them a pair of dice and a graphing sheet. Players take turns rolling the dice, adding up the sum and writing the addends in one square on the graph. For example, the graph is numbered 2-12 along the left hand side of the paper. If students roll a 2 and a 3 they would write 2 +3 in the 5 column. If they roll a 4 and a 1 they would write 4 +1 in the 5 column and so on until all of the columns were filled up.

Dominos

The next two games are from the site Sunny Days in Second grade. Both of these games are sure to keep your students engaged for a while. This domino war math game forces students to think on their feet and add quickly. To play each player gets two dominos face down. On your go they flip them over and add them up as quickly as they can. The player with the highest sum of both dominos wins and takes everyone’s dominos. Then players get another two dominos and so on. This continues until someone has all of the dominos or until you say the game is over.

Popsicle Stick Drop

To create this game you must have a set of Popsicle sticks. You can either write numbers on the sticks so students must add them altogether, or you can draw dots on the sticks so students must count all of the dots in order to know the total number. The website instructs that you draw ten dots on some of the sticks and one red dot on the others. Whichever way you choose will work just fine. To begin, have students take turns holding the sticks in their hands and dropping them onto the table. The player then counts his total. Then, the second player drops their sticks and counts her total. The player with the highest total wins and gets one point. The first person to get to ten points wins the game.

The best thing about using math games is that they are fun! Students don’t even realize that they are learning. So the next time you want to give out a worksheet, think about how you can turn that worksheet into a creative and fun math game instead. All you really need is a deck of cards and some dice and you’ve got yourself a math game.

Do you play any math games with your students in your classroom? Which games do find students like the best? Please share with us in comment section below, we would love to hear your ideas.

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a master's of science in education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the elementary education expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators, or visit her website at Empoweringk6educators.