By Teachers, For Teachers
Math is necessary in order for society to function. As hard or as boring as it may be to some students, math is a vital part of our life. If you’re looking to make math time more exciting and engaging, then try playing classroom games involving math. Classroom games about math have many benefits, one being that they develop students’ strategic thinking skills. Students learn to analyze information and find solutions, both of which require students to use their problem-solving skills. These skills are essential in everyday life.
Much of mathematics involves practicing skills that have already been introduced. Classroom games involving math provide students with a fun way to practice these skills that can become quite repetitive. They also provide students with the opportunity to work together (another essential skill) as well as keep students motivated and engaged.
The most effective math games are the ones that are based on mathematical ideas and in order to win students must understand the math concept. But, any math game is a great way to help students retain their math skills.
Baseball math is a great mental math game for grades 2-8.
Divide students into two teams and have them give their team a name. Draw a baseball diamond on the front board, and make sure you have a list of math problems at your disposal. Then call up the team captain of each team, and toss a coin to see how is up to bat first. The pitching team then pitches their math problem to the batting team. It’s best to let students take turns pitching. The student that is up to bat has to answer the question. If he is correct, that student gets to place a check on the first base. If they are incorrect, then that student is out. Each team gets three outs. When the team has three outs, the other team is up to bat. This continues until a team wins.
Exchange change is a math game designed for children learning money combinations.
Divide students into small groups and provide each group with one die, 10 dimes, six nickels, and 15 pennies. One student from the group rolls the die first, and depending upon what they roll (1-6), that student must take that many coins. If the student rolls a five, they can take five pennies but then would have to exchange them for a nickel. The next player would roll and take the allotted coins. If that player has two nickels they would have to exchange them for one dime, or if they have 10 pennies they would exchange them for one dime. The group continues to play and exchange their money until all of the dimes are gone. The person who has the highest amount of money wins!
Many students have a hard time learning subtraction. Subtraction 500 is a great review game for students K-5. For students in K-2, you can change the 500 to another number. If you want to make it harder you can increase the number too.
Pair two students together and give each pair two dice, pencil and paper. Each player write the number 500 on their paper. Then the first player rolls both die and subtracts the number that they rolled from 500. For example, if player one rolled a 5 and a 6, that would make 56. They then subtract 56 from 500 on their paper. Then player two rolls and does the same thing. This continues until a player reaches zero and wins!
Tip: When a player rolls a one, they do not subtract, instead they make the smallest number that they can add to 500. For example, if a player rolls a 1 and a 2 they would add 12 to 500. (It’s just a fun way to complicate things for the kids!)
Math games are one of the most effective ways that you can reinforce and sharpen student’s math skills. They are more effective then drilling math facts, and practicing workbook pages. They are not only more fun, but they keep students engaged in their learning.
Do you play any math games with your students in your classroom? Which games do find students like the best? Share with us in the 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, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.