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Tips for Teaching Math with Classroom Games

Janelle Cox

 

If you’re looking to make math time more exciting, then playing classroom games about in your classroom is the way to go. They are perfect for practicing new skills or for reviewing content learned. They help take away some of that pent-up energy students have, as well as develop their strategic thinking skills. Math games can be used individually, in a small groups, in cooperative groups, or even in the learning center. They provide a fun way for students to work together while staying engaged and motivated. The key to math game success is to set clear procedures and expectations, as well as pair students together wisely. Here are a few more tips for teaching with math games.

Choose Partners Wisely

When pairing students together for a math game, you have two choices. You can either choose them yourself, or let the students choose their own partner. When deciding, it will really come down to what type of game you are having the students play as well as the age of the students. If you are choosing, it is best to pair students with similar abilities -- this way no one will get frustrated. If you put a highly skilled player with a struggling student, then you will find that the struggling student will be frustrated when the proficient player always wins. If you allow students to choose their partner, they usually pick someone who they already know very well, and this leads to them missing out on getting to know their other classmates. If you do allow students to choose themselves, then encourage them to choose someone new each game so they won’t miss out on developing those important social skills they need.

Use Classroom Games about Math in the Learning Center

Math games are a great way to keep students engaged in math everyday throughout the school year. Students can work alone or with a partner. You can even encourage students to go to the math center during their free time. Task cards are an easy math center because they can turn any math concept into a quick and fun math game. Just be sure to store all of your materials in a tote at the math station. You can even post a learning menu to give students a choice. If students will be working with a partner, be sure to post clear rules and expectations.

Use Math Journals

Most math games require students to work out the program before they can continue to the game. Have students keep a math journal with them at all times so they can write out their responses. This way if they encounter a problem and need help, then they can refer to their math journals and you will know what they are talking about. It’s also a great way for you to check and see if they are really understanding the concept.

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Math Games Teach Communication Skills

One of the many benefits that math games provide is that they help teach social skills. This is an essential skill that students need in order to function in society. Younger students may have a hard time losing, and it’s a great idea to do a quick mini-lesson on how to have good sportsmanship. Remind students it’s not nice to brag, to follow the rules of the game, to be sure to congratulate the winner, and so on. You may find that your older students may need a gentle reminder of these rules too. You can even come up with a few strategies as a class to help them take turns. Students can roll a die, flip a coin, pick a number, or choose by whose birthday is coming up. This may help to alleviate some of that unwanted bickering from groups.

Math games are an effective way to keep students motivated and engaged. The next time you try and give your students a boring worksheet for homework, try and turn that worksheet into a math game. Not only will it make it more fun for the students, but the students will love you for it.

Do you play any math games with your students in your classroom? Which games do find students like the best? Do you have any tips that you would like to share? 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.