As adults much of our experience with practicing math facts was in “mad minute drills” timed tests that were useless at best and anxiety inducing at worst. I remember being in grade 4 the grade I currently teach and feeling like an utter failure because I only completed 30 of the 60 problems on my mad minute. Every time colleagues have suggested math drills to me, I go back to this moment and vow that I will not do this to my own students. Over the past couple of years I have found many great games that have built my students confidence while having fun. We practice our math facts and build fluency through games every day, some are evergreen games that I can teach in the fall and then switch the facts or operations all year others are specific to units or skills.
This game practices making 10 and is one of the first I introduce each fall and is a favourite year round. Students try to make ten as many ways as possible while trying to use every number on the board. Students may go vertically, horizontally or make “stair steps”, Ts or Ls but may not go diagonally. This is one we leave in our “Number Crunch” folders year round for independent play and practice.
Loops and Groups
This game is introduced in Number Corner in September and remains a year round favourite. When playing in pairs or on their own my students roll 2 dice of their choice ( 6, 10, 12 or 20 sided). The first dice is the number of loops (circles) they will draw and the second is the number of dots or stars in each circle. Once I’ve taught this game it is easy to pair students up and have them roll two dice and draw their Loops and Groups on their white boards. Once they have drawn the loops and groups they can write the equation for multiplication or addition and solve it.
Roll an Array
Another quick and easy game that can be taught in five minutes and played all year long. For this game we use laminated sheets of graph paper, dice and white board pens. Students play in pairs, each player picks a corner to start in. The first player rolls two dice and draws their array on the board, labeling it with the multiplication equation, followed by the second player. The first player rolls again and draws their new array on the board, but it must be touching one side of the previous array. If you can not fit your array on the board you lose a turn and your partner goes. The game is played until all the squares on the board are filled, or it is impossible to place any more arrays. The player with the most squares on the board wins.
I promise there are no potatoes harmed when playing this game! This is one of my first day of school games and an instant hit with every class. It is easily adapted to varying levels but I always start with the classic version.
Gather the whole class standing in a circle elbow to elbow. Player one begins counting by tens, saying the number 10, player two then says 20 and so on until you get to 100. Now in SPUD we cannot say any multiples of 100 ( 100,200,300) instead we say SPUD, we then continue counting until the next hundred seeing how far we can get. The challenge comes that if we say a multiple of 100, count at the same time as another player or say the wrong number we go back to zero and start again.
The sky really is the limit with this game, my current class has a record of over 10,000 that they want to beat before the end of June. This is a true Low Threshold High Celling game and can be played with multiples of any number, fours, and SPUD on multiples of 10 is a fun one with my grade 4 class. I also add challenge as we get familiar with the game by playing it popcorn style so students standing anywhere in the circle can call out the next number. My students really like elimination spud, where if you make a mistake, you go back to your desk and do something from your number crunch folder.
For the most part I am NOT creative enough to come up with my own math games and I really value the work of those who do and are willing to share them.
Dice and Card Games
Many of my favourite Dice and Card games come from the book “All Hands on Deck” published by Box Cars and One Eyed Jacks in Edmonton Alberta. This book works for grade 3 and up and has many great curriculum linked games that can be taught in five minutes and enjoyed for weeks.
Ever Green Games
No Prep Games