Two Math Games

Here are two math games to give students a competitive incentive for getting a handle on their numbers.

Math can be intimidating. It's full of concepts and facts, and it can be difficult to keep track of everything. That's especially hard when one concept helps you make sense out of another. Many students struggle with math and many teachers also struggle to find ways of helping their students master the many skills involved in this vital subject.

Math Facts Race

This is a game for grades K through 8. All you need is some chart paper and some crayons or markers. Draw a grid on the chart paper with nine boxes across and down, numbered 1 to 9. Make the boxes big so your students can write the number large enough to be read from a distance.

First, decide which math discipline the game will focus on: addition, subtraction or multiplication. Then divide the class into at least two teams and give each team a grid that stays at the front of the room. (You can tape the grids to the blackboard.)

Assuming the discipline you're exercising is addition, the game works this way: when you say 'Go!' one person from each team runs up to her team grid and writes a number in one of the boxes on the grid, then runs back to her seat. The next player can't run up until the first player is seated. Now, the number she writes on the grid has to be the solution reached by adding together the two numbers whose row and column meet where the student wrote her number. So, she might write the number 6 in the square where the 4 column and the 2 row meet (4 + 2 = 6). If she makes a mistake, the teammate who follows her can correct it, so everybody needs to pay attention.

The winning team is the first team to fill in all of the squares on their grid, but only if all the answers are correct. If not, the team has to return to the board one at a time, correcting any mistakes made until the game is won.

Math Fact War

A game for grades K through 8, Math Fact War is an adaptation of the traditional card game of War into a version used to practice math facts. The main difference is that in Math Facts War, students will add, subtract or multiply the cards they reveal. All you need is a deck of cards for each pair of students participating.

First, decide which math discipline you'll be practicing: addition, subtraction or multiplication. Then pair off the students and give each of the pairs a deck of cards. Each of the number cards is worth the face value. The Ace is worth 1. Jacks are worth 11 and Kings and Queens are worth 12.

Shuffle the deck, then place it face down between the Math Fact Warriors. Each student will then draw a card from the top of the deck, laying it with its face up on the table. Then both students do the math. If the game is addition, they add the cards together. If subtraction, they subtract the lesser card from the greater. The first student calling out the correct answer wins the cards. The first student to win all the cards, or the student with the most cards when time runs out, wins.

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One plus one will always equal two...but just how students are taught math is going to change. Nearly every state in the country has adopted the Common Core Standards; for math, this means new and more in-depth approaches to teaching the subject. Have we seen the last of traditional algebra and geometry classes?

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