Games to Play in Math
If you’ve seen my Friday Game Night Posts, you know how much of a game-aholic I am! So for the next few weeks, I’m going to highlight just some of the games I love in my Top 10 posts. This week, we’re going to look at the Top 10 Board Games to use in Guided Math and Math Centers. Often, I will introduce a game in Guided Math as a way to get students interested in a topic, and then put the same game into Math Centers to reinforce the topic in a more independent setting.
10. Sum Swamp – Sum Swamp is one of my favorite games to play when I am teaching and reinforcing addition and subtraction. It’s a fun game that works on those basic addition and subtraction facts. I’ve used it with grades 1-3 with good success. I especially liked using it at the beginning of the year when I taught 3rd grade, because it gave me a fun way to assess the basic skills of my students before I truly began teaching the big third grade concept of multiplication.
9. Yahtzee– Yahtzee can be used in so many ways to work on math skills! I especially like using it to connect the concept of skip counting with the concept of multiplication (How many 3’s can you roll? – How much is that worth?). For more ideas on how to use Yahtzee with math concepts – check out last week’s Friday Game Night Post.
8. Trouble – Are you teaching probability? Have you ever played Trouble and sat and sat waiting to pop a 6 while everyone around you got 3 or 4 of them? What a great real life lesson in probability! You can also work on counting and number recognition for younger students using this game.
7. Guess Who – Critical thinking is such a vital skill in math! When problem solving, students need to eliminate the unnecessary and use the clues. Guess Who works on just that skill. I have learned that this is a great game to work on in a small Guided Math group, doing a full think aloud modeling. “I know that her person doesn’t have red hair, so I’m going to put down all of the people who have red hair. I know that her person is wearing glasses, so anyone who is NOT wearing glasses can be put down.” This process of elimination is not a skill that all students understand without modeling, and this game allows an easy, fun way to teach that important thinking skill.
6. Battleship – Are you teaching grids and coordinate points? How about playing Battleship to teach students how to practice finding those coordinate points? In addition to working on coordinate points, you can also work on strategy, the process of elimination and problem solving – all good critical thinking skills. A lot of times, I have students work in groups of four – 2 on 2 once this game goes into the independent center stage.
5. Monopoly – Whether you are using Monopoly or Monopoly Jr., this is a great game for talking about counting money and making change. It is also a good game for discussing banks, problem solving and strategy. (In fact all strategy games are good for building critical thinking skills!)
4. Perfection – Here’s a fun way to spice up your geometry unit! Not only can you look at the types of shapes, number of sides, number of angles, and group the shapes by similar characteristics, you can also work on memory skills by simply allowing students to use the game as intended. Perfection is also a great way to work on charting data – have kids try the game over and over, using the standard 60 minute timer, and then count the number of pieces they get into the slots each try. Do they see a pattern?
3. Chutes and Ladders – This was my first Friday Game Night featured game, I love it so much! Here’s a link to 4 different ideas on how to use Chutes and Ladders to work on those math skills. All I can say is any game with a built in 100’s chart is a winner in my book!
2. Hi Ho Cherry O! – I know many preschool and kindergarten teachers who use Hi Ho Cherry O to work on counting and number recognition, but it’s also a great introduction to addition and subtraction. ( I had 3 cherries in my bucket, and I’m adding 2 more, how many do I have now? I had 5 cherries in my bucket, but the bird at one, how many do I have now?)
1. Blockus – This is my all time favorite game to play with kids! Blockus is another one of those great strategy and critical thinking games. However, it’s also a great game to play when you are teaching area and perimeter. A key to this game, where you fit tetris-like pieces together to block your opponents from being able to place their pieces, is finding the right size piece. It’s a great time to compare the area and perimeter of the pieces and determine which pieces have the same area and/or the same perimeter.
P.S. I write a Top 10 post every week. Here are some past Top 10 posts: Top 10 Toys I Steal From My Kids, Top 10 Educational Toys, Top 10 Educational Movies, and Top 10 Indoor Recess Ideas. Check back each Sunday or Monday for more Top 10 Lists.