Battleship Math

I LOVE to play board games at home, but I also enjoying using them in my classroom. In addition to encouraging cooperation, turn taking and a variety of other social skills, I find I can often use the games to work on math and literacy skills. So, every Friday, I am going to post a Friday Game Night post, giving tips on how to use a particular board game in your classroom. Here’s this week’s Friday Game Night Tip:


Battleship – Part 1 (Math)

Battleship is one of those two player games that can easily be played by 2 players or 2 teams.  When I use it in my classroom, I always start with 2 teams when they play with me and then get kids to play with just 2 players when they get to centers.  It’s not a bad idea to have 2 games of Battleship (or any other 2 player game) so that more kids can play at the same time on the centers level.  I will warn readers that this game is definitely more geared to an intermediate classroom (3-5).  I used it a lot with my 3rd graders, but haven’t had the opportunity with my 1st graders, although I have a group I will use this game with to teach strategy a little later in the year.


1. Coordinate Grids – With a built in coordinate grid, this game is an easy way to teach kids how to read given points on a grid, as well as how to find points on a grid.  You can use battleship in it’s standard play form in your guided math and then let kids play it centers as a practice.


2. Modeled Problem Solving – Many kids don’t understand when you say “think about it”, because their thinking processes are so different than the ones you want them to have.  Use Battleship as a way to do a “think aloud” and model the type of thinking you want them to do when they are problem solving.  I’ll tell my kids things like: “Okay, I know that that ship is not on A7 or A9, so I can be pretty sure it’s also not on A8.” or “I know that the only ship left to find is 5 pieces long, so I need to look in a place that has room for it, where do we see a space like that.”  This modeled problem solving thinking can carry over into word problems, real life problems, and so many other elements of math.


3. Probability – What a great way to look at that probability concept!  Battleship allows you to talk about odd’s in an oddly real life way.  First you can talk about the probability of getting a “hit” on your first shot.  What are the chances?  Then, you can talk about using the clues that are given to “increase your odds”. 


I hope some of these suggestions will allow you to use Battleship in a new, interesting way in your classrooms.   Next week we’ll talk about how to use Battleship to work on literacy with your kids.  Keep playing games and watch your kids learn!

Need some suggestions for other games to use when teaching Math?  Here’s a list of ten to try!



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About rakisradresources

teacher mother of 3 wife

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