Tag Archive | board games

Scrabble Math


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:

Scrabble – Part 1 (Math)

Scrabble is one of my favorite games for literacy skills, but have you ever used it for math?  Next week, we’ll talk about all the fun literacy topics to be covered with Scrabble, but this week, let’s think outside the box and talk about how to use Scrabble to teach and review math skills!

 

1. Add up the Vocabulary Word – This activity could actually cover spelling or vocabulary words AND math (got to love when cross curricular connections make themselves for you!)  You will need to make cards ahead of time with your vocabulary words on them.  Have each student pull a card from the stack, and then find the letter tiles that match the letters in the word.  Then, each student should write down the numbers on each Scrabble tile and add them up.  This is a great reinforcement for addition facts, and also works well for adding in a column, or finding groupings (ie. 3 + 1 + 2 + 4 is easier to add when you make 2 groups of five (3 + 2) (2+4) ) 

 

2. Word Family Comparing Numbers – Which word earns more points in Scrabble: bat or rat?  Give students the tiles for 2 words of the same length, allow them to add up the score and compare the number.  Which word is worth more?  This is a great way to talk about strategy as well, which is just another form of problem solving!

 

3.  Probability – Are you teaching probability?  Use Scrabble letters to figure out the probability of drawing a S tile or drawing a Q tile.  For example: of 100 scrabble tiles, there is usually only 1 Q tile in the bag, so you have a 1 in 100 chance of drawing a Q from the bag.

 

4.  Longest Word – Increase those critical thinking skills by having students come up with the longest word they can, but add an extra challenge and say they can only have 10 points (or 15 points – depending on your class).  Look for those creative answers to start coming!

 

I hope some of these suggestions will allow you to use Scrabble in a new, interesting way in your classrooms.  Do you want other game suggestions for your classroom?  Here are some suggestions for Yahtzee, Chutes and Ladders and Battleship.  Keep playing games and watch your kids learn!

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rakishop6222

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Battle Stories


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 2 (Literacy)

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.  Last week, I wrote about a few ways to use Battleship to teach math.  Here are ways to use Battleship to teach literacy.

 

1. Find the Vocabulary Word – Assign each ship a vocabulary or spelling word.  Then, let students “hide” the ships from each other (or hide them from the class).  When students get a “hit” they find out the letter they hit.  If the students can guess the word, they can sink the ship.

 

2. Battle Stories – Do you have a class of boys?  Would they like to write about their “battle”?  My class of boys is constantly writing about attacking zombies, so I think they would love this.  (Not that the girls wouldn’t, but you know…) Let them keep track of the moves (hits & misses) while they play through a game.  Then, have them use those moves to write the story of what happened, adding things like “My submarine shot a bomb and sunk his battleship, sending it up in flames!”.

 

 

I hope some of these suggestions will allow you to use Battleship in a new, interesting way in your classrooms.  Have a game you’d like to see spotlighted next week?  Post a suggestion on our Facebook fan page, or leave me a comment here.  Keep playing games and watch your kids learn!

 

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rakishop622

Lots of Literacy Games!!!


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. Last week, we looked at games to use in math.  This week, we’re going to look at the Top 10 Board Games to use in Grammar and Writing Lessons and Literacy Centers. Often, I will introduce a game in Small Group Writing or Guided Reading, as a way to get students interested in a topic, and then put the same game into Literacy Centers to reinforce the topic in a more independent setting.

 

10. Upwords – I love using Upwords when I am teaching word families or talking about vowel substitutions.  It’s such an easy way to show how changing one letter can change the whole word.

9. Chutes and LaddersThe game board on Chutes & Ladders is an inspiration to me!  There are so many cute “picture” stories on it.  I love to pull it out in guided reading when we are talking about inferences or guided writing when we are talking about describing and creating a picture with words.

8. BoggleBoggle is the ultimate word game!  I love seeing kids look at all those random letters and then see the words just start coming.  It’s a great, easy center.  As an extension, I like to have kids take the words they found and make a story out of them.

7. Very Silly Sentences – Whenever I’m ready to start talking about parts of speech, Very Silly Sentences is the go-to game.  The color coded cards are such an easy way to talk about where each part of speech goes in a sentence and why each sentence needs all these parts of speech.

6. Taboo – Do you get sick of hearing those same tired words in your student’s writing?  In order to show kids that they can say something, without saying those words, I love to pull out the game Taboo.  It gets students in the frame of mind, to say “Hey, I can say that in lots of different ways!”  After playing, we will make a list of words that are “Taboo” in our writing!

5.  Scategories Jr. – Whether you are teaching or reviewing beginning consonant sounds, Scategories Jr. is a great way to have fun doing it.  It’s easy to modify this game and play it with your whole class, or just that one group that needs a little more time!  Then, send it to centers for a good regular reinforcement.

4. Pictionary – I know it sounds counter-intuitive to put a game with no words into a Guided Writing lesson, but Pictionary is a great way to get kids thinking about what needs to go into a story.  If it’s in the picture that’s needed to describe the topic, then when we write, it should be in the words too!

3.  Apples to Apples – Students have the hardest time explaining their answers in reading and writing!  Apples to Apples gives them the chance to justify their answers, by explaining how it could be that volcanoes would fit into the category of “juicy things”.  Good for categories and persuasive writing.

 

2.  Rory’s Story Cubes – The easies brainstorming activity ever!  Rory’s Story Cubes stop the “I don’t know what to write about” complaints real quick.  Let your kids roll the dice and use the picture to get writing!

 

1.  You Gotta Be Kidding – I have the adult version of this too – Would You Rather – which I use with older kids.  You Gotta be Kidding is a great way to start talking about persuasive writing.  Kids get to persuade their friends why they should also believe that “it’d be better to eat worms than bettles” and other truly gross things!

 

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rakishop42

P.S. I write a Top 10 post every week. Here are some past Top 10 posts: Top 10 Board Games for MathTop 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.

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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rakishop62

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 SwampSum 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.

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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.

Roll Up Math Skills with Yahtzee!


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:

Yahtzee – Part 1

One of my favorite games growing up was Yahtzee, and I was super excited when my oldest son was old enough to learn how to play it!  It can be such an educational game, and so, I thought it was the perfect game to feature as my second board game for Game Night Fridays!  (The first game was Chutes and Ladders, click here if you missed it!)  Here are four ways to use Yahtzee to teach math skills.  Check back next Friday to see my four ideas for how to use Yahtzee to teach literacy skills.

1. Standard Play – Yahtzee has so much math built into it, that simply playing the game with your class will work on math skills.  Not only can you work on strategy, problem solving and decision making, but you can work on addition, multiplication, comparing numbers and probability all simply playing Yahtzee by the rules provided in the game.

 

2. Dice Graphing – Rather than play with the whole Yahtzee score card, play simply with the upper section of the game card.  Have each player role just one time and mark how many of each die they roll.  Then, create a graph with the ready made table that the score card provides you.

 

3. Best Set – Rather than play with the whole Yahtzee score card, play simply with the 3 of a kind, 4 of a kind and Yahtzee sections.  Encourage students to try to get a 3 of a kind with a different number than their classmates.  After YahtzeeScoreCardeveryone has one 3 of a kind, one 4 of a kind and one Yahtzee, compare scores.  Discuss the fact that using 4 sixes gives you a much better score than using 4 ones.  Great time to compare addition and multiplication too!

 

4. Straight to Order – Rather than play with the whole score card, play simply with the small straight and the large straight.  Talk about the different ways to make a small straight.  Talk about ordering numbers and using the ordinal names of numbers (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.)

 

I hope some of these suggestions will allow you to use Yahtzee in a new, interesting way in your classrooms. Keep playing games and watch your kids learn!

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       rakishop

Introducing: Friday Game Night


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:

Chutes and Ladders – Part 1

Who doesn’t like Chutes and Ladders (also called Snakes and Ladders)?  It’s a classic game that is a part of most primary classroom and home game collections.  It’s also a great way to work on both math and literacy skills.  This week, I have a list of ideas for using this game to work on math skills.  Next week, I’ll continue my list with literacy skills.  So, how can we use Chutes and Ladders in the classroom?

1.  Standard Play – By simply playing Chutes and Ladders in it’s original format, you work on math number sense.  Although the game looks like a hundred’s chart, it does not start each ten over at the beginning of the row.  So, while children are playing, they must always be aware of what number is larger, in order to know which way to go.  This leads you into a great discussion of which number is larger and which number is smaller.

 

2.  Hundred’s Chart – While or after playing, compare the game board to a hundred’s chart.  See if students can figure out the difference between the two boards.  Then, have students rearrange the Chutes and Ladders board using post it notes, until they have a hundred’s chart.  Can they see the pattern they have now?

 

3.  Addition & Subtraction Facts – Not only can kids create an addition fact for each move (I’m on space 23 and I spun a 5, so 23 + 5  = 28.),  but they can create addition facts that go with each of the ladders and subtraction facts that go with each of the chutes.  Or, you can make these addition/subtraction facts ahead of them, write them on index cards and let the kids figure out which chute/ladder each fact goes with!

 

4.  Problem Solving – I love to have students write their own problem solving questions, and Chutes and Ladders is an easy way to facilitate this.  Have students write out their own word problem for one of the chutes or ladders.  Then, allow students to trade their word problem with a neighbor and solve!

 

I hope some of these suggestions will allow you to use Chutes and Ladders in a new, interesting way in your classrooms.  Keep playing games and watch your kids learn!

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