Tag Archive | math centers

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!



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.

Money, Money, Money

My math topic for the month of January is counting and comparing money. This may not seem like a big deal, as it’s part of every American curriculum I’ve ever seen. However, for my students (who live in Morocco) counting American money is, well, a foreign concept! I do work on counting Moroccan money (dirhams) with them as well during calendar, but it is not technically part of my standards. I also don’t have many manipulatives in my classroom, which means no pretend money. (You would see my classroom wishlist board on pinterest!) So, having them count money can be very time or money intensive on my part.  As I have little of both time and money, I am opting to cover money in 3 ways:


1.  The real stuff – My grandmother recently visited us here in Morocco, and she brought with her some real American coins, which I will use with the students in small group, so that we can review how each coin looks, how to tell the difference, and of course, how to count the coins.


2.  Technology! – If you haven’t seen Wednesday’s Website Suggestion from last week, it showcases the great website I am using where my kids can count money virtually.


3.  Puzzles – I have created three self-correcting puzzles 100_6308on counting money to get us started.  (I think I’ll probably make at least two more, as we get going.)  I started using them on Friday, and the kids were psyched!  They love puzzles anyways, and these are an easy way for them to count money without having to work in those dreaded workbooks.



Click on any of the pictures to download the self-correcting puzzles from TPT.

moneeasy1     moneyeasy2     moneyeasy3

Does anyone else have any ideas on how I can work on money with no manipulatives (and no smart board)?  If so, please leave me a comment or post it on my Raki’s Rad Resources Facebook Fan Page.


Show Me the Money!!!

It’s time for the Wednesday Website suggestion!! For two years, I was the Technology Specialist at a school in Georgia. During that time, I amassed a large collection of websites that I used with my students. If you want to search through some of them, you can check out my IKeepBookmarks site. Or, you can check back here each week for the Wednesday Website suggestion.

My math topic for the month of January is counting and comparing money.  This may not seem like a big deal, as it’s part of every American curriculum I’ve ever seen.  However, for my students (who live in Morocco) counting American money is, well a foreign concept!  I do work on counting Moroccan money (dirhams) with countingmoneythem as well during calendar, but it is not technically part of my standards.  I also don’t have many manipulatives in my classroom.  (You would see my classroom wishlist board on pinterest!)  So, having them count money can be very time or money intensive on my part.  That’s why I was so excited to stumble back upon this week’s website while I was looking through my bookmarks.  It’s simply called Counting Money and it’s hosted by Harcourt School Publishers, but as of right now, it’s FREE, and I play to use it a lot with my students this month!!  Click on the picture so you can use it too!

Hope you enjoyed this Wednesday’s Website suggestion – check back each Wednesday for a new Wedensday’s Website suggestion. Also, feel free to check out previous Wednesday Website suggestions including: Find the Dog’s Bone, Storybird and Math Magician.


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!


Fast Fact Practice

It’s time for the Wednesday Website suggestion!!

This week’s Wednesday Website suggestion is from Oswego Math Games (whichmathmagician could be a Wednesday Website suggestion all in itself!)  It’s called Math Magician, and it’s one of the best ways I’ve found for kids to practice their facts.  It has addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, so it works for grades 1-5.  Plus, each operation has 14 different levels, so it’s a great way for kids to progress through fast fact learning.  It’s also timed, which is great for my one computer computer station!  I’m using the addition section right now, in coordination with my addition quizzes, and it’s helping my kids a lot!

Hope you enjoyed this Wednesday’s Website suggestion – check back each Wednesday for a new Wedensday’s Website suggestion.  Also, feel free to check out previous Wednesday Website suggestions including: Find the Dog’s Bone.


Doggy 100’s Chart Website

I love, love, love using the 100’s chart to teach math and number relationships.  In fact, right now two of my math centers are based on the 100’s chart.  I have a Hundred’s Chart center, which you can find on TPT, andwebsite then my computer center is also based on the 100’s chart too.  I am using the website Give the Dog a Bone, which is just an amazing website!  It gives students a blank 100’s chart with dog bones “hidden” under numbers.  If students click on the correct number, they find the bone.  If they click on the wrong number, it tells them the number they clicked on – giving them a clue to help them find the number they are looking for.  Plus, the best part for my classroom, is it is set on a 60 second timer.  Since I have just one computer in my room, I allow 3 students to go to the computer center.  They go, and take turns, so with a 60 second timer, the longest they ever have to wait for their turn is 2 minutes – which is about the length of the attention span of most of my students!


Primary Problem Solving Center

psbirdsMy newest math center is working so well, I just had to tell you about it.  I have been feeling the need to build in some problem solving, but so many of my 1st graders are either non-readers or beginning readers, that I’m been scared to add in a complete problem solving center, like I would’ve used with my 3rd graders.  So, I started making these little problem solving cards, which are simple, and pictorial.  Kids pick four cards out of a bucket and glue them onto their problem solving paper.  Then, they work together psballoonsto solve the problems.  Here is a link to some that I uploaded to my TPT store for FREE – these are half addition and half subtraction.  I also made some that are specific to subtraction.  I use the problem solving sheet with these – but they could easily be glued into a spiral bound notebook or a math journal.  I have a math journal on my TPT store, but this group I have this year, isn’t quite ready for it.  Isn’t it strange how each group is so different? 


Learning About Charity

We are continuing to learn about Muslim stories and holidays in my room.  Last week, my students completed their Muslim Holiday Packets, which were a great success.  This week, my students will participate in what is called Zakat, or giving to charity.  On Eid al Adha, when a family sacrifices a sheep, it is expected that they will give 1/3 of their sheep to friends and family, and 1/3 of their sheep to charity.  Personally, I think this is an important tradition for my students to learn about, so we are going to do our own sharing with friends and charity, but on a smaller scale.  On Wednesday of this week, I will be making no bake cookies with my students.  We will give 1/3 of them to the other 1st grade class, and 1/3 of them to the orphanage near our school.  Because I teach at an expensive private school, many of my students are a little spoiled (or a lot spoiled), so I am looking forward to talking with them about the importance of helping others.  I know many people in the US are doing similar activities with Thanksgiving and Christmas food drives.  What do you do with your students to promote the idea of charity?


Here are some pictures of my kids work on their Muslim Holiday Centers:





Muslim Holidays–With a Freebie!

I must start off with a big thank you for all the birthday wishes.  I hope you enjoyed your birthday presents.  In addition to all of the amazing birthday wishes, I also received some amazing feedback from all of you, which is sometimes the best present of all.  If you missed out on the big giveaway, check out my Facebook page to see what everyone received. 

journeytomoroccoFor those of you who are unaware, I currently live and work in Morocco.  Morocco is a Muslim country, and we just celebrated one of the biggest Muslim holidays, Eid al Adha.  You can read about my personal experiences with this holiday on my personal blog – Journey to Morocco.  (Warning, there are a few graphic pictures of sheep sacrifice, which is an important part of the holiday.)  Because of Eid I was off Monday and Tuesday, but we are in school Wednesday – Friday.  Also because of Eid, lots of kids did not come to school today, as they are still traveling with their families (6 in my class alone!).  I knew this would happen, so I did not want to do the classic weekly center packet that I do for my class.  Instead, I decided to get a jump start on our Social Studies topic for this month, which coincided nicely with the holiday – Muslim Stories & Holidays.  (We follow the AERO standards for Social Studies because we are an overseas school.)

celebratingramadanSo, I decided to make a Muslim Holidays center packet, which is what we are doing this week.  I started out the day by letting kids write about how they had celebrated Eid.  (Not all of my students are Muslim, but all experienced Eid in one way or another, even if it was just seeing all the sheep around the streets.)  Then, I read the book called Celebrating Ramadan.  It is a good book to talk about Muslim Holidays, especially Ramadan, but it is also a good overview of Islam overall.  We reviewed some of the topics we had touched on last week, the Quran, prayer etc.  We also talked about some new topics, like the lunar calendar, and traditions we have during the big 3 holidays: Ramadan, Eid al Iftr and Eid al Adha.  You can find a link to this book on my Shelfari profile.

Once we finished the read aloud (and specials), we began our center packets.  These muslimholidays2packets could be done in a few different ways, but since we have 3 days, I decided to do one section each day.  Today, we did the Ramadan section.  My kids decorated prayer rugs, made prayer rug patterns, wrote about waiting, drew pictures of common Ramadan words (sunrise, sunset, quran etc.)  and read a small paragraph about Ramadan and answered questions.  They did really well with it, and I was excited at what they could tell me at the end of the day (especially those who come form non-Muslim homes.)

Tomorrow, we will talk about Eid al Iftr, the celebration at the end of Ramadan by counting with crescents, drawing our Iftr feast, writing about charity, reading a recipe and talking about traditional Foods.  On Friday, we will talk about Eid al Adha muslimholidays3(the one we just celebrated) which is often called the Celebration of the Sacrifice, and commemorates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son for god.  Friday’s centers will be to subtract using sheep, to create a sheep, to write about sacrifice, to sort the long E words (for a sheep) and to read an abbreviated version of the Quran story. 

I know most of those who read this blog won’t be teaching about Muslim Holidays to satisfy your Social Studies curriculum.  However, if you would like to use this packet for a Word Celebrations day or to teach your students about other cultures, feel free to grab it HERE from my TPT Store for FREE.


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