Why games?  Reasons for use, where to get more. 
Game  Content 
The Product Game  Multiplication of single digit numbers, factoring 
Prime Time  Prime factorization, mental multiplication 
Take 5  Single digit addition, subtraction 
Change for the Better  Double digit subtraction, place value 
Close to Zero  Large number subtraction, place value, estimation 
Calculator Get Down  Divisibility rules, large number operations 
Why use games to practice skills?
1)
They are more engaging.
2)
They provide more practice.
Consider the product game:
for each move you are considering multiple multiplication problems.
3)
They are a constructive reward for use in free time in
your class, in addition to whole class use.
4)
They are more likely to involve parents and other family
members with homework.
Be sure to send
home the instructions or rules.
Or
consider hosting a night where parents can come to play with the kids.
Or pull them out at parentteacher
conferences.
5)
They can be really fun. (Duh!)
Where can you find more?
1)
Best source:
exemplary curricula.
For elementary, Investigations in Number, Data, and Space (which even includes computer games) and Everyday Math.
For middle school, Connected
Math Project and MathScape (among others).
If you are lucky enough to be in a school using these curricula, use the games! If not, you can find copies available from your district math curriculum supervisor, from university libraries (the KCRC at GVSU), or order them yourself from amazon.com.
2)
The internet, but be careful!
There are a lot of useless games out there.
On my website, there are some 2
^{
nd
}
/3
^{
rd
}
grade games that my students and I have written up.
These games in this handout are on the second page.
faculty.gvsu.edu/goldenj/sharedgames.html
faculty.gvsu.edu/goldenj/fireupgames.html
3)
Make your own.
Once you get the idea for what skill practice your students need, think
of a way from them to generate problems.
This will often lead to a game structure.
Or, once you are familiar with other constructive games, adapt
those to your purpose.
4)
Sharing with your colleagues.
In your school, from your college, at math meetings… don't be
shy.
If you write one up that you'd
like to share via internet, I'd be happy to post it.
If it's original, be sure to include a copyright with permission
granted for educational use.
If it's
from another source, or closely adapted from another source, please cite that
source.
How do you evaluate games?
1)
Examine mathematical richness.
If the game is just window dressing for drill and kill (like math
bingo) evaluate it deservingly.
Look
for problem solving, need for strategy, and math content required.
2)
Is speed required?
The best games offer equal opportunity (or nearly so) to all your
students.
Games that require
computational speed to be successful will disenfranchise instead of engage your
students who need the game the most.
3)
Do you find the game interesting or fun?
Then your students probably will also.
1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

12

14

15

16

18

20

21

24

25

27

28

30

32

35

36

40

42

45

48

49

54

56

63

64

72

81

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

Play begins with each player covering a factor from 1 to
9 at the bottom.
The 2
^{
nd
}
player then covers the product of those two numbers on the game board.
The 1
^{
st
}
player can then move
either one of the factor numbers and covers the new product.
Play continues until a player can cover four
products in a row, horizontally, vertically or diagonally.
Note:
the Product
Game is used in GVSU's Math 222 course, and may have originally appeared in the
Middle Grades Mathematics Project.
Game Board
Free 
50

10

6

18

15

9

27

30

105

4

70

49

35

20

8

25

14

28

42

147

21

75

175

63

45

98

12

125

Free 
Factor List 

2

3

5

7

2

3

5

7

2

3

5

7

Materials:
5 beads per player, distinct colors if possible.
1 die, or 1 for each player.
Players:
up to 5
Goal:
get to 10
beads.
Content:
simple addition facts
Gameplay:
Each player starts with 5 beads.
Everyone rolls, and the highest untied die roll goes first.
Play goes counter clockwise.
Turn:
State how
many beads you have.
Roll the die, and
if 15 take that many beads from the person with the most.
Take all the same color if possible.
On a 6 give one bead to the person with the
fewest.
If two or more players are tied
for the most or fewest, the active player can choose.
State how many beads you wound up with.
Questions:
1)
Observe if students are counting from 1 each time or able
to count on from their previous total.
2)
Point out the groups of colors to get students to transition
from counting to addition.
3)
Connect operations to addition strategies.
For example, doubles:
if I have 3 beads and I roll a 4, that’s
like 3+3 and 1 more.
4)
If students are comfortable with addition, probe for
connection with subtraction, such as:
Bill had 8 and you took 3, how many does that leave Bill with?
Variations:
1)
Introduce a record sheet:
Start 
5

8









Change

+3

4









End

8

4









2)
Change the quantities to get facts between 10 and
20.
Caution:
games to 20 should start around 12 beads, and you may want to
make 6’s mean take 6.
Materials:
Real coins or play money.
Enough so that each player can have 1
quarter, 2 dimes, 3 nickels and 4 pennies.
Math content:
Low double digit subtraction.
Paid

Change

Cost 




































Gameplay:
Randomly determine who goes first.
That player puts a coin in the middle.
Play
goes clockwise (to the left).
Each
player puts in a coin, and is allowed to take out as much change for that coin
as they can, for any amount less than the value they put in.
For example, if you put in a dime, you could
take out up to nine cents.
The winner
is the last person to have money.
As a tutoring activity, it is recommended that students
keep track of their change.
Variations:
1)
Allow 1 dollar coin, 2 fifty cent, 3 quarters, 4 dimes, 5
nickels and 6 pennies.
2)
Have students keep track of how much money they have
total.
From
Mathematical Thinking in 5
^{
th
}
Grade
© 2000 TERC
This is a game that has many variations in the
Investigations
curriculum.
Math content:
place value, mental math, estimation
Materials:
a deck of number cards or playing cards with 10s, Queens and
Kings removed.
Players:
2 to however many the deck
supports.
Gameplay:
Deal out 6 cards to each player.
The goal is to arrange the cards as two 3 digit numbers whose difference
is as close to zero as possible.
Arrange the 3 digit numbers for larger – smaller.
After doing this five times, the sum of the
differences is taken, and the lowest score wins.
All cards go to the discard pile.
When out of cards, shuffle up the discard pile to deal more
cards.
Variations:
1)
2 players.
Deal
three cards to each player.
Players
take turns going first, making a three digit number.
The other player makes the 2
^{
nd
}
number and scores the
difference.
Note that there is perhaps
a lesser amount of problem solving here, but the game feels more competitive.
2)
Deal 4 cards to each player and make two 2 digit
numbers.
(Good variation for late
second or third grade.)
3)
Deal an extra card so that players use all but one card
to make their numbers.
Makes scores
much lower.
4)
The game can be adapted to addition.
For example:
Deal 4 cards, and make two 2 digit numbers whose sum is as close
to 100 as possible.
Scoring can
be:
a)
the difference between the sum and 100, taken as a positive number.
(i.e. 112100 or 10087).
Play 5 times, add the distances from 100 and
the lowest score wins. Or, b) you only score if under 100.
Over 100 means zero points.
Play 5 times, highest score wins.
Note that some deals of four cards have no
sum under 100, so the five card variation can be used if you are scoring this
way.
5)
Calculators can be used at some, all or no points in this
game to change the pedagogical focus.
Sample Score sheet:
___
___
___
–
___ ___ ___ =

___
___
___

___
___
___
–
___ ___ ___ =

___
___
___

___
___
___
–
___ ___ ___ =

___
___
___

___
___
___
–
___ ___ ___ =

___
___
___

___
___
___
–
___ ___ ___ =

___
___
___

Total:
___
___
___
___

I first and last saw this game in a “calculator fun book”
about 30 years ago, but long ago lost track of the book and author.
(Yes, there were calculators then.
They could add, subtract, multiply and
divide, and got hot if you left them on too long.)
Math content:
mental math, operations, divisibility rules.
Materials:
1 calculator
Players:
1
Gameplay:
Enter a random 6 digit number with no repeats.
Using only +, – , * and / perform operations
on this number to get to zero – using only 2 digit operands, and 6 or less
steps!
Ask students to keep a record.
Example:
342987.
(1) –37.
(2)/50.
(3) –59.
(4) /40. (5) –85. (6)
–85.
Variations:
Don’t even get me started.