Spring is the perfect time to use math games with your students. Either you are finished with testing and the kids are restless, or you still have testing ahead of you and your kids are restless! Math games will motivate your students, keep them on task, and also help them review important skills … while giving them the chance to put some of that restless energy to good use.
Random partners are fun for some activities, but I don’t recommend pairing students randomly in math. Instead, take a moment to pair students yourself before you pass out the materials. It’s best for students with similar abilities to work together. It might be tempting to have struggling students play against strong students so they can get help, but that situation is going to frustrate both of them. Instead, keep students of similar ability levels together and differentiate instruction by giving them different games to play.
One of my favorite math games is Island Conquer. I created this game for my 4th graders to practice area and perimeter skills. The game is for two players who take turns graphing coordinate points and creating rectangles on a grid. They claim ownership of the rectangle by calculating its area or perimeter, depending on the game played. My class loved it, so we decided that it needed a fun name. I remember Ryan piping up and saying, “Why don’t you call it ‘Island Conquer’? When you color the rectangle it’s like you are capturing an island!” Everyone loved the name, and Island Conquer was born!
A few years later, I gave the game a makeover, and it now has a pirate theme which your students will LOVE! The updated version of Island Conquer is free for my email subscribers; click here to request your copy!
My newest math game is Monster Math Mix-up: Telling Time. I created my first Monster Math Mix-up game when I was writing Customary Measurement Conversions, and it received rave reviews from the student field testers. In this game, each student receives a mixed-up monster puzzle and they have to assemble it, piece by piece, as they solve math problems. There’s a bit of luck involved, though, because after each player solves a problem, he or she must spin a spinner to find out how many pieces to add … or perhaps take away! The game was so popular that I decided to create a version of Monster Math Mix-up for telling time. This game is aligned with 2nd and 3rd grade Common Core objectives for telling time, and there are two sets of clock task cards to help you differentiate instruction. You can purchase Monster Math Mix-up from my TpT store.
The best thing about using math games is that they promote a positive classroom climate while helping students review and practice important math skills. When students play a game with a partner, they can have fun while learning, and you are free to work with individual students. It’s a win-win for everyone, and a sure cure for spring fever!