Archive for the ‘Games for Math’ Category

Collection of Math Games

The page of digital and non-digital games has grown too long and unwieldy, so I’ve finally taken the time to reorganize the content by topic area. I’ve also added all the new “Block” games on various topics in Trigonometry, Rational Exponents, and Logarithms.

If you’ve bookmarked the old Games page, you’ll see that it now just tells you how to find the new sub-pages.

Direct links to the new game pages are below:

I’ve also decided to collect your suggestions for other digital and/or paper games, puzzles, and manipulatives  using a Google Form, but before you submit a game for me to review, PLEASE check it against my criteria for Lame Games.

Submit your suggestions here.



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Teaching Math Without Words

I’ve been following this MIND Research Institute math platform for a while now … looks like it has really come into its own in the last year or two.  So your students have poor reading skills?  Maybe this is what we should use.

Teaching Math Without Words, A Visual Approach to Learning Math from the MIND Research Institute from TEDxOrangeCoast

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Exponent Block and Factor Pair Block

A few weeks ago I built two new games for algebra in one week.  These games just use the game mechanic from “Antiderivative Block” (a Calculus game), but with algebra-oriented game cards.  The game mechanic is a classic “get 4-in-a-row” so it’s pretty easy to learn.

Exponent Block (plus Gameboard) will help students contrast slightly different expressions involving exponent rules, especially negative and zero exponents.

Factor Pair Block (plus Gameboard) will help prepare students for a unit on factoring.  There are two sets of playing cards (print each set on a different color of paper if you want to be able to easily separate them).  The first set of cards works with factor pairs for natural numbers and finding the GCF for two numbers.  The second set of cards helps students start to see the GCF for monomials.

Supplies: I have found that it’s worth the investment in some bags of “marble markers” to play these (and other) games.  These can generally be found at a store like Hobby Lobby or JoAnn’s Fabric.  I’ve included markers that you can cut out and use, but trust me, that’s a pain.  It is also very helpful to print the game cards (two-sided) on cardstock, so if you don’t have a ready supply of cardstock in multiple colors, I’d pick some of those up too.  Last, small plastic bags are going to be a necessity to hold the sets of cards.

It’s interesting to watch the students play these games. Many students who seem to be uninterested in learning the fine differences between expressions in normal circumstances land in deep explanations of why these expressions simplify differently when playing the game.

Expect that students will play two ways.  Some will play the intended game mechanic, playing competitively to get four-in-a-row.  Other groups will play to “fill the board” … frankly, I can’t see what’s fun about this, but it never fails that at least two pairs of students do this.  One alternate play method that would allow you to “fill the board” would be to try to keep playing so that neither partner creates a four-in-a-row.  Then the players work collaboratively to try to create a filled gameboard where there are no wins.

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An Algebra Game for Trinomials

This week was the start of factoring in my algebra course and so, I’ve been building games involving factoring all week.  This one is the most interesting one – it’s called Trinomial Traverse.  David (one of my colleagues at MCC) and I started work on it on Tuesday with a stack of cards with monomials, binomials, and trinomials.  No matter how much we pushed at it, we couldn’t get out a decent game that involved strategy.  However, when I got home and raided my game design closet, I found some wooden cubes and the real game building began in earnest.  What you see now is roughly version 4.

We’ve carefully balanced the board for good gameplay using the probabilities of rolling any trinomial, so I wouldn’t recommend building an alternative game board unless you “do the math” too. Please feel free to download (PDF) and use Trinomial Traverse in your own classes and let us know if you have suggestions for improving it.

David has done three class tests and recommends that you don’t suggest the students using pencil and paper (it really slowed down the game).  With each role of the dice, there are only three combinations.  For students, it is probably easiest if they just work out what each combination gives them (in their head) and take a look at the game board after figuring each one out.  There are a few rules we have left out.  For example, you may want to put a penalty in place if students forget to announce their trinomial or do it incorrectly, but we decided to leave those decisions up to you.  It’s probably best (in our opinion) if the students just police each other on this one.

David and I recorded a little demo video of the game play.

One simple variation would be to play the game with “scarce resources” where all the gold is sitting on the board at the beginning of the game and can only be earned once on each space.

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