Let’s Talk Teaching: Games in Math Class

In my years of teaching grades 6 through 8, I generally used games only for reviewing before a test. What I didn’t realize was how effective games can be for teaching the content. Each of the games below has a learning objective; each could be embedded in a lesson plan for middle school math. And, as you know, games focus students’ attention as few other teaching strategies can. Use our comment box below to share with other teachers the games you use in class!

Polygon Capture
This excellent lesson uses a game to stimulate conversation about the properties of polygons. A player draws two cards, one about the sides of a polygon, such as “All sides are equal,” and one about the angles, such as “Two angles are acute.” The player then captures all the polygons on the table that fit both of the properties. Provided here are handouts of the game cards, the polygons, and the rules of the game.

Maze Game
This online activity allows the player to practice their point plotting skills by having them move a robot through a mine field to a target location.  Great for learning to visualize coordinates on the Cartesian plane!

The Factor Game
In this two-player game, one person circles a number from 1 to 30 on a game board. The second person circles (in a different color) all the proper factors of that number. When no numbers remain with uncircled factors, the person with the largest total wins. A lesson plan outlines how to help students analyze the best first move in the game, which leads to class discussion of primes and squares as well as abundant and deficient numbers.

Data Picking
In this interactive game, students first create a table using data they collect from the onscreen characters. They then select a scatter plot, a histogram, a line graph, or a pie chart that best represents the data. The amount of data increases and the type of data representation changes according to which of three levels of difficulty is selected.

Fraction Track
Working in two-player competition or individually students practice finding equivalent fractions and ways of combining fractions as they move their pieces across the board. Both sites use applets, but the basic game play can be set up using only paper game boards and chips.


We Want Your Feedback
We want and need your ideas, suggestions, and observations. What would you like to know more about? What questions have your students asked? We invite you to share with us and other readers by posting your comments. Please check back often for our newest posts or download the RSS feed for this blog. Let us know what you think and tell us how we can serve you better. We appreciate your feedback on all of our Middle School Portal 2 publications. You can also email us at msp@msteacher.org. Post updated 11/10/2011.

Those Dicey Decimals!

Understanding decimals is a “must” and practice with them a basic necessity. The first two resources here feature games that encourage practice at varying levels of mastery. The third site offers a visual, interactive experience in comparing decimal values, while the last site provides short, self-contained lessons and practice on individual topics.

MathFROG
MathFROG stands for Math Fun, Resources, and Online Games. These lessons combine online mathematics games with paper-and-pencil follow-up exercises. Among the lessons listed for grade 6 are Decimal Mania, Decimultiplication, Place Value! and Ordering Decimals.

The Math Files Game Show
Students practice decimal skills as they play these games: Saloon Snap (matching fractions with decimals and percents), Builder Ted (ordering numbers), and Rounding Off (to significant figures or decimal places). Three levels of difficulty allow students to increase the challenge

Comparing and Ordering Decimals
In this interactive investigation, students use grids to model decimal numbers and compare them graphically. They then compare the numbers on a number line. The visual experience aids in making real sense of decimals. This is a subscription site; however, a free month of viewing is available.

Decimals
This site has basic explanatory lessons and interactive practice dealing with decimals. Topics include naming decimals; adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing decimals; rounding decimals; place value of decimals; comparing decimals; finding percents; equivalent fractions and decimals; and much more!

We Want Your Feedback
We want and need your ideas, suggestions, and observations. What would you like to know more about? What questions have your students asked? We invite you to share with us and other readers by posting your comments. Please check back often for our newest posts or download the RSS feed for this blog. Let us know what you think and tell us how we can serve you better. We appreciate your feedback on all of our Middle School Portal 2 publications. You can also email us at msp@msteacher.org. Post updated 4/14/2012.