Math Games

Tuesday, February 21, 2017
It's a math edition of my weekly series 

thanks for joining me ~ be sure to check in every Wednesday for different topics and tips to help you through your teaching journey.

Math games are a great way to give kids time to explore number sense and strategies in a non threatening way.  I know, your classroom is a safe, fun, engaging and loving place.  Sometimes no matter how 'safe' your classroom is - kids can create their own sense of urgency or stress when it comes to math.  I'm the perfect example of that....
When I was in Kinder I was brilliant!  Totally kidding!  But I was tagged as smart/gate because I was an excellent reader.  ( My mom was a teacher which helped ).  So I was put in a 1/2 combo class with only 4 first graders.  The teacher was old ( like ready to should've  retire(d) any day old ) and told us she was teaching that class like a straight second grade.  So I tell people I sorta kinda skipped first and went straight to second grade.  I'll never forget raising my hand when she was teaching borrowing.  I was already apprehensive because I was younger than everyone else.  I told my teacher I was having trouble understanding the concept because I never really even did basic subtraction. ( remember this is the 70's ) we played kitchen for 1/2 our day in kinder back then. LOL
She promptly said, " I don't have time for this, you are suppose to be one of the smart ones!"  " You'll just have to learn it on your own. " The second grader sitting next to me ( I still remember her name ) leaned over and said, " you're so stupid!".  I was beyond defeated, devastated, heartbroken.  Do you know that unfortunately that exchange of words and how I felt inside set the stage for my feelings towards math for the rest of my life?  I know that sounds extreme but I have never liked ever!  I always struggled and had ZERO growth mindset in regards to my success at math.  How sad is that?!?!  I never did raise my hand again in that class with a math question.  #sadsville
I wanted to tell that story to illustrate how easy it is for kids to get to that place.  Not necessarily from a teacher but from other kids, their own sense of self worth, etc.  Math is definitely one of those subjects that teachers need to be sure to give lots of encouragement.

So ~ back to our topic this week.... I LOVE math games and just in the last couple of years I have come to LOVE math in spite of that icky teacher.  Math has become probably my favorite subject to teach which I never thought I would say. #successstory
But really I see such a value in math games it allows kids to explore math with partners, in small groups or on their own. It's amazing how explaining to a peer how you got an answer or why you think what you do has such power.  I have seen the quietest child speak up during math games with a partner due to either excitement or just plain curiosity.

Playing games encourages strategic mathematical thinking. Students are having to find different strategies for solving problems either on their own or with a partner.  They are required to deepen their understanding of number concepts.  Whether you are working on ten frames, fractions or word problems ~ you have just opened the door for critical thinking to happen in a fun, engaging way.
•     When certain games are played repeatedly, they support and help develop the student's automaticity especially when working with fact fluency.
•     Students are given much needed practice on a concept without a teacher there to guide them through every step.  All too often we are rushing through concepts - onto the next Unit or need more time!   Once a concept has been taught and students seem to have a decent grasp on it then games are the perfect way to extend that concept and get them thinking deeper on it.  We as teachers can then switch to the role of observer or facilitator walking around the room guiding, asking questions and watching.  I've learned to ask: WHY instead of give an answer.  Often that extra step gets them thinking and they realize the answer on their own. 
•     Games help students  develop familiarity  with the concept at hand.  In doing that, they are gaining confidence and often helping their peers along the way.

I have some games that have worked well in my classroom over the years.  They are mainly for addition and work well with partners.

math games for first grade - lots of hands on and engaging activities

All you really need for these games are dice and you are all set.  I now have a collection of dice that I've gathered over the years.  Large colorful dice, small regular ones, rainbow colored dot dice, soft quiet dice.  You name it I probably have it.  That makes learning fun too.  If you are interested in a closer look at these math games you can check them out here by clicking the link or watching a few of my videos explaining them below.  There are 9 games in the pack:  The games are: 
The 9 games/activities are:
* Roll and Color/Dab/Cover
* Roll a Number Sentence
* Comparing numbers
* Clear it Off
* Add it Up
* Fact Family Rolls
* Double Down Race to the Top
* Counting On
* Partner Game

I hope you can incorporate math games if you haven't tried them yet, it will really transform math in your classroom.  Good luck and happy teaching!

1 comment

  1. Hey! I could have sworn I've been to this site
    before but after checking through some of the post I realized it's new to me.
    Nonetheless, I'm definitely glad I found it and I'll be
    bookmarking and checking back frequently!