Thursday, August 18, 2016

Games I Love to Play

     I have officially survived the first two days of school.  That first day is always a killer.  I'll admit it-I came home and took a nap that day.  But day two was a little bit easier, and here on day three, my family might even get a hot meal for dinner (that is not take-out).

      As the year gets going, I've been thinking about which things I'm most looking forward to introducing to my students.  One of them is the games that we play.  So today, I'm thinking about my favorite kinds of games....ones that require little prep work and no extra supplies, plus work with whatever content I'm teaching!  I can usually just pull questions right off of worksheets, study guides, etc....Some of these are my creations and others I've learned from other great teachers, but they all make my classroom a fun place to be.

math games in the middle school

1.  Math Poker--I learned this game at an NCTM conference in Kansas City several years ago, at the absolute best session of the day.  Only I don't remember the name of that great whoever you are, here's to you!  The idea of this game is that everybody starts with $100.  You can bet as little as $1 or up to all of your money.  You get the question right, and you add your bet on to your total; miss the question, and deduct the money.
      Now, the reason my kids really love this game is what happens if someone loses all their money.  I have a deck of cards filled with silly actions such as "Waddle like a duck" and "Dance around the room like a ballerina", so if you lose all of your money, you get a $10 loan from me by taking one of these cards.  My kids love this part so much I've had to make a rule that you can't miss questions on purpose, and anyone who wants to draw a card for fun at the end of the game is allowed to.

This is how I have the kids set up their paper.

2.  Trashketball (or Mathketball)--This is probably my favorite game to play, and the kids love it too. I keep seeing pins on Pinterest about Trashketball, so I know I'm not the only one who has thought this up, but here is how we play in my room.  I divide my class into teams of 3 or 4.  I put a question up, and every team works it out.  I roll the dice to decide which team gets to answer the question.  If that team gets it correct, they get one point and a chance at bonus.
     For bonus, I give my kids a couple of options:  shoot baskets (hence the name of the game) or roll the dice.  I have three different options:  two three-points shots, three two-points shots, or a roll of the die.  This way, no matter what, you have the possibility of 6 bonus point.
3.  Treasure Hunt--Playing this game is easy. Ask the questions you want to ask.  Randomly choose a student to answer the question (or possibly a couple of students).  If the student gets the question correct, they get to pick a spot on a simple 10 x 10 grid.  I decide in advance on some "winning" squares, and if students pick those squares they win.

This game has lots of variations that will work.  Sometimes I use a grid that has simple prizes "hidden" in some of the squares.  (I use a SmartBoard file to do this).  When I do this I give away simple things like a pencil, candy, etc.....   You could also put different point values in squares, and have the person with the highest point total at the end declared the winner.

4.  Grudgeball--I can take no credit for Grudgeball, but my kids sure are glad that I read about it.  They have a blast taking points away from another team, and I love watching 7th graders and their total lack of logical strategies.  Click to see Grudgeball directions.

save image5.  Mission Impossible--This simple game just requires a couple of spinners (or dice) and a grid.  I use a poster-sized grid.  In one of the squares, I put an American flag.  I tell my students that they are spies, and they are in possession of important papers that must be delivered to the American embassy.  Every time I give a question, every group that gets it right gets to move.  One die represents direction:  1 or 2 moves left/right, 3 or 4 moves up/down, 5 moves diagonal, and 6 is any direction.  The other die represents the number of spaces.  If a group lands on a space that is already occupied, that group must return to the beginning.  First group to the embassy wins.


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