Math games increase engagement and achievement. Simple as that.
Games can be scary. Games can especially be scary for teachers who feel that constant pressure to show accountability. I’ve felt that pressure, too. Despite that constant nagging in the back of my mind (and sometimes out loud), I have used math games successfully since my first year of teaching. And I will never teach math without them!
So, what’s my obsession with bringing games (and fun) into my math block? It all goes back to my first year of teaching. I was the math planner for my team – let me pause for a moment and express my sincerest gratitude to all of the teachers reading this post who plan math – and I can tell you it was no easy feat. I taught in a district that wanted to see results. Literal pencil and paper exit tickets, tests, benchmark assessments type results. I get the need for accountability, I really do. But I was struggling with getting my students to connect to the math concepts I had spent hours and hours planning for my team. On top of that, only someone looking down can vouch for the amount of trees that must have died during that year in support of this “accountability” and all of the copying it entailed.
Something changed for me midyear. I decided enough was enough. I wasn’t going to spend hours creating paper and pencil activities (irregardless of the cute clip art) that my students weren’t going to connect with, or more importantly create a deeper meaning of the content from. What was the change? I stopped teaching math whole group everyday. I kept whole group where it was needed and utilized it more often as an intro to centers for the day. The kiddos then happily trotted off to their differentiated centers while I was afforded time to pull small groups. The clouds cleared and something changed! My students were engaged! I noticed they were beginning to apply math concepts beyond the just the context that I had introduced it in. And they were excited for math! This made me excited for math!
But how do you make math games work in your classroom?
The answer is different for everyone. You may already have some form of math centers structure in your classroom – and I would venture to guess that you at the minimum already for a form of guided reading/reading centers. Math centers can be structured in much the same way as your literacy centers. You can read more about how I have structured math games/centers on [this blog post
].As I’ve become more versed in differentiating and creating math centers, I’ve started creating my own games for students to play. I started sharing these games on TpT, and I can I just say that the response has been so heartwarming? I’ve received so much amazing feedback about how teachers have used the games to reach struggling students, for parent game nights, and so much more. My latest pack of games is now available in my [TpT store
]. They have a fun winter theme! Check out the pictures below for more details!
The inspiration for my latest math games pack came from these adorable erasers from the infamous Target Dollar Spot!
As with all of my math center games, ease of prep is critical. The majority of use don’t have hours on end to slave away laminating and cutting out hundreds of pieces. By keeping the games simple and limited to the number of pieces required, prep is simple!
Frosty Numbers focuses on subitizing using ten frames. Kiddos still working on one-to-one correspondence? They can easily count the pictures on the ten frames to meet their needs.
Penguin Cove is a challenging game that works on composing (with a hint of decomposing) numbers. Students work cooperatively to identify the unknown part of a whole group.
Disappearing Evergreens focuses on addition and subtraction in a concrete and fun way! Can your students reach zero?!
Winter Shape-doku is a twist on the adult favorite. This critical thinking game (with a sprinkle of 2D shape recognition) challenges students to solve the puzzle so that only one of each shape is in each row/column.
“Cents”national Decorations reinforces coin recognition and their values. While many schools have stopped teaching money in Kindergarten, as educators we know that we have to meet children where their needs are. If your kiddos are ready to work with money, meet them there!
Holiday Domino War is a fun twist on the old-favorite “War.” Students work on subitizing as they identify numbers on the dominos then add the two numbers together (whether mentally or by counting). By comparing the two numbers, students decide which is greater.
Interested in owning these games yourself as you embark/continue your work with math games and centers? Find them in my TpT store by clicking [here] or on the picture below!