The answer is math games. Adding fun to the whole element of learning math excites areas in the brain that keeps kids on task, and makes learning easier! There are lots of math games out there (check out Pinterest!!!). Finding games isn't an issue, but what really makes a game successful in a classroom?
How do you make sure math games are successful in your classroom?
1. Make sure you are using games for a specific purpose. They should not be simply time fillers.
2. Find games that match the mathematical objectives you are working on.
3. Once a child (the class) knows a game well, send it home for homework. Simple math games used with a deck of cards are really good for this. Many math games are printable, or only use pencil and paper. They are perfect to send home.
4. Look at the game carefully. Is there an element of chance? If so, even weaker students will think they have a chance of winning. That means they won't give up!
5. Keep the number of players for any game at four or less. The fewer the number of players, the more each child gets to participate.
6. Games should be short, under 15 minutes for sure. There's not much more time for that anyway in a classroom.
7. Students get overloaded when they have to learn many rules for many games. Keep the type of games to five or six. Then you can swap out concepts, but keep the game structure. For example, the simple card game of "War" can be used for any mathematical standard in almost any grade.
8. Give students the opportunity to make their own games. I used pizza boxes to keep games in. The students covered the top with fadless paper (wrape it like a present that can still open), then decorate with the name. Includes rules to attach to the inside of the lid of the box, and use a gameboard made of tagboard to construct the game. Show students a number of boardgames first to allow them to discuss what makes a good game, and good playing cards. If you base the game on one they already know (i.e. Candyland), it also makes it easier.
Try this Freebie math game that gives kids lots of fun practice! I hope you enjoy my multiplication game called "Feed the Chickens". It's designed for two students at a time, and lots of fun! I've included the facts through 12 to make the game useful for older students who need some extra practice. If you teach younger students, just pull out the facts you don't yet need. Just click on the link below the pictures to download the game. I hope your kids enjoy it!