Math Games For Elementary Students In The Classroom
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Math Games For Elementary Students In The Classroom


– I come from a game-playing family, and I think that’s why I’m so passionate about playing games, especially when it comes to helping build our kids’ math minds because games have such
mathematical power. I’m Christina Tondevold, the
Recovering Traditionalist, and I hope you’ll stick
around, ’cause in this video, we are gonna talk about math
games for elementary students in the classroom, in our
quest to build our math minds, so that we can build the
math minds of our students. Now let me start off with making this list is kind
of difficult because it’s hard to pick games that
work in a classroom setting. Like in my home, I know my kids, and even though I have four of ’em, it’s a whole lot easier to get games that work for those kids versus a whole classroom of kids. So, I tried to pick the
games that would work and allow kids to play at
whatever level they are at. So these are games that I
play with my five-year-old, all the way up to my 90-year-old grandma. So these are games that our family loves but yet can still be played
in a classroom setting. Now I’m also recording
this around the time of the holidays, which
always is on my mind. Like, what am I gonna
be getting for my kids, what am I gonna be getting
for their teachers. And so I tried to keep
that in mind as well that these are games that we
stinking love in our household. And I know that any child
would love these games, whether it’s in their home
or in their classroom. So if you’ve got someone in mind that might enjoy these games, then think about it for a
gift at any time of the year. So let’s get started. My first one is something
that I call Number Sandwiches. And I think that I found
this game actually in Constance Kamii’s book. I may get the reference incorrect. If I got that incorrect, you
can post it in the comments, but I’m pretty sure it
was from Constance Kamii. And basically, you can do this
with a normal deck of cards, but I’m gonna show you
with a little special deck. This is my deck of cards that I’ve created and I’m a little partial to them. But I love this deck and I created them because I wanted to give kids visuals. And oftentimes, a regular deck of cards just not give our kids a great visual. So if you look at a deck of cards, especially for young learners, let’s say they see the
card that is showing four, like the four of hearts. If they actually look at how
many hearts are on that card, there’s actually six. So it doesn’t help connect the
quantity that kids are seeing to the numeral. So this deck of cards, I
wanted to help kids see quantities in lots of different ways. So this deck of cards is
called Savvy Subitizing, and there’s a link below this
video where you can download to print your own, but
I also do sell them, so there’s a link there too. But the deck includes
visuals of tally marks and these are for the
numbers zero through 10, ’cause in a normal deck of cards, that’s usually the cards
we’re dealing with. So it’s got the tally marks,
it’s got the rekenrek. I don’t which way that’s
gonna come across to you, but it’s got the red and white beads. It’s got finger patterns, it
has the amount in a 10-frame, it has it with dot patterns,
and it also has the digit. So kids see these in
six different variations so that they can build these
connections around numbers. So that’s the basis of this deck of cards. You can take any game, any
card game that you play, and replace it with this deck of cards, and it just takes it to the next level. Even as adults, it’s
a little bit difficult sometimes when you first
get going to play the game, because we’re so used to
looking at just the digits, and we really have to
think about the quantity that’s being shown. So our first game that
we’re gonna talk about, and not all the games use these cards, but the first game uses these cards, but you can really use
a normal deck of cards. So I’m gonna show you,
using these deck of cards. So the idea of Number Sandwiches is that the partners are putting
together sandwiches of cards, so two cards sandwiched together, that total a certain amount. So based upon whatever you want
your child to be working on, or the students in your classroom, you have them make sandwiches
based on a certain amount. So let’s say the kids are working on pairs that would make 10, and
you could do this with any. So if you’re working with fractions, I’ll show you can example in just a sec. But let’s say they’re making 10. So they work together
to make these sandwiches and then one person holds the sandwich. Their partner can see one side. The other person sees the other side. So the idea is that
whoever’s showing the card, they’re showing it to the other person, and that person has to figure
out what’s on the other side. If we know that all
these sandwiches make 10, if they see a four, they have to tell what’s
on the other side. And then you can flip and show them. So here’s another example. If this is what I’m showing them, but they know that the sandwich makes 10, what’s the other side of the sandwich? So the other side of
the sandwich is a five, and then we can show that. So if you’re working with
any kind of combination, and you could do this even
with polynomial-type stuff, that you can make them using
just three-by-five cards. I made these using bigger ones so that we could do it
like as a whole class and it’s bigger so kids could see it. So all of my number
sandwiches are making one. So if I hold this up, and I want the kids to talk
about what’s on the other side of that sandwich, if this
sandwich makes one whole, and then we want them
hopefully to figure out that it’s 3/4ths. And you could do it with visuals. You could draw fraction visuals on here. You can really makes these cards
up to be whatever you want. So the game is called Number Sandwiches, and you can make them around
any mathematic content. All you need is some three-by-five cards. If you’re working with young kids, I really, really love the
Savvy Subitizing Cards to give them those extra
visuals to help them out, and not just the digits. Okay, my second favorite is
one called Wits & Wagers. We have had this game
for a really long time, and we play it a lot. We have lost a lot of the pieces. We kind of have to make things up as we go because we just lose things along the way and we use it so much. But this game is called Wits & Wagers, and basically, the piece that
I really love about it is that there isn’t a right answer. The questions, you read a question, and everybody has to make a guess. And then you place the bets,
basically, you place a wager based upon who you think is
closest without going over. And they’re questions that nobody really knows the answer to. They’re not common things
that you would know. So you have to use some estimation. So one of the examples I remember is like what percent of U.S. presidents
have fought in a war? Like, I don’t know that. We don’t know the actual answer, but the idea is to get kids to understand that percentages are between zero and 100, and get to think, “Do you
think it’s more than 50? Do you think it’s closer to 100? Is it closer to 20%?” All of that kind of stuff. So they just make a guess. Even my five-year-old
will make a random guess, and then the cool part is you
lay out the guesses in order, so they get some practice with ordering and comparing numbers,
and then the cool part is, this is the part I really love, is that even if their
estimation was crazy, like, once they lay it out there and they see everybody else’s estimation, they don’t have to go with theirs. They get little, they’re
called meeples that you put onto the cards. I’ll show a picture here
on that, of us playing it. You put your colored
meeples onto the cards that you think are close. So your big meeple is worth two points and your small meeple is worth one point. So you put your big one on one that you think is the best guess and then the smaller one
on one that you’re like, “Well, it might also be this one.” So you don’t even have to
put it on your own card, which is what I love. So there’s no, like,
kids are afraid sometimes to make guesses because they’re afraid they’re gonna be wrong. Even if they’re wrong, they
don’t have to use their guess. They can put their meeple
on somebody else’s guess that they think is closer. So it’s a really fun game to
help build their estimation, to learn some kind of
random knowledge sometimes. It’s also just a great family game that our entire family does play. Another favorite game, which
we had kind of forget about, but then we found it over
Thanksgiving here recently, is Sequence. Sequence is a great game,
and if you follow the link in the post below, it’ll take
you to different variations, but I really love the original Sequence or the one that has numerals. So there are Sequences where
you can get just pictures, but I’m kind of partial
to ones that have numerals ’cause it builds at least
some mathematical stuff, but the cool part about
Sequence is some logic. So it’s all about you have cards and then you place your
little coins onto that card, the corresponding card, but there’s always two of that card, so you have to think and strategize about which one you’re gonna place it on. The goal is to get five in a
row with your colored chips. So you really have to strategize not only where you’re placing yours to build your five in a row, but also to be blocking the other people. And again, we play this
with our youngest kiddo who is five, and he’s able to play because it’s about matching
and seeing the amounts, and then the strategy part
we have to help him with a little bit, like, “Are
you sure you want to “maybe place it there? Let’s
look where the other one is,” and which one’s their best choice. But it’s a really simple game
that everybody loves to play because of the strategy that’s involved. Sometimes when the mathematics is simple, a lot of older kids don’t want to play it because they think that it’s not very fun, but the strategy that’s
involved with Sequence makes it an engaging game
for any age of person. Okay, a recent favorite of
mine is a game that was created by my friend Dan Finkel, Tiny Polka Dot. If you are not familiar
with Tiny Polka Dot, click the link below this
video or that’s in the post and follow that and grab it. At first when you go there, it’s gonna look like Subitizing Cards. The dots are on there and
you can kind of think, “Oh, it’s a subitizing game,” but when you buy the actual deck of cards, it comes with 16 games that you can play. But the best part of these cards is once kids start
playing around with them, let them come up with the games. The types and games and
activities that you can do with these cards is
really, really endless, but I love that Dan has
included games for you to play just to get you started, but
the fun part of this game is let the kids play and
explore with the cards and create their own games. Now these last two are classic favorites. The first one is Go Fish, but I’m gonna do a little
bit of a spin on it because the first spin I’m gonna
say is play Go Fish with the Subitizing Cards. It makes a world of difference
playing with these cards than a normal deck of cards. But I’m gonna also encourage
you to have a variation on Go Fish. My favorite variation is
playing Make Something. So when kids are working on make 10, you can play Go Fish where it’s make 10. So instead of asking a partner, so if I have a six in my hand, I’m not gonna be asking for a six, which is the traditional Go Fish, but instead we’re trying to make 10, so if I have a six, then I’m
gonna be asking for a four, and when I get that match,
then I can put that down. And so then you can also
take all of these cards that you had made for
the Number Sandwiches, let’s say you were working on fractions, and instead of playing just
Go Fish where you’re matching, now I can be trying to make one. So if I have a 1/4th, then
I would be asking someone, “Do you have 3/4ths?” and then trying to play Go Fish that way. So think of variations on
some of those classic games that kids are familiar with that you can make it a
little bit more exciting and challenging for them. My last game is one of my favorites and my kids’ favorites, Yahtzee. Now, number one, it’s just fun to play, but kids of all levels can
get something out of Yahtzee. There’s a lot of strategy
involved with Yahtzee, but even kids who are just counting, who are still counting
to add, can play Yahtzee and get practice in that, versus if you have kids in your household who are working on multiplication, they are doing the same
game, the same activity, but they start to think
multiplicatively about the dice versus kids who are counting, maybe every single dot mark on the dice. So it’s great if you have
a household or a classroom, where you have kids of
lots of various levels. Yahtzee is a game that kids can be playing where they are at the moment, and as they progress with their
mathematical understanding, they start to think differently and look at the dice differently. So if you don’t have
Yahtzee, it’s a classic game that I think should be in
any classroom and any home. Now again, this is not an exhaustive list. This is just my top
favorites at the moment, mainly because they are top of mine because we’ve been playing
them in our house here recently and I wanted to make sure that if you’re not
familiar with these games, that you are familiar, start playing them. Buy them for a teacher you know and love or a kid that you know and love. You’ll not be sorry. It’s a great way to build
their mathematical minds, but also, just great time
to interact and be social and have family time or get
kids to learn how to play games. All too often, kids just aren’t familiar with playing games anymore and I really want to bring that back because they’re just such a powerful way to interact as people, but the mathematics is also wonderful. So I hope this video has
helped you build your math mind so you can build the math
minds of your students. And don’t forget, all
the links to the things that I mentioned are
down below this video. Have a great day.

About James Carlton

Read All Posts By James Carlton

3 thoughts on “Math Games For Elementary Students In The Classroom

  1. I would love it if you made more videos like this one…. I'm obsessed with board games and I think there's a LOT of learning involved by playing them. . I am currently playing Dragonwood with my 5 year old… I need to help her a bit, but she's motivated to add those numbers! Love board games!

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