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Three Favorite Math Games to Play with Students Tomorrow (Math Monday)

Posted by admin on Apr 25, 2022 8:30:00 AM

Highlighting Ideas from Well Played: Building Mathematical Thinking Through Number Games and Puzzles, Grades 3-5 by Linda Dacey, Karen Gartland, & Jayne Bamford Lynch


In our last Math Monday blog we shared three of our favorite addition and subtraction games and puzzles from the K-2 version of Well Played.

In today’s blog, we’re highlighting three of our favorite games from Well Played, Grades 3-5. Each math game and puzzle includes a detailed explanation of the math in each game, what to look for as students play, variations to extend or support game players, and exit questions designed to help you assess how students are making meaning in the games and puzzles. You can click on the link for each game to download a full description and materials to play.

Get to One or One-Tenth

Why This Game?

In the earlier grades we give our students many opportunities to count, to use a hundreds board, and to use manipulatives to trade ten ones for one ten. As new types of numbers are introduced, such as fractions and decimals, many students do not continue to have similar opportunities. These experiences are important, as research tells us that students are often focused on whole numbers when they compare decimal numbers. Some students may consider, for example, 0.09 to be greater than 0.1 because they know 9 is greater than 1 (Roche 2005).

In this game, students have an opportunity to grow their number sense around decimal numbers. In the Get To One version of this game, students roll the die, choose whether to have the number represent hundredths or tenths, and then count forward that amount. The first team to get to one, without going beyond, wins. The second version of the game, Get to One-Tenth, is played similarly but with the option to have the number on the die represent hundredths or thousandths and the goal being to get to one-tenth.

Math Focus

  • Counting by hundredths, tenths, and thousandths
  • Recognizing the value of hundredths, tenths, and thousandths
  • Reading, writing, and comparing decimals

What to Look For

  • When students move forward by tenths, do they count forward by ten one-hundredths for each tenth or move down one row vertically for each tenth?
  • What mathematical understandings do students demonstrate as they decide whether to choose hundredths or tenths?
  • What level of confidence do students exhibit when choosing the value of the number? Do they make reasonable choices? Can they explain their choices?

Table Topper

Why This Game?

Table Topper is a classic game that combines an opportunity to talk about multiplication strategies and practice facts, with an element of strategy that makes for engaging game play. In this game players work to be the first to get four products in a row, column, or diagonally on the game board. Table Topper begins by each player selecting a factor on which to put a paperclip. On their turn, the player moves one of the paper clips to a new factor, multiplies the two factors with clips on them and puts a mark on the resulting product. The game encourages strategic thinking such as, Which product is surrounded by other products that have several factors? and If I want to get 24, which factors are possibilities?

Math Focus

  • Gaining fluency with multiplication facts
  • Identifying several factor pairs for the same multiple

What to Look For

  • What multiplication strategies do students use? What facts do students “just know” and which are they still learning?
  • What evidence is there that players are considering several options when it is their turn?
  • Do some students limit their play to a specific area of the board?

Fraction Action

Why This Game?

Students need many opportunities to develop number sense around fractions. Giving students the chance to talk about and challenge each other’s thinking around comparing fractions is one way to encourage this development. Along with ordering fractions, forming them with a particular goal in mind draws students’ attention to the relative size of fractions and, thus, the relative relationship between the numerator and the denominator. Fraction Action also provides practice with addition and subtraction of fractions, as players try to form expressions with the fractions to get the least (or greatest) values.

Math Focus

  • Comparing fractions
  • Adding and subtracting fractions

What to Look For

  • What if-then thinking do students use as they discuss their choices?
  • What evidence do you have that students recognize the relationship between the numerator and denominator in a fraction?
  • What strategies do students use to add and subtract?

Play More!

Are you interested in even more math play? Well Played has twenty-five games and puzzles for grades 3-5, focusing on base-ten numeration, addition and subtraction, multiplication and division, mixed operations and fractions. You can read more about Well Played on our website, including a free preview of the book. And make sure to check out the other grade-band versions of this book Well Played, K-2 and Well Played, 6-8.

Until next time, may your Monday be mathematically marvelous!

Well Played 3-5-1


Topics: Math, #StenhouseMath