# Using Games Effectively in the Mathematics Classroom

## Educational Math Games:

An educational math game is a fun and challenging context in which students interact cooperatively or competitively to achieve a defined goal within a specified set of circumstances while learning or practising identified cognitive, affective or psychomotor skills.

• can be used to involve parents, guardians, siblings and other important people in the child’s life – can be used to facilitate the house / school connection.
• promotes a pleasant, enjoyable and challenging environment in the classroom – are usually interesting (at least initialy)
• can be either cooperative or competitive – some of each is imortant – it is just as important to learn how to loss as it is to learn how to win!
• can be used to draw connections to a “real life” environment.
• provides repetition and drill and practice to help achieve automaticity while de-emphasizing procedural skills.
• often can be linked to manipulatives and thus can be used to help promote understanding.
• encourages social skills when students work and play together – students begin to value each other as they learn and practice their communication skills.
• provides variety of instruction, especially when different forms are used (math card games, math board games, action games, manipulative games) in a variety of student groups (solitaire, small groups, large groups.)
• many games have a strong problem solving component and can be used to either develop or practice problem solving skills and strategies.
• can be integrated into the actual instructional context – related to objectives and daily goals.

### Using Math Games

• Success: you may wish to avoid promoting winning and losing or at least encourage and reinforce all small successes – games should be success oriented.
• Vocabulary: encourage students to use the appropriate vocabulary for mathematical ideas, especially when maniulatives are invovled.
• Relevance: try to use only math games which are content-related to achieve and maintain curricular relevance.
• Function: consider what function the math game serves – can it be used effectively to introduce a new topic, or is it primarily a practice or application activity?
• Sequencing: be sure to place games after related content so that studnets are not frustrated.
• Motivation: decide whether a math game would catch your students’ interest before you start – different games work for different classes!
• Preparation: experiment with a math game with a few students before trying it with the whole class – this will help you decide how best to introduce the game as well as anticipate what difficulties the students will encounter (it also helps you train some useful helpers!)
• Flexibility: try to collect math games that can be easily adjusted upwards or downwards according to difficulty level – such math games enable you to respond to individual student needs and adapt a game easily for different groups in different classes.
• Space: consider the space you have available for use, especially if the game requires and amount of moving around be students or large numbers of pieces or manipulatives.

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