Before a major test, it’s important for students to review the concepts they’ve been working on for weeks. The work they’ve put into classwork, homework, and quizzes can make many students reluctant to go over things they think they already know. One way to reengage students in the studying process is to introduce a fun math game that will allow them to engage in friendly competition while they study for a test.
Math Race is an ideal math game for an algebra-level class where students can solve for variables, multiply exponents, or use the order of operations quickly. It is a great game for practicing math speed and accuracy.
Teaching the Math Race Game
- Slips of paper with the problems written on them. You will need a copy of each problem for the total number of teams have. (If you have 3 teams, you’ll need 3 copies of each problem, etc.)
- Dry erase board
- One dry erase marker for each team
1. Split the class evenly into groups of three to seven. Have them create three vertical lines of chairs that all face the front board. Every person sits in their chair facing the board and can all have a pencil. Ideally you have two or three teams. The class should look like this:
2. Each team will take seats in one line of chairs and come up with a name for each team. The student in the back of each line should have a pencil and surface to right on. The student in the front of each line has a dry erase marker. The students in the front are all equal distances from the dry erase board.
3. At the start of the game, the teacher will hand the first problem to the students at the back (farthest away from the dry erase board) and instruct them to wait until your signal to start.
4. When you say start, students with the problems solve them and pass the completed math problems up the line to the front of the room. The paper must be passed from student to student up the line. The last student cannot just run up to the front with the answer.
5. As the paper is being passed, other students have the option of looking at the problem and correcting it if they see anything wrong. Alternatively, if the last person in line doesn’t remember how to solve the problem, they can elect to send the blank problem up to the next person in line to solve, etc.
6. When the paper reaches the front of the room, the student with the dry erase marker will run up to the board and write the final answer. The team that correctly writes the final answer first gets the point.
7. After the score is tallied, all students shift forward one seat. The student with the dry erase marker passes the marker to the next person and then takes the seat in the back to solve the next problem.
8. Scoring is calculated by the number of correct answers each team has. Once an incorrect answer has been written on the board, that team can not change their answer and the slower teams will have a chance to finish this.
9. Remind students to be very quiet or silent (if you’re working with younger students or students who may get rowdy if allowed to talk a lot) so they don’t accidentally give the answer away to neighboring teams.
Why does this help reinforce math concepts?
As was mentioned earlier, adding an element of competition and teamwork may be all students need to reinvigorate them to relearn concepts they’ve spent plenty of time on already. The team aspect of this game lets multiple people take responsibility for and work together on outcomes while still allowing individuals to shine.
This works well with higher-level concepts that need to be done quickly and efficiently on tests, like order of operations, factorization, etc.