Say the word “game” in your classroom, and you’ll be sure to turn some heads! As teachers, we are always brainstorming ways to get our students engaged in the content. Personally, I love using games. Math games for the classroom can be simple to use, and make the most of down time.
Math games are a great way to spiral material and have students practice concepts. I wanted to share how I use math games in my classroom, set them up, and keep them organized. Having good systems in place makes me more likely to use them!
Ways to use Math Games in the Classroom
Like I mentioned, math games can help you make the most of extra time. But they can be used far beyond early finisher activities! Here’s a few ways to use math games in your classroom:
#1 Morning Work
In my opinion, morning work is some of the most underutilized time in the classroom! As my students come in, I love using this time to engage them in review material. They can be reviewing concepts from yesterday, the week, or throughout the year.
Pick one day (or more) a week that you dedicate to math review – and whip out those math games! This is where organization really comes in handy. Have these games organized in an easily accessible place, so all you have to do is grab it when you walk in that morning.
#2 Early Finisher Activities
Alright, I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but early finisher work is a super obvious and simple way to use math games in the classroom. If you ever get tired of the age old, “I’m done. What next?” Have some games prepared and ready to go for students to use.
Additionally, I’ve found that my students also take their time with classwork, when they know they won’t be “getting off the hook”. There is always more learning to do!
#3 Showing Mastering
Sure, you can have students show mastery through a multiple choice test or worksheet. But have you ever tried taking an assessment using a math game?! Why not give it a try? You might find that some students are able to demonstrate more knowledge and skills through this alternative assessment.
Of course, plan your game around exactly what skills you want students to display, and how you plan on evaluating that. I’ve found that independent and digital games, like escape rooms or math riddles, work great for assessment.
#4 Independent Activity
After you have completed a mini-lesson, worked in centers, or had students in a small group – you want to be able to determine what students know! Math games for independent learning have been really effective in my classroom.
I like to use them in conjunction with my teacher stations. Students work on their own to complete a game. Because they are engaged in the game, I have less distractions at my teacher station and can get more done. And because students are more engaged, I have a better gauge on what skills they really know.
#5 Stations or Centers
Of course, I had to save the best for last. Stations and centers can stand to benefit from adding math games to your classroom. Each week, add in a board game station. The content can relate to this week’s math skills or from a prior unit. Either way, your students are getting a great review!
Organizing and Setting Up Math Games
I think that setting up and getting math games prepared is what can often deter teachers. But, think of it like playing the long game. When you prepare things well, it will benefit you for years to come. Here are some quick tips for making your math games run smoothly –
#1 Prepare Supplies to Last a Lifetime
Okay, lifetime might be a stretch, but you get the point. Print your items on cardstock. Laminate any pages. Include cleaning supplies in every bin (or making them easily accessible). This will help your materials last.
#2 Organize and Store in an Accessible Place
It’ll be hard to whip out your math games if you are a jumbled mess (or you can’t find them in the first place!). Have a dedicated area where you store the games. Keep games inside of a bin, large ziplock bag, or other container. Make sure you include all pieces needed, such as markers and dice.
#3 Set Expectations (And Remind Students Often)
In the beginning, model for students what you want and make expectations clear. Personally, my students can’t have more than three people per game (it keeps things from getting rowdy or unproductive). Every student is also required to solve every problem and check their answers with each other.
Want math games for every standard in your curriculum? I have complete, year-long math bundles with 30+ games to make the most of your math time. I have a bundle for 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, AND 6th grade. With each bundle, you get –
✔️ simple, easy to print math board games (so prepping doesn’t take you hours)
✔️ a math game for every standard (reviewing has never been easier)
✔️ direction pages for each game (to save your breath and put a stop to interruptions)
✔️ recording sheets and answer keys (for easy data collection)
PS. If you want to go beyond math with your board games, check out my science board games bundle! This review bundle is perfect for 5th grade classrooms, and includes easy-to-print game boards for the entire school year.