8 Math Games Hacks...

...or tips or tricks or whatever you call 'em! Just keep reading for eight ways to make your teacher life a little easier! And, they're all for math class. 

The first two weeks of school, we primarily learned math in a whole group setting. Then, during week 3, we started following our whole group lesson and guided practice with some games. We practiced playing games independently and in pairs, but everyone played the same game at the same time. Tip 1: MATCHING GAMES/CARD GAMES are great introductory games to start with because there aren't a bunch of components. There's only cards. We learned to play War!. War! is great practice for comparing numbers and teaching the kiddos to use math talk. 

Reagan Tunstall's Guided Math Unit

Reagan Tunstall's Fundamentals and Friendships Math Centers
TIP 2: When there isn't time to laminate, bust out the sheet protectors. Laminating is great for durability and you can write on it a dry erase marker. But, I've been using more and more sheet protectors as an alternative to lamination because it's faster AND the dry erase marker actually wipes off more easily and leaves less residue behind. In this picture, the kiddos are playing an addition game called Roll & Record. Roll two dot cubes and find the sum, then write your answer on the recording document. The recording sheet in this picture comes from an old textbook adoption called Investigations.

Week 4 we began practicing playing different games at the same time. So while some teams played games with dot cubes, others played card games. By Week 5, we were ready to begin guided math rotations. We play lots of math games at the teacher table.  Tip 3: Learn games at the teacher table first, then transition them to math tubs. Before I switched to a Guided Math model, I tried teaching games whole group and then putting the games in tubs, but there was always someone (or more than one someones) who had been playing the game wrong for the first ten minutes by the time I made my way around the room. Then, after the time it took to re-taught them how to play correctly, time was up and we had to move on. Arghhhh. Now, I teach the kiddos in a small group as part of my teacher table lesson. I rarely stumble upon a group that is playing a game incorrectly. Knock on wood! 

The following pictures are all addition games we learned at the teacher table BEFORE the game went in a tub. 
Intro to Addition Games

Tip 4: Use clip art as math manipulatives. This does require a little effort and some ink, but my firsties loved these fireflies and frogs

Tip 5: Erasers and random dollar store goodies make excellent math manipulatives. I have a drawer of random toys I've collected from various places, so I don't know where I got these frog pencil toppers or the fish toys, but the frogs are super popular. Everybody wants to play Inside/Outside with these frogs!

Inside/Outside is a great game for learning combinations of numbers. In the picture below, there are four frogs in the pond and six frogs outside the pond. So, one combination of ten is 4 and 6. 

Intro to Addition Games

Intro to Addition Games

Intro to Addition Games
Tip 6: Think outside the toy box. The bats in this picture are actually cup-cake toppers that I found at Dollar Tree. I just snapped off the sticks. We played How Many am I Hiding? with the bats. This cave work mat is from Reagan Tunstall's Guided Math Unit. I repurposed the mat for this game. One student places some bats on the cave, and hides the remaining bats in a cup. His partner uses a strategy, such as drawing the missing bats or counting on, to figure out how may bats are hiding. It's essentially a missing addend game.

Reagan Tunstall's Guided Math Lessons

Tip 7: Use magnets on the back of manipulatives. I own a million little round magnets. Well, maybe not a million, but A LOT. I hot glue or ticky tack them onto the back of all kinds of manipulatives. I primarily do this during whole group math lessons, so I can gather the class on the carpet in front of the white board. In the picture below, I ticky tacked two sided chips (mine are red on one side and yellow on the other) to magents to demonstrate how to use two ten frames to Make 10. If you're not familiar with Make 10, place red dots in the top ten frame to represent the first addend. Place yellow dots in the second ten frame to represent the second addend. Next, move some yellow dots up to the top frame to Make 10. Finally re-write the addition equation and find the sum. I take volunteers to come up to the board to move the magnetized chips. For some reason, my students really like moving around magnets on my white board! After a few demonstrations, we took a baggie of two-sided chips and two tens frames to our desks to practice independently...

...which brings me to my final hack. Tip 8: Keep dry erase markers inside old children's socks. I don't have a picture of this one, but I have a bucket of markers inside socks. We write on our desks with dry erase markers, then erase our work with the sock. So, when my students worked at their desks to Make 10, they had two frames, a baggie of two-sided chips, and a sock with a dry erase marker in it. 

Here are links to the math resources referenced in this post.

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