Math Fact Games (Day 1 of 25 Days of School Christmas Season)

Posted: November 12, 2014 in Uncategorized

Last night I saw a post from a fellow tweep Rafranz Davis after she found out about her son’s math homework assignment. She was upset because he was to solve 100 division fact problems. She has every right to be upset about this assignment.

First, ONE HUNDRED PROBLEMS?!?!?!?!?!? That is just crazy and just “busy work”.

Second, if he doesn’t know a couple of the answers, he’s going to answer every single problem wrong. Congrats, he will remember the wrong answer for a really long time.

There are more reasons why this is wrong, but I don’t want to talk about that. Instead, I would like to give all elementary teachers some great games that will help with learning math facts and allow the students to have some fun.

*I did not think of the games myself, but I have adapted them for my 6th grade classes as a way to review math facts.

Math War

  • You will need a deck of cards per two students. If you are adding, keep all the face cards and Jokers. Jokers are 0, Jacks are 11, Queens are 12, Kings are 13 and Aces are 1, all other cards are face value. Shuffle the cards and split the cards between the two students. Each student will turn a card face up so there are two cards facing up. The students will look at the cards and mentally add them up. The first person to say the answer gets the two cards. Play continues until one player has all the cards (or the teacher ends the time after 10-15 minutes.
  • With my students in 6th grade, we have been learning positive and negative integers. The adjustment that I did was include that if the card is black then it’s positive and if it’s red then it’s negative. Again, students will play against each other. Students have conversations about what the correct answer is and call me over to assist at times. They also are allowed to use a calculator to settle arguments of wrong answers.
  • Another way to use this game is with multiplication. You can have any numbers you wish students learning the facts. The basics would be just Aces to 10 (1-10), but if you want them to learn 11s, 12s or 13s, then add in Jacks, Queens or Kings. Again, if you are working with the basics, just use the numbers. However, in my 6th grade classes we have been using the positive/negative as well.

Captain Ahab

  • You will need a deck of cards per three students. If you are adding, keep all the cards in the deck and use the numbers as stated above. Shuffle the cards and place them in a mixed up pile (lake) in the middle of the students. One student will be “Captain Ahab”. The other two students each choose a card and WITHOUT looking at the card hold it on their forehead. Captain Ahab then looks at the two cards and adds them together in his/her head and says the sum out loud. The two students holding the cards then look at each other and by looking at the other card must figure out what card they have.
  • With my students in 6th grade I had them also use the positive and negatives.
  • Another way to use this game is with multiplication. Again, you can have any numbers you wish for students learning the facts. The difference is that Captain Ahab will multiply the two numbers and state the product out loud.
  • What I like about this game is that Captain Ahab is adding or multiplying, but the other two students are subtracting or dividing. It covers two operations at one time. To allow all students to be Captain Ahab, I set the requirement that every 3 turns students change who is Captain Ahab.

These two simple games using regular playing cards are a great way for students to learn their math facts. Also, if you have a little bit of time left in class, you quickly pass out the cards and tell students to play with those sitting close by. Students love the fact that they are playing a game, but also can help each other learn their math facts.

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