# If it’s Friday, it must be Kakooma Challenge Day

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By: Mary Kienstra on: January 17, 2014 in: engagement. computation, Greg Tang, Kakooma, Math, Mean, SmartBoard *
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1 Comment
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Friday has always been a good day at school, but this year Friday has become **Kakooma** Challenge Day in my classroom. Maybe you’ve heard of the Kakooma game from www.gregtangmath.com If you haven’t, take a look. Kakooma Challenge gets my whole class talking about math. They are so motivated in this game. I just sit back and watch.

Kakooma is the invention of math guru Greg Tang. It involves practicing multiplication and addition in a timed, puzzle format. It is engaging and maybe even addicting!

How can you engage your class in this game?

1. Start with the “game” Kakooma. We use the multiplication version. Students come up to the SmartBoard in groups of 3 to solve the the Kakooma puzzle. This puzzle encourages students to practice their math facts too – they want to be fast! We record the time that each group takes to solve the puzzle. The Kakooma game site records the time in seconds to the tenths place.

2. Analyze the times/scores by plotting them all on a number line. The math discussion is fabulous! You’ll hear students talking about clusters, outliers, scale, range. These terms all have meaning in this context and they will ALL remember what they mean. No need to review these vocabulary words when they are living this each week.

I added the number line analysis this year because the outliers and clusters are so obvious. My students care about these now, because in this game, the outlier score has another turn. My students know outliers now.

3. After the outlier group takes another turn at the Kakooma puzzle, students determine the mean time for the class. This part of the lesson gives them an authentic reason to practice finding the mean as well as addition and division in context. Students understand this division as it makes sense to them in context – I didn’t have to teach them about dividing with decimals. It just made sense because they realized that the mean must be within the range. We round the scores to the tenths place, once again, reviewing rounding in context.

In the last few weeks students have begun to analyze the scores and making predictions about how low their score should be to affect the mean. The math thinking is amazing – and so organic. They are vested in the process and thinking math. All in the spirit of competition!

4. Lastly, students record the class mean time on the class scoreboard. I teach 3 sections of math each morning. The talk of the day among my students each Friday is which class won the Kakooma Challenge in my room.

Friday morning is the highlight of our week. It is so exciting to see my students so involved in this activity. I’ve had administrators and other teachers come to watch and we all agree – this is student engagement at its best.

Students working on a Kakooma puzzle at the SmartBoard |

Team work at its best! |

Class scoreboard |

Special thanks to Greg Tang for your fabulous math website and inspiration!

4 years ago

Greg Tang

Hi Mrs. K,

I am so happy to hear that your kids are enjoying Kakooma! I really love the way you’re using it to develop mathematical thinking beyond the game itself. I used to teach statistics to college kids and the earlier kids get a grounding in probability, the better.

As for Kakooma, you might be happy to know that we now have FREE Kakooma apps for Android devices available and we’re working on a multiplayer version which I hope will be ready later this spring.

Finally, if you send me a picture of your kids playing Kakooma along with permission to use it, I will post it on my website. You sound like a great teacher and your students are definitely lucky to have you. Kakooma matata!

Greg Tang