Practicing Math Standards in Games

By: Mary Kienstra on: April 18, 2016  in: CCSS math, Engagement

There are so many ways to practice and assess math standards. It’s just too bad that many teachers think that a worksheet is the only reliable resource. Students are practicing math standards in games, engaging in ways that will surprise you.  This post will help you set up routines that your students will love.

My class has certain routines that keep everyone engaged.  There’s Weight Logic Algebra on Mondays, Estimation Station on Wednesdays, Kakooma every Friday, and various others fill in on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  My students love these activities, but the best news is that these math games are all very closely aligned with the math standards.  My students are meeting and exceeding standards in games, but they think they are playing.

Wt log

An example from Marcy Cook’s Weight Logic Book


On Mondays, class starts with Weight Logic, a Marcy Cook game described in a previous post.  During Weight Logic, kids solve for 3 unknowns using 3 equations that are presented as scales.  They take turns explaining their thinking to the class and writing equations for the scales.  While they are working, I’m keeping notes on their explanations and observing their work.  The standards in this game include using the order of operations, solving equations using decimal operations, and analyzing algebraic patterns.  Practicing math standards in games.


An example from Estimation 180

Wednesdays are “Estimation Station” from Andrew Stadel’s also described in a previous post.  This routine involves kids estimating everything from coin value to distance to weight to height and then finding the percent that their estimate was “off.”  Kids LOVE this activity as it makes math real  – Who else would ask the kids to estimate the length of a roll of toilet paper or the value of coins in a jar?  The standards in this game involve using and understanding measurement units, operating with whole numbers and decimals, and rounding decimals.  Practicing math standards in games.


Kakooma Competition


Fridays are Kakooma Days.  We start with Greg Tang’s Kakooma Game and then extend the activity to include creating a line plot and analyzing the data, and then calculating the class mean and median.  The hook for this game is the fact that each class competes against the others.  They want to WIN!  Better yet, Kakooma is a game that practices multiplication and addition, so kids practice at home to improve their game scores.  Our Kakooma routine includes the standards of practicing multiplication and addition, looking for patterns, analyzing data in line plots,  and operating with decimals.  Practicing math standards in games.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, students participate in a variety of activities from “number of the day” to 24 Cards to Set Game, to other Greg Tang games.  All of these are engaging games for kids that also assess their abilities with the math standards.  In game form.

The best part of these routines is that the students run the whole thing.  I model these activities at the beginning of the year and turn them over to the students as soon as they are ready.  They lead the discussions, they choose the groups and scorekeepers, they record the data.  And they LOVE it!

Remember, not all common core math work has to be on a worksheet.  Set up routines that give your students practice with different kinds of math.  They can be practicing math standards in games!

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