5 Tips for Facilitating Student Created Math Games

25 May 2016 / Leave a Comment
Student Created Math Games End of the Year
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Are you looking for a fun end of the year math activity? This week my students have LOVED creating their own math games. Creating their own games encourages higher order thinking, problem solving, team building, and creativity.  I'm going to offer you a few tips I have learned from this experience.

Dollar tree supplies for student created math games

My students were excited to learn they would have the opportunity to create their own math games to review math standards we learned this year.  But that excitement peaked when I showed them  the Dollar Tree finds I purchased for them to use.  Note cards are a must for creating playing cards, and 200 cards for $1.00 meant I didn't need to worry when cards needed to be redone ...and redone!  I purchased a variety of stickers for game board decoration, and mini erasers for game playing pieces. Honestly, the spinners just didn't work well for us, so I was glad I had some from a math kit that spun easier.  The balls were in case they wanted to get creative and create a basketball type game.  Everyone will be a winner with a special pencil.  You can't tell, but these items are placed on white bulletin board paper, which we used to create our game boards.

Game board examples for student created math games

After putting my students into teams, I showed them LOTS of examples.  I pulled out our Candy Land Board Game, and pulled up Google Images to show tons of examples.  We discussed how there was a theme, bright colors, a designated path, etc.  This helped when they planned their own games. Although the stickers were going to be used...even if they didn't match their game's theme!  It was interesting to note that one of the teams really had a struggle creating a game that had a clear path.  I think this reflects their lack of background playing games.  It was enlightening for me to see the problem solving and struggle going on even with the simple task of planning their game.

Narrow math standards down when students create their own math games.

Initially I planned for my students to spiral review several standards within one domain, as they planned, created, and played their math games. Big mistake!  This is really a huge undertaking for inexperienced game creators.  Even though my second graders are ready for third grade next year, developmentally they could only focus on one standard.  Once I narrowed down their focus, and again provided examples of the kinds of questions they could create, they were off and running.  A good rule to remember is "simple is best!"

Preplanning for student created math games

My students planned out the theme, type of game, materials they would need, and any additional notes, prior to starting their game boards.  This led to productive talk and kept them focused on the task.

Drawing math game boards on white boards

They worked together to plan their game boards on paper or white boards using dry erase markers. Again, this promoted collaboration and engagement.

Creating math game boards on bulletin board paper

Finally they worked together to put their masterpieces on paper.  I supplied white bulletin board paper which gave them plenty of room to think and create.

Integrate technology using a word processor for word problems

 We integrated technology by using a word processor to type and edit our word problems.  I might be able to read their writing, but I didn't want it to hinder other students once we started playing the games.  This allowed me to work with individuals on spelling, grammar, and asking math questions. Later students cut the text apart and glued it on note cards.

Completed math game board, cards, and answer key

 Notice the stickers everywhere!  Students have completed their game boards, made their question cards, and started working on creating an answer sheet.  After they do a trial run playing their own game, I will mix up teams, so that one initial team member remains at each game station to coach others as they play.  This way everyone can play each game and there will be a "standard expert" at each game as well.

Storage for student created math games.

I quickly found out it was in my best interest to have individual storage containers for each team as they worked on creating their games this past week.  I put out containers and teams choose what worked best for them.

Dollar Tree magnetic tins

I'm loving these magnetic tins I discovered at the Dollar Tree.  They are perfect for holding game pieces.  We just put them up on the whiteboard each time we are done!

 This was a great end of the year activity for my students.  They were highly engaged during the entire process.  In addition to delving deeper into the standards, we learned problem solving and team building skills.  I hope you found some of these tips useful!


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