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Games and English-Language Learners and Special-Needs Children

Because math games require active involvement, use concrete objects and manipulatives, and are hands-on, they are ideal for all learners. Games provide opportunities for children to work in small groups, practice teamwork, cooperation, and effective communication. Children learn from each other as they talk, share, and reflect throughout game times. Language acquisition is meaningful and understandable.

Games can easily be one of the components of cooperative learning. Cooperative learning is an extremely valuable technique to be used in empowering nontraditional students. It is different from traditional group work, which is often the work of only one or two members of a larger group. It can be described as a group of no more than six members who ALL work together to complete instructional activities. It embodies five essential elements:

1. Positive interdependence.
2. Face-to-face interaction.
3. Individual accountability.
4. Use of interpersonal and small-group skills.
5. Periodic and regular group processing.

Math games, used in a cooperative learning context, solidify the achievements of children who are already good at math, and they shore up children who need shoring up.

You can easily vary the games within the CD to differentiate instruction and suit the needs of the children who will play them. Some variations have been described within many of the games. Changes can be made by:

• altering the operations used within the games. If it is an addition game, try changing it to subtraction, or multiplication, etc.
• changing the numbers used in the game. They can be easier or harder, greater or smaller. Instead of working at the tens level, bump the game up to involve hundreds or thousands.
• The rules of the games can be altered.

You can be creative in transforming the games into new forms, and please allow children and parents to do likewise.

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