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A Math Game for Third Graders

Math games are a highly effective and engaging way to get students involved in practicing basic math skills. The following double-digit addition math game is great for second graders, third graders, and fourth graders. It not only addresses addition but forces students to look at the importance of place value.

Get Close to 100

What you need:
2 – 4 players
deck of cards, 10s and face cards removed
paper and pencils for each player

The object of the game is to make a two-digit addition problem that comes as close to 100 as possible.

Shuffle cards and place them face down in a pile.

Player #1 turns over 4 cards and moves the cards around until he/she has created a problem whose sum will be as close to 100 as he/she can make it. Player #1 records this problem on his/her paper.

Player #2 checks for addition accuracy.

Example: Player #1 draws a 4, a 7, a 2, and a 5. He/she moves the cards around until she/he decides that 47 + 52 = 99 is the closest that he/she can get.

Player # 2 draws four cards and does the same.

The points for each round are the difference between their sum and 100.
Example: A sum of 95 scores 5 points and so does a sum of 105.

Players compare scores at the end of this first round. They put their four cards in a discard pile and player #2 begins first and turns over four more cards for the second round.

After six rounds, players total their points and the player with the lowest score wins.

Variation: Make this a triple-digit addition game called Get Close to 1000! by drawing 6 cards and creating two triple-digit numbers which when added together, get as close to 1000 as possible.

Real-Life Math in Elementary School and Beyond

Elementary school students in three of Kingsport, Tennessee’s four high school zones took some weekend time this school year to learn practical, hands-on applications of math in the “real world”.

My question is, why isn’t their regular, everyday math curriculum talking about math in the “real world”?

Many educators contend that children must go beyond memorizing rules—they need to know when and how to apply the rules in real-world situations. Many also argue that realistic problems can serve as a powerful motivator in the mathematics classroom. They go on to conclude that the curriculum should consist of real-world problems because students will naturally learn mathematics by solving such problems.

The basics are changing. Arithmetic skills, although important, are no longer enough. To succeed in tomorrow’s world, students must understand algebra, geometry, statistics, and probability. Business and industry demand workers who can-

solve real world problems

explain their thinking to others

identify and analyze trends from data, and

use modern technology.

The mathematics students do in school should prepare them for the new basic skills necessary for their futures.

Instead of problems done with no context using worksheets, dittos, and workbook pages, students should be working on problems to investigate that are related to real life, such as investigating salaries, life expectancy, and fair decisions, for example.

Giving students opportunities to learn real math maximizes their future options.

Using money, counting change, etc. is a real-life skill that children need to learn. Play the following game with your second graders, third graders, and fourth graders.

Money Race

What you need:
2 players
1 die
pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters
sturdy paper plate for “bank”

The following coins (which equal $1.00) are placed in the “Bank” between the two players. A paper plate makes a great bank.

10 pennies, 5 nickels, 4 dimes, and 1 quarter

Each player also takes the same combination of coins for a total of $1.00.

Money Legend:
1 – subtract a penny and put it in the bank
2 – subtract a nickel or 5 pennies and put it in the bank
3 – subtract a dime or a combination of coins that equals 10 cents
and put it in the bank
4 – subtract a quarter or a combination of coins that equals
25 cents and put it in the bank
5 & 6 – choose any one coin from the bank

Player #1 rolls the die and either adds or subtracts the appropriate coins.

Player #2 does the same.

Play continues in this manner until both players have completed 10 rolls. Players total their own coins. The player with the greatest amount wins.

Parents Help Their Children with Math!

We live in a world of numbers. In fact, we use numbers constantly as a way of describing our lives. And yet, some will say that learning mathematics is difficult, and some will even say that they are not interested in learning it. However, mathematics is more than just learning about numbers. It is also about learning to think strategically and solve problems.

We want students to view mathematics as an enjoyable experience and to value mathematics. To do so, they must find it in places that they least expect it, such as in real-life situations that are non-threatening and fun. Games provide endless opportunities to experience mathematics, and when children are doing something they enjoy, they tend to spend more time doing it and pay better attention to what they are doing. As a result, they will get more practice with a skill by playing a game than by simply completing a traditional worksheet or using flashcards.

This is where parents can become involved. The parent’s job is to find a game that emphasizes a skill their child needs to master and begin to play. The role of the parent is to be supportive, play along with their child, make sure that the rules are clearly understood, ask questions (not give answers), and share their thinking either while they play or after the game.

As an example, one of the biggest concepts third graders need to master is multiplication. The following is an effective game for helping your second, third, or fourth grader do just that:

Terrific Tens

What you need:
2 players
deck of cards (remove face cards)

Take out one “10” card and lay it face up between the two players. This “10” card becomes the multiplier in each face off. Shuffle the rest of the cards and deal them evenly between both players. Both players put their cards face down in a pile in front of themselves.

Both players turn over the top card of their pile. They say the number, then multiply it by the “10” card and say the product. It is very important that each player say the entire equation out loud. For example: “7 x 10 = 70”
The player with the greatest product wins both cards. If there is a tie (i.e., both players have the same product), players turn over one more card and multiply that card and add it to their previous product. The player with the largest sum, takes all four cards.

When all the cards have been used, players count their cards. The player with the most cards wins.

Variations:
• Nifty Nines – the “9” card becomes the multiplier in each face off.
• Excellent Eights
• Super Sevens
• Sensational Sixes
• Fantastic Fives
• Fun Fours
• ? Threes
• Terrific Twos
• Wonderful Ones

Place Value Activities and Games

Once children have developed a basic number sense for numbers up to ten, a strong “sense of ten” needs to be developed as a foundation for both place value and mental calculations.

Ten is, of course, the building block of our Base Ten numeration system. Young children can usually “read” two-digit numbers long before they understand the effect the placement of each digit has on its numerical value. For example, a five-year-old might be able to correctly read 62 as sixty-two and 26 as twenty-six, and even know which number is larger, without understanding why the numbers are of differing values.

Place value is vitally important to all later mathematics. Without it, keeping track of greater numbers rapidly becomes impossible. (Can you imagine trying to write 999 with only ones?) A thorough mastery of place value is essential to learning the operations with greater numbers. It is the foundation for regrouping in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

Developing students’ understanding of numbers, ways of representing numbers, and the relationships among numbers are focus areas for elementary mathematics. To help children understand these very important concepts and give them the opportunities to explore numbers, the following very effective and engaging game has been developed for First Grade, Second Grade, and Third grade.

Two-Digit War

What you need:
2 players
deck of cards – 10’s removed
Tens and Ones board for each player. Hold an 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper with long sides on the top and bottom. Fold it in half vertically. At the bottom of the left half write Tens. At the bottom of the right half write Ones.

Shuffle cards and place them face-down in a pile. Player #1 turns over one card and decides whether to put it on the Tens or Ones. Once it has been laid down, it cannot be moved.

Player #2 does the same.

Player #1 turns over one more card and puts it on the remaining space. Again, it cannot be moved once it is laid down.

Player #2 does the same.

Players read their numbers out loud to each other. The player with the biggest two-digit number wins and takes all four cards. When all the cards have been used, players count their cards, and the player with the most cards wins the game.

Variation: The person with the smallest two-digit number wins.
Variation: Play Three-Digit War with Hundreds, Tens, and Ones

There are many really good games that emphasize a thorough understanding of place value

Taking Time to Understand Time

For years, teachers have observed students’ frustration as they grappled with learning to read an analog clock (as opposed to a digital clock). I remember being frustrated myself and not fully understanding why learning to tell time was so difficult for my students and wondering how to help.

I began to realize that there are two aspects of time that have to be distinguished in teaching time: firstly, one must try to develop a concept of time in a child, and secondly, one must teach the child to “tell the time” (teaching clock time).

Teachers of young children generally concur that their students learn mathematical concepts best when they construct understanding through concrete experiences. When we remember that time can be neither seen nor touched but experienced and measured only indirectly with such tools as clock, we can begin to understand why time-related concepts are difficult for our students to learn.

From the body of research available, as well as from our own firsthand teaching experiences, we know that everything to do with understanding and using time concepts develops rather late. I will go so far as to say that most children do not really fully understand the intricacies of telling time until about the third or fourth grade.

What usually happens in the classroom is that developing the concepts of time is skipped. In keeping with the admonition that children must actively develop concepts of time, I have included a few of the math activities I began to use in my classroom:

Time Intervals

Just How Long Is a Minute?

Have your students close their eyes and you time one minute. Have them keep their eyes closed and put up their hand when they think one minute has passed. Call time at the end of the minute. Now try it again. The more you do it, the better sense of a minute they will have.

Also try some of the following activities:

How many times in one minute do you think (make an estimate) you can:

1. Sing “Happy Birthday”? Estimate ____ Actual _____

2. Touch your toes? Estimate ______ Actual ______

3. Hop on one foot? Estimate ______ Actual ___

4. Do jumping jacks? Estimate ______ Actual ______

5. Write your first name? Estimate ______ Actual ______

6. Run around the basketball court? Estimate ______ Actual ______

7. Draw stars? Estimate ______ Actual _______

8. Recite the alphabet? Estimate ______ Actual _______

9. Snap your fingers? Estimate ______ Actual _______

10. How high do you think you can count in one minute?
Estimate _______ How high did you go? ________

More or Less Than a Minute? Homework

Here are some things you do everyday. For each one, guess whether you think it will take more than one minute or less than a minute to do it. Now try each thing while someone keeps time.

1. Put on your socks and shoes.
Guess ______________ It really took _____________
more or less than 1 minute / more or less than 1 minute

2. Brush your teeth.
Guess ______________ It really took _____________
more or less than 1 minute / more or less than 1 minute

3. Eat a banana.
Guess ______________ It really took _____________
more or less than 1 minute / more or less than 1 minute

4. Read a page from your favorite story.
Guess ______________ It really took _____________
more or less than 1 minute / more or less than 1 minute

5. Pledge Allegiance to the Flag.
Guess ______________ It really took _____________
more or less than 1 minute / more or less than 1 minute

Now make up a short list of things you think will take about one minute, and give them a try.

There are some great games which help children understand time!

Experts Recommend Math Games

As a veteran teacher of grades K-3, I have been using math games to motivate and energize my mathematics curriculum for many years. I am not alone in this endeavor. The following newspaper article gives credence to this fact:

Experts are recommending that parents can really help their children in math by playing games with them.

The research concludes that playing a board game with numbers helped children improve on four kinds of numerical tasks. Those gains were still evident nine weeks later.

So, get out those cards and dice or buy a board game that involves numbers, and be ready to watch your child learn and have fun!

Using Math Games at Home

Games offer a pleasant way for parents to get involved in their children’s education. Parents don’t have to be math geniuses to play a game. They don’t have to worry about pushing or pressuring their children. All that parents have to do is propose a game to their child and start to play.

Math games for kids and families are the perfect way to reinforce and extend the skills children learn at school. They are one of the most effective ways that parents can develop their child’s math skills without lecturing or applying pressure. When studying math, there’s an element of repetition that’s an important part of learning new concepts and developing automatic recall of math facts. Number facts can be boring and tedious to learn and practice. A game can generate an enormous amount of practice – practice that does not have kids complaining about how much work they are having to do. What better way can there be than an interesting game as a way of mastering them?

All right, you’ve chosen a math game to play with your child. Now what? How can parents effectively help their child while playing a game?

Parent Responsibilities

Too often the parent is willing to give the child the answer, thus making it possible for him/her to do no thinking whatsoever. Not good! Your primary responsibility is to ask your child questions – questions that will force him/her to think and verbalize what he/she is doing and why.

Sometimes children don’t know what to do. Here are a few good questions to help them begin to help themselves, not just rely on you, the parent, to give them the answer:

What can you do to help yourself?
• Use your fingers to count?
• Count the dots on the dice or cards?
• Use counters (such as beans, paper clips, pennies, etc.) to figure
it out?
• Draw a picture?
• Start with something you already know?
Example 1: If you know that 5+5 =10, how can that help
you know what 5+6 equals?

Example 2: If you know that 5×6 = 30, how can that help you
know what 6×6 equals?

The power of questioning is in the answering. As parents, we not only need to ask good questions to get good answers but need to ask good questions to promote the thinking required to give good answers.

Here are a few more great questions to ask your child when playing a game:
• What card do you need?
• Which cards would not be helpful?
• Prove to me that a ____ is what you need.
• Why do you think that?
• How did you know to try that strategy?
• How do you know you have the right answer?
• Will this work with every number? Every similar situation?
• When will this strategy not work? Can you give a counter-example?
• Convince me that you are right.

Parents who observe and interact with their child while they are playing math games can find out a great deal about what their child knows and can do in math. While playing a game, what do you notice – what are your child’s strengths and weaknesses?

Finally, games provide children with a powerful way of assessing their own mathematical abilities. The immediate feedback children receive from their parents while playing games can help them evaluate their mathematical concepts. Good games evaluate children’s progress. They provide feedback so that parents, and the child know what they have done well and what they need to practice.

Parent Response to Game

As you play a game with your child, ask yourself the following questions:

• What did I think of this game? Did I like it? Why or why not?

• Was this game too easy, too hard, or just right? How did I change it to meet the needs of my child?
• What do I think my child learned from playing this game?

• What did I learn about my child while playing this game? What are his/her strengths? What does he/she need to practice?

Keep in Mind While Playing Math Games…

Inventing, Creating, and Changing the Games

Give your child opportunities to invent and create. The rules and instructions for all games are meant to be flexible. Allow your child to think of ways to change the equipment or rules. Encourage them to make a game easier or harder or to invent new games.

You can easily vary the games within this CD to suit the needs of your child. Some variations have been described within many of the games:

• The operations used within the games can be changed. If it’s an addition game, it might also make a great subtraction or multiplication game.
• The types of numbers used with the games can be smaller or bigger. If it’s a two-digit addition game, can it be made into a three-digit game?
• The rules of the games can be altered.

Please be creative in transforming the games into new forms, and please allow your child to do likewise.

Play the games many times. Children begin to build and practice strategies (plan their moves in advance) only when the game is repeated often. Playing it just once or twice is not very helpful, unless the game is too easy for your child.

Provide repeated opportunities for your child to play the game, and let the mathematical ideas emerge as they notice new patterns, relationships, and strategies. Allow the mathematical ideas to develop over time. This empowers children to independently explore mathematical ideas and create conceptual understanding that they will not forget.

Don’t hesitate to go back to a skill and play a game if you know your child needs to practice it.

Have FUN together!!!!!

Fractions Activity and Game

In 2006, the National Math Panel reported that knowledge of fractions is the most important foundational skill for algebra that is not developed among American students.

Research shows that fractions are one of the most difficult topics for students to understand in elementary school. I think the problem lies in the fact that children are expected to be passive receivers of information rather than be actively involved with the subject matter.

CGI (Cognitively Guided Instruction) has been stressing for many years that the best way to help children really understand fractions is to begin with “fair shares”.

Start with situations of 2 or 4 children, as children’s earliest partitions are based on halving:
4 children share 4 cookies so that each child gets the same amount.
4 children want to share 10 brownies so that each child gets the
same amount.
4 child want to share 22 apples so that each child gets the same
amount.

Move to situations with more sharers:
3 children want to share 7 candy bars.
6 children have ordered blueberry pancakes at a restaurant. The
waiter brings 8 pancakes to their table. If the children share the
pancakes evenly, how much can each child have?
Matthew has 13 licorice sticks. He wants to share them with 8
friends.
20 friends are sharing eight cakes.

Ask your child or your students to solve the problems using a strategy that makes sense to them. Strategy is the primary dimension of development because student-generated strategies can (and I believe should) serve as the foundation for mathematics instruction. A focus on student-generated strategies allows a teacher or a parent to begin with, and build on, what children already know, and it allows children to participate in instruction by making contributions that are personally meaningful.

Give children pencils and paper and access to any kind of manipulative they find helpful and allow them to work out the problem by themselves.

Once the task is completed, children need to be able to demonstrate to each other what they did and the answer that was found. The more students are encouraged to contribute the intact products of their own thinking to class discussions, the more likely they are to identify themselves as understanding math – no matter the level of the thinking.

The key in fraction instruction is to pose tasks that will elicit a variety of strategies and representations. Equal-sharing tasks are not the only problems that can do that, but many teachers, like myself, have found them to be a definite source of variety in thinking. Children learn from each other, and the teacher begins to get a picture of what each child knows.

Another great way to help your child or your students to understand fractions is to play a fraction game. I have found that Fraction War can be highly effective. The first level begins simply, and it is probably best to start here, even with older children. Once you are sure they understand this concept, move to the next concept level.

Fraction War

Materials:
 One deck of cards
 Fraction War Game Board (following)

Game:
Players draw cards and create a fraction. The player with the fraction with the greatest value wins a point for that round. The player with the most points when all the cards have been used is the winner.

Variations:

Concept 1:
Each player finds and places a one in the numerator position on his/her game board. This card remains in place until the end of the game. Each player draws a card and places it in the denominator position. The player with the greatest fraction wins the point. Play continues until all cards have been used.

Concept 2:
Place a one in the denominator position and play as above.

Concept 3:
Decide on a number between 2 and 10. Each player places that number in the denominator position. Play as above.

Concept 4:
Place the same number in the numerator position. Play as above.

Concept 5:
Each player draws 2 cards. The first is the denominator, the second is the numerator. Play as above.

Fraction War Game Board
Player #1 Player #2

_______________________ ______________________

Multiplication Games

More and more in my teaching career, I see that children struggle to memorize their multiplication tables. I’ve even worked in many 6th grade classrooms where it was perfectly evident that a majority of the 6th graders had not yet fully memorized their multiplication tables.

Simple multiplication is usually introduced into the math curriculum in 2nd grade, so it is important that 2nd and 3rd graders begin to get a strong handle on their multiplication facts. If they don’t, understanding division becomes ever more difficult.

I’ve found that multiplication games are wonderfully useful. Multiplication games put children in exactly the right frame of mind for learning. Children are normally very eager to play games. They relax when they play, and they concentrate. They don’t mind repeating the multiplication facts over and over.

Teachers and parents are partners in this process, and both can offer greater opportunities for their students/child to succeed in memorizing the multiplication tables. Multiplication games fit the bill wonderfully!

One of my favorite multiplication games is Multiplication Fact Feud. It’s a great way target and practice certain facts.

Multiplication Fact Feud

What you need:
2 players
deck of cards

Teacher or parent decides the particular multiplication fact to practice
(i.e. x7, x4, x8, etc.) Once the constant factor is determined, that card is placed between the two players. Players then divide the remaining cards evenly between themselves.

Each player turns over one card and multiplies that card by the constant in the middle. Players must verbalize their math sentence. The player with the highest product collects both cards.

Example: Player #1 Player #2
4 5 7
“4 x 5 = 20” “7 x 5 = 35”

Player #2 would collect both cards.

In the event of a tie (i.e. both players have the same product), each player turns over one more card and multiplies that by the constant factor. The player with the highest product wins all four cards.

When the cards are all used up, the player with the most cards wins the game.

Teaching Math at Home

Many parents don’t feel comfortable with math, or they assume it takes special expertise to teach it. Remarks like “I never was any good at math” or “How can I help my child with math? I can’t even balance my checkbook!” are common. However, even parents who feel this way use mathematics all the time. They hand out lunch money, cut sandwiches into quarters, calculate how much paint or wall paper they need to buy, estimate how much a trip will cost, read and interpret graphs, talk about the probability of rain, and decide that it’s time to fill the gas tank. Some of them knit, piece quilts, measure wood for cutting, decide how many cups of spaghetti sauce they need to make for 6 people, and use metric tools to work on their cars. The list goes on and on.

Many adults also feel they aren’t doing things the right way, that they aren’t really using mathematics, because their approaches, even though they work, are not the methods they learned in school. There are, in fact, many ways to do mathematics, and more than one can be right. People who devise their own strategies for finding answers to mathematical questions, far from being mathematically incompetent, are often excellent independent problem solvers. They are using mathematics creatively.

You have what you need to help your child with math because:

1. You have a great deal of important mathematical knowledge to share.
2. Children learn best from the people who most accept and respect them.
3. Learning is more lasting when it takes place in the context of familiar home experiences.
4. Children must see that math is not just a subject studied in school but is used constantly in everyday family life.

The home is an ideal place in which to learn mathematics because the problems encountered there are real, not just paragraphs in textbooks.

Making Math Part of Your Family’s Life

It’s common knowledge that young children whose parents read to them have a tremendous advantage in school. But did you know that you can also help your child learn mathematics by doing and supporting math at home?

Today mathematics is more critical to school success than ever before. Modern occupations now require a firm foundation in mathematics – and that’s true for almost any type of job your child will consider in the future.

How you encourage and promote your child’s math learning, from preschool to high school, can be pivotal to their attitude toward math and their achievement in this subject area. Children are taught math in school, but research shows that families are an essential part of this learning process. In other words, by doing math with your child and supporting math learning at home, you can make a great difference.

There are many ways to make math part of your family’s life. Consider the following checklist of key ideas:

• Always talk about math in positive ways. Regardless of your own math background, let your child know that learning math is very important. Communicating a positive, can-do attitude about math is the single most important way for you to ensure that your child is successful in math. Never tell your child that math is too hard or that you hated it or weren’t good at it when you were in school.

• Make math an everyday part of your family. Find math at home. Spend time with your child on simple board games, puzzles, and activities that involve math. Involve your child in activities like shopping, cooking, and home fix-it projects to show them that math is practical and useful.

• Notice math in the world. You can help your child see the usefulness of math by pointing it out wherever you see it – not just in your home. What shape is that building? How many more miles before we get there? How many glasses of milk are in a carton? How much will you save if you buy a combo meal at McDonald’s?

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