Using games to teach math isn’t a new concept. I fondly remember my early elementary school days filled with a variety of educational games. It’s truly an old-school method that still works in classrooms today. I just so happen to love including math games in my teaching approach because (1) they are fun, and (2) students love them! All fun and “games” aside, there are many benefits of using games to teach math. Here are a few to keep in mind as you consider incorporating math games in your classroom.
5 Awesome Benefits of Using Games to Teach Math
Math games encourage strategic mathematical thinking.
It is often said that math is its own language. And just like learning a new language, there is a certain level of strategic thinking that occurs. Part of this thinking requires students to find different strategies and methods for solving a math problem. By doing so, they begin to deepen their understanding of numbers and the terminology that comes with it.
Using games gives students practice.
Upon beginning to learn this new “language” and enhance their strategic thinking skills, students need the practice to hone in on their new skills. Using a variety of games can help them do just that. When played repeatedly, students are able to remember concepts much easier rather than rarely practicing the new skill at all. Beyond repetition is the fact that students are able to develop familiarity with number systems and operations.
Math games open the door to exploration.
I’ve watched some students figure out an entirely new way to solve math problems simply because they were given the opportunity to practice through playing games. It’s amazing how a student’s mind can begin to operate once a concept clicks. Their ability to understand it will help once a new concept is taught and added to it. This is often where students fail. When something isn’t learned properly, it’s hard to learn the concept that comes next.
Games help cater to various learning styles.
Some students are kinesthetic (hands-on) learners while others may be visual, auditory, or even verbal. Math games give students of every learning style an opportunity to use how they learn best. Students always seem to thrive best when their learning experiences are tied to how they naturally think and act. Using games to teach math is a great way to emphasize the natural abilities of your students.
Math games help students work on different skills.
Going hand-in0hand with getting practice, math games help work on different types of skills. Whether it’s fundamental number concepts, counting sequence, telling time, rounding up (or down), computation, and the like – certain skill sets are needed in order for students to be proficient in math.
Math Game Ideas
If you’re looking for a little inspiration for games you can use to teach math in your classroom, here are a few to help get you started:
- Addition War
- Written Numbers 4 Digit Math Game
- Days of the Week Math Game
- Adding with Words
- Telling Time Mixed
Math games don’t have to be over the top or too complicating. My students love the small card-like games that conveniently fit in photo containers or pencil pouch holders. The games I created also use no colored ink, can be decorate with AstroBright paper, and the directions to each game can be included in the boxes, pouches, bags, or whatever you plan to use. Overall, we should give our students plenty of opportunities to play math games. They are an important tool for learning elementary math.
CHIME IN: Do you use math games in your classroom? What are some of your favorites? Let me know in the comments below!