I love using games in the classroom but when I first started teaching I didn’t really know how to use them effectively. I knew their value but I don’t think my class did. My math centers never seemed to be successful!
I would set up my centers, explain the rules of each game, model how to play them and then let the kids play. What I soon realized was that my guys liked to just roll the die and move around the board to get to the finish first. The game was quickly finished without any meaningful learning taking place (plenty of good social skills though).
When I walked around the room to see what was happening, I found myself constantly reminding my class to follow the game rules. Even though the rules said you must answer the number fact you’ve landed on that was not happening. For them, it was all just about getting to the finish. Other than counting the moves on the board there really wasn’t a great deal of mathematical learning going on.
In the end, games became something we did if we had spare time or something to do as a reward.
It wasn’t how I wanted to set up my math time but as a beginning teacher, it was what I did to feel that I had control of the situation.
Fast forward quite a few years and now instead of my class just playing a game to get the end, they recorded their answers. No matter what game they were playing, after every move they needed to record an answer.
This was important as I knew I could work with a small group of students and know that the group playing a game during math center time would actually be actively involved in learning or consolidating the math concept I had set for them.
For my visual learners, the process of writing the answers also helped with strengthening their understanding of the topic.
Students knew that they were accountable for producing work even though I was working with other students.
At the end of the rotation, I could quickly check their work and give it a stamp or sticker. I could also take note of who struggled with the concepts the game presented.
I took this idea to design a range of second grade math center games called ‘Kiddie Capers’ which features kids as the theme.
The other range is ‘Animal Antics” which you guessed it, features animals. ‘Kiddie Caper’ games have the same skill as their ‘Animal Antics’ counterparts but with different values/numbers on the games where possible.
Each game comes with the option to print in full color, limited color or black ink only.
Consistent Game Design to Encourage Independence
The game design is consistent which makes explaining how to play the game easy and also encourages independence. I wanted to be able to put the game in a math center and know that when it comes to playing, the kids knew what to do and don’t need to keep asking.
Easy to differentiate
You can differentiate for your learners by giving them different games for a particular concept.
Or for some games more than one recording sheet is available.
This meant some of my kids could work on extending their learning while others were working at an easy level.
Illustrated Rules Page
Because the structure of each game is predictable they are also great for special needs classes.
The illustrated rules page can be used as a visual reminder of how to play the game.
The rules are also on the bottom of each game and on the recording sheet so you can decide whether you want to print off the illustrated rules or not.
Simple Prep Math Centers
The games are really easy to prepare – just print the game you want and either laminate it or if you really want no prep put it in a page protector (I get the thicker ones and they really protect the game). Then just print off your rules and the recording sheets and you’re done!
If it is possible, an answer guide for the game is provided and many of the games are Common Core aligned as well as being appropriate for the Australian Curriculum.
Grab a Pack
You can grab a massive bundle of 78 games which includes both ‘Kiddie Capers’ and ‘Animal Antics’ to cover the whole school year from my TpT store by clicking here or the picture below.
You can also purchase each game individually or if you prefer, mini bundles are also available.