#1 - Tabletop CORNHOLE / Math Toss
This game works alongside a worksheet or a set of task cards, whichever you prefer. Students play in pairs. For small classes, you can even play it outside with full-sized cornhole boards and beanbags.
Find something cheap that you have a lot of (tiny pretzels or dry Star Wars shaped mac n cheese noodles work well). Just make sure the pieces fit through the hole and do not melt or get sticky. Heavy things are not great, because these tabletop boards are printed on card stock.
A pretzel that makes it into the hole is worth 3 points. A pretzel that sits on the board without making it in is worth 1 point. The first player to hit 15 without going over 15 points is the winner. (There are variations on the scoring -- you can look up more complicated scoring systems if your students want to get tricky with it.) You can also just use a set number of problems or a time limit, and the player with the higher score at the end is the winner.
#2 - GOLF
To play golf, you will need a worksheet that can easily be cut into pieces, or a set of task cards. Students play in teams of 2. Lay out three stacks of cards (or squares of paper with problems on them). One stack is "driver" cards, another is "irons," and the last is "putters." It works best if you make the most challenging problems the "putter" cards and the least challenging cards the "drivers."
Here's how a single round (or "hole") is played:
Each student will first draw a "driver," and answer the question. If correct, the player records a "1" on the scorecard. If incorrect, it works as if they hit into the water or sand, so they have to record "2" strokes to make up for the error. Next, they each draw and answer "iron" cards and follow the same scoring procedure.
Last, they must putt until they sink it, which means they have draw and answer the trickier "putter" questions until they can answer one correctly to finish the hole and move on. After checking one another's answers, they will record the total number of strokes (or points) for that hole.
Scoring: A correct answer on a "driver" or "iron" card is worth 1, but an incorrect answer is 2. (Remember that in golf, a low score wins.) They must also add the number of putts that it took to answer a "putter" card correctly.
You can do as many "holes" as you wish, and the pair stays together, helping each other through the cards while also competing. The lower scorer is the winner.
To spice it up for golf enthusiasts, try adding challenge cards in the "driver" and "iron" stacks that allow a student to skip the next card if they get it right. Mark them as "chance for an eagle" because they allow a student to drive right onto the green, for example, avoiding the iron cards all together.
I like to use a golf-themed score card for recording points for this game, just to make it a little more fun and motivating for the kids. I love the way this game is another way to practice and pack in just as many problems as a worksheet, but with just enough of a twist to make it enjoyable. It's a great way to add some variety. Make one from your favorite review worksheet by cutting it up, or check out pre-made golf games here.
#3 - TOURNAMENT
Tournaments are great for a more comprehensive review (a full unit, or a full course). Students can work with the same team of 4 to work through each "event" in the tournament. Track scores as they go, so they can compete with other teams in the class. Split the sections of your review up into mini-games or "events" like this:
Quick and easy questions can be cut up into a huge pile of cards and played as a "SPRINT" event. Be sure to have approximately 20 cards per student, but all quick problems to solve, or vocabulary- based questions. Pile them up in the center of the table. All 4 students in each team grab at the pile at the same time. Each student just keeps drawing and answering at his/her own pace, but sharing the pool of cards with the team. Once you grab a card, you cannot put it back. Answer it, then grab another. Some students in the team may plow through more cards than the others, but that's ok. Once the pile is gone, the team is done. Award points by giving the most to the fastest teams, and the least to the slowest teams.
Multi-step problems, like solving equations, can be converted into team "RELAY" events. Each team gets a set of 8-10 cards, and each player gets a different color marker or pen. After completing only one step of the problem or equation, the student passes it on to the next player. Each player must review all previous steps before doing their own step, because points are only earned for a completely correct card. Award 5 points per correct card.
Individual challenge problems can be done as "HURDLES." Students complete these like a basic worksheet and get points for each correct problem. This set can even be done as homework to save time. A team earns points by adding each individual score for this one.
Team challenge problems can be used as a "MARATHON." The whole group works together to complete one giant task that includes as many skills from the math unit as possible. These can be scored by the teacher, using partial credit as desired.
#4 - TRASHKETBALL
This trashketball idea is stolen from Mrs. E's blog and is another way to switch up the typical review worksheet.
It's another throwing game, which students love. They will definitely work hard to answer something correctly for a chance to toss anything that you make available to them.
I love that the game allows for easy differentiation and quick checking. Head over to her blog to see how she implements an amazing recording system to track student progress: Trashketball Review Game post
MORE STRATEGIES & GAMES
Pass - It - On Game:
In a process similar to the childhood game "Telephone," students work as a team to keep a math "message" or equation/number the same as it passes throughout the group. This works for topics where things can be displayed in two different formats, because they can transfer back and forth between the two forms, hiding all but the previous line as they go.
For example, to practice factoring and multiplying binomials, the team can convert a set of trinomials back and forth between factored form and standard form. Or, to practice slope-intercept form, one student graphs the line from the equation, then the next uses his/her graph to get back to the equation, and so on. For every paper that makes it through the whole group with the last line still equivalent to the first, the team gets a point.
This also works vocabulary words, switching between a term and a definition. It's even great with topics that have a whole set of equivalent numbers. You can have students write equivalent fractions all the way down the line, and see if the original is equivalent to their end result. Check out this video for a more thorough explanation, and tips for how to play.
Choose Your Own Journey:
There are always quite a few kids who get hooked on these ones. The Conquest games are a great review of Pre-Algebra and Algebra skills, but in a competitive way. The game board is a laminated map. Students try to take over an opponent's territory by slowly decreasing the number of defending soldiers (like in "Risk").
My brothers and I loved playing Risk as kids. The game goes on forever, which is half of the fun! So I set this up to work in the same way. You can certainly quit after one period, and let the player with more territories be the winner, but it is more fun to pull it out for every review session, month after month, until one player takes over the entire board.
The game can continue on throughout the semester with the same opponent, and you just need to swap out the card sets to practice new skills each time. Each "attack" requires answering an Algebra question or solving an equation. Then, finding the answer on the "Battle Results Chart" will tell whether soldiers are lost.
Browse sets of "Conquest" Games here.
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