This article supplies teachers with information that may be useful in better understanding the nature of games and their role in teaching and learning mathematics.
This article, the second in the series, looks at some different types of games and the sort of mathematical thinking they can develop.
Not all of us a bursting with creative game ideas, but there are
several ways to go about creating a game that will assist even the
busiest and most reluctant game designer.
In this article for teachers, Liz Woodham describes the criteria she uses to choose mathematical games for the classroom and shares some examples from NRICH.
Basic strategy games are particularly suitable as starting points
for investigations. Players instinctively try to discover a winning
strategy, and usually the best way to do this is to analyse. . . .
Gillian Hatch analyses what goes on when mathematical games are
used as a pedagogic device.
A game for 1 or 2 people. Use the interactive version, or play with friends. Try to round up as many counters as possible.
A game for 1 person to develop stategy and shape and space awareness. 12 counters are placed on a board. Counters are removed one at a time. The aim is to be left with only 1 counter.
Reasoning based on this Japanese activity.
A game for 2 players. Draw a daisy with at least 5 petals. Shade 1 or 2 petals next to each other. The winner shades the last petal.
Try this version of Snap with a friend - do you know the order of
the days of the week?
Totality game for an adult and child. Be the first to reach your agreed total.
This is a game for two players. Can you find out how to be the first to get to 12 o'clock?
Interactive game. Set your own level of challenge, practise your table skills and beat your previous best score.
The game uses a 3x3 square board. 2 players take turns to play,
either placing a red on an empty square, or changing a red to
orange, or orange to green. The player who forms 3 of 1 colour in a
line. . . .
A game for 2 players. This could be played outside with people instead of counters. Try to trap or escape from your opponent.
A game somewhat similar to 'noughts and crosses' on a much larger
This is a game for 2 players. Each player has 4 counters each, and
wins by blocking their opponent's counters. A good follow-on from
Here are a collection of games from around the world to try during the holidays or the last few weeks of term.
Design your own scoring system and play Trumps with these Olympic Sport cards.
Advent Calendar 2010 - a mathematical game for every day during the run-up to Christmas.
Take turns to place a decimal number on the spiral. Can you get three consecutive numbers?
Nim-7 game for an adult and child. Who will be the one to take the last counter?
First Connect Three game for an adult and child. Use the dice numbers and either addition or subtraction to get three numbers in a straight line.
There are nasty versions of this dice game but we'll start with the nice ones...
Can you make the birds from the egg tangram?
This is a challenging game of strategy for two players with many interesting variations.
In this game you throw two dice and find their total, then move the appropriate counter to the right. Which counter reaches the purple box first? Is this what you would expect?
A complicated game played on a 9 x 9 checkered grid.
A shunting puzzle for 1 person. Swop the positions of the counters at the top and bottom of the board.
A game for 2 players. Take turns to place a counter so that it
occupies one of the lowest possible positions in the grid. The
first player to complete a line of 4 wins.
An ordinary set of dominoes can be laid out as a 7 by 4 magic
rectangle in which all the spots in all the columns add to 24,
while those in the rows add to 42. Try it! Now try the magic
Stop the Clock game for an adult and child. How can you make sure you always win this game?
A fun puzzle with tantrix tiles.
A game for two players. You'll need some counters.
Can you work out how to win this game of Nim? Does it matter if you go first or second?
This is an adding game for two players.
A game for 2 people that everybody knows. You can play with a
friend or online. If you play correctly you never lose!
Everthing you have always wanted to do with dominoes! Some of these
games are good for practising your mental calculation skills, and
some are good for your reasoning skills.
A game played with a standard pack of cards.
The idea of this game is to add or subtract the two numbers on the dice and cover the result on the grid, trying to get a line of three. Are there some numbers that are good to aim for?
A game for 1 person to play on screen. Practise your number bonds
whilst improving your memory
A game for 2 players. Using 2 dice, some counters and a games board, can you form a line of counters from one side of the board to the other?
How good are you at estimating angles?
Spiralling Decimals game for an adult and child. Can you get three decimals next to each other on the spiral before your partner?
A game for two players. You'll need some counters and somewhere to draw a board.
Board Block Challenge game for an adult and child. Can you prevent your partner from being able to make a shape?
A fun game for two. You'll need some counters.
Exchange the positions of the two sets of counters in the least possible number of moves
A number card game for 2-6 players.